Sunday, March 1, 2015

Q&A With Greg Hickey, Author of Our Dried Voices

Q: How did you come up with the details and dates in the chronology?

A: I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted the colonists to be like before I started the  chronology. Writing the chronology became a matter of getting from the present day to the Pearl colony several hundred years in the future, while simultaneously addressing the question of how the great wealth of humanity’s intellect could produce a society that lacked even the most basic capacity for critical thought. Even today, humans have already cured diseases that were deadly or incapacitating less than 100 years ago. Technology has made the world smaller and easier to navigate. I tried to carry these strands of progress to their complete realization, which is a world without the problems that have plagued humankind throughout our existence. So all the dates and details are just my thoughts on the possible extensions of human progress, colored by the hopeful belief that human beings are capable of such intellectual feats.

Q: How has your experience as a forensic scientist influenced your writing?

A: Not very much in regards to Our Dried Voices, simply because I wrote most of the novel before I even began my graduate work in forensics. I’ve drawn on my knowledge of forensics and very brief experience with trial law in my second novel, which I am currently editing.

However, I have no plans to write a forensic crime novel, in the vein of Patricia Cornwell or Kathy Reichs.

Q: Do you have a muse or consistent source of inspiration?

A: Books in general. I get so many ideas from reading, and even find myself unconsciously drawing on the language of whatever author I’m reading at the time.

Q: In Our Dried Voices, technology and automation have rid humanity of the need for creativity and original thought.  How do you think present day technologies contribute to society as a helper or inhibitor of these characteristics in the real world?  Do you see present day technology as a threat to humanity’s creativity?

A: Like many other things, I think the benefits of technologies depend on how we employ them. Obviously, endeavors to cure disease and alleviate world hunger are admirable pursuits. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to worry about such hardships. But I think we should question how much we want our technologies to do for us. Do we want our cars to parallel park themselves, or even drive someday in the future, or is there value in learning and practicing these skills ourselves? The problem in the colony of Our Dried Voices is that the colonists lose all the skill and intellect that made these technologies possible. I think humans can be endlessly creative, and technology can play an essential role in this process, but maintaining that creativity will require a concerted effort.

Q: Are you planning a sequel?

A: Not immediately. I know the end of the novel definitely leaves room for a sequel, but I’ve got a couple different projects planned next. However, I can imagine myself writing an Our Dried Voices sequel someday.

Q: What is next for you, writing wise?  Do you have any current projects you’d like to talk about?

A: I’m currently editing a novel entitled The Friar’s Lantern. It’s a gamebook, or choose-your-own-adventure book (yes, just like the ones you used to read as a kid, but slightly more grown up). It’s about fate and free will and features a philosophy problem called Newcomb’s Paradox and a murder trial in which you are a juror.

Q: What are a few of your favorite books?

A: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, 1984 by George Orwell, Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, The Plague by Albert Camus.

Q: Are you a vegetarian?

A: No. I think there are important nutrients to be found in animal proteins. That said, I believe more humane farming methods also produce a healthier product, in contrast to factory farming.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your process?  Do you have a regular writing routine?

A: I’m big on outlines, which I think comes from my experience as a philosophy major in college. Outlines help me map out philosophical arguments, and in writing fiction they help me structure my stories. Usually by the time I’m actually ready to write a complete piece, I have a pretty good idea of where I want things to go. After I’ve finished a first draft, I will go through several rewrites, each one focusing on a few different aspects of the work, including overall content, sentence structure and word choice. And I always like to read my pieces aloud at least once so I can hear the flow of the words.

Q: What do you think it is about the sub-story in Our Dried Voices that made it the one story that
remained to the people of the colony?  What inspired the sub-story?

A: I think all people have a strong sense of home, and the idea of going home is so universal across humanity as to withstand the test of time. The colonists certainly share this idea of home, even if they can’t articulate it. They remain very much bound to the confines of their colony, unwilling to explore the meadow beyond the rudimentary fence, or even sleep in a different bed despite the uniformity of the barracks-like sleeping halls. The sub-story is based on another very well-known homecoming story, which I have only shared in my monthly e-mail newsletter. For now, I will leave that secret to the imagination of my readers.

About the Author:
Greg Hickey was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1985. After graduating from Pomona College in 2008, he played and coached baseball in Sweden and South Africa. He is now a forensic scientist, endurance athlete and award-winning writer. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Lindsay.

About  the Book:
In 2153, cancer was cured. In 2189, AIDS. And in 2235, the last members of the human race traveled to a far distant planet called Pearl to begin the next chapter of humanity. Several hundred years after their arrival, the remainder of humanity lives in a utopian colony in which every want is satisfied automatically, and there is no need for human labor, struggle or thought. But when the machines that regulate the colony begin to malfunction, the colonists are faced with a test for the first time in their existence. With the lives of the colonists at stake, it is left to a young man named Samuel to repair these breakdowns and save the colony. Aided by his friend Penny, Samuel rises to meet each challenge. But he soon discovers a mysterious group of people behind each of these problems, and he must somehow find and defeat these saboteurs in order to rescue his colony.
(234pp, ISBN#9781940368931)

Purchase at:Amazon $2.99 Kindle, borrow on Kindle Unlimited or $12.53 Paperback (Prime Eligible)
or  Scribe Publishing, in Print $10.00

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