How did you go from the super-technical fields of web development and digital architecture to the fuzzy world of art and authorship? And, why?
Writing a 500-page-long PhD thesis is not dissimilar to writing a book. Indeed, all theses are published by the universities. So, the real transition was between non-fiction and fiction. As you’re allowed to make up stuff in fiction, it can be argued it’s much easier to write! :D
How on Earth did you end up lucky enough to live in the middle of a forest in Athens, Greece? Paint a picture of your home for us!
Lol - I live in the edges of an area that’s designated as Natura by the EU - the equivalent of a US National Park. It has an artificial lake, complete with herons, hawks and plenty of fish, surrounded by a forest. Sadly, in 2009 large parts of the forest were burned down. The fires even destroyed part of our garden. However, nature being what it is, it’s almost impossible to notice the charred wounds nowadays.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so...
How far is your nearest neighbor?
Nowadays, they live just behind us; the actual forest starts a couple of blocks after that. When I was growing up, however, the area was far less developed and the nearest neighbor was almost a mile away.
How often do you write?
Daily. I write and edit my books, but I also write my blog posts. Surprisingly enough, I feel that blogging has helped me a lot with my fiction writing.
Do you have goals for how much writing you want to do on a daily basis?
I used to, then felt stressed when I fell behind. As I have enough stress in my daily life through my day job, I prefer my writing to be an enjoyable experience. So, I decided against setting strict limits. My one goal is to do at least one thing that promotes my authoring career every day.
Are you a computer author or a pen and paper author?
A computer author. However, I use pen and paper for my dream journal, as I keep a notebook next to my bed. Many of my dreams find their way into my stories.
Where do you find the inspirations for your stories? Do you have a personal muse?
Most of my inspiration comes from my dreams. Every morning I jot down last night’s dreams, then refer to them whenever I need some ideas. Heck, I even started writing because a voice in a dream told me to.
When it comes to the mechanics of the stories, however, I borrow from authors I like. Whenever I read a book and come across a new way of portraying, say, an emotion, I’ll write it down for future reference.
You start your book The Power of Six with a short story entitled Simulation Over. In the story, you deal with the complex question of just what is reality, and whether what we perceive before us at all times is, indeed, reality. This question has obviously been posed over the ages. What spurred you to write a story about it and what is your take on the question?
I’m fascinated by the so-called holographic principle. In simple terms, this describes the universe as a hologram. The theory stems from the notion that information cannot be destroyed, so for example the 2D event horizon of a black hole "records" everything that falls into it. If this is the case, then the boundary of the universe could also form a 2D representation of everything contained within it, like a hologram storing a 3D image in 2D.
Although this doesn’t actually mean that we leave in a simulated environment, you can see why it prompted the kind of what if that invariably leads to a story.
Having said all that, the beginning of story is copied almost verbatim from a nightmare I had, with said monsters chasing me down an abandoned building. :)
One of our favorite short stories in The Power of Six was “I Come In Peace.” In short, the story is about an alien life form that is purely energy, and which can inhabit a host such as a human. It truly mixes the human emotion of loneliness, grief and solitude with the science and religion of possession. What message(s) were you trying to convey in writing “I Come In Peace?” Not to be too personal, but did that story come from demons you wrestled with yourself?
Thank you so much, I’m glad you enjoyed it! :) Actually, no, although as an only child living in a forest, I did feel terribly lonely at times. I like solitude, but not loneliness, and that’s when I’d turn to books for companionship.
I have lost a cousin to depression and have another one who’s bipolar, while a schizophrenic murdered my baby aunt back in the forties. So, I understand mental illness fairly well, and have tried to use that understanding in my writing. Your question suggests I have done so successfully, so thank you. :)
The concept of the orb itself came from an experience described to me by my grandmother. She lost her husband, whom she adored, at a relatively early age. Shortly after the funeral, she was in the kitchen cooking, when an iridescent orb, pretty much as I described it in the story, floated through the window. It hovered for a moment before her, as if to convey a message, then sped out of the window again. She felt certain that the orb was her husband who had come to say goodbye, and that claim has stuck with me since.
You also have an epic fantasy series of novels called Pearseus. Tell us about that series.
I’m now penning the fourth book in the series, inspired by the fact that all three books have reached number one on Amazon. A spaceship called Pearseus crash-lands on a remote planet. The survivors name the planet after their destroyed vessel and start their civilisation anew. However, they are not alone. Their arrival turns the tide in an ancient war fought by ethereal forces who seek to use the newcomers to wage their battles.
The inspiration behind it is 5th century BC historian Herodotus and his classic work describing the Greco-Persian wars. A major battle took place some 20 minutes from where I lived, and the tomb of the dead, or Tumulus of the Marathon Warriors, is still there (see photo).
When I read Martin’s Game of Thrones, I thought it would be nice to tell the story of the Battle of Marathon - only in a fantasy/science fiction context. I added some metaphysical elements with the introduction of the Orbs and the Whispers, and Pearseus was born.
Elon Musk, the CEO and Founder of Tesla and Space X amongst other things, has really been sounding the alarm on artificial intelligence, and specifically self awareness and decision making processes of artificial intelligence. What are your thoughts on where humans should go with the development and implementation of AI?
What an interesting question! Smarter people than me have tried to answer that question - what Asimov refers to as the Frankenstein complex (the idea of a creation inevitably rising up against its creator). I often wonder if this isn’t some sort of misplaced guilt over humanity’s perceived rise against its own Creator, as described by Genesis and many an ancient myth.
Elon Musk is definitely smarter than me, but since you ask for my opinion, I’ll say that I don’t lose any sleep over it. We’re still too far from understanding consciousness, which a lot of people seem to confuse with intelligence. My personal feeling is that AI will grow exponentially, creating much more advanced versions of Siri, but this is not a threat to humanity.
I think it’s inevitable that we will create proxy armies that will fight each other without harming humans. My hope is that some day the idea of humans dying on the battlefield will be as abhorrent as that of civilian casualties. However, from what I’ve seen and read so far, the fear of Skynet becoming conscious seems pretty remote. I look at science and technology as tools, so I’m not afraid of them, but of the uses people can find for them. For me, that is a much scarier prospect than technology acting autonomously to antagonize humanity.
You obviously have expertise in the sciences, as Mr. Musk does. Do you have any of your own portents about the future of science colliding with humanity?
Science and humanity are interacting on a daily basis in a number of ways; we just don’t realize it. We live in a magical world where I can answer questions posed to me by someone I’ve never met in person, who lives thousand of miles away. The answers are stored inside vast depositories of all knowledge. I can do so in seconds, my words covering the distance at unprecedented speeds.
I can then ask my phone for directions to the nearest movie theatre. By pinging a number of satellites orbiting Earth, my phone will navigate me there, so I can watch a 3D movie. We already live in the future, we just don’t realize it. :)
The beauty of most technology is that it becomes transparent as more people use it. However, it also raises unanticipated issues, according to the law of unitended consequences. Are these issues new? I don’t think so. For example, one of the great issues of our day is privacy, but that is a reflection of an older question: how much freedom are we willing to sacrifice in the name of security?
They say that each generation is doomed to learn the really important lessons all over again. I hope that’s not true, but I do consider science to change the context of these debates, but not their actual content.
How many book drafts do you have lying around, and what is the one you’re most excited to pick up and finish?
Lol - this is like Sophie’s Choice! :D I am currently editing the second draft of Pearseus: Rupture (the fourth book in the series). I’m also writing short stories, which will hopefully be published as a second collection (The Power of Seven, perhaps?) I have six children’s books ready, of which one, Runaway Smile, has been illustrated and is about to get published.
I spend most of my time working on Rupture, as it is the most labour-intensive project, but enjoy all of them. I pick what I’ll work on depending on how I feel each day. Like I said, my only rule is that I work on my career each and every day, but I allow myself the flexibility to do so at a whim. :)
What message do you have to potential new readers of your stories?
A great amount of work and love has gone into writing my books, but that means nothing without readers. So, I hope you enjoy them! If you do, please review and share them with others. It’s pretty hard to get your voice heard in a world where some 6,500 books are published daily and every single recommendation matters.
What message do you have to the readers who are already fans of your works?
With so many books published daily, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that you chose to read mine. So, I just want to say thank you!! And give you a big hug. I wish I could bring you cookies, too. Maybe some day, technology permitting, we’ll be able to do that. 3D food printing, perhaps?
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So, you think you want to be a bestselling author? That's a good goal :)
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