Posted by Literary Titan
Brownout – 666 follows Rick in the midst of a struggle to find a way to live a normal life in a dark and unforgiving world. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
My inspiration for the setup behind this novel primarily came from my sojourn in the Philippines spread over several years. I always told people that one day I would write a book about the country, its people and its culture and that I would call it “Brownout.” I added the “666” moniker to the title as any search under “Brownout” brought up thousands of books about electricity. As large portions of my novel were based on real events and people I could have written a nonfiction work instead. However, I didn’t want the potential for libel suits hanging over me so I chose fiction. The American and Australian settings of the novel came about as I wished to explore the socio-political ethos of those nations and their relationships to the bases of world power. I introduced the American setting as a subplot that tied up with the central one at the end.
Rick Daly is an interesting character that faces many challenges in life. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Some of the driving ideals behind the central character, Rick Daly, were related to sexuality and its abusive and non-abusive forms. As he matures Rick learns to become less selfish and earns some degree of redemption. Rick has been confused about Right and Wrong and gradually arrives at what he calls “the fair thing principle.” Rick grew up in the seventies and eighties in an Australia with a fairly aggressive sexual culture. An example of looking back at this culture from the standpoint of the present day is the internationally well-known podcast, “The Teacher’s Pet,” by Hedley Thomas of the newspaper, The Australian. Apart from examining a cold case disappearance and probable murder, the podcast looks into alleged teacher/schoolgirl sex rings at several high schools on Sydney’s northern beaches, one of which I taught at (Cromer High School). Rick loathes hypocrisy, the stupidity and gross unfairness of many authorities. Governments and courts often seem overly influenced by cultural and political fashion.
This novel expertly uses history to tell an engrossing story. Was history an important aspect for you in this novel or did this develop organically while writing?
As a former English and History teacher I have always been fascinated by History and its links to the present day. The changing attitudes to sexuality throughout historical and contemporary periods necessarily came to the fore as Rick becomes caught up in them.
I have long been a student of the Holocaust and the Third Reich and, as history is always written by the winners, I appreciate how difficult it is to arrive at even an approximation of the objective truth. While in no way do I condone the many crimes of the Third Reich I find myself bemused at how any attempt to examine this era can so easily be shouted down if it differs ever so little from the official version. The Holocaust was a terrible event but it is no more sacred than are the other mass killings or genocides that occurred before it or since.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
In addition to this novel, I also have a published work of non-fiction about child loss and grief. It is called, “Waiting for a Miracle – Life in the Dead Zone.” As for my next book, I haven’t decided whether to work on another novel or non-fiction piece. In either case it won’t be available until next year at the earliest.
In the land of flaunted sex, money, and flexible rules, an ambitious but lonely Rick Daly faces his demons.
Rick Daly has established a business in the exotic surroundings of the Philippines, while simultaneously discovering Marilyn Delgado, the woman of his dreams.
However, a clash of cultures and his own naiveté lead to disaster. Falsely accused of a sexual crime, Rick loses both his freedom and his business. To add insult to injury, a prison escape merely amounts to switching jails.
In a world where the rich prosper, honest individuals are forced to the wall, and a cynical disregard for all but the dollar is destroying society from within, crime soon follows punishment for Rick. Close to losing his soul, will Rick’s ultimate success in drug and arms dealing finally lead him to face up to reality?
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
When an alien species detects the dissolution of a planet in a neighboring solar system, they send out a group of skilled teenagers to save what they can of the planet. This is an intriguing setup to a novel that is high in social commentary. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?
My goal in writing this novel was to attempt to describe this world from the point of view of outsiders – people who had not been born and raised on Earth; people not conditioned and tainted by the absurdities of everyday life on this planet. Aliens. As a vegan, an atheist and an anarchist, I am dismayed on an, almost, hourly basis by the irrational behavior of my fellow species. We call ourselves ‘civilised’ and ‘highly evolved’ yet we participate in practices so horrific that, when committed against humans, are, quite rightly, thought of as shocking and unlawful yet, when perpetrated against non-human animals, are considered perfectly acceptable – or, usually, not considered at all. We call ourselves ‘intelligent’ yet we homo sapiens, we self-proclaimed ‘wise men’, are, not only, allowing the very environment we totally rely on for our own lives to be destroyed to slake the greed of a tiny number of other human animals but we are blissfully helping them to do so by believing their lies and consuming their unnecessary and harmful products. Some would call us ‘enlightened’ but up to 95% of all humans truly, truly believe that they will be transported to some kind of paradise after they die! Why should they care if life on the physical world were to be destroyed? I suppose that could explain why we do not care about the destruction of the rain forests, the desertification of vast swathes of the land, the befouling of the atmosphere and the creation of massive dead zones in the ocean. Also, how civilised or evolved or intelligent or enlightened can we be if we are killing and being killed by each other for nonsensical reasons such as the ancient writings of those ‘Religions of Love and Peace’ or the greed-based ideologies of power-hungry politicians? There are countless other stupidities I could mention here but the divisions based on race, colour, gender, sexuality, ability, age and, yes, even nonsensical superstitious belief, spring to mind – all of which I do discuss in the novel. Obviously, I cannot mention all of those forms of discrimination without also mentioning speciesism which plays a huge role in informing the aliens and, naturally, the book. Did I achieve my goal? From a practical angle – that is, putting myself in the minds of total outsiders and viewing the world afresh – I like to think that I did pretty well. However, in other aspects of the work, I am not so sure.
the hell world is full of detailed characters and places. How long did it take you to imagine, draft, and write this world?
The whole process took about 2 years from conception to pre-publish and then about 9 months to get the novel out. There was a lot of research involved – all of the figures I cite as being facts, to the best of my knowledge, are actual facts – the sixty-billion non-human land animals slaughtered for food every year, as just one example. I did, perhaps, use some poetic licence when detailing some of the projections of the aliens – on predicted human population levels, where, I think, I suggested that the numbers of humans alive in 2050 would far exceed the predicted eleven-billion – but I do not believe I took too many liberties on their behalf.
Their are many animals on this hell world. Were these animals allegories for humans on Earth? What was your favorite animal to create and write for?
This is an area where I obviously failed in my writing because the portrayal of the dominant animals, the Kaahu, on the hell world was not allegorical – they are humans and the hell world is Earth. There were no metaphors, no cryptic clues; the novel was set here and now on this planet with you and I as players in the story – there are many, many pointers to this fact in the book! My favourite character is Hentanayre – she’s a bubbly, intelligent young female alien (an ap Vandan) who loves all animals (except, maybe, the Kaahu) and, just like me, is terrified of heights – we have a lot in common!
What is the next book that you are working on and when is that book due out?
I am in the planning stage of a new novel – again, written from the viewpoint of aliens… mainly. I do intend to intersperse the narrative with a human voice here and there. It will also be written, again, from a vegan, atheist and anarchist perspective – so plenty of anti-carnist, anti-god and anti-hierarchical stuff. My working title is ‘It’ but I have no idea when it may be finished or published – I am in no hurry.
the hell world is a work of fiction that seeks to highlight the absurdity of the human condition as seen from the vantage point of outsiders – an alien view. It is a critique of the now in the genre of science fiction; an attack on all of the ridiculous ideologies that have retarded, and continue to retard, the evolution of those, self-proclaimed, wise men (homo sapiens) of the planet. These nonsensical philosophies, be they socio-political, economic, military or religious, have all crippled human animal evolutionary development for millennia. But not just that. Of much more importance is the impact that just this one species of animal has had, is having and will continue to have on all other lifeforms of this beautiful world and on the planet itself – though, I fear, not for too much longer. An unthinkable, unmentionable, unconscionable number of individual, sentient beings are slaughtered for human consumption in their multiple-billion every single year. Habitats essential to other lifeforms have been, and continue to be, destroyed on a regular basis, affecting the very existence of thousands of species of animal and vegetable life – in itself an act of mass suicide for human animals as all of those other lifeforms are part of the cycle of life. All are interdependent – taking away one leads to a domino-effect and, albeit at first slowly, the whole structure starts to collapses. We have passed that initial, gradual degradation stage – it has long since gone. Also an environmentalist, n o o n e cannot comprehend the idea that human animals are nonchalantly destroying the planet – an action which can be likened to people steadfastly hacking away at the foundations of a borrowed house and constantly defecating in every room whilst kidding themselves that they can pass that house on to their children. Couple those atrocities to the insane befouling of all of the water and the entire atmosphere of the planet by this species, the unconscionable weapons of mass murder they possess, then add-in the sheer number of these human animals and their determination to increase that total without limit points to just one, inevitable conclusion: The total annihilation of, not only themselves, but of life itself on this one world in a million or billion or trillion or, perhaps, the only planet like it in the entire, vastness of the universe. We will never know because, the sad truth is, it is much too late for the human animal, much too late for other species of life and much too late for the planet.
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