Sunday, February 5, 2012




Hello, and thank you for taking the time to interview with us. What gave you the idea to write your book "Honor and Entropy"?

If a writer matures, he begins making sense of life experience that may not make itself apparent before some time has passed. Honor & Entropy is a culmination of a lot of things that I wanted to say about life and a way of looking at it. My experience in Vietnam and spending nearly half my life in the Far East is
a strong influence on the story. In the philosophical sense, I hold some beliefs that do not provide comfort - thus H&E, in spite of the extensive use of humor, is ultimately a tragedy. At various places in the story, I present the point of view that mankind is born neither good nor evil, but is merely instrumentalist, and when population density and competition for resources kicks in, no ethical training of any kind can withstand what people are willing to do. It fascinates me that honor can even survive in such a world.Homeric models, Nordic legend, and the Arthurian cycle are elemental as well. I don't
believe a quest tale can avoid these plots. And finally, I have long held a literary opinion that it is unrealistic for an antihero to turn into a hero, rather it is more believable for a one-dimensional antihero to become a two-dimensional antihero. That is critical to the outcome of the tale.

How long did it take to write this novel?

It took ten years, off and on, to write Honor & Entropy. I consider it fortunate that the whole publishing industry has changed while I took my time. The gatekeepers were not interested. Now it's mutual.

Can you tell us a bit about the writing process and what kind of research you had to do?

I recognize that the brain does not think in chronological order or in organized files and folders, and whenever a scene comes to mind, I write it down without worrying where it will eventually go. So I put a book together the way most people to do a puzzle: focused on the image, but without a rigid approach to assembly. If you say you will not move on until passage X is finished, that seems to me to be an additional obstacle. When it comes to
research, I did more than I anticipated. Though I have been to every locale in the story, it still took research to fill in language and details to add authenticity.

Do you have plans for another book and if so when can we expect it out?

I have already started a new book, a sci-fi comedy. I'm hoping to put that out in another year, but I won't rush out a sloppy product to meet an artificial deadline. Curiously, after hitting the charts with a 1000+ page novel, a work half or a third that length doesn't even feel intimidating. As far as past works go, one book I had written a few years ago almost saw the light of day, but my agent died, and since I cannibalized some of it for H&E, I let it drop. Some of my really early stuff goes in that drawer no writer wants to open again.

Have you given any thought to whether you'd like to see your novel become a feature film?

One reviewer has expressed a hope that H&E will be picked up by Hollywood. Even though I have written a number of screenplays, I wouldn't attempt this one. The story is just too big and complicated for me to wrestle into a two-hour box. I'd
love to see that happen, but it won't be by my hand.

We've seen what readers have said about the book so far and you've gotten some fantastic feedback. What have some of the people you are closest to said, and how do they feel about your career in writing?

Friends are encouraging and happy that I have left the field of tech writing and the academic world to pursue my dream. The feedback is great, but of course, living your dream trumps anyone's approval.

Do you have other genres in mind that you'd like to write in?

I would be quite comfortable in comedy, sic-fi, and historical settings. But for me, the motivator must be ideas first and foremost. That's what makes me write. I couldn't do it if it's just mindless entertainment.

Who are some of your inspirations in the literary field?

Wow. That's a loaded question, and the list is long. In fiction, I am a fan of Thomas Hardy, George Elliot, Marcel Proust, Joseph Conrad, Norman Mailer, P.G. Wodehouse, Jean Shepard, Bertold Brecht, Douglas Adams. The list goes on. In nonfiction, where I do most of my reading, I like Seneca, Aristotle, Carl Popper, Bertrand Russell, and long list of philosophers. I have also been inspired by movies, particularly Apocalypse Now, with its heavy borrowings from Conrad, Goethe, and Frazier.

Would you like to share any advice with other authors, and please give us your links where we can find out more about you and your work.

Advice for other writers? I'm not covering any new ground, but here goes. Read the classics, the Great Books. Not only will this put depth in your thinking, you will find that great idea of yours has been around a while. Don't try to make a conclusion about a life experience too quickly. It can mean something entirely different to you at a later date. Always read your writing out loud. Don't give your characters "set up" questions for another
character to explain something. And always read your own writing as if you are someone who doesn't like you.

Thank you so much for your time with this interview J.E. and I hope we can do it again in the future.

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