Today I’m excited to bring you a Q&A with author D. Ellis Overttun. Originally David contacted me over a year ago to review Universe: Awakening but decided it need more work, now I’m here with an interview to celebrate the re-publishing. Without further ado, a little about the book:
Title: Universe: Awakening by D. Ellis Overttun
Date Re-Published: 7th October 2018
Genre: Science Fiction
The year — 526,780. A probe is deployed from ISV Intrepid at the outer edge of the universe. It is the last of a complement of twelve that is part of the Deep Exploration of Uncharted Space or DEUS. Its mission: collect data on the redshift of light and spatial distortions. Time horizon: 1,000 years.
Before ISV Intrepid can return to base, something goes wrong. There is an accident. The ship is later salvaged but its pilot is missing, its copilot in a coma.
The probes collect their data with uneventful regularity.
Fast forward to 526,880. A sole surviving probe still sits in the darkness at the outer edge of the universe. Now, unseen to the naked eye, the space around the probe begins to stretch and distend. Then, the probe disappears, engulfed by an energy of unknown origin and unknown composition. However, it manages to transmit one final message.
CD3C has monitored the disappearance of each probe over the last three years. While the interpretation of the data remains a mystery, speculation is that something has invaded the universe and is moving a superluminal velocity. Its effects could be manifested in as little as the next thousand years. To the Celesti, this is one lifetime.
What can be done?
The one person who might be able to solve this problem is the copilot of ISV Intrepid. He has been lying in stasis suffering from mental trauma. He has been this way for the past century, the longest recorded case in medical history. His unchanging condition has been a convenient solution to stall any inquiry into the accident that put him there.
This threat changes everything. Now, he is needed.
Is it possible to unlock his mind?
The task falls to Auberon, a career nobody inhabiting the lower level of the hierarchy of the Ministry of Science. Can something be awakened in him to allow someone ordinary do something extraordinary?
Universe: Awakening answers this question. In the process, it explores the world of the Celesti, a highly evolved humanoid species with advanced technology, physiology and a unique way of procreation. It blends science and political intrigue to reveal the interplay of storyline and character development that forms the staging ground for the Terra Nova Series.
Q&A with David Ellis Overttun
Can you tell me a little bit about Universe: Awakening?
Universe (Book 1) is a story about how people react to bad news: in this case, the end of the universe. Just like the threats to our own planet, there are those who accept the threat, the deniers and those who think we still have time. It draws attention to the premise that in many cases facts don’t matter. It is narrative consistency that counts and that generally means we do tomorrow what we did today.
Notwithstanding, what holds this and any story together are the relationships among its characters. One theme is how friendships are formed from adversity. Another is how self interest affects our interactions. Finally, there is love: the love between parent and child, the beginnings of love and how love endures over time.
This is the second edition of the book. Essentially, it is a major rewrite of the first third of the original version because of constructive comments I received from reviewers who noted there was more tell than show. My bad — I have a background in technical writing and can be somewhat pedantic. (Book 2, Genesis: Vision of the New World, cured me of that affliction.) So, I ripped out those sections and replaced it with dialogue to emphasize character development and relationships.
Also, LJ, you were the one who told me in a very nice way the original cover was blah. So, I let my wife do this one.
Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
I have always been struck by the difference between religion and science, between faith and fact. Oddly enough, this has translated into two enduring interests of mine: biblical scholarship and physics. Full disclosure: These are only interests. I have absolutely no skill in either area. I do not speak or read Greek, Hebrew or any of the other languages that might help give me direct access to an ancient text. (I am still trying to master English.) I also do not have the requisite math skills to even begin to investigate physics. However, I am very good at arithmetic.
The result is a sci-fi series with Judeo-Christian themes. The references are everywhere. For example: the names of some of the characters (“el” means “god”), Guardians that can form wings and fly, auras (aka halos), the mark of Cain, etc. What it is not is an opinion about science and religion or the importance of one over the other.
If you could describe your book in one sentence what would it be?
Sci-fi sprinkled with the Old Testament.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
I only have a very general direction of where the story is going, that I have to end up in a certain place. In that sense, I’m very much like the reader waiting to see what comes next. It’s the thing that gets me excited.
I write like a songwriter. They will typically start out with a riff and see where it leads. I do the same. I have a premise for the day’s segment but I look for that opening riff. Ideas come to me just before I fall asleep at night or when I’m just about to wake in the morning. I try to empty my head ASAP. Once the ideas are “on paper”, I go back and refine later in the day. The next morning, the process repeats itself.
When I am in writing mode, I write somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 words a day. So, it takes me about 2 months to get to a first draft. Then, the real work begins: editing, copyediting and getting rid of stupid stuff.
If you could recommend just one book to read what would it be and why?
Without hesitation, if I could only recommend just one book to read (and not one of mine in shameless self promotion), it would have to be Antifragile by Nassim Taleb. For me, it has crystalized my view of risk and how to deal with it. I am not just talking about financial risk. I am also talking about the kinds of risk you see in the TV series The Science of Stupid. I have found that people only become aware of risk when bad things happen. Antifragile defines and describes risk in a way that has influenced the way that I view the world.
Who are your favourite authors?
I mostly read things that my wife gives me for Christmas which tends to focus on interesting perspectives (eg. The Upside of Down or An Illustrated Short History of Progress). Having said that, my favorite author has to be Nassim Taleb. I love the irreverent way he describes how the world works and admonishes the powers that be. Next on my list would be Niall Ferguson for the unique way he sees things.
Tell me something interesting about yourself (that’s not in your author bio!)
I played piano in some bars around town one year to help put myself through university. Talent wise, I was and am just below a mediocre musician — cover your ears on my worst day and you can listen to maybe one song on my best. However, that background has helped me to pen the lyrics to 3 songs in Universe:“Girl-Wind”, an untitled piece and “Wanderer”.
I grew up in a town in the Midwest, my mother was a bookkeeper for a small HVAC company and my father was a draftsman. At university, I studied chemistry. However, when I graduated, I did not (or could not) pursue that vocation because I was terrible in the lab.
I have been a storyteller ever since I can remember. It started as a way to get out of trouble and evolved as a way to entertain those around me. My first recollection of writing prose was in elementary school when I had to write a short essay about a picture from a magazine. (Mine was a freshly baked loaf of bread.) In grade 7, I penned two short stories for a school writing competition. One was entitled “My Funny Cousin”, a descriptive piece about a relative (a little older than me) who stayed with us one summer. My mother very quickly killed that story. At the time, it didn’t make sense to me because she told me she thought it was very funny. It was only later that I figured out that I could have replaced “Funny” with “Flamboyant” in the title. So, it was back to the drawing board. My second attempt was a collection of anecdotes about the life of my maternal grandfather titled “The Hilarious Things My Grandfather Did”. That one went on to win.
My first complete novel was a story about a soldier of fortune in the age of horse and bow. At the time, I had contact with people in the entertainment business in California. The feedback I got was that I should take one of the chapters and expand it into a novel. That made no sense to me. What the heck did that mean? How could you expand something so small into something big? So, I never pursued it. However, the comment stuck with me. It was only much later that I figured out that it meant that I should never rush the telling of a story.
This brings us to the present and the Terra Nova Series. (Book 2 has just been published and Book 3 is in progress.) I write for an audience of one: my wife. She loves the stories. Now, all I have to do is get 99,999 more like her and I’ll have a hit!
You Can Buy A Copy of Universe: Awakening here:
United Kingdom: http://amzn.eu/d/8oJJRzd
United States: http://a.co/d/dVj3Yrb