Not content to simply spout off some fantastical dribble, he took on the hardest subject of them all: What is the meaning of life?
Tell us all about ELOM – who are the central characters in the story?
The … book deals with, [Geera, a child of the last Ice Age,]she is in it, she’s abducted, her thoughts and her beliefs that go with her, and the book really talks about the fact that she is the person chosen of those abducted to be the intermediary between those responsible for the abduction and the humans. And so, 15,000 years later, Elom is a controlled environment. The Medoras, which are essentially shaman type people, females, 24 of them, are the only ones who know for sure that Elom is not their native planet, that after 15,000 years the idea that there was an Earth is a myth… Geera … set these ladies, this system of the Medoras up, when she first came, and after she had her communication with the alien entity, to carry on the truth of Earth and history and so they know that they are there, why they’re there. …The book implies at the very beginning, 15,000 years ago, mankind was judged, and in some lines we came up short. And Geera was able to convince this entity to give us a second chance. So 15,000 years later, the Medoras are sitting down saying, “Who do we choose? How do we choose the people to go and represent us at the second judging?” And the story deals with the culture that is there, which is a culture that is being controlled, and a concentrating of the Traits, that are favorable to Shetow, the earth goddess that Geera believed in when she was abducted. In the society, there are 24 tribes, and [in] each tribe, the females choose who they want to be their mate.
So do the Medoras provide some guidance on who they should choose to concentrate those Traits, or are they free to choose anyone?
Well, every year there is a gathering, and at the gathering there are contests, and they’re mental, physical, and everything else. And the women are allowed to choose their mates based upon their standing in those contests. The males are more favorable to have children based on how high they rank in this, because not all the couples have children.
And is that based on a permission thing, who can have children?
It’s not on permission, it’s the fact that in the controlled society each person has a round dot on their wrist, that wrist we find out later is part of the control mechanism, each family, each couple, has two children, the first one is a female and the second is a male. Every now and then, when the Traits are strong in that family, there will be a third child, and I call it the first childs, the second childs, and it’s structured, the years that they’re born, what sex they’re going to be, and everything is going to be that way…They set the men and the women up on each side and the women choose, and I talk in great detail about why the women choose and not the men. Because the women will choose based upon ration, reality, and intelligence, not just looks. The men are always going to make their choices on looks if they don’t know each other. Because the tribes don’t intermarry, a person from this tribe does not marry somebody in their own tribe, they marry somebody from another tribe like old cultures did. The men will leave their tribe and go to the woman’s tribe. That’s the way it’s done for aborigones, and I’m using that context of how to do it. [But] the male can reject that choosing, one time only…. And I go through the idea that they stay together for twenty years, they go through the twenty years and then there’s a process called the Poo Tash. which is what I refer to as “happy time”. That is when they have fulfilled their duty to Shetow, the female goddess, and stayed their time and have raised their children. So they can leave, they can break up and go be with whoever they want to. Or they can stay together if they want to and re-confirm their vows. And I talk a good bit about that…. And there’s a lot of analogies toward divorce, a lot of analogies toward life, toward my society. And the story is about those contests, and the seven people that are chosen to go to represent humanity, to the second judging.
And I wrote the book for a purpose. It’s not just a story of, “gee whiz this is great, all these things happen.” I’m trying to lay down some social truths in the book. About life, about people, everything… I wrote the book essentially for my grandkids, who are all girls, by the way. Women in my life have always been strong. My mother was very very bright, both my sisters are very very bright, both my wives have been Phi Beta Cappas, my oldest daughter’s a Phi Beta Cappa. Women have always seemed very very bright. I will always go to the bright girl over the pretty girl, there’s got to be more to it. And I’m putting this across [in the book], that there is more to a relationship. One time the girls are talking among themselves in the book, and they don’t know how to deal with him [lead character Kalmar], and one girl says “Well my momma said just stick your hand down his pants and grab him, and you can lead him anywhere you want to.” And that’s the way men are. And I tell it like I think that life is.
But here again, the book is a what if? What if we had adbuctions? What if there are abductions, they should’ve happened all through mankind’s history. I’m saying they happened 15,000 years ago. And if that happened, why did it happen and who did it? And the story’s built around answering those questions. It’s simply, at the very end, a book about what’s the meaning of life? And it’s very deep from that standpoint, at the very end of it. You learn where life came from, and where mankind came from, within reason, what purpose there is for us to be here. And I’ve given a reason for why we’re here, and it’s not the old fire-and-brimstone Bible thing. It’s also trying to say that, I don’t believe anybody has the true lock on that issue. And if somebody tries to say, “you can go over there and read the Bible, it’s going to tell you everything you need to know about this and if you doubt any of that you’re going to burn in Hell.” My book’s saying, wait a minute, we don’t really know where we came from, why we’re here. I’m not saying that [all the religions] aren’t right, I’m just saying, “well maybe it’s this way. What if?”…
And my friend who’s an ordained minister -he’s not now, but he has been – he said I leave enough in there about something greater than we are, that I don’t completely smash the idea of a God or anything, I leave it open.
The more you tell me about the book … it just keeps sounding better and better the more I hear about it!
Well, the women characters are strong, a lot of inter-relational situations in it, there’s love relationships, there’s sexual relationships, and I don’t mean to say it’s a sex novel, but it’s a reality thing. [But] in this society; men are hunters, women are artists. They do painting, they do carving, they do everything else. And it’s part of the control mechanism, in this society, and it becomes obvious to you later in the book that that’s what it is. How do you keep a society in check for 15,000 years? And it’s done by progressions … there are seven progressions of being allowed to do things. And you keep the women from having to worry about other things by keeping them concentrating on these artistic things that they produce and they take those items and they trade them to a race of reptilian, not guards, but tradesmen, and that’s the way that they’re interfaced wtih the entity that put them there. And they trade these goods that they have manufactured, these artistic goods, for the things that they need, things they can’t produce themselves, medicines, certain metals, things like that… it’s got emotions in it, it’s got relationsips into it, and the women in it are toe-to-toe, if not smarter than, the men. But there is no sexism in it either though, although the Medora are female and they are the shaman of the group, and the ultimate sense of knowledge, it’s not because the men are inferior. It’s just that that’s not their place in the society. They [the men] are hunters.
So just the division of labor – somebody has to do each thing?
Everybody has their task.
So the idea of the stronger female god?…
There’s a lot of knowledge, and I bring that out in ELOM, the fact that our forefathers, and particularly for 25-30,000 years, God was a FEMALE. The whole society was set up on the female. And pretty much I think they were probably fairly equal in the relationship. It was only when man took and built the villages, started farming, and if people were going to steal their cattle and all that, “well if we’re gonna die for them, then we’re gonna be the boss.” And it’s sort of what the way of thinking is… [But] fertility,… I went into the idea that fertility was a thing that 15,000 years ago was what they figured, and men they weren’t really sure what they were there for, they took care of the women. They weren’t really sure what part they had in the [fertility].
How long have you been working on ELOM – your whole life??
[laughs] I actually started about 2002. The idea that the book would be published is something that was way off in my mind. I did not know a single writer when I wrote the book. I went to a couple cons and met a few writers, but I really didn’t have any feedback or anything from anybody. So it took me four, five years from the time that I started writing the book until it will be published… But I will say this, it is my first, second, and third novel. Because I literally sat down and read twenty books on writing as I did it, and everytime that I would read a book, I’d go back and change it… So I feel like I’ve written two or three books, but I was too engrossed in the subject to leave it alone and go for something else.
Is it easier the second time – are you just writing the second book once?
Yeah, the second book is very fast! I really enjoy it… Fairchance, it’s purely dealing with evolution, it’s telling about how man will evolve to the next level.
So this is going to deal with future evolution, not past evolution?
Correct – future evolution of mankind. And it’s based on the idea that evolution for mankind will not happen on this planet; it will happen on another planet. Because we, on this planet, won’t allow it to happen. We don’t allow the natural culling of the weak and the blind and the sick; we keep them alive. Fairchance is about a society that develops on a planet circling Alpha Centauri A, which is, Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to ours, and it’s really three stars; the two major stars are Alpha Centaura A and B. And within our lifetimes, our your children’s lifetimes, we will have sent a spaceship to one of those planets. And then, 3,500 years later, we send a second one, and it’s what has developed on that planet. And that book, because of infrastructure, the people who are there understand science but they just don’t have the infrastructure to repair it.
So they’re just left on their own for 3,500 years, abandoned?
That’s right, abandoned. And then, they were put into stasis, they go there in stasis and they come out of stasis in levels. The planet is so hostile that only a few of them are able to survive, and as they later bring others out of stasis those become the servant classes. So you literally have a royalty, swordfights, and using an indigineous species as sort of a dragon-like creature. So it has all the things that a fantasy would have, but with a rational reason for it being that way. And the book has to do with the idea that, the first lines of the book are “Sheldon always knew that he was going to be sold.” It’s based upon the ideas that the leaders of Earth are concerned about the genetic changes taking place on this new planet. And they want to make sure that the people there don’t get too far out, so what they’ve set up to do is, “we will bring you technological equipment and materials if you will let the people from Earth come and intermarry.” And it will keep the humanity the same. And if you remember history, when they would draft people, rich families would buy out, buy somebody to take their place. In this story, the story is he was sold and he’s gone to this planet to take the place of a rich person and everybody thinks that’s who he is. And the leader of this planet works it out by deception to get his daughter matched with him, because he thinks it’s going to be great for him[self]. But … that’ll be two or three years off!
I have to tell you that when I was trying to do a little research on you online, I can’t find anything. That’s why I wanted to know how you came up, where you grew up and what did you do before you became an author? What were you doing?
I have been many things in my life. I have an MBA… I am a person who has a business, political, and healthcare background. I’ve been a hospital administrator, I have been a politician, I have been a state senator, I travel widely – Europe, Asia. When I was 9 years old with my family, we drove into Mexico City, visited all the Aztec Ruins and things like that, to this day (starting about 25 years ago) I started collecting pre-Columbian art. I love culture that’s from the heart. Not from somebody that’s spent 5 years at Juliiard – although I like classical music, but I still like just the artistic things. And you know, there’s so much knowledge that the ancients had before recorded history. I went over and looked at Stonehenge, and you know how did these guys do it? How was it that when they built or made a pyramid in Egypt 4000 years ago, it was the tallest structure man made until the Eiffel tower??!!??
And you have to consider that it would be difficult for us to build that today, the stones were so heavy we don’t even do that type of thing today.
And they were able! I’m convinced that 50,000 years ago man was just as smart as he is now. He just didn’t have [as much of] the knowledge.
Do you have a favorite author yourself?
When I was young, I started reading science fiction at about 19. So I’m into [Isaac] Asimov, and [Arthur C.] Clark, and people like that, [Robert] Heinlen, to me they’re the gods. Everything I knew about science, how many planets there were, how many moons there were, how fast it was to get into orbit, all those things I learned from science fiction. And I think we’ve been getting away from a lot of that, in my opinion. So when you go back and look at those things, Heinlen and all those are really great… But I’ll [also] read things like The Moral Animal, which is Robert Wright, which is NOT science fiction but it deals with evolution: why people are the way we are. We men go after young women, and women go after older men. Why do we take care of grandma. All things that are explained in there, with evolution, it’s the modern Darwin stuff. I love to read that kind of stuff…
I’ve been reading science fiction 45 years, 50 years, and [ELOM] is different than anything that I’ve ever read in the sense that I’m trying to answer a question of why we’re here. You know, everyone writes about space wars and things like this, which I enjoy myself, but I often [wonder], you know, what’s the meaning of life? And um, I’m writing about the meaning of life.
Big subject to tackle.
I write about ‘what if’ type situations. And I think that today, every science fiction fan concedes the idea that abductions, and aliens, we can all believe the idea that there’s aliens in life, that some of us believe in abductions, I don’t know if I do but I don’t count out the possibility that it has happened. If it did happen, why would it only happen beginning in 1948? And my premises is the idea that there is abductions, have been abductions, one took place 15,000 years ago, and it took place for a young girl going through her rite of passage… [and] I thought it was really hard science fiction, until I find out that hard science fiction really deals with only things that are scientifically proven today. Well it’s definitely got stuff in there that’s not proven today!… And so, you know, it’s not fantasy in the standpoint that there’s no magic, there’s no dragons, there’s no things like that in it. The dragons and stuff are in my second book!
Seems like you had a lot of your research ready-made for you, just from the authors that you like to read?
Well I collect antique books. I have a first edition of Animal Farm, I have a first edition of two of Charles Dickens books, I have Little Men, I have some very very old books and some very new books, and I love books. But science fiction is what I read 80% of the time… I read 3 books at a time. I never read one book at a time. I’ll have a pile of books by my bed, and I’ll read whatever my mind is at the time. I never go to sleep without reading.