Monday, March 23, 2015
"Writing has always been a life plan, never a second thought": international bestselling author Daniel Arthur Smith talks about books, traveling, and his new novel, Hugh Howey Lives.
Today my guest is a world traveler and the international bestselling author of the Cathari Treasure and the Somali Deception, featuring veteran Légionnaire Cameron Kincaid. I met Daniel Arthur Smith through the Apocalypse Weird project and was instantly impressed by his amazing writing and the breadth of his work. I was so thrilled when he accepted to come over to the blog to talk about his travels, his books, and his latest release in particular, Hugh Howey Lives, where yes, Hugh Howey is the real Hugh, the author of the bestselling series Wool.
Welcome to CHIMERAS, Daniel!
EEG: Tell us a bit about your background and when/how you started writing novels.
DAS: Writing has always been a life plan, never a second thought. I grew up reading a ton of science fiction and fantasy and then around twelve, philosophy, mostly existential stuff at first, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, stuff like that. I was raised in a rural area surrounded by books and then moved a round a lot, ever fascinated in what was over the next hill, and even more so in the Human Condition. My first stories were science fiction with heavy moral undertones, mimics of what I was reading. My university education in cognitive studies was philosophy and writing intensive, the creative byproduct of which was more stories of similar theme, as well as experimentation in literary fiction, horror, and AI, which eventually coalesced into novels.
EEG: You've traveled a lot: how has this affected your writing and you as a writer?
DAS: A few years ago a friend turned me onto one of those Facebook maps that allowed you to pin the cities you’ve visited. I stopped pinning after I reached over three hundred cities across twenty-two countries.
DAS: I’ve always traveled.
My mother moved me around a lot as a small child, more passenger than participant, and when she married my stepfather, we followed him around the Midwest in a camping trailer. By the time I reached my teens I was out of my parent’s home, hitchhiking, and when funding permitted, riding Greyhound. At eighteen, I hitchhiked across North America, and later, after university, across Western Europe and into the newly opened Wild Eastern Europe. I’ve read Kundera and Kafka in Prague and Kazantzakis on the ancient city walls of Heraklion, I’ve had the fortune to read Travels with Charley overlooking the ruins of Knossos and in Wisconsin.
All of that travel was immersive. Whether as a youth, a teacher, or later in business, I observed the continuity the Human Condition across culture, the many paths people take to reach the same place. I’ve been to cities that underwent political upheaval, peacefully and through war. Met those with aspirations and met those that lost everything.
Traveling has added texture to text by giving me the tools of visceral description, both of personality and geography. On the lighter side, it also has allowed me to write adventures that jump through ten cities in the course of a novel.
EEG: Where do you find inspiration?
DAS: I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful wife, two young sons, have had the pleasure to know some absolute superhero friends, and on top of that, live in the center of Manhattan. All of those privileges allow a barrage of material to fly my way. A question from my son while on a walk in Central Park or a short drive across town can lead to an incredible yarn (This week we discussed the living habits of leprechauns). The fellow passengers on a city bus can become clandestine operatives in some stealth heist. Or a blog post, as was the case in my latest release, can open a floodgate.
EEG: Tell us about your latest book, Hugh Howey Lives: is it a novel? Is it the story of the real Hugh or a fictional one? Where did you get the idea?
DAS: Hugh Howey Lives is a work of fiction inspired by Hugh.
In 2174 authors are obsolete. With the exception of a few human ‘Author’ titles printed in the small basement and back room Libraries, all stories are created by the Artificial Intelligence of the Archive. Most believe the ‘Authors’ are only brands to lure people into spending their credits on print. One woman believes that one of them, author Hugh Howey is real, and still alive. Her Librarian feeds her belief that Hugh Howey is still sailing around the world, uploading his work to the Archive. Convinced she has found clues in his stories as to where he now resides, she and her girlfriend sail to an island, where she believes Hugh Howey lives.
This story came about after Hugh wrote a blog entry early November titled ‘Humans Need Not Apply’. In the article, and lengthy comment conversation that followed, Hugh speculated that within 100 years, computers would be writing novels and authors could be obsolete.
I emailed Hugh a pitch with a different speculation, and in a few weeks, you’ll be able to read all about it.
This is an intriguing story and as soon as it is ready to share, I will be sending out ARCS (Advanced Reader Copies) to everyone on my newsletter list. And that’s not all – I am giving away a kindle, some signed copies, and some posters too. This is a story that will stimulate the imagination and I can’t wait for you to read it.
EEG: Wow. Computer novelists and no more human authors. That's a scary thought and definitely an intriguing premise. Can't wait to read it! And now that Hugh Howey Lives is completed, what are you working on?
DAS: I started 2015 running out of the gate. Apart from supporting Hugh Howey Lives I am releasing my first work of fanfic. Set in Hugh’s Sand World, Sarfer is the story of a sailmaker’s son who has become a courier – anything, anywhere, no questions asked. Plane Drifters (working title), the first of a series, will follow later this spring. This speculative fiction adventure novel depicts a future world where planar travel has altered society. This novel is a full-on blend of cyberpunk and urban fantasy and took two years to research and another year to write.
And this summer I am releasing The Blue Prince, my contribution to the Apocalypse Weird universe, which takes Manhattan by electrical storm. This comic book noir adventure was a lot of fun to create. Readers will recognize the Lovecraftian elements and those that follow Apocalypse Weird will particularly enjoy the parts of the novel interacting with points in the Wyrd.
EEG: Can't wait to read The Blue Prince! Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Daniel!
To get an ARC of Daniel's new book release, visit his website and sign up for his newsletter. You can also follow him on Twitter (@authordasmith), Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest.