Updated: Sep 1, 2022
It's Indie Author Sunday! Every other Sunday, we're posting an interview with a different indie author along with posts about them on all our social media accounts. This week it's Dr. A.R. Davis, the author of The Fifth Prophet.
WW: Tell us about your experience with Indie publishing?
ARD: I have published five books with Authorhouse. In the beginning I needed professional help and they handled everything, for a price. The end results were great. I was completely satisfied, although the process of getting the manuscript into final form was unnecessarily difficult. When I wanted to improve my books with what I had learned over the years and put out second editions, Authorhouse wanted to charge as much as a new book for each of them. I finally realized I could do all of that on my own, so I have switched to Createspace and moved all the books to their platform.
The marketing end of the process is the worst. I am not a salesman. I dislike trying to convince someone to buy my book. Either they are interested, based on the cover description or the website, or they are not. I have no trouble speaking in public, I was a teacher and professor all my career. My local book signings have gone well, for an indie author, but a world tour is out of the question for me, so I greatly appreciate this opportunity to connect with interested people.
WW: Tell us about your book.
ARD: Perturbations Of The Reality Field is the first book in my new series. It begins by placing humanity and our solar system onto the edge of a Cluster of new stars. How it gets there is a metaphysical puzzle which is slowly unraveled. The immediate problem is that the stars of the Cluster are populated by civilizations more advanced than ours and who are competing for power and control. Luckily, we can see them before they see us, so we have some time to prepare for their arrival. An alien being, incarnated into a telepathic border collie, gathers the characters like the stars of the Cluster, and shepherds her flock through the story.
WW: What made you want to write in the genre of your book?
ARD: I retired as a professor of computer science and mathematics the year after 9/11. I taught in Brooklyn, and although I was not there the day the towers fell, afterward I saw the trucks full of debris passing by every day. Soldiers checked the underside of vehicles entering the parking lots, and heavily armed police stood ten feet outside my office door for the rest of the year. My office was on the ground floor of a building next to the replacement emergency headquarters of the police. It affected me deeply.
Several years later I was sitting on my back porch daydreaming about how to win the war on terror as I had done often, and as others were attempting on a more serious level. Suddenly, I had an inspiration. It was a very strange feeling. My daydream had taken a coherent form, a solution, and I had an irresistible urge to write it all down! I rushed inside to my computer and began to write my first book, The Fifth Prophet, about a mathematician who is spoken to by God.
Although I was always a science fiction fan, I had never written or published anything other than mathematical papers before. After a week of effort I had a draft of the entire story. Then the work began. It took almost a year to turn the book into a finished product.
WW: What has been your favorite part of being an indie author?
ARD: The best part about being an indie author is shaping my day dreams into finished worlds and seeing them in physical form. I often visit my books on the shelves of my local library right next to Delaney’s Dhalgren. Knowing that several hundred people have walked through my worlds is very rewarding.
WW: What do you wish you knew before going the indie-publish route?
ARD: Somehow I assumed that with eight billion people in the world, putting my books on the internet would get a steady stream of readers, even for a complete unknown. It is more like the tree falling in the forest with no one there. Unless you market your work, hard, no one hears a sound.
WW: What books or authors have inspired you?
ARD: I love science fiction because of the freedom to invent new worlds, but science is advancing so quickly these days that it is hard to stay ahead of the curve. Hard unless you explore the nature of reality itself, as my favorite author Philip K. Dick expertly did. I label my genre as metaphysical sci-fi. In addition to his stories, his Exegesis, is a fascinating look into the mind of an author.
WW: Are you working on anything now?
ARD: I am currently finishing the second book in my second series, A Trojan Horse Inside A Paper Moon. Both of my series have ended up outside the physical universe in a scientific, logical, form of heaven. The first heaven, the ectometaverse, was the logical extension of an explanation of how a time traveler could go back in time and meet himself. Where would his soul be? What would his soul be? The second heaven, the one I’m in now, is part of the mind of God; the spiritual universe, the borderland, the physical universe. It comes from trying to answer the question of what thought is, and where does it exist..
I don’t want to scare potential reader away with too much philosophy. Both series are full of action and are in a sense, space operas. It’s just that, where The Martian goes deep into chemistry, and Ready Player One into virtual reality, I concentrate on human consciousness.
WW: What does your writing space look like?
ARD: I write standing at my laptop computer, which is placed on a cardboard box on the kitchen table with a good view of my backyard. Some of my best work though occurs during my long jogs in the local park. I just have to remember my ideas when I get back. Actually, as long as I have a pen and paper with me I am always writing or thinking about my work wherever I go.
WW: What is your writing process like?
ARD: My process is something like sculpting. I start with a general idea for a story, a lump of stone. Then I outline plot, imagine characters, and dream of settings, while writing drafts of scenes that are nearest the surface. I go back again and again and again, filling in missing pieces and adjusting everything so it fits together. The final result sort of fades in from the fog.
WW: What advice would you give writers looking at indie publishing?
ARD: Don’t expect to make any money, or to hit the best seller list, but if you enjoy the process start writing. Don’t be afraid to share your work with others, through open mic nights, writers’ workshops and such. Accept constructive criticism without a struggle. Always strive to improve, even if you thought your last work was a masterpiece. Once your writing is on the web it never goes away, so you may not be famous now, but in the distant future, who knows?