In the years of Reconstruction following the Class Wars, enhanced human variants—envars—have outlived their initial purpose. Now, four generations of advanced genetic engineering lie sequestered on secret islands, awaiting disposal. Faced with their own mortality, a small band of envars, led by a charismatic and obsessed variant named Kane revolt and escape to the mainland in search of their birthright.
Michael Valentine is one of these refugees. He senses Kane’s madness and quickly breaks free. With the help of a mysterious old sage and a troubled human named Echo, Michael hopes to reunite with his missing genetic sister and discover the true purpose of his existence. And perhaps, ours...
Check it out @ C. W. Kesting's FreshMuse
Being new to the Author's Blog (but not Wings) I suppose I'll start out with a bit of self-promotion; see where it goes from there...
In the following, I've included portions of a recent interview provided by Red Adept Reviews for my new release Envar Island, due out through Wings ePress this November 1st!
Enjoy!! (and please comment--let's get this blog going again!!)
Q: I know from reading the book how you came up with the title, but I was interested to know why you didn't call it Null Island?
~ Originally, the working title was “The Overmen”; taken from Friedrich Nietzche’s Also sprach Zarathustra. But, after much thought, I knew I should change it. While Nietzche is very interesting—if not also controversial—I didn’t want to confuse his philosophies with my intent; nor did I want to inadvertently misrepresent his ideas. Null Island was actually going to be the final title until I realized that this book was going to be the first in what I hope to be a successful series, and that envars were central to the theme. Book two is tentatively called Envar Canyon.
Q: I also know you have written a couple of books before this one, but I was wondering when you started writing and why you feel compelled to write. What keeps you writing?
~ I’ve written creatively for as long as I can remember: Fragments of stories on reams of theme paper gathering dust in old boxes and footlockers. The impetus for my journey to finally become published came after reading one too many recycled stories from ‘national best selling authors’. One day, I’d just had enough. I put one particular piece of poorly researched medical drama down after 100 pages and told myself that I could—should—take on the challenge. Enough people told me over the years that I had the talent; and besides, how much worse could my efforts be? Really?
So, upon my return from all-expense paid government sponsored vacation to Iraq in 2003—with my life refocused—I set out to write my first full-length novel: Rubicon Harvest. My goal was simply to write the type of books that I’d like to read. After a long and arduous journey; it seems that my perseverance has paid off. Wings ePress gave me a chance in 2008 and now I’m making the most of it. I’m still having fun and will continue to write until someone tells me I ought to stop.
I want my stories to be readable speculative fiction. The bulk of today’s sci/fi is laden with so much dense math, fringe philosophies and pretentious science that modern authors tend to alienate the average reader. Personally, I’m not a fan of the epic world building tomes that force the reader to slog through pages of detailed alien archeology just to find a lukewarm plot that fizzles far before it pops. I like speculative stories with a distinct human flair—something anyone can immediately relate to.
Q: What authors have inspired you?
~I draw inspiration from many sources; but the authors I most revere are the grand storytellers of my youth. I grew up reading Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. In time, I ventured into the darker, more multi-layered realms of Philip K. Dick, William Gibson and Robert Heinlein. I always try to insert a small hidden homage to these masters in all of my books; whether through some obscure allusion in narrative or dialogue, or maybe even something as blatant as naming a character. Envar Island is probably the most fun I’ve had in honoring these classic geniuses. You won’t have to dig too far in this story to find a humble nod to the grandfathers of science fiction.
I’ll read anything nowadays, in hopes of discovering a new voice. But I tend to fall back on Dean Koontz, Greg Iles or Dennis Lehane for my guilty indulgences.
Q: Where did you get the idea for the novel?
~ Like most of my stories—and perhaps this holds true for all writers—the final product is nothing like I first envisioned it. Envar Island started out as hard science fiction: a futuristic story about a troubled memory Recollector and her struggles with the ethics of her world. But, as she evolved, Echo LeFey became less of a high-tech heroine and more of an avatar for my own personal musings on topics that ranged from our own endangered culture to quantum metaphysics. Soon, like the books before it, Envar Island had morphed into something more organic than a mere speculative tale. I found myself projecting my own concerns about our capsized culture into the book: Our crumbling societal values, viral liberalism, the hemorrhaging economy, and a dying educational system. By extrapolating our current world crisis’ to near absurdity, I was able to construct a future world in which only something different—and perhaps even better—than us just might have a chance at success. And the ultimate irony is that we’ve created our potential replacements. Envar Island asks the question: What happens when the Created actually become Creators? Do we then become a god? And at what price?
Q: Who is your favorite character?
~ All of my characters are fun for me. I enjoy creating them, watching them evolve, learn, and even fail—almost as much as raising my own children. It’s also very cathartic. You get to say and do things that normally would cause people to cringe if it didn’t come from a fictional character. We’re strange that way, we humans; we can watch or read just about anything with tempered morality.
I’ve learned much about character development from masters like Stephen King as well as experimenters like Chuck Palahnuik. Human beings are frail and faulted; and I think we need richly layered, conflicted characters in our stories to help remind us just how thin the veil is that separates fiction from our reality.
I really like Kane, the prime antagonist in Envar Island. I always seem to hold a special warm spot for the bad guys. It was exciting to watch Kane come to life because of his proclivity to always find a reason to use famous quotes in his dialogue—he becomes both insightful and pretentious while exuding strength and overconfidence. He has an eloquent arrogance. In my mind, I always envisioned Kane as a young, buff Anthony Hopkins ala Hannibal Lecter.
But the most fun for me, honestly, is naming my characters. I take great care and put quite a bit of thought into each one. Some are named after Latin or Greek ideas that describe their personalities, while others are simple anagrams of a key trait. I’ve been known to flip through baby books and spend hours on etymology sites searching for just the right name. I also love trying to find ways to use mythological influences. And then, sometimes, names just come to me…mystically.
One example is the nefarious Justice agent in Envar Island: Criss Saun is an anagram of Narcissus. Now that readers know this, it might be fun to try and unwrap each of my characters identity a bit further.
A bit more about me:
After nearly 27 years in the U.S. Army (combined Active and Reserves), I finally retired this past year as a Major. I’ve survived multiple deployments and in the process, gathered more than enough experience for one man. I now enjoy watching my eleven and seven-year-old as they discover and then puzzle over the many amazing secrets of life. When I’m not writing or practicing anesthesia, I enjoy wasting hours in front of my huge television cheering on my beloved World Champion Green Bay Packers.