Orb happens to be (so far) my only book. Science fiction genre, although I hope to capture a wider audience. The plot centers around the beliefs and behaviors of adult characters as they encounter the mysteries of a largely unexplored planet. Words lifted from the back cover say more without giving too much away: Three months outbound from Earth and the starship Desio approaches its planetary destination, her crew eager to commence a mission of scientific discovery. Kyle Lorenzo, however, has a personal reason for being on board—one that will ultimately propel him to explore not only of the furthest reaches of an enigmatic ocean world but the nebulous recesses of his inner psyche.
Tell us something about yourself.
The most interesting thing about me, especially as it pertains to my writing, is that I fail to be easily characterized or placed in a limiting niche. I had a long and varied career as a “white collar” civil servant, ultimately (and to the best of my ability) attempting to dispense Solomon-like decisions as a Hearing Officer. On the other hand,I grew up in a “blue-collar” environment, with a father who would drag my reluctant ass out of bed to shingle a roof or hang siding. Later on in life I used those same skills, and more, to act as the general contractor for my residence on Long Island and a Catskills, NY vacationhouse. The same contrast applies to what captures my imagination, equally divided (some might say diluted) between science and the arts. This is seen in my writing. I couldn’t, and wouldn’t attempt to write hard science fiction. By the way, I do have a B.A. in Literature.
What inspired you to write this book?
My motivation came from any number of sources. Foremost, I had something to say. Through writing, through my characters, I found expression—with the added benefit, if that’s what it is, of never being contradicted or interrupted. Orb gave me an outlet to explore themes of isolation, loneliness and connectivity. In a perverse way I was also “inspired” by bad writing, believing I could do better.
How did you choose the title?
I didn’t. One of my characters did.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
Overcome them?! I didn’t. I say this facetiously, for I joined the legions of damned not slipping past the publisher’s gatekeepers, also known as literary agents. I gave up on them early—somewhere during the time I heard Snooki, via one such gatekeeper, had inked a book deal. In what used to be the shadow realm, that of self-publishing, the only significant obstacles remaining are self-made.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
There was no defining moment. I “knew” when the urge to express myself finally couldn’t be contained and I needed an appropriate outlet. (Believe me singing, if I only could, would have been a whole lot easier.) My first attempt at writing was many years ago when I wrote a screenplay. That effort made it into my fireplace. Orb was written, and rewritten, over the course of eighteen months as I refined my abilities.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Nothing extraordinary, although sitting at the computer while staring at the monitor does focus ones attention. One cup of coffee in the morning may add a point or two to my challenged IQ.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
A phone book helps. I also knew the nationality of some of my characters, so I did an internet search to find a match. I deliberately avoided the bizarre “alphabet soup” type naming found in some science fiction novels. Nothing like Zendelophegy from the planet Umorilkordorph.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I learned the step-by-step process of self-publishing—partly from trial and error, partly from “how to” books. Far too much information to mention here. I learned that self-publishing is a big business attracting all manner of entrepreneurs, some quite willing to take advantage of the uninitiated. I also learned how dammed hard writing can be. In this regard, staying focused on the writing, then finding a great editor for your manuscript is all-important.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Nothing major, although I made dozens of small mistakes along the way. I found out that requesting book reviews from established writers (in my case science fiction writers) is unproductive—even though their reviews often appear on back covers of publishing house books.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I have eclectic taste when selecting what to read. It might be easier to mention what I don’t like to read.I’m not a big fan of the more popular mass market books, the bloody crime dramas, vampire succotash, espionage save-the-world thrillers.In the last year or so I have read Joseph O’Neill, Jack McDevitt, Jonathan Swift, Robert Silverberg, Coraghessan Boyle, and Stanislaw Lem just to name a few. I read Philip K. Dick for his imagination. I read Dickens because it is near impossible to write any better.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I devote an inordinate amount of time looking for an inspiration, for an idea that does not seem familiar. Presently, I have “plotted out” my next novel, also science fiction, and have a solid draft of the first 25,000 words.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Writing advice from the likes of me? Well, there is one thing to be said for advice coming from a first-time author like myself: What I have learned is fresh in my mind. Here are one or two observations/encouragements for those who finally, and for the first time, sit down to write…when all you see are those one-hundred thousand words yet to be written intimidate and threaten:
Foremost, keep in mind there aren’t many, or any, writers who know where all the plot lines are going, or what each character will exactly do or say. Nobody is that brilliant. For example, in Orb there is a subplot with a submersible that fully came to mind only after I had written a few chapters. To work it in successfully, all I had to do is go back and adjust and/or add a few lines. Similarly, ever have an argument or discussion and subsequently think of something you wished you had said—a retort, an insight? Well, when writing, you have all the time in the world for your characters to say these things. Because of this time warp there will be instances when you can make characters smarter, perhaps more complex, than you ever thought possible. And, if you imbue these characters with interesting personalities, there will be times when they will speak to you.
Finally, excluding the above, be careful of accepting too much advice. One size does not fit all.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Well-educated, thirties and older, bored with the usual “best seller” fiction, does not require a novel full of sex and violence in order to be entertained. I would add that if science fiction is not your thing you still may want to give Orb a try.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
My website, orbthebook.com, provides more information, including links to ebook (Kindle and Nook) and paperback purchase. Or you can go directly to the websites of Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Createspace.