What would you do if you had to discover you were the only human on Earth? This thought inspired Dean Cole to write Solitude, a apocalyptic sci-fi that reminds readers of The Martian and Gravity. When he isn't writing, Cole enjoys his day job as a commercial pilot and also builds custom motorcycles and air planes. As our Author of the Day, Cole tells us more about Solitude, reveals which actors he would have picked to play in a movie adaptation and gives us a sneak peek into what he is working on now.
Please give us an introduction to what Solitude is about
It's the year 2020. An energetic anomaly races across Earth, sweeping humanity from the planet. However, due to their unique situations, two people survive, one man on the surface, one woman stranded aboard the International Space Station.
On the ISS, Commander Angela Brown watches an odd wave of light sweep across the planet. With no descent module, she's stranded and alone. Angela spends the next weeks and then months desperately trying to raise someone, anyone on the surface, but her pleas go unanswered. As she fights to survive aboard the deteriorating space station, Angela glimpses the dark underpinnings of humanity's demise. Unnatural forces are reshaping the land that sits over the point that birthed the life stealing wave of light: CERN the home of the Super Collider. As a theoretical physicist, Angela needs to go there and investigate, but first, she must escape the ISS.
Vaughn Singleton, an Army helicopter pilot, is a highly intelligent, lazy man. After a last-ditch effort to reignite his failing military career ends horribly, Vaughn becomes the only human left on Earth. After fighting his personal demons while spending months alone, he finally discovers there is another. Racing against time, he must cross a land ravaged by the consequences of humankind's sudden departure.
Can Vaughn find a path to space and back? Can Angela—the only person capable of comprehending and possibly reversing the effects of the life stealing energetic anomaly—survive until he does?
What inspired you to write about humanity’s last man and woman?
I got the idea for Solitude from a discussion thread on Apocalypse Whenever, a Goodreads Group for fans of apocalyptic fiction. I had posed the question: Once you came to terms with it, what would you do if tomorrow you woke up to discover you were the only human on Earth. There were many interesting and thoughtful answers. However, my thoughts about what I would do in that situation led to the writing of Solitude.
Your book is action-packed and keeps readers at the edge of their seats right from the start. How did you pull this off?
My favorite tales are ones that start with action and then build in the backstory, filling in the details about our characters as we watch them struggle to cope with the story's conflict. So I try to emulate that in my writing.
Many of your stories are apocalyptic in nature. Why?
I love the scope of apocalyptic tales, and I enjoy studying the emotions those events engender within the characters. As a teenager, I read Stephen King's The Stand. Guess I've been hooked on the genre ever since.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I wear many hats. For my day job, I still fly helicopters as a commercial pilot. I also like working with my hands. I built a custom motorcycle, and I'm currently building an airplane, although that project has ground to a halt due to my writing schedule.
Readers appreciate the fact that the science-part of your sci-fi wasn’t too heavy handed, making the book easier to read. Was this a conscious choice?
That is part growth as an author and part editorial inputs. For Solitude, I hired a freelance developmental editor, Chris Cerasi, formerly of LucasArts. He let me know every time I inserted excess technobabble, pointing out that it pulled the reader from the story.
Vaughn is a bit of an unlikely hero – why did you make his character this way and what appeals to you about using unlikely heroes?
Everybody loves an underdog. We want to watch that unlikely hero rise to the occasion, even though they may trip and stumble along the path. We see their character develop as we watch the proverbial underdog come from behind and win the day.
Many have compared Solitude to The Martian and Gravity – are you a fan?
Solitude's plot is different from either of those two stories. However, certain aspects of both do relate—yes, I am a fan of both the book and the movies—so it is effective to point out that if you like this story or that, you might enjoy Solitude.
Say Solitude gets a movie adaptation, who would you like to see in the roles of Vaughn and Angela?
We had a discussion about this on my Facebook page. If I were King for a day, I would cast Tom Hardy as Vaughn and Emma Stone as Angela.
Tell us a bit about your writing habits. When, where and how do you write?
On my two weeks off each month, I write for the first six hours of the weekdays. During my 14 days of flying, I sneak in writing periods anytime I can.
What are you working on right now?
Currently, I am in the final editing stage on a prequel novella for my Sector 64 series, and I am in the rough draft stage for Solitude's sequel, Multitude: Dimension Space Book 2.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My website: deanmcole.com
My Facebook Page: facebook.com/authordeanmcole