Smashwords Interview with Alan Joshua

How long have you been writing?
Since I could hold a pen; elementary school to be exact. I was/am in love with film and drew poster ads for exciting films—Destination Moon, for example–adding text. Later, school compositions gave me the chance to exercise my imagination and share it. I wrote my first (unpublished) novel while working in a mental institution. The environment was as surreal as the book.
What is your favorite genre to write?
Sci-fi by far. I was stimulated by comics, movies, and reading Asimov and other major writers. I can remember a boost of adrenaline while reading R.U.R., by Karel Čapek. He first introduced the word robot into our lexicon. Later, when I saw Gort, the robot in The Day the Earth Stood Still, I was over the moon with excitement. Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?Actually, I’ve tried quite a few—of those I care about. With art, science, and psychology backgrounds, it’s very hard for me to limit myself (and feels artificial) to restrict my writing to genre categories. Writing is organic and should encompass whatever is needed to tell the story. The SHIVA Syndrome is multigenre. It even includes a touch of romance. It blends real and speculative science, a huge dose of psychology and parapsychology, myth, anthropology, genetics, neuroscience, and other areas needed to bring it to life. I think of it as “edu-taintment,” both for thinking readers as well as myself. The Midwest Book Review said, “At first glance one would think this to be either a sci-fi saga or perhaps a thriller: technically, that’s correct; but it’s so much more. Its focus on untapped human potential gone awry in a deadly experiment also lends to its enjoyment by new age readers or any interested in the paranormal – and let’s not forget the reader who enjoys political intrigue and a bit of spiritual reflection in their reading. The Self-Publishing Review put it well: “Any attempt to describe the book in a single statement is difficult, but the book mixes uncommon palettes and manages a masterpiece with it.” I’m not sure about it being a “masterpiece,” but I was honored when a British critic said, “Joshua shows his working in a way Asimov might have been proud of, bringing this plethora of scientists around a table to discuss the intriguing science and pseudoscience of the novel. The vision is enthralling, building a fantastical concept from a multi-faceted discussion of the world’s experts as they travel by plane to Russia to investigate the crash site.”
Please tell us about your book.
Beau Walker’s academic career is at a standstill, when he’s called to be part of a team that, under military supervision, aims to investigate a mysterious accident near Moscow. A mile-deep crater is all that remains after the city of Podol’sk is disintegrated by a black hole. The investigation is carried out by a secret international collaboration. Walker and the others risk their as the exploration becomes more complicated, more surreal. Everything suggests that it is the result of experiments on paranormal powers gone very wrong. The SHIVA project is the American counterpart of the Russian project that caused the disaster. The real fear is how to avoid repeating the disaster in the U.S. when none of the scientists has a clear idea of what they are doing and that vital information is being hidden from them by the military. One reviewer ‘s comment sums it up nicely: “Whatever your thinking. Think again. The first notable conclusion after reading this book is that it is nearly impossible to classify this book in a sole genre. It’s a unique mixture of paranormal, science fiction, thriller, and mystery.”
Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?
Understandably, my favorite is Beau Walker. The son of a Mohawk father and African-American mother, from childhood he is challenged by paranormal “gifts” he cannot understand. He grows past those early limitations to become a researcher, only to carry the painful residue of his formative years with him and into the story. My least favorite is also an intriguing enigma of a man: Karl Slezak, the director of the SHIVA project. He is almost reptilian in his cold-bloodedness and, up to the very end, shows Machiavellian traits. Both Walker and Slezak are inscrutable and not easily understood. Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?Three, which are complete and available. Many readers/reviewers have asked for a prequel dealing with Walker’s life and a sequel.
If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?
This is a tough call. I’d have to say three at least. Shakespeare, of course. His use of words was beyond brilliant and his plays mirror reality, comedy, the tragic, and the paranormal. His work was absolute genius. Philip Dick would be another. His unusual views of other realities was extraordinary. Jules Verne, for his futuristic visionary writing that presaged what has been realized in the present. H.G. Wells, another visionary, who blended science fiction and social commentary.
What inspired you to write your book?
My psychological research into the paranormal and my personal exposure to it. I wanted to convey the sense that what we consider as “paranormal” is actually a normal extension of human consciousness. We love books and films dealing with these subjects as they open up worlds and possibilities beyond our senses. But limiting this to shallow, faddish pulp stories about vampires and zombies sells short the richness of parapsychological realities. Are you working on something now? If so, can you tell us more about it?I’m formulating ideas for a prequel and sequel to SHIVA, as well as another parapsychological suspense murder-mystery.
What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?These are two questions. First, I have no routine. I’m more of a “pantser” and, depending on my state of mind, will either write or conceptualize. I do need my muse. Call it insight or inspiration. It’s a blend of thought and feeling that says “Aha! That’s where it goes.” Quite often it’s the characters who take my hand and lead me. It’s during those times that I feel as if I’m “channeling” them.

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