5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Monday, December 21, 2015

Indie Author Interview: John Gaiserich

Indie Author Interview with John Gaiserich - Author of the Dystopian Fiction Novel The Prelapsarians.

John Gaiserich started writing fiction in 2009. He is an avid aviation and history enthusiast with a particular interest in the cultures of Russia and the Caucasus. The Prelapsarians is his debut novel, inspired in part by the films of Andrei Tarkovsky.

Interview with John Gaiserich

Author John Gaiserich
Author John Gaiserich
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
John Gaiserich: I have no formal writing background, though I always enjoyed it, and received several accolades for my work, both creative and academic, over the years. Only in 2009 did I start thinking seriously about taking up the challenge of creative writing.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
There are very few, if any, authors I follow religiously. I read a lot less fiction than you’d expect from a fiction writer! I tend to prefer memoirs and narrative histories, usually aviation-related; Vulcan 607 by Rowland White, for example. As for fiction, I enjoy quality high fantasy, and as such I’m a fan of the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Tad Williams, etc. Other authors I read frequently include Bernard Cornwell and Dan Brown, and while he certainly takes liberties with facts, Conn Iggulden’s Genghis trilogy is solid from a storytelling standpoint.
I try not to allow any one author to influence me too much, and in fact, I take most of my inspiration from other forms of media, particularly film. Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker and Solaris were seminal in bringing The Prelapsarians to life, as were select works by Ingmar Bergman and Béla Tarr.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Believe it or not, I do remember a short story I wrote way back in grade school, albeit vaguely! It was something about fighter pilots; it ended up being a runner-up in some sort of statewide creative writing contest. Why I stopped creative writing after that, not picking it up for another twenty-plus years, I can’t rightly say…

"I started writing the key scenes as standalone material"

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
It’s a bit like a controlled crash. I altered my writing style for The Prelapsarians; previously, I’d taken a more linear approach to writing, but I found that, as I tried to get material on the page as I worked toward pivotal events, I’d either a) write so fast that the buildup to said events would seem rushed, or b) take my time and flesh out the buildup material, but by the time I’d reach the important events, I’d be out of ideas. So, I started writing the key scenes as standalone material, then going back and filling in around them. The problem with this was that, as the story evolved, things got altered, and I’d have to keep revisiting scenes that I’d already written to take stock of the minutiae, otherwise the book would’ve been riddled with continuity errors and minor discrepancies that would’ve driven readers nuts!

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
Commonly referred to as “my living room sofa,” this space has little to speak of, aside from a cheap laptop specially set aside for writing. I keep my reference nonfiction close at hand, but I removed all internet browsing apps from the computer, since I suffer from chronic procrastination and often find the temptation to noodle around on the ‘net overwhelming. If I need to look something up online, the bedroom with my other computer is a few steps away. Otherwise, it’s a fairly empty space, with only a television in the corner, which I rarely watch anyway (unless the Patriots are playing), and I can only stare at the Nicolas Trudgian painting of a squadron of Spitfires on the opposite wall for so long. So, it’s a very comfortable environment that is highly conducive to getting things done.

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
Let me start with the hardest, assuming we’re talking about the actual writing process and not being an author as a whole (in which case it’d be marketing, since I’m horrible at self-aggrandizing). Getting started is the worst part, whether it’s starting a new novel from scratch or picking up after setting one aside for an extended period of time, as I did about halfway through writing The Prelapsarians. I hold my prose to a very high standard, and if I start writing something, and the words I’m putting on paper (or rather, a Microsoft Word file) don’t reach out, grab me by the eyeballs, and drag me in, if the writing comes across as average or worse, I’ll put the entire thing on the back burner. I’ve already done that once since finishing The Prelapsarians. The plot was solid, the characters were fine if not particularly exotic, but I just didn’t feel the way it was coming together.
Once I’m in a rhythm, it’s usually smooth sailing. Outlines get sent promptly to the recycle bin, and parts of the story I was dreading start to fall into place, as if the story was writing itself. It’s just a matter of getting to that point.

"I write as a means of confronting the negatives in life"

What is the greatest joy in writing for you?
The catharsis of storytelling. I’m not the type of person who uses entertainment as an escape from reality, and nor am I that type of writer. I write as a means of confronting the negatives in life, but confronting them on my own terms, from a position of control. Hopefully that empowers readers to take on their own negative emotions and channel them into something constructive.

John, please tell us a little about your Dystopian Fiction Novel The Prelapsarians.
On the surface, it’s a tale of a band of retired mercenaries living in the North Caucasus region of Russia who, twenty-five years after a massive natural disaster and the world war that followed have destroyed and dispersed upwards of ninety-plus percent of humanity, seek to control their fate by joining forces with a resourceful but reckless young woman who smuggles a drug necessary for survival. But more than this, it’s a very intimate story about one man’s internal struggles against demons from his past that haunt him. It’s an exploration of the philosophy of what it means to be virtuous and civilized.

The Prelapsarians (John Gaiserich)
Click to Read an Excerpt

What inspired you to write the book?

I pay closer attention to the politics of the former Soviet Union than the average American probably would. I’d been reading a great deal about the state of affairs in Russia, the wars in Chechnya in the past two decades and the history of Russian involvement in the Caucasus, the legacy of the regional hero Imam Shamil, and so forth. I was studying the Russian language. I was reading the works of Shota Rustaveli, Georgia’s national poet. I spent a day at the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Boston. I was basically immersed in the culture of Russia and the Caucasus. Sadly, it’s a part of the world marked as much by tragedy as by beautiful culture and vibrant people, so I knew that whatever I wrote was going to be fairly dark and melancholic.

Who do you see as your target audience?
I think there are readers out there looking for a post-apocalyptic/dystopian tale that takes a more literary approach, that delves into the lives of the characters both before and after the cataclysmic event and, instead of just focusing on the visceral, temporal instinct of survival, allows them time to reflect on the decisions they made. Readers who want a philosophical companion on their journey, albeit one that, hopefully, isn’t too pretentious, or worse, too preachy. Readers who prefer stories that take their time to develop, like a fine wine aging in the cellar, waiting for the right moment to be uncorked. The type who would rather watch a Bergman film than Bey, or who listens to Opeth rather than Taylor Swift. It’s certainly directed at a niche audience, but any author will tell you to write what you want to read, not what you think everyone else wants to read. Otherwise, books would be incredibly boring.

"[...] predictability ruins books."

What makes your book special?
It’s a story that doesn’t go in the direction I think readers would expect it to go. That might disappoint some readers, but for readers like me, predictability ruins books. It doesn’t shy away from situations that may make readers uncomfortable, but neither does it attempt to marginalize them. At its core, it’s a tale of warfare, and it’s told in a way where the putative heroes are flawed and fallible and the supposed villains are ambiguous and sometimes even virtuous. No character is safe, and no character ends the story without being chastened by their travails in some way.

"[...] never use 'writer’s block' as an excuse"

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
Oh boy, where to start?! Let’s stick with the two most important things you’ll need to know, aside from how to market yourself, which is a royal pain. First, never use “writer’s block” as an excuse to take a long hiatus from writing. Naturally, life sometimes has a way of throwing a monkey wrench into the most meticulous of plans, so sometimes taking a break is unavoidable. And I firmly believe that you can’t force creativity; if you try, you’ll end up with rubbish. But do your best, even if nothing seems to be coming. Believe me, it’s a lot easier to rewrite a few paragraphs of subpar prose than it is to try to build your momentum back up after you’ve deliberately slammed it into a brick wall.

Second, and most importantly, set aside some money to hire an editor. And by an “editor,” I mean an EDITOR. Not beta readers, or your wife/brother/dogsitter/whoever. You need blunt, constructive feedback. If your plot is so sloppy that it reads like something that fell out of the International Space Station, smacked into a rogue Soviet spy plane as it tumbled through the stratosphere, got mauled mid-fall by a flock of great blue herons, and landed piecemeal on the dome of the Capitol Building, liquefying and splashing onto Donald Trump sunbathing in a hot-pink leotard, there is a very good chance your book needs improvement. Your mother won’t have the heart to tell you that, but an editor’s reputation depends on it. Their fees might seem daunting at first, but there are plenty of freelance editors out there whom you can contract to can give you a quality critique and working suggestions without having to sell your internal organs on eBay.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am doing some research for a new novel, but since I’ve already started two others since finishing The Prelapsarians and subsequently tossed them to the wayside, I’d like to get a little more into the writing process before I reveal anything. After all, I wouldn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, only to dash them when the manuscript goes in the trash!

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
Even if e-books take up the overwhelming majority of the market share, brick-and-mortar bookstores aren’t going anywhere. Record stores haven’t gone away entirely; sure, you won’t find as many of them in your average shopping mall, but indie record stores are actually thriving. Plenty of people, myself included, still like to buy CDs. Especially when you listen to bands like Septic Flesh, whose album artwork is just as much a part of the experience as the music itself. The same is true of books. Plenty of readers still prefer a physical book. Big-name franchises like Barnes & Noble may suffer, or move their businesses entirely or mostly online. Indie bookstores will adapt, though, and become more of a gathering place with a Starbucks-style atmosphere than a commercial outlet.
I think that the emergence of e-readers has brought about a paradigm shift in how we value books, and this is a double-edged sword for independent authors. On the upside, it gives the author more of a chance to sell his/her book, as in the absence of agents and corporate middle men, an author can sell a book for $0.99 and still turn a profit, and nobody wants to pay full-price for what they see as a few megabytes of data. The flip side is that, while the proliferation of self-publishing services has torn down barriers to entry that had previously rivaled the walls of Constantinople, it’s also eliminated any sort of quality control, and now the market is being flooded with books full of typos and grammatical errors (and I’m not talking one or two here and there where both the author and editor missed it – I’m talking every paragraph), and finding quality books is made harder and harder. I fear this will have a ripple effect throughout the bookselling industry, leading to more elitism from online sellers.

"I prefer ink-and-paper books. Sorry, trees."

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle Paperwhite, but I’m old-fashioned, so I prefer ink-and-paper books. Sorry, trees.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I work full-time as an aviation professional. When I’m not doing that, or writing, I can often be found at a symphony orchestra concert, an exotic restaurant, in a kayak, or out somewhere with a camera – hopefully not falling into a rapidly moving creek and destroying my gear, as I did once before!

How can readers connect with you?
You can reach me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JohnGOwnsYou (as you can tell, I am very humble!) or on Twitter: @GaisAlmighty.

Thank you very much for the Interview, John.

About the Book The Prelapsarians

The Prelapsarians (John Gaiserich)
Click to Read an Excerpt
Twenty-five years after the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano and the massive war that followed, the scattered, dwindling remnants of the human race are forced to eke out a primordial existence while the supply of a drug vital to their survival is controlled by a group of greedy Oligarchs. For those born before the disaster, those called the Prelapsarians, the future looks hopeless. But there are some who choose to resist.

In the south of Russia, a band of retired mercenaries, led by the formidable Andrei Evgenyevich Myshkin, seeks to undermine the Oligarchs’ power. Their ardor is invigorated when they encounter Ani, a headstrong, idealistic young smuggler with a dream of a brighter future and a penchant for getting herself into trouble. Together, their quest takes them across the Caucasus Mountains, through the ruins of once-prosperous cities, and to the shores of the Caspian Sea, faced along the way with backroom intrigue, fierce battles, and brewing tension that threatens to turn them against one another.

The company faces danger from notorious terrorists, capricious rebels, opportunistic rivals, and mountain bandits, but the deadliest opponent they face may be within.

- "The Prelapsarians is a tale about a group of mercenaries trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. The Prelapsarians delves deeply into the personal lives of the characters, giving the reader an opportunity to develop an intimate relationship with them."

Link to the Book

Link to the Paperback The Prelapsarians on Amazon

Link to the eBook The Prelapsarians on Amazon

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