It’s Not Writers Who Are Interesting: It’s the Fans Who Read Their Work
Science Fiction Fans kick ass. Period. Look at the passion they hold for the work they follow. It is awesome. My particular flavour of science fiction is classed as Cyberpunk and has a sharp edge of Dark Fantasy: supernatural, occult, or H.P.Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. I’m also known for my post apocalypse books, set in the world of YELLOW DAWN.
I spend a lot of time on the Internet promoting my work. Outreach campaigns, social network management, engagement strategies, and having fun, digging into things I didn’t know about until some interesting soul throws a URL my way.
Sometimes you just get the measure of somebody online. A consistent vibe that “this is a good person”.
Meet Evan C.
He’s a reader. He’s a consumer of fiction. So writers, take note.
I approached him to do an interview because I believe science fiction fans will enjoy his Facebook page (Sanctuary) and networking through his enthusiasm for the genre. He also, I feel, would make a rather fantastic character in a book. So again, writers, take note.
My favourite part of this has to be Evan’s response on weaponry. I now want to buy an axe! And not any kind of axe but the very specific axe he talks about here.
Here’s Evan C, in words:
DJR: You’re the man behind the Facebook community Sci-fi Sanctuary. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/scifisanctuary) It’s a small group but has a passionate following. What was the motivation behind this?
EJC: I took the idea of Sanctuary from Logan’s Run and thought of us members as “runners”. People looking for a place that was free of trolls, bullying and negativity. I think it has been a success so far as we haven’t had a single instance of those things happening. I also had the thought that it would allow other fans of science fiction to share things they enjoy as well as engage in conversation. I know that there are a number of scifi-themed pages and groups on FB, but I like to think of Sanctuary as someplace special.
I saw Star Wars as a 7 year old kid in 1977. Watching that opening crawl for the first time, I can well imagine that my mouth hung open and stayed that way for 121 minutes. This was probably my first real memory of anything substantially science fiction. It was off to the races after that.
One of the most influential books I read during high school was The Long Afternoon of Earth (an abridged version of Hothouse) by Brian Aldiss. This book would further fuel my passion for speculative fiction, especially post apocalypse (in this case, the Earth had stopped rotating on its axis and the story would take place millions of years in the future when mankind had devolved to three-foot-tall bipeds riding mile-long spiders to the moon). It would take me nine years to find this book in a used book store so that I could enjoy it again…
We only had two channels on the television growing up, so pickings were slim as far as finding scifi on TV. I concentrated on books and magazines. I still have a copy of SciFi Now that I got for Christmas back in the late 70’s. That book became a bible of sorts. Filled with images from various scifi flicks through the years. I became familiar with movies from the 50’s and 60’s before I had even had a chance to see them some 20 years later when they were released on VHS or DVD. I distinctly remember seeing stills from Space: 1999, Thunderbirds, No Blade of Grass, and other shows/movies. It was this book that fueled my love for British science fiction. The Bed Sitting Room, A Clockwork Orange, Fahrenheit 451….
Too many to count. This love for British scifi would run well into my 20’s, 30’s, and now 40’s with shows like Blake’s 7, Doctor Who and Red Dwarf. It was only natural that I would create a group on Facebook dedicated to science fiction.
DJR: You’re ex-military. A vet. Tell us about that.
EJC: Wow, that’s gonna be tough to do in a limited amount of space. I grew up on a dairy farm in western Montana. A small, one stop-light town. I had always dreamed of being in the military, so I joined the National Guard when I was seventeen years old and a Junior in High School. I remember the recruiter coming out to the farm and my parents signing the papers, using the giant milk tank as a table. After graduating high school, I went to college for a year. I failed miserably and didn’t have the heart to tell my parents, so I decided to go active duty Army. To this day, I still don’t have the heart to tell my dad the real reason I went active duty.
In 1990, I was transferred to Bindlach Germany and stationed with a unit that performed border guard duty along the East/West German border. 1st Squadron, 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment. The wall came down just a few days after I had arrived.
In November of 1990, our unit was activated for duty in the Middle East theater of operations for something that would become known as Desert Shield. A short while later, it became Desert Storm and we were engaged in some of the largest tank battles since WWII (The Battle of the 73 Easting).
One of my fondest memories from that time was my junior high English teacher sending me a huge box of books to share with my fellow soldiers. What did I read during that time? The Dune series, of course.
When I wasn’t out in field problems or pulling maintenance on my track, I could be found in my barracks room. There was always some scifi show playing on the VCR while I was painting miniatures. I was a big fan of WH40K at the time as well as doing sets from Aliens, Star Wars and D&D.
DJR: What are you now? Describe a typical day in the life…
EJC: I’m just a guy, ya know? I work for the local county Weed and Parks Dept. I do everything from fence building to grave digging. I spend the majority of the summer months working up in the mountains of NW Montana. This is my office ….
DJR: Unless I’ve missed something you’re not a creator of fiction but you are a massive consumer. My kind of friend! ;o) Have you ever considered writing? If so, how far did you get? What were you working on – or what are you working on now? And if relevant, why did you stop?
EJC: I had considered writing – for about three minutes. It’s not in the cards for me. I have been told that I should write, but to be honest, I have absolutely zero desire to do so. My wife on the other hand, is a beginning writer and has two stories in the works. One is a children’s fantasy trilogy and the other is a young adult dystopian series. She likes to call me her “technical advisor” as I have a passion for dystopian and postapoc fiction. She bounces ideas off of me and I nudge her in one direction or another. In fact, one of the main reasons for my involvement in social media is to research and network in order to make things easier for her once she decides to publish. This most likely won’t happen for a few more years, but it should be a little easier for her to have an in-house agent working for her.
To be honest, I am most happy meeting new writers, reading their books, and engaging with them. There is a certain thrill I get when talking to a writer whose books I’ve read and enjoyed.
DJR: One of my favourite science fiction books of all time is The Forever War. The author, Joe Haldeman, was a Vet. Do you think there’s an aspect of self-determination, personal salvation and exorcism in the act of writing military science fiction for folks who have served in war?
EJC: I would think yes. A person writing about war, who has served in war, is able to convey things to a reader that only a combat veteran would know. There are subtleties involved, yet there is a “feel” that a veteran is able to bring to the story that will help the non-veteran understand the absolute terror of combat.
DJR: what are your views on death – a chemical biological reality or is there something more spiritual going on beyond the veil?
EJC: I want to believe that there is more to death than simply becoming worm fodder. Sometimes that can be difficult, especially when I have to dig a grave. It’s a surreal experience and I tend to spend the time wondering about this very question. I like to consider myself a Christian and I try to walk the spiritual path of faith. I do believe that energy cannot be created, nor destroyed. Rather it can only change form. I choose to have faith that there is more to this life than just a physical mass of tissue and that when we die, the energy that was us (if in the form of consciousness or spirit) takes on another form and becomes part of something we don’t (and most likely will never) understand.
DJR: Funniest moment of your life.
EJC: It was a dark night (and by dark, I mean a black so black that you question whether or not you even exist or entered some kind of dimension of no-space) during the war. The sky was overcast, not a star in sight, and in the middle of a sea of sand with no light to reflect from the clouds. I was on guard duty at about 0200 in the morning. Making my rounds, the ground had opened up underneath me and the next thing I know, I was dead. After about 10 seconds of being “dead”, I realized that I had fallen into a fighting position (a fancy word for foxhole) and had the wind knocked out of me. I just lay at the bottom of that hole and started laughing my ass off. I thought that was pretty funny.
DJR: Favourite weapon and why? Answer that and then elevate it into something futuristic. Describe function, benefits, drawbacks, operational remit and technical details.
EJC: I’ve considered myself a bit of a fanatic of eastern and western weaponry for a little over three decades. I’ve studied everything from dull rocks to the yield-to-weight ratio of nuclear weapons. That being said, my favorite? The axe. More specifically, the French Fransisca. It is beauty and death in its form and function.
I have spent more than half of my life shooting competitively. Rifles, pistols, shotguns, as well as the odd bow every so often. At the end of the day, when there are no more firearms manufacturers, no more smokeless powder factories, no more ammunition caches, there will always be a big, burly guy with a hammer and forge pounding out a sharp piece of steel.
The Fransisca is effective as both a close range, and (somewhat) long range weapon. Up close and personal, it can cleave limbs, split skulls and disembowel. It can be effective for hooking, blocks, and parry. Being thrown from a distance, it can stop a fight before it starts. You can chop through small trees or dress a deer. Hell, you can scrape that 5 o’clock shadow off of your face to be more presentable if so inclined.
Yes, the axe will never be replaced and would remain my weapon of choice when the zeds come a biting or the scavs come a scavenging.
DJR: Favourite post-apocalyptic moment (from fiction or from your own imagination).
EJC: If I have to nail down one favorite postapoc moment, it would have to be the beginning narrative to Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior). That voice and the primitive description of the apocalypse is simply gorgeous. I have always been a fan of the “lone wanderer” of the wasteland. A man who has lost everything, yet holding onto something that keeps him putting one foot in front of the other. The visual of such a man digging through the ruins of the past sparks something deep inside. Most people see hopelessness in that. I see hope. Hope that the next day will be different. That something lost will be found. Hope and faith are two sides of the same coin and without them, there’s nothing.
DJR: Any creative folks you want to shout about?
EJC: Yes. There are quite a few actually. I have met some of the coolest writers over the past year, but I’d like to specifically mention the first independent writer that I became a fan of. A fellow that goes by the name of A.D. Bloom.
Back in 2012, I got my first Kindle. One of the first books I downloaded was called STITCH: The Bone Blade Girl by A.D. Bloom. It was the first of the STITCH trilogy. It impressed me. It excited me. I loved it! It had everything I enjoyed in a story. It was postapoc of a sorts, had talking animals and a main character that I dare anyone not to fall in love with. She was such a tragic character and I am a sucker for tragic characters. The cadence was downright awesome and the vocabulary was challenging, yet beautiful. For some reason I still can’t nail down, it reminded me of Brian Aldiss (my favorite speculative/science fiction author. I have very fond memories of reading his books when I was younger).
I immediately downloaded the rest of the series as well as every short story and anthology by the same author. I scoured the internet, looking for any information on the guy. I couldn’t find anything. Flash forward to 2013 and I decide to join twitter with the sole intention of hunting him down (I wasn’t stalking!). I found him and followed him (not stalking!), but would not actually get a chance to engage with him until summer of 2014. We have become friends since then and even though the STITCH series is no longer available, A.D. blessed me with a special edition and the instructions that I was to disseminate it as I saw fit. “Let it go forth and multiply” were his words. If anyone is interested in reading STITCH, get a hold of me and I will send you a copy.
These days, he is busy with his new military scifi series, The War of Alien Aggression. If you’re a fan of military science fiction, I highly recommend it.
I’d feel remiss if I did not mention a couple more writers that I have come to admire over the past year. Joshua Done, the author of The Exile Empire was the first writer to follow me on twitter. I felt a bit like a rock star to see that a bona fide writer chose to follow me out of the blue. I really enjoyed his book and look forward to reading more from him. He is currently at work on a web comic series called Icarus Sons.
N.R. Burnette has become a favorite of mine. He is the author of Paphos, Cargo Lock 5 and his latest book, Kenji. He writes these really cool flash fiction stories, called Bioflash, that are based upon the online profiles of fans and volunteers. He wrote a postapoc story with me as the main character and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it was cool as hell. I secretly (and selfishly) hope that he turns it into a full-fledged novel and sells the film rights to Ridley Scott.
I have come to admire an indie author who seems to really be gaining popularity. Adam Dreece has created an emergent steampunk body of work called The Yellow Hoods. He is a perfect example of finding an author who I thought was simply an awesome person, only to find that his books are exceptional. One of the things I admire about him is his willingness to help other writers with their craft. I have yet to come across a writer who honestly loves to engage with his readers as much as he does. He is one of the good guys.
DJR: You’re in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise. It’s crawling toward you… You reach down and flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lies on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over. But it can’t. Not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that?
EJC: A tortoise, what’s that? Do you make up these questions, Mr. Rodgers, or do they write them down for you?
So there you have Evan C. Very enjoyable read. I hope you found it to be so, too.
Evan C WordPress site: https://sanctuary11811.wordpress.com/
Evan C Twitter: https://twitter.com/No11811
SciFi Sanctuary: https://www.facebook.com/groups/scifisanctuary/
Evan C Tumblr: http://no11811.tumblr.com/
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