A.W. Davidson - The Mystery of Da Vinci Code Meets the Science of Interstellar
A.W. DAVIDSON is a #1 bestselling science fiction author based in Illinois, North Carolina, and sometimes New Mexico. He was shocked when Deconstruction, his first short story and prologue to a much larger adventure, shot to the top of the charts on Amazon. So, he decided to finish writing the full novel - Relics of Dawn: A Story Carved in Time - available now. Before this turn of events, A.W. grew up on a farm and ended up working in fast-paced technology consulting, because that is a logical step for a farm kid. While new to writing, he often says it is how he stayed, arguably, sane through 2020. When not consulting or writing, he enjoys spending time with family in the great outdoors and is sad to see it disappearing. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, Relics of Dawn.
Please give us a short introduction to what Relics of Dawn is about.
Relics of Dawn is an intertwining tale of two scientists who are both uncovering hidden secrets that could save their dying worlds. I created a book trailer with real scenes from the book you can check out on YouTube. The story takes twists and turns through time, from ancient civilizations to planets circling the farthest stars, as they work to decode a mystery written in the very layers of rock beneath your feet. One reviewer said it is like “The mystery of Da Vinci Code meets the science of Interstellar!” I think fans of Stargate, The Day After Tomorrow, and The Time Machine will love this gripping science fiction saga for our future.
What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything that made you want to tackle this?
My grandmother and I used to talk for hours about space, science, and ancient ruins as we sat between stacks of old National Geographic magazines. One such wild idea we came up with has stuck with me for decades. Why did most ancient civilizations build pyramids? How far will we need to go to stop climate change? What if those two questions are related? I'd spent years outlining and writing parts of the story, but the extra time (and quiet) of life in a pandemic really spurred me to action to finish writing it. And I did!
Why sci-fi? What drew you to the genre?
I've always loved science fiction, especially when it has a basis in real science. I was the nerdy kid with a rock collection that could also point out all the constellations in the night sky. I stayed up way too late watching Star Trek, reading Arthur C. Clarke classics, and so much more. It's only fitting that Relics of Dawn fall into the genre I love. I truly wrote the kind of book I love reading.
Tell us more about Kaia. What makes her so special?
Kaia Badra is a biologist on the Dawn Project, the Council's audacious plan to stop a mass extinction... beginning with an exodus to the heavens. After a superstorm swept her life in an uncertain direction at a young age, she became a figurehead for the Council's efforts to save their dying world. Unfortunately, Kaia learns not everyone trusts the Councilors, and just as she is about to be able to duck out of the limelight, she must once again step back into it and rally support for their plan. She always leaned on the Council for her strength, but as she uncovers the truth, she finds it on her own and realizes she has more power than she realized. And she's not afraid to use it to save us all.
Why did you pick 2296 as the backdrop for your story?
Some of the most conservative climate change models show that if we do nothing, around 500 years after the Industrial Revolution our planet could be nearly uninhabitable for humans. Such a dramatic time would call for dramatic action—think intentionally nuking volcanoes or crashing asteroids into the Earth just to cool it down. Those are excellent fodder for a science fiction story like Relics of Dawn, and so the book takes place in a world facing such dire choices.
The story doesn't only take place in Cycle 2296, though. Alan Pearce, a disgraced geologist, is another central character living in 2034 CE, who is making controversial discoveries beneath ancient ruins that reveal a shocking truth—and relegate him to the fringes of scientific research. How the two timelines weave together tells an epic story of audacity, conspiracy, and survival at all costs.
Although the story is set in a very different world from our own, your characters feel real and relatable. How did you pull this off?
I've read a lot of history, and one thing I realized is that people don't seem to change. Sure, the details change over centuries, but there are always people who find their strength when faced with hardship. Or, people who seem bad, or good, but once you learn the details it is hard to know if you would have done something different if you were faced with the same situations. I internalized all of these observations as if I were each character, and did my best to write it all down. Many characters in Relics of Dawn are hard to describe in a single sentence, just like real people.
You also blend some ancient pre-discovered history into the story. Why did you take this approach?
I was hiking through the ruins of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico when it really struck me how much we could learn from the long lost cultures. Of course we know more, but they were people just like us, with their own cultures, their own bases of knowledge, their own truths. I wanted to explore the idea that maybe they were not as primitive as they seem, and what that might mean for our present day inability to live in balance with nature.
How much research did this book require from you?
Oh wow, a ton. Hours upon hours of reading, documentaries, and more. I can honestly say I've been researching some points in this book since I was less than 10 years old. My dad often took me fossil hunting in the creek beds of West Central Indiana, where fossilized crinoids are everywhere. The interesting cycles of an explosion of life and Earth's multiple mass extinctions got the ball rolling when I was a kid. I also had to research quite a bit of physics, ancient cultures and religions, and of course climate change to build this fictional story on solid scientific underpinnings.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you plan out your book before you start writing, or does some of it just "happen" along the way?
Plotter all the way. I don't know how I could have written a book with two timelines and numerous interactions between the two without a detailed outline and visual timeline. There is simply too much to keep straight. It's actually a fear of mine that I missed some detail in the book that is out of order!
When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?
Outline. I'm a pantser about outlines, though. My writing style is to stay organized at the high-level and then when I'm comfortable with it, fill in all the story details. I also like to sketch out the qualities of primary characters to get a feeling for each of them. They always change as the story unfolds in writing but that is part of the fun. The most fun is when a good character turns out to be evil as I'm writing!
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I write mostly late at night and rewrite early in the morning. I do have a full-time career that I also love outside of writing in addition to being a parent, so it can be challenging to find the time to write. When I do find the time, I tend to write thousands of words at a time and then not at all for days or even weeks.
What are you working on right now?
I've been exploring a couple fun ideas that play with time, similar to Relics of Dawn, but with more of a mystery angle. I've never been a big mystery reader but writing a mystery as big as the one in Relics has made me a lot more interested in the genre.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
The best way is to join my mailing list at awdavidson.com (where they can also get Deconstruction, the prologue to Relics of Dawn for free). I'm also on twitter at @awdavids and instagram at aw.davidson.