Dean Crawford - Writing About Humanity
Dean Crawford wanted to be a pilot, but his plans were foiled when he discovered he was color blind. As he really wanted to do something he enjoys, Crawford tried writing instead and his books have topped Amazon's charts ever since. As our Author of the Day, Crawford chats about why he enjoys science-fiction and how it would probably take an alien invasion for humans to discover our humanity.
Please give us a short introduction to what Predator is about.
Predator is the third book in my Old Ironsides series, a science-fiction adventure and crime thriller series following Nathan Ironsides. Nathan was "Ground Zero" for a plague on Earth called "The Falling" who was cryogenically frozen, only to be revived 400 years later. Now, he struggles to survive in Earth's distant future.
How did the idea for the book originate?
I wanted to write the kind of book about mankind's future that I wanted to read. Predator is the point in the series where we first realize we're in danger of being invaded by another species.
Why do you like to write Sci-Fi? What is it about the genre that inspires you?
Science fiction allows my imagination to truly run riot. If I can conceive of it, it can happen, within reason. There is a great deal of freedom in scv-fi for the author, but also a great challenge to make the impossible seem real.
You are a bestselling author. How much do you think have you evolved creatively since you published your very first book?
I've realized that breaking molds isn't necessary, and that readers know what they want. Hitting the right notes for a given genre is important for readers, giving them what they expect.
The meaning of true humanity is an important theme in your book. Why?
Because it's the one thing we all share. Conflict over colours, creeds and religions are all fuss over nothing. We are all humans, and it would probably take an alien invasion to make us realize that.
What inspired the concept of the holosapiens?
I felt that technology was at the stage, even today, that a fully realized holographic human was feasible. We already have "5D" holograms that appear solid and real, and computers are fast approaching sentience. A new species, holo sapiens, would be one possible way in which humanity could avoid a truly deadly plague. The holosaps first featured in my action novel "After Life", and transported nicely into Old Ironsides.
Your book is full of twists. Readers never know what to expect next. Did you plan these twists out before you started writing or did they just "happen"?
It's a bit of both, actually. I create scenes relevant to the book's general idea and write them on coloured cards, then toss them all on my desk and see how they fall. It's a great way to provoke fresh ideas. About half the time, fresh ideas and twists will pop into my head as I write a chapter, and if they're good enough I then have to add them in to the story and re-work the plot to accommodate them.
This is book 3 of a series. Can it be read as a standalone?
Yes. I always write all of my books so that they stand alone, as well as being part of a series. I think that placing cliff-hangers at the end of novels is unfair to readers - if there are other books to come in a series, they can hint at further adventures but the author should make their characters believable enough that the reader knows their story will "continue" whether another book emerges or not.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I'm not bad at drawing and painting and I love aviation and trained for my Private Pilot's License.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. I wanted to be a pilot but my colour-blindness prevented me from obtaining a commercial license. My inspiration came from my uncle, Christopher Jarvis, who is a full-time artist. I saw that he was doing a job that he loved rather than one he loathed and so I searched for something similar that would suit me. I was reading a Wilbur Smith novel one day when I suddenly thought: "Hey, maybe I could write something like this!" That was in 1995, and I haven't stopped writing since.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent and refuse to do what you had planned for them?
They certainly develop quickly! I've had characters slated to be villains who turned hero, others vice versa, and some who change half-way through because they're on a secret mission of some kind ( even though I hadn't plotted that for them ). If characters are created with sufficient depth and believability, they really do act in their own way because writing them any other way doesn't feel right to the author. If we don't feel right about a character, then readers certainly won't.
Do you have any interesting writing habits, what's your average writing day like?
I write eight hours per day, Monday to Friday, with some evening work thrown in. When writing a first-draft I aim to produce about 4,000 words per day ( I can type very fast ). As a hybrid author who writes both for publishers and my own label ( Fictum ) I also have to manage all of my own advertising, cover design, marketing, editing and administration. It's a full-time job, no doubt about it.
What are you working on right now?
I'm about to start work on the next Warner & Lopez action adventure thriller.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
On my website, which links to my Facebook Fan Page and Twitter accounts: http://deancrawfordbooks.com/