Excited I am to share both this Grace Agnew and Sanctuary interview + this Gregory L. Norris and Ex Marks the Spot interview at Fanbase Press with you. You can find the interviews here and here respectively and read some excerpt below. Should you want to interview Grace and/or Gregory yourself or review The Dreamcatcher Codes and/or Ex Marks the Spot or any promotion really, please let me know and we will be happy to make that happen. Cool? Excellent. Thank you.
BD: The novel tackles climate change and its repercussions head on. What can you share with us about your creative process in including this focus in your narrative, and what have been some of your creative influences?
GA: Two things struck me as I learned about climate change from some of the best scientific minds in the country. I was amazed that we could be so close to catastrophe and yet so few people in general realized this or were prepared for the sacrifices that would be required to change the horrific trajectory. Even knowledgeable scientists who could accurately predict what the impacts would be could detach themselves quite readily from the apocalyptic and not so distant future. As scientists, they had learned to divorce themselves from their research, to ensure that personal feelings didn’t bias the research results. I realized this dispassionate approach makes good science, but not good social change. Our emotions have to be engaged, we have to see ourselves and our families clearly in the midst of catastrophe. Data, no matter how compelling, has to become story, if we are going to galvanize real changes.
I was most focused on creating real people and real circumstances. I drew upon family, friends, and myself to create real characters who aren’t heroes or villains but just humans, with our fears, our denials, but also our courage and resilience.
I have always been an avid reader of both popular science and science/speculative fiction. I am most influenced by authors who build realistic worlds and people them with average humans. I am also influenced by books that present a clear eyed look at catastrophe but still offer hope and a way out.
A major influence all my life has been Rachel Carson. I read her book, Silent Spring, when I was ten years old. I grew up in Louisiana, when pesticides were sprayed liberally over our neighborhood to eliminate mosquitos. We children enjoyed when the crop dusters showed up. It broke the monotony of a hot summer’s day. The idea that this wasn’t a benign activity, that we were being harmed and birds were being killed, was an unwelcome revelation to me. But the book stuck with me, rather than sending me into a spiral of denial, because Carson presented her grim case, but she also presented a way out. Her book resulted in a ban on DDT. And many bird species rebounded. With climate change, some areas will be uninhabitable, but many others can be reclaimed. The earth itself is more resilient than we are. If we work with the earth rather than running from it as the enemy, we can regrow vegetation and we can coax animal species that have gone into hiding back into view. Sustainable agriculture will enable us to recover in many parts of our country and our world. As long as we realize we can’t ever go back to pillaging and exploitation, we still have a future, and not nearly as grim as we fear. I want my book to have a similar impact as Silent Spring, to encourage at least a few readers to understand climate change isn’t necessarily the end, but a very different beginning.
Another major influence was Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. What impressed me about this book was how immersive and believable the world building was. I read it in the 1990s, and I could see it emerging as reality as a consequence of the “moral majority” initiatives that were gaining traction. It seems even more possible now. I want my book to present a very believable and possible future. I want my readers to see themselves as potentially living the lives of Miranda, Alex and the people they know and meet. I don’t want to give the reader the false comfort this is “only a story.” I want my readers to see that climate change’s consequences will be very bad, but that ordinary people like us can still rebuild a viable future.
BD: The novel deftly combines sci-fi, time travel, and romance elements. What can you share with us about your creative process in weaving these narratives together, and what have been some of your creative influences?
GLN: My process included and includes waking up in the morning, greeting my enormous rescue cat Daisy, thinking about the day’s writing adventures, gliding down the stairs, brewing coffee, feeding the cat, and then getting to work. During the writing of Ex, that also meant luxuriating on my sun porch with its views of the mountains, river, and the surrounding forests near my home on the hill, Xanadu. My sun porch is my alfresco office during the warm months—a slice of heaven! I wrote the first draft longhand, as I do all of my work save for screenplays. I listened to the original Dark Shadows soundtrack for three solid weeks. I lived the novel and cried nonstop throughout writing the final chapter.
My creative influences include the creature double features and classic SF TV I grew up on—the Robinson expedition on Lost in Space, Dark Shadows, and the outstanding anime Star Blazers, the original Battlestar Galactica, and especially Gerry Anderson’s outer space parable, Space:1999, which first inspired me to pick up my pen when I was a boy. I love the works of Poe, Mrs. Shelley, Hawthorne, D.H. Lawrence, and modern masters like the Sisters Dent, Roxanne and Karen. I consider Rod Serling an inspiration and role model, as I do Agnes Nixon, who created the soaps All My Children, Loving, The City, and the late, great One Life to Live. I had the divine gift of meeting Ms. Nixon on June 5, 1994, in New York City in the hair and makeup room at All My Children and got to talk writing with her. I try to read everything and I love to be surprised by writing that steals my breath.