Thursday, October 12, 2017

Interview with sci-fi author John Adrian Tomlin

Sci-fi author John Adrian Tomlin joins me today and we’re talking about his new novel, The Imaginarium Machine.

Welcome, John. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born with a genetic disease called merosin deficient muscular dystrophy. I am in a motor wheelchair and I am physically weak and unable to walk. Growing up, I made playing video games my hobby…more like an obsession. It started when I was five years old when got an Atari. After the Atari, I got an NES, then a SNES, PC, N64, Gamecube, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Wii, and finally a Playstation 4. Today, I’m 35 and still playing.

I have a B.S. in Game Art and Design from Westwood College Online. The goal was to become a game designer, but it’s hard to get a job at the video game companies near me (Rockstar San Diego and High Moon Studios). The closest I got was interning as a tester at Rockstar San Diego. Also, my physical ailment limits me to my full potential.

Game designing is just a different form of storytelling, and since I couldn’t get in the video game industry, I needed a different medium. I decided to write books when, I believe, God gave me the idea of a future E3 conference where they were introducing a new device that allows you to play in your mind instead of the TV which would allow you to interact with all five senses. The plot came later.

Please tell us about your current release.
Well, technically my current release is “The Imaginarium World,” which is the sequel to “The Imaginarium Machine.” I’ll talk about “The Imaginarium Machine” first. It’s about a video game console that lets you play in your mind instead of the television. This opens up the opportunity to fully immerse the player in the game world. The world gets excited for this new device and most people buy it when released. Over time, more and more people buy it and they have fun using it. It’s also being used for other purposes, like talking to a comatose patient or attending class when a snowstorm prevents everyone from going to the school. All was going great until one day a calamity happens where everyone in the Imaginarium Machine becomes trapped inside and unable to get out. An investigation leads to a manhunt for the person or persons responsible and to free everyone trapped inside.

The sequel “The Imaginarium World” takes place five years after the events of “The Imaginarium Machine.” It’s about the aftermath of the calamity and how people live now. In this book, I took inspiration from “The Walking Dead” in that it focuses on characters and the drama that they’re living.

What inspired you to write this book?
I believe that God inspired me because the idea wasn’t something I planned on. Once the idea was implanted in me, I ran with it like a little boy playing with a new toy. I started writing out the idea, and then the plot came out little by little like a movie playing in my head. Nothing was planned ahead of time. I was writing each word, each sentence, and each paragraph one step at a time. It was like I was walking with God in faith that we will write this together and trust that He will guide me in the right direction.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Imaginarium Machine:
 The Conference
“Welcome to E3 2030 on G4. We are your hosts, Axel Wayne and Mandy Kohn. We’re here at the Sony conference, awaiting the news of a next gen gaming console, with rumors that this will blow the competition away.” Axel then turns his head to Mandy.
“That’s right. But what could we possibly expect? What more could we ask for? I just don’t see how we can expand upon what we already have. Even virtual reality has been done to death perfectly with the Xbox World. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what Sony has up their sleeve.” While Mandy and Axel are talking about rumors and speculation, the background music starts to get louder and the lights dim.
“Well, it looks like we’re about to start, so we’ll see you after the show.” Axel and Mandy turn their heads away from the camera and face the giant screen on the big stage.
The video playing shows clips of the generations of Playstation consoles starting with the original Playstation and ending with the Playstation 5. It also shows how far we have gone with the games graphically, from a pixilated mess to absolute realism. The video ends with an unknown logo that has a resemblance to Playstation. As the music lowers down, the lights go up and the president of Sony Computer Entertainment International comes out.
“Hello, everyone! I’m Adam Stanley, president of Sony Computer Entertainment International. What you have seen today is a glimpse of the past, but now we must look to the future. What could possibly be in the future, you may ask. Is it just more games, a new console, or new accessories? Well, in short, the answer is all the above. But I can’t just make a short answer like that. It wouldn’t be fair. So let’s take at a look at what games are missing. So far, we have an experience that lets you interact with a controller with buttons or using motion control or using your voice to do certain things. That’s all well and good, but you’re still missing out on experiencing being in the world. Things like smell, touch, and taste are nonexistent. Feeling the wind in your hair, smelling a field of flowers, or touching a scaly dragon can’t ever happen with the technology of TV. This brings me to what we have been working on, here, at Sony. But my words can’t do justice what a video can. So I will draw your attention to the big screen, please.” As the lights dim, Adam walks off the stage.
The video shows a man alone in an empty world. The man waves his hand like he’s painting a canvas, and the world materializes into a field of red and white flowers with petals flying around. The sky is bright and blue, and the sun shines on the man’s face. The man closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, like he is soaking up the world as his own. He opens his eyes and takes a walk down through the flowers with the wind blowing in his hair. He then waves his hand again, and out of nowhere, a fierce-looking dragon appears. It blows fire into the sky, challenging the man into a fight. The man then raises his hand and out comes a sword. The man takes a fighting stance and stares at the dragon. The dragon stares back and gives a roaring snort. The video then goes to black and out comes that unknown logo again.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the third book of the Imaginarium trilogy currently titled “The Imaginarium Conspiracy.” It answers any and all unanswered questions from the previous books and opens up the reasons and motives for the great calamity.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I got my first taste in writing in fourth grade. The teacher assigned us to write a story in 30 minutes (I think it was 30 minutes). Any story at all. I just wrote what I saw that came to my mind as if a movie was playing. We all turned in the assignment when we were done. This is a class of around 30 kids. The next day, the teacher said, in a nutshell, that everyone’s story was bad…except one. Mine. She asked me if she could read it to the class. I said sure. I honestly don’t remember what I wrote, but that experience told me that I have a hidden talent to tell stories. I didn’t really exercise my talent until I started writing “The Imaginarium Machine.” I still feel I could get better the more I write.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Due to my handicapped status, I’m unable to work or travel long distance. I mostly play video games, watch TV and movies, do physical therapy, and I write when I can and when I’m in the mood. I type with a mouse and the On-Screen Keyboard, which makes typing slow. I used to type on a keyboard fairly well, but not anymore.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can’t really say because I feel like I’m not fully experienced yet. My writing style, if it really is a style, stems from playing video games and watching TV/movies. I guess I need to read more books.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At first, I wanted to be a doctor. I think most kids wanted that. I also wanted to be in the Air Force to fly jets. I also imagined that it would be cool to be a sniper in the military. If it wasn’t for the muscular dystrophy, I would have either become a fighter pilot or sniper. I feel like I have a warrior’s heart.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope you enjoy my book(s) The Imaginarium Machine and The Imaginarium World. I pray you will be fully entertained and love my work. God bless you all.


Thanks for being here today, John. Happy writing.

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