Perforating the Darkness

Jacob Harrell Author Interview

The Transient, The Emperor, and the Man Left Alone is a science fiction story that follows a common man from Earth and his interstellar misadventures. This is a very fun novel. Did you have fun writing it?

Of course. I don’t think I ever could have completed this novel if I didn’t enjoy what it was that I was writing, and it was that enjoyment which helped to propel me forward day after day. When I first began writing ‘The Transient,’ I had absolutely no idea where I was going to go with any of it. There is a certain degree of excitement buried in the unknown, and each day brought a whole new set of wonder to me. In the end, I hope that the reader will be able to pick up on my enjoyment, on my excitement, and maybe, just maybe, they will be able to find this piece as fun, fresh, and entertaining as I had found in writing it.

The main character is abducted by aliens whom might be more human than they pretend, and their motives are deeper than a simple probe. How did the idea for the aliens creation and motives come to fruition for you?

Before I had even begun to formulate my ideas for ‘The Transient,’ I had written a rather short story about a guy and his apartment and it kind of went absolutely nowhere. It was just a few pages and it ended just as abruptly as it began, but there was something about the ideas that it presented that piqued my interest. I had wanted to take it a step further, but had no idea where I wanted to go with it, or how I wanted to get there, so I set the story aside and forgot all about it. Later, much later, I was hanging out in a forgotten section of West Virginia, staring up at the night sky. It was brilliant out there, a million points of light perforating the darkness, and it got me thinking about everything. I thought about our relative place in this infinitely vast universe, about life in all of its complex arrangements, about this and that, and, of course, about whether or not we are alone. The concept of extraterrestrials has always intrigued me, especially the idea of alien abductions. What is it about the human race that would make another advanced race want to travel a countless number of lightyears across the galaxy to study? I mean, are we really that interesting of a people? Surely, if these abductions are truly happening, they would have to harbor some sort of ulterior motive aside from the “we just want to study you people” excuse. For hours, laid back beneath the starry sky, I thought about this, and then, at some point, the idea of that original story I had written crept into my skull and, quite suddenly, I knew that an abduction would be the perfect segue into taking an otherwise abstract story that went nowhere and spring boarding it into any which where that my mind thought to take it. Of course, the aliens had to be as human as possible, because, as Hollywood teaches us, if there is to be intelligent life out there, it would undoubtedly be modeled after us, and it would also have a firm grasp of the English language. It’s as if Earth is the warm and happy center of the universe that all life gathers around. We are just so very important, aren’t we?

This story offers outrageous situations that serve as biting commentary on human’s need for entertainment. What are some of the things that you find naturally funny about the human condition that you think makes for great fiction?

There is so much that I find funny, and sad, and ridiculous, and depressing about the human condition. I’m not even sure where to begin here. Certainly, our diminished attention span thanks to our love affair with pointless technology is something to laugh at. Also, our never-ending courtship with violence, our dependency on television and other socially inept forms of entertainment, our inability to see the glaring hypocrisies that govern our lives, our further inability to take responsibility for our actions, and our complex social hierarchy that states that one group is much more preferred over another group simply by having the dumb luck of being born a certain way or in a certain place, are all extraordinary themes that are finely suited for the world of fiction. Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of our species, the one that just may dictate everything else, is our overwhelmingly enlarged ego. We have an enormously big head, and having such an inflated view of ourselves translates quite well into some great fiction. We have this tendency to think that we are superior to all else. Nature is our footstool and the very Laws that govern life cannot possibly apply to us as humans. I love playing with this notion of collective self-worth. I only hope that we will one day be able to take a step back and realize that we are not some special and perfect little creature. We are just victims of blind coincidence just as everything else is. Maybe there will come a time when we can once again live with Nature instead of in constant opposition to it.

This novel is funny, in the same was at The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is funny. What were some of your inspirations as a writer?

It was only recently that I read ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide.’ I’ve heard others mention it when talking of my book, so I thought to finally check it out. I must say that I am completely humbled to have my story be compared to that of such an amazing writer and story teller as Douglas Adams. ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide’ is a fantastic piece of fiction that I urge everyone to read. All that aside, I think that what inspires me more than anything else is…boredom. I spend a lot of time on the road, or lost on some trail, or doing some mundane activity, and it is through these actions that I find the creative juices tend to flow best. I usually carry around a pen and notebook because I never really know when inspiration is going to strike. I am also heavily inspired by the surreal no matter the medium it comes in. Works of Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher, Les Claypool, Frank Zappa, Franz Kafka, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Kurt Vonnegut have all had a great impact on my thinking.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when is that due out?

There are three things that I have in the works right now. The first is a continuation of Derren’s story. This next part will pick up where ‘the Transient’ leaves off and will describe Derren’s new life back on Earth. Without giving too much away, I will say that it will involve murders of crows, shady governmental entities, and inter-dimensional beings living in the rectum of a cosmic being. I am also hard at work with a novel centered on life in a small town life. It is a tale that points out the glaring and countless contradictions and hypocrisies that guide us through our lives. This is something that I have been working on for quite some time, but I hope to have it completed and out in print by next year. Lastly, I have been compiling together a number of short stories, poems, and other oddities. These are just miscellaneous bits of this and that, ideas that came uninvited that I felt the need to capture. I hope to have that collection out in print by the end of this year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

The Transient, the Emperor, and the Man Left AloneDerren Washington’s life has never amounted to much, and lately it has become boring and stale. Sure, he does well for himself. He has a job, a place to live, and is breathing and living-enough for most people and all Derren believes he needs. And then one morning, Derren is awoken to an unexpected knock that changes the course of his life, spurring a mad journey that he never could have possibly imagined. Confronted with the sudden loss of his apartment and, subsequently, everything he has ever owned, Derren must face the insensitive marriage of blind chance and sheer coincidence. His situation becomes even more dire after a regrettably made phone call finds him abducted by a group of towering extraterrestrials who have mistaken him for their long, lost emperor. Now Derren struggles to navigate and survive in a baffling world amid suffocating seas of deceit and absurdity in hopes of one day making his way home and finding some meaning in his life. This science fiction novel tells the tale of one man’s unintended adventure as he stumbles from one confusing world to another in an attempt to regain what he has lost.

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About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is a book review website which consists of mostly fiction books, but we do enjoy non fiction works that we're excited about. All reviews are the reviewer’s honest opinion. We love books and read constantly (seriously, it’s an addiction). We're always open to book review requests and have aspirations of one day being sucked into the Twilight Zone episode with Burgess Meredith where all he wants to do is read, but can’t until the world ends; you know what I mean?

Posted on September 3, 2016, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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