How long have you been writing fiction?
Since the fall of 2001
Where did you learn fiction-writing?
I’ve taken some online seminars but basically I’m self-taught. However I was a published technical writer for several years before I decided to try my hand at fiction.
How did you come up with the title of “Tractrix”?
I wanted a one-word title that was totally unique. The word actually comes from the field of mathematics where a tractrix is the mathematical inverse of a circle and the revolution of a tractrix would yield a three-dimensional – although physically impossible – inverse of a sphere. The book itself deals with several mysterious spheres that lead my characters on an adventure through the secret military installations north of Las Vegas and, eventually, to the Mayan ruins of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Tractrix is chock-ful of fascinating information about the archaeological mysteries surrounding the Maya ruins in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula! How long did it take you to research and write this novel?
From start to finish, the book took two years but I was working full time and only writing evenings and weekends. Much of the fact-checking was done on the Internet, but I personally visited most of the Nevada locations – the city of Las Vegas, the little town of Beatty, and even the infamous Nevada Test Site – formerly America’s nuclear bomb test facility and currently the home of Area 51. The Yucatan material was all researched online but shortly after Tractrix was published my wife and I made a trip to visit all the sites I had written about. We stayed in the same hotels my characters had visited and we even toured the Loltun Caverns, where several chapters take place.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I love cliff-hangers, and I include one at the end of almost every chapter I write. When I’m reading, I typically stop for the day at the end of a chapter. I try to make sure my readers can’t do that!
What was the publishing process like for you? What is the one thing other writers should be prepared for when seeking publication?
In a word, rejection. When I started writing Tractrix I had no knowledge of the publishing industry and I didn’t realize that 95% of all the books completed in a given year are never read by an agent or publisher. After more than a hundred rejected query letters, my wife and I decided to self-publish and capitalize on her background in advertising and design. We purchased our own ISBN numbers, did our own Library of Congress registration, selected a team of well-qualified readers, and negotiated directly with a major print-on-demand (POD) printer. For more control of wholesale pricing, we opted to cut out the middle-man—the POD publishing house.
“Tractrix” is the first novel in the “Seeds of Civilization” series. This series is based on Graham Hancock’s theories that undiscovered advanced civilizations existed thousands of years ago. According to your website, “the series accepts Hancock’s theories, in principal, but goes on to explore the questions of how and where these ancient civilizations might have acquired their advanced knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, and architecture.” Do you think our modern civilizations will someday be the ancient precursors to other civilizations? Do you then think that civilization is a cyclical phenomenon?
That’s an interesting question! From a purely practical perspective, I’m not sure our own technologies will stand the tests of time the way megaliths and hieroglyphs have, but the chances are high that sooner or later a cataclysmic event (either natural or man-made) will fully or partially wipe out our present civilization. I have to believe that not all will be lost when this happens. Life will go on and knowledge will survive. In my Seeds of Civilization series, there’s an entirely different mechanism at work that jump-starts each new civilization when the preceding one fails.
You have called the Pacific Northwest your home for over 30 years. This past May you moved to the small Mexican Baja town of Todos Santos. I understand you will be moving again soon, this time to the state capital of La Paz. Can you tell us more about why you chose to reside in Mexico?
That’s easy, and has nothing to do with writing! My wife’s two sons have lived in Mexico most of their adult lives and we wanted to be closer to them and our granddaughter. We’d always dreamed of retiring in a warmer climate where I would have an opportunity to dive and snorkel, so last year when both sons ended up in southern Baja we made a scouting trip and found a house-sitting job for the summer. We’ve since decided to stay indefinitely and one of my new novels will be set in the La Paz/Todos Santos area.
You are currently working on a very unique project–writing three novels simultaneously. This new sci-fi adventure series, called Parallel Ops, picks up 5 years after “Seeds of Civilizations”. Can you tell us more about this new series and when we can expect to see it out in bookstores?
My first series includes four main characters who band together to investigate three unique archaeological mysteries in Tractrix, Tsubute and Triangle. In the final pages of Triangle an event takes place that sends the four in different directions. The new series features a book about each of the characters and how they individually deal with the event and its aftermath. Even though the books are each set in different locations, there is some interaction between the characters and I decided early on that I’d never be able to keep the story lines in sync unless I wrote the books all at once. The noticeable exception is the fourth and final book, about which very little is known – even by me! Look for the first three books sometime next spring or early summer. The final book will probably follow about six months later.
Can you give your readers 5 adjectives that describe you – the writer?
Detail-oriented, fact-driven, impatient, skeptical and old!
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