Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?
I actually started as a business author. Publishers were more interested in my success as a social media marketer and not my first attempts at writing novels. However, after my third business book, I turned back to fiction. I learned enough about the book publishing process to feel comfortable going the independent route.
What got you into writing?
My folks are both journalists, so you could say it runs in the family. As a child, I grew up reading science fiction novels from Asimov, Brook, Clarke, Heinlein and Tolkein. It became a dream of mine to write science fiction. Then in college I became a Literature major, and the rest is history!
What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?
While Exodus has a serious bend towards examining religious fundamentalism, it was actually grounded in a collegiate study of Marxism in the early 90s. I appreciated Marx’s utopian dream, but realized it was unattainable. What would disrupt it? Personal greed for wealth and power as manifested by religion, technology, and/or money.
The book kind of took off from there. I decided to riff off of the Exodus concept in the bible and some Greek characters, and the novel kind of mapped itself.
Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?
I like Mordecai, actually. He’s inevitably human. He gets suckered, is cranky, and tries to do the right thing as it appears in the moment. Of course, sometimes he is very, very wrong, like his initial support of Pravus that helped create the Empire. Plus he is bent on doing things the old way, and knows his way around a linrary. That’s why I like him so much.
What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?
There is a scene when the villagers must cross the Ohio river. You know it’s dangerous, and all hell breaks loose. I think that’s the low point for the village and its heroes.
What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?
I enjoy dialogue. Describing scenes is a bit dangerous because you can easily slip into telling and not showing. Through dialogue we can show events as they unfold in a more natural fashion. When you communicate through conversation, you reveal information as it is often transferred between people.
In real life we learn and grow from interacting with each other, and then reading and writing. Even when you are out and about as a child, experiencing the real world, your parents and friends tell you about the things you see, helping to shape your perspective.
How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?
It takes four to six months usually. I try to write every day, roughly 500 to 1000 words. Sometimes my professional work demands that I write something else, but nevertheless I write. And this lets me tap into the creative process naturally. I try to write in the morning when I am fresh, but can pretty much do it at anytime.
What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?
I like how science fiction allows us to dialogue about real possible scenarios with technology and society. We can envision what’s coming, and even weigh how we want the world to adapt technology, ideas or not at all.
I think dystopian fiction gives us a strong look at the human dark side, and we need that. How correct was William Gibson about Neuromancer? If you ask Eric Snowden, Gibson was spot on.
Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?
J.R.R. Tolkien was a huge influence, as was Asimov. Many of the authors mentioned were influences, and today, I follow modern science fiction writers David Brin, Charles Stross and John Scalzi online.
But perhaps my greatest influence was Thomas Hardy. See, he worked as a normal person until about 40 years of age. Then he became one of the most successful novelists of the 19th century. I needed to take the path I did to become successful, but because of Hardy, even though I am 41, I know there’s hope that I, too, can become a great novelist.
Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?
Yeah, that’s definitely part of the journey of writing a book. I am experiencing that right now with the second book of the The Fundamentalists and Marcus. He was really supposed to be the nice guy, but he’s changing quite a bit and becoming more, shall we say dark? I don’t want to say more because it would reveal the arc, but it’s surprising to me.
In the case of Exdous, I think Elliot’s final scene with Pravus revealed a much more dynamic tension than I anticipated. That tension is an undertone that serves as a backdrop throughout the second book. Yet, that scene didn’t exist until March of this year, even though I had rewritten the book several times over the course of the past twenty years.
Thanks for stopping by!
Book info is here: http://geofflivingston.