Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Sechin Tower
Sechin Tower was the last author on my list before I fully kicked this project off the ground on into a gallery. I wanted to go a more conceptual route with Sechin but still sticking to my rule of this has to be an environmental portrait. Sechin Tower was described to me as a "character", a "mad scientist" type of writer. Sechin Tower was generous to let me flip his writing desk around, which as he described, "it looks like Optimus Prime vomited wires and transistors all over it", to take his picture. I wanted to show his calm demeanor but that inside his head, the "mad scientist" was working on his latest creation...
Describe the genre you write. What got you into it?
To me, Science Fiction is the exploration of possibilities. I've always been drawn to the genre, probably because I grew up with Star Trek and Star Wars. Unlike the usual futuristic stories, I chose to set my books in the present day with the introduction of some disruptive technologies for those lucky—or unlucky—enough to know the secret. Because of the contemporary setting, sometimes my books have been called "technothrillers" or "super-hero stories," and I'm a-okay with those categorizations, too!
Who are you favorite writers for inspiration OR what are you influenced by for your novels?
My favorite contemporary sci-fi writer is probably Neal Stephenson because I love the way he writes very long stories and goes into incredible detail about technology and social systems. However, my writing style is almost the opposite: I work very hard to keep things extremely simple because I want my stories to be fast reads. Sometimes it means I have to fight my natural inclinations to completely geek-out, but I think it’s a mistake to let info-dumps get in the way of the story and the characters.
I think it’s a mistake for any genre-writer to read only in his or her genre because it spawns clichés and stagnates new concepts. I really like Mark Twain for his ironic humor, Arthur Conan Doyle for plot development, and Dostoyevsky for psychological conflict. Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is one of my all-time favorite books and is a huge inspiration for my character Soap Lazarchek.
What is your process? How do you begin to draft out your characters, story-lines/plots?
I’m a meticulous planner because I want character arcs to feel as tight as a guitar string. I usually start with a character, figure out what they desire most in life, and then I figure out how to challenge everything they thought they wanted. From there, I get into the plot details by creating a spreadsheet with a tiny summary of each chapter. I work on that outline for weeks, but once the blueprints are done I can write drafts extremely quickly and without fear of losing momentum whenever life interrupts.
Do you struggle with writer's block, if so, how do you overcome it?
I never struggle with writer’s block, but maybe that’s just because I consider staring off into space an important part of the process. Many writers seem to think that if they’re not tapping the keys then they’re wasting time, but I find that turning the story over and over in my mind is a crucial step and must be honored.
What are some projects you are working on now?
I’m finishing some Mad Science Institute short stories. Next up is a contribution to an anthology of Edgar Allen Poe adaptations, which I’m very excited to be a part of. After that—I’m not sure, but I’m in love with the short story format right now, so I may focus on writing more of those before developing another novel.
You mentioned you recently found and joined the group of local authors that you collaborate with at events/signings can you talk about that "family/friends" aspect of being invited in the community? How has it changed your process of writing or as an author?
When I started, I didn’t know anyone who had ever published a book or even finished writing one. My friends, family, and readers were very supportive, but it often felt like I was exploring Pluto because I was so professionally isolated. After the success of Mad Science Institute, I met a few other writers on line, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that I had the great good fortune to fall in with a whole gang of people who are both great writers and great people—Jeffrey Cook, A. J. Downey, and Lee French, to name a few. It’s been eye-opening to see how they bring their novels to the public and they have proven to be tremendous generous with their time whenever I have questions or just want to talk about how to go about doing the things that writers do. Writing is sometimes a rough road, so it’s great to have such wonderful travelling companions.
Where can we find your books?
One of the beautiful things about the ongoing upheaval of the publishing industry is that distribution is easy for anyone. The Mad Science Institute series is available on Amazon, of course, as well as all other major book selling sites, and any book store, big or small, can order the paperbacks on request. The ebooks are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and you can get any electronic format you like on Smashwords.
Lastly, as a reader, do you feel compelled to finish a book when you start it?
Never. The Library of Congress has over 3 million books in its collection, which means if you read one a day for a hundred years you wouldn’t even read half! Everybody likes different things and should seek out different books. I’m not offended if someone stops reading my book—life’s too short to stick with a book that’s less than exactly suited to your current preferences!
Many thanks to Sechin for being a part of this project.
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