Q & A about author, J. Stephen Howard
What do you think readers will find most notable about this book? My book is unique because it allows the reader to get multiple perspectives while being taken on an adventure that leads them to many strange discoveries in this futuristic world. In one chapter, they’re in the head of a warped genetic scientist who is part human and part alien snake, and in another they follow the mischievous whims of a teenaged orphan. Through the course of the story, readers learn about the following: the ubiquitous HMS’s (HyperNet Marketing Stations: black monoliths that project whatever’s on customer’s minds, offering them what they need); genetic vampires that hunger for your DNA; Identity X (a personality-altering drug); Last Goodbye (a breakthrough for funeral homes who, through the miraculous embalming fluid, Tryphanol, allow loved ones to see their dearly departed as if they’re alive one last time); Dynamic You (a boutique for those who want to alter their genes); and so many other incredible experiences.
Have you acquired any good anecdotes surrounding this book? If so, could you share one?
While it’s not an anecdote, it does speak to how it was written. I used a program called Scrivener, which many know provides authors with tools for writing a lengthy story. It helped me get organized with its multiple panes and templates for sketching characters and the setting. Minor details, such as a character’s eye color, can become important to remember for continuity and big picture concerns.
Did researching and writing this book teach you anything or influence your thinking in any way?
Writing this book made me reflect on what the future might hold for humanity. Some ideas, such as genetic manipulation to correct for illness or imperfection, aren’t so far-fetched after all. This new science has been in the news recently.
What would you most like readers to tell others about this book?
I would like them to tell others this is a page-turner of an adventure where the reader gets thrown into a futuristic world with many twists. Yet, although it features imaginative forays that keep the pace at a fast-moving, thrilling clip, it also takes the time to develop characters so they care about them. Even the so-called evil ones are given an opportunity to show how they turned out the way they did.
Can you suggest one question readers might find interesting to discuss, concerning you, your writing in general, or this book?
Readers might wonder why I tend to keep coming back to the Dr. Frankenstein trope in my stories. I have always been equally fascinated by science and imagination. Putting those together can yield frightful creations that are entertaining in stories. Then, in terms of character development, nothing can be more fascinating than the study of how minds can be warped to evil dimensions, their arcs traced to a discernible, human origin.
How can readers help you promote this book?
Readers can spread the word by telling friends, family, and those within their social networks who have expressed an interest in horror, fantasy/adventure, and sci-fi. Many independent authors go unread because readers are reluctant to take a chance on reading something new from an unknown writer. They could post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other popular sites, and if they don’t have the time to write a full analysis, they could give a star-ranking.
Originally from Kentucky, I’m a high school English teacher in the Los Angeles area. I play guitar, piano, and write music; a co-written pop ballad, “Bridge to Forever,” which I wrote with Jimmy Borja, was recorded by Sony Philippines artist, Ariel Rivera. I also have a background in the theater.
Why do you write?
I write to express not only my soul but my imagination. Even though my stories are genre-driven, my interests and point of view show up in my work. They help keep me alive in the best sense of that word, rather than becoming the kind of person who comes home from work feeling like an empty shell.
What is your greatest strength as a writer?
My greatest strength as a writer is my imagination and my ability to infuse fantastical creations with the grounding importance of human nature. Making readers care about characters in a wild, bizarre world is a fun challenge.
What quality do you most value in yourself?
I value my work ethic which is demonstrated in my dedication to the craft of writing. I see myself as burning with intensity during focused writing sessions. I’m more of a sprinter than a long-distance runner who is, however, tasked with completing a novel. While some authors can spend hours writing, I tend to devote short daily bursts that build onto each other.
In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about music, great movies, and intelligent television.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
I’m proud of writing five books with no feeling that the well is drying up. I may be getting older, but the things that interested me when I was young still fire me up.
Is there any new or established author whom you feel deserves more attention, and what is it that strikes you about his or her work?
Ernest Cline is a brilliant new author whose debut novel, Ready Player One, is an imaginative flight into 1980s pop culture, particularly the video games of that era. He took what is his clear obsession and turned it into something new with an entertaining story.