Big Bang to Now

Olga Werby Author Interview

Olga Werby Author Interview

Harvest follows Dr. Varsaad who is tasked with exploring an alien artifact which set off a life changing series of events. What was your inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

The first thoughts about writing “Harvest” came from reading an article on the evolution of man several years ago in the Scientific American Magazine. Why did Neanderthals go extinct after 140,000 years of success? Modern humans have been around only a small fraction of the time Neanderthals (and other human species) walked the Earth. Yet, we are here, they are all gone. And I’ve also come across articles on micro pollution. A million years from now, there will still be bits of plastic left incorporated into every ecosystem on our planet even if we cease to be. Very few tangible artifacts are left from other human species that went extinct.

Dr. Varsaad (Vars) Volhard is a scientist who studies why cultures survive. She is an evolutionary-socio-historian. Vars was my way of learning about our own past and exploring the possibilities for the future with my readers. I am a “seat of my pants” kind of writer — this means that after all of the research, I just sit down and write the story that jelled somewhere in my subconsciousness. I have no idea how my novel will turn out, who will live and who will die. I learn the ending just a few months before my readers do. I feel like we are on this journey together. That said, I really like Vars. She is completely out her element, trying to prove her own worth and working so hard to save everyone and everything. And through it all, Vas is still able to love and care for her family, her father. She never loses her humanity even as she stops being human. I admire her… but I am very happy never to be in her situation or having to make her decisions.

There is a subplot to “Harvest” — Vars and her dad are Seeds. I wanted to set my story in world which just barely survived total annihilation after being hit by an asteroid. Just like we have a Seed Vault in the far north to store genetic material of plants, as a precaution against extinction, in my novel, there are Human Vaults that were set up to preserve human genetic diversity after a near extinction event. This combination of an old threat and a new made for more interesting story dynamics. I’ve even written a little prequel to “Harvest” — a story of how Vars met her dad: Fresh Seed. Given the complexities of the setting, I think I might write more in this world. I’m considering writing a novella about how the Human Vaults were set up.

I enjoyed the science and backstory to the aliens and the artifact. What were some themes you wanted to capture when creating this part of the story?

I’m a scientist by training (I have degrees in astrophysics, mathematics, and cognitive science). I’ve always been interested in human history and the history of science — why did certain human populations pursued science while others didn’t? Why did some civilizations thrived while others failed? Why is human progress so unevenly distributed across history and geography? I’ve spent several years doing research and gathering information for this book. And to my surprise, many times the answers to these questions came down to simple luck. In our day and age, if you are born American, you are probably getting enough food to eat everyday and have sufficient schooling to be literate. To someone born into poverty and political unrest of Yemen, for example, you might be considered born lucky. Luck played a critical roll in success in many-a-civilization. Those with the most and easiest ways to extract natural resources always win the life lottery. I wanted to find out how this principle would scale to galactic proportions — what does it take to develop life and a thriving civilization some place outside of Earth, beyond our Solar System? To my surprise, luck was still the guiding principle to success. My book “Harvest” explores this theme to its fullest, taking in account the limited time since our universe came to be — Big Bang to now. What would it mean to be the first sentient advanced civilization in our galaxy? And what if that is not us?

What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?

This Fall, I’ve also released another novel: “God of Small Affairs”. In many ways, it is a mirror image of “Harvest”. But while “Harvest” is a hard science fiction, “God of Small Affairs” is written in magical realism genre. It focuses on a few months around Christmas time of life of a First Nations man who is charged with bringing home a god after that god have fulfilled a task assigned to it by the tribe elders. It is a simple mission — put the god on the train and take her to Alaska — but everything goes wrong. If gods walked among us — the kind of gods that one could just have a conversation with across a dinner table — would we ever be able to grow up, to take responsibility for our own actions? Would one rely on himself to save a child in need when a god could probably do so much better? “God of Small Affairs” is a work of dark fantasy fiction centered on themes of culture, belief, community, and hope.

I’m currently working of two…three stories. One — “Mirror Shards” — is a story of loss and regret. When is the price of personal happiness too high? Another — “Good Girl” — explodes the themes of artificial intelligence. What happens when an AI goes mad? And finally — “Word Magic” — is a story about linguistics. In particular, it focuses on how language can be used as an ultimate weapon of manipulation. There is a short prequel to “Word Magic” that has been turned into a little audio play by 600 Second Saga. I’m in the early stages of writing this novel. “Good Girl” is a novella that is finished and is awaiting yet another round of edits prior to publication (I got it back from my editor a few months back but have been too busy to finalize it). “Mirror Shards” is about 1/3 done…I wonder what happens next…

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Harvest by [Werby, Olga]Almost a century after Keres Triplets asteroid impact and subsequent nuclear exchange almost ended all human life on Earth, a strange artifact is discovered on one of the moons of Saturn. Who should be sent to the outer reaches of the solar system to initiate the first contact with an alien culture? Dr. Varsaad Volhard, an evolutionary-socio-historian, is chosen to help the world understand the alien civilization that left an artifact some thirty thousand years ago, before humans even learned to farm, at the time when other human species still walked the earth. While Vars prepares for the mission, her father, Dr. Matteo Volhard, discovers nanobots among the microplastics he studies. The bots are everywhere and seem to have been created to bond with human cyber implants. Why? Matteo is made to keep his discovery a secret…as well as his and his daughter’s true origins. Both were donated to a Human DNA Vault as babies. Matteo was raised as a Seed before leaving with his young daughter to study ecology around the world. Who knows what? Who is in control? How does one communicate with non-human intelligence? People seem to die in gruesome ways as their cyberhumatics go haywire on Earth and on Luna and Mars colonies. Is Earth under attack or is it all just a cosmic misunderstanding? Vars needs to use all she knows to solve the mystery of the ancient civilization on Mimas, as her dad battles the alien nanobots at home.

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About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on December 14, 2019, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I think that’s really cool how your novels mirror each other. It takes real talent to pull that off. Great post!


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