In the near future, mankind has exhausted the last of their fossil fuels and a new energy crisis holds the world in its terrifying grip. In a desperate gamble, it turns to geothermal energy and taps the Yellowstone caldera. It’s a success and the entirety of humanity benefits…for a time. Following the devastating eruption that ensues, mankind is forced to pick up the pieces of their shattered world and forms two factions. The Developers, those of humanity set on stripping the Earth of it’s remaining resources and leaving it behind to colonize first the moon, then the stars beyond. The Harmonizers, stalwart defenders of what they believe to be humanity’s one true home, dedicated to being more self-sufficient and eco-minded. As it’s been from the dawn of time when two groups can’t agree, there is strife, chaos, and eventually war. From the ashes of the conflict later to be known as the Great Division, a new species shall rise to see the world that was not of their making.
What lies in store for the remnants of humanity who rise up after the Great Division conflict? Donald L. Canterbury, author of ‘Of Mice Not Men’ has graciously set aside some time to chat with me today about what rises from the ashes of conflict within the pages of this novel, the first novel in this series. Donald, thanks for joining me today. What inspired the tale recounted within the pages of this novel?
It actually began as a Tabletop RPG game for my children. I’m hoping to finish and refine that game still and release it sometime after book 5 is published.
That is fantastic. I haven’t had any author source their inspiration from a game they were working on before, but I really like that idea. When you were working on either the RPG game, or the novel did you find that it was necessary to do much research?
An astronomical amount actually, ranging from common sci-fi clichés to avoid, to nuclear physics and genetic manipulation.
Wow, that’s a wide spread to subjects. Was it an important aspect for you to integrate some of your own personal experiences into the research to bring it to life?
Absolutely, an author can only truly write well about the things they know or have experienced. The dynamics present in the characters are something easy to see in one’s own life if you just pay attention. That’s what made them so real.
So did you take your characters directly from your own life, or were they formed through other means of inspiration?
Some through daydreams, others as I passed people on the street or thought back on my favorite books or films.
As you’ve been influenced by films, have you cast actors to play some of your characters in your head? What casting choices would you make?
If Mads Mikkelson would be willing, I’d love to see him in it, any character would be fine by me as he’s an amazing actor worthy of far more praise than he gets. I could also see Sigourney Weaver or Milla Jovovich maybe…I’d be forever honored if any actor would be willing to play a part honestly.
Maybe you could entice an actor to play a part if you could convey to them the most important message of the novel. What do you feel was this message?
Mankind is fully capable of saving itself from destruction, but we must see ourselves as a part of nature, not it’s rulers. Furthermore, we as humans must stop dividing ourselves by man-made titles and classes or else we are doomed to fail.
I think that statement might just be powerful enough to encourage some great actors to pick up the script. Other than possibly imagining your work on the big screen, what did you find was rewarding about producing the first installment in this series?
Being able to plant seeds in the minds of people who, had I told them the philosophies underlying everything, they would have scoffed or ignored me. It was also wonderful to create a new world, and hopefully, a better one. It gives us something to strive for at least.
Striving for a better future is something important. What is the next writing project that you are currently striving towards?
I am currently on Book 2 in the series, due out in July, called Ascension.
Good luck on the next installment! I hope that it’s looking well on track by now! What has pushed you to continue writing after your first novel was published?
Because in order to understand this world, and the people in it, sometimes you have to create and populate your own world. Ultimately it’s a legacy for my children, something for them to look back on and know that I did all this with their benefit in mind above all else.
That’s a wonderful legacy for your children which will give them a fabulous way to see the world as you see it. And how do you get these thoughts of yours on paper? Are you a strict planner when you write with a known end, or are you writing in a more fluid manner?
I have a general idea, but I’ve had many a twist in the first two books come out of left field and drag me with them, screaming into the night.
*Laughs* Those plot twists! Never to be trusted! How do you keep yourself on track on a daily basis? Are there any techniques that you use to prevent yourself being drug off with those twists?
I write when I can, though I am trying to get into a better routine. As a Licensed Massage Therapist, I sometimes have several hours of free time between clients, depending on the day that is, so I make the best use of it I can.
Having that ability to slot writing in to your day is very handy. Other than giving you the free time, does your profession influence your writing?
I’m a Licensed Massage Therapist primarily, and a permaculturist by hobby. So I meet a ton of people, hear all sorts of stories, and get to see the potential of man to interact with nature. It provides a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and inspiration.
Have those experiences allowed you to move past writer’s block, or do you have any other tricks for that?
I go back and read the reviews I’ve gotten, or talk to my wife. She’s amazing at keeping me motivated and on track.
Do you also use music for keeping on the writing track?
I have around four different playlists on Spotify, depending on the subject of the chapter, ranging from official soundtracks, to classical, ambient music, and video game covers.
Nice selection. And is editing a part of your writing track?
Yes, between myself and my wife we did basically all of it on book 1. I also have an advanced reader group comprised of fans from the beginning to help me out with feedback as I go.
That’s a great idea to have an advanced reader group. Other than pulling some fans into an advanced reader group, do you have any other advice for current or aspiring writers?
Never quit. Keep the gears turning. Not just writing, but plotting brainstorming and designing. If the gears stop, it can be impossible to get them moving again.
Well we won’t stop the gears here today, but we’ll move them in a slightly different direction towards our quirky and quaint quick fire round of questions. Let’s kick off the fun with: Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
Never limit yourself, in any way, good or bad. The minute you say that you shouldn’t learn something, or it’s not a good thing, you’ve limited your intellect. If we are ever to save our species, it will require thinkers without limits.
What is your favourite quote?
“Ask a man what is hell, he will likely tell you it’s a place of punishment, pain, damnation, and fire. That’s not hell…hell, is on the last day of your life, the person you are, meets the person you could have been.”
That is a great quote, and I feel that seeing who you could have been as a very scary concept! Are you a valuable asset on a quiz team?
Oh yeah, I have tons of “Useless knowledge” according to society.
*Laughs* Often that is the best type of knowledge anyway. What is your zodiac sign?
What is your favourite ocean?
None of them…not a fan of salt water. It’s sticky and most things in it can easily eat me.
I do admit I understand the reticence for salt water, but to be fair to the animals living in the oceans, they probably won’t eat you alive. That’s for the lions, tigers and bears. If you invented a monster what would it look like and what would you call it?
There’s no need to invent new monsters until we deal with those we already invented.
Nice priority setting. Are you introvert or extrovert?
Neither, again I find both of those to be limiting titles designed to divide mankind further.
I see another apt demonstration of getting your priorities in order. Have you ever danced in the rain?
Every chance I get.
If you ruled your own country, who would you get to write the national anthem?
Nobody, as I’d work on promoting global pride as opposed to country based patriotism.
I’m glad to see that you’re working ahead of the curve! Are you left or right handed?
Both, depending on the activity.
Now that’s a talent I’d like to have a better grasp on. How are the colours in rainbows made?
Water falls from the sky, and light shines through this, refracting in a prism that we perceive as a rainbow, according to science. The Vanir gods and goddesses gift us and the Earth with rain to nourish plants and animals alike, according to my faith. Do we REALLY know for sure how it happens…probably not, but hopefully one day we will.
I think I like a blend of the science and gods and goddesses. I feel that answer is enough while we wait for what the real understanding. If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
Ironically, I’m already doing that in book 2. Just wait and see, no spoilers.
Oh, no! I’m all excited to see the new animal now! Okay, The audience and I will all best on our best behaviors and will wait for you. I hope it’s an amazing new animal! Now, for more amazement, what color socks are you wearing?
Do you have a ‘do not use’ or ‘most hated words’ list when you are writing?
No way, I think you can’t limit the characters or your writing that way. Though I do try to keep the content not vulgar or grotesque as I want a younger audience to be able to enjoy it if they decide to read it.
Would you have a cast party with the characters in your book if they could come to life?
Uh…maybe. I have some pretty rough characters, and some of them aren’t exactly the party type.
*Laughs* Fair enough! You don’t want to invite the less than savoury elements to the party. Speaking of parties, what is your favourite flavor of ice-cream?
Coffee or Cookie Dough
They both sound good. Even before you mix them together! What’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
I try not to say a name is unusual, for fear of someone turning that into a negative mindset, rather though I have came across several very interesting ones. L-A ( La-dash-uh) and Orangejello (Or-ang-jullo)
I agree that the term unusual might have negative connotations, but I think that if I was called L-A I would probably have to admit that the name isn’t found in your run of the mill baby names book! What is your favourite word?
I don’t believe I’ve heard of that one before, but it’s officially my favourite word of the day, and will be promptly added to my mega ‘New Words’ list. Finally, what line from your novel do you think is the best to entice a new reader to explore your world?
“Oh For Terra’s sake!”
*Laughs* I love it! Donald, thanks for joining me today and I wish you the best of luck working on the next instalment in the ‘Of Mice Not Men’ series.
Want to find out more about Donald L. Canterbury? Connect here!