It’s Wednesday already, where did the week go? Welcome to another in my series of author interviews. This is my continued attempt to bring forward authors you may not already know and introduce them to you. If you do know them, then it is my hope you’ll learn something new. Today, I welcome fellow NineStar Press author R.R. Campbell to the hot seat to talk about his book Imminent Dawn and its highly anticipated sequel Mourning Dove.
Welcome to my Scribbles Page, Ryan. I’m thrilled to have you over, especially after I just finished Imminent Dawn. What a great book.
Thanks, M.D. Neu I was happy to know you picked up a copy, and thrilled to learn you liked it.
Before we jump the interview proper, why don’t you tell us something about yourself that’s not in your bio?
As a “buffer activity” in between writing-related work, I normally play Wii Golf or Baseball. Or, if I feel like being slightly more active, I’ll hop on the exercise bike in the basement—especially during these winter months, when it’s way too cold to go outside for a proper walk or jog.
I read in your bio that you run a podcast, The Writescast Network. Care to tell us about it? (include where and how people can listen Links are good too).
Yes! The Writescast Network is a podcast collective for writers, by writers. The idea is that in one single podcast feed, you get access to three distinct shows that focus on different facets of the craft and business of writing.
For example, the longest-running program (the r. r. campbell writescast), features author, agent, and editor interviews in which I ask those guests how they approach or feel about particular aspects of the craft of writing, or what they’ve done to be successful in marketing their work or establishing their brand. There are two new episodes of the r. r. campbell writescast on the first and third Fridays of each month, you can find it here.
Then there’s Novel Approaches. Novel Approaches is a monthly show that’s craft-intensive. For this show, co-host and fellow editor Sione Aeschliman joins me to do a deep dive into a particular aspect of the craft of writing. Previous topics have included goal-oriented storytelling, character development, narrative mode—the list goes on. In these episodes, which can sometimes last up to two hours, we also take listener questions and comments from a #WritescastChat we host on Twitter prior to recording the episode. This gives us an opportunity to work in insight from the broader community to provide listeners with a more holistic perspective.
Last but not least, we have Biblio Breakdown. This show features a host who explores one book (or TV show) in particular, and emphasizes what the writer of that media did well—all with the goal of seeing how that might help us as writers. Over the course of one episode, we might explore a book’s inciting incident, characterization, and how voice is brought to the page in detail.
I’m actively looking for Writescast Network contributors for this program, and anyone who’s interested in this can certainly email me at email@example.com to learn more.
Otherwise, all things Writescast Network can be found at writescast.net!
You’re an Editor as well, excellent. Do you find that that makes writing your own works easier or harder? What is it about editing that you enjoy so much? Are there works you won’t edit? What are your favorite kinds of novels to edit?
Over the years I’ve gotten better about compartmentalizing my work as an editor and my work as a writer. When I write, I write with my left brain—the goal is to just get the plot down and the basic scene mechanics on the page. When I revise my own work, I do so with my right brain, deepening the emotion of those scenes and shaping the work’s thematic elements based on what I’ve given myself to work with to start.
When I edit—whether for myself or others—I have to do both at the same time, making sure the pages’ contents are on point mechanically and emotionally. It’s a tricky balance to strike, but, like I said, I’ve become more confident in my ability to tackle this over the years, and practice does make for something approximating perfection.
I’m much more of a genre-focused editor than I am focused on editing literary works. With genre, there are more tangible benchmarks for me to work with when it comes to evaluation, whereas in literary works there’s more room for playing fast and loose with structure, characterization, narrative mode, etc. This is fantastic for writers who have a clear vision for the story they want to tell, but as an editor—for me, anyway—it can be tough to assert myself in the same ways since editing literary work (or memoir) can be a bit more personal; I don’t want to trod on anyone’s experience.
In the end, though, editing for others gives me an opportunity to not only help other writers realize the full potential of their concepts. It also helps me see my own work in a different light. I’m often in awe of how other writers confront challenges similar to those that I face in my own work, and it can be really inspiring to see.
Let’s talk about Imminent Dawn. Give us a brief description of the novel and since book two is on its way, the overall series.
Imminent Dawn takes place during the first round of human trials for an internet-access brain implant. Though it follows four perspective characters—including a ruthless tech magnate, a relentless investigative journalist, and an advancement-hungry administrative assistant—Chandra, the art-school dropout, really forms the story’s core.
Chandra enrolls in this research study because she believes the EMPATHY internet-access brain implant can help reunite her with her wife, who’s in a coma Chandra feels responsible for. Ultimately, Chandra’s goal is to have the internet-access brain implant installed in her wife’s mind as well, and she hopes that through the implant, the two of them will be able to communicate with one another in some way.
The majority of book one takes place on the research compound, though we do get to see some of the overworld’s politicking and the state of the North American Union as a whole. If Imminent Dawn is an action, Mourning Dove is the reaction that really lets us see how our characters handle the adversity posed by the fallout from the research study. Mourning Dove also lets us get enmeshed a bit more in the broader world, as it features scenes that take place in Texas, Quebec, and Costa Rica.
What inspired you to write the story? As I recall from your interview over on WROTE Podcast you mentioned that the story started as a short, and grew from there. Is that correct? (To hear the interview click here)
Imminent Dawn did start as a short story meant to be a modern Flowers for Algernon. After having written the short story, however, I realized there was more to the narrative than just what Chandra had at stake. It’s then that I added the journalist on the outside of the study, and from there, the addition of the ruthless tech magnate and the advancement-hungry administrative assistant really helped me see there was series potential here.
In this way, it went from a simple short work of fiction to the sprawling, Game of Thrones meets Black Mirror book series we’re looking at now!
As I mentioned I just finished the novel and it was excellent (for my review of Imminent Dawn click here). I enjoyed it quite a bit. I think what I found so interesting was the idea of following multiple characters, personally I love that kind of story telling as you can really explore the characters. Is that what you wanted to do with the novel from the start or, as you wrote it, did it morph into that kind of story telling?
Like I mentioned above, it really morphed into that over time. What I love about this kind of storytelling is that it gives us an opportunity to see how individuals of different backgrounds handle these momentous events in human history, even if the “history” is forward-looking and inherently speculative.
We have the four perspective characters in book one, but we’ll have nine in book two. Books three and four—whose events will be concurrent—will have a total of at least a dozen perspectives across both installments, though book three will have about half of those perspectives, and book four will have the others.
That is a lot of perspectives to keep track of, I can’t wait to see how you handle it. I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun to read.
Also I enjoyed that you didn’t put this story too far off from our time, meaning we can still recognize the world you are writing about. You did manage a few changes in your world building which I found fascinating, namely the North American Union or NAU as it’s referred to in the book. I would love to hear more about the world building you did for the story. What did you change? Why did you change it? And how did this affect your story telling?
I wanted this story to feel like it’s something that could happen in our world at any time. The actual lore behind it all (not present in book one) is that the EMPATHY series takes place on a divergent timeline, where subtle changes near the end of the twentieth century (and particularly in the twenty-first) led to serious advancements in telecom and vast, tectonic-level political changes both in the United States and abroad.
This not only allowed me to create an eerie distant-but-not-too-distant feel, but it also freed me up to do what I wanted regarding some of the laws that govern research studies and the world as a whole. It also gave me more freedom to shape how the characters view the world and the news taking place in it to a greater extent. In other words, it let me divorce myself from actual events in our world and replace them with similar moments and movements that might better serve the planned longer arc I have for the series.
Without giving anything away, I want to compliment you on the ending of Imminent Dawn, you could have chosen many endings for the book that would have allowed you to continue on with the series, but the road you chose was… well, nicely done. Was the ending always planned the way it was, or did that change as you wrote the novel and the more you dug into your characters?
I always knew the ending had to be bittersweet. For me, there’s something poetic to giving everyone what they want, but not quite how they would have wanted it. This irony really sets us up to see how people react to getting what they wish for in ways they never would have wished for it.
Writing an ending like the one we have in Imminent Dawn also allowed me to feel as though I was resolving the central question of the book while still providing a sense of direction for what might come in Mourning Dove and the later books in the series. Some reviewers have mentioned they didn’t like the threads I left dangling for the non-perspective characters, but—good news! Some of those people will, in fact, be perspective characters in books two through however many we end up with here.
Now, what can we except to see in Mourning Dove (by the way love the title)?
Mourning Dove, per its back cover, is an evocative, sweeping symphony of love, revenge, and desperation in cacophonous times. At its core is the struggle to balance how we view the past while still embracing the present and looking toward the future.
More tangibly, readers can expect a sweeping investigation into the goings-on from book one, while other characters will be left grappling with how their lives are forever changed by what they witnessed and experienced on the research compound. Where will they go from here? How will they move forward when the past truly has them in its grips? How do they reclaim what once was while also adjusting to a new, immutable reality? These are the questions with which the primary cast must concern itself over the course of the book.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?
Strap in. I’m proud of Imminent Dawn, but perhaps even more excited to see how readers feel about Mourning Dove. My recent decision to split book three into two installments (Event Horizon and Rubicon) has only invigorated me further; it’s letting me see the series in ways I’d never considered before.
Though I know what happens in every book in the series (including the final scene of the last book, Nightshade), I’ve got plenty of wiggle room to address the how. There are so many new, exciting characters that are begging for me to bring them into the fore a bit more, and as I evaluate which ones really merit that kind of treatment, I grow even more enthusiastic about getting Event Horizon ready for publication in late 2019, along with the subsequent episodes in the series.
That is impressive. Good luck and I can’t wait to read what you having in store for us. I want to thank fellow NineStar Author R. R. Campbell for stopping by today. If you want to check out all the books and authors over at NineStar Press click here.
Don’t forget to share this post with friends and family who love Sci Fi books. If you have any questions for R.R. Campbell leave them in the comments section below and I’ll have him pop back over and answer them. Until next time have a great week.
About R. R. Campbell:
r. r. campbell is an author, editor, and the founder of the Writescast Network, a podcast collective for writers, by writers. His published novels include Accounting for It All and Imminent Dawn, which debuted as the number one new release in LGBT science fiction on Amazon. Its sequel, Mourning Dove, is slated for release in April 2019 with NineStar Press.
His work has also been featured in Five:2:One Magazine’s #thesideshow, Erotic Review, and with National Journal Writing Month.
r. r. lives in Stoughton, Wisconsin with his wife, Lacey, and their cats, Hashtag and Rhaegar.
Contact R.R. Campbell:
Twitter and Instagram: @iamrrcampbell
Get your copy of Imminent Dawn here:
Amazon click here.
Barnes & Novel click here.
NineStar Press click here.
Kobo click here.
Smashwords click here.
Preorder Mourning Dove here:
NineStar Press click here.