Monday, May 6, 2019

Interview with novelist Robert Sells

I’m happy to be helping novelist Robert Sells kick off a virtual book tour for his new science fiction novel, Revelations.

During his tour, Robert will be awarding a $40 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

During the tour, the book will be on sale for only $0.99.

Robert Sells has taught physics for over forty years, but he has been a storyteller for over half a century, entertaining children, grandchildren, and students. He has written the award-winning novel, Return of the White Deer, historical fiction about Penda of Mercia. His second fiction book, Reap the Whirlwind, was a thriller about the dawn of artificial intelligence and the subsequent decline of humanity. His third book, The Runner and the Robbery, was a young adult novel about a teenager and his grandfather who had Alzheimer’s disease. Revelations, a science fiction novel, is his fourth book.

He lives with his wife, Dale, in the idyllic village of Geneseo, New York with two attentive dogs who are uncritical sounding boards for his new stories. He is intrigued by poker and history, in love with Disney and writing, and amused by religion and politics.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Well beyond the backyard of our solar system are billions of stars, some of which will harbor intelligence life. This is a story about First Contact, how it actually might happen, possibly in the next few years. Don’t expect large spaceships hovering over New York City or an armada of aliens popping up right above New York City. Instead First Contact will be more mundane, a series of binary numbers, sent across the void, conveying information about an alien world. In my newest novel, Revelations, a secret message is embedded in this first signal from an alien civilization… a secret message that could end human civilization.

What inspired you to write this book?
Science fiction should have its emphasis on science. The future depicted by Star Wars and Star Trek, though exciting, is not based on science. Real journeys between the stars would take years, more likely, centuries and require prohibitively large amounts of energy and resources. It is far more likely that interstellar civilizations will interact through messages sent back and forth. While it would be interesting to receive such a signal, meeting an alien, face-to-face, is far more exciting. Could such a meeting occur through a message? Actually, it is possible and the novel gives a plausible way two species separated by many light years could physically interact with one another.

Excerpt from Revelations:


            Aster hefted the semi-automatic rifle. How do these things work, anyway?
A clacking sound, not far off. She broke into another frightened sprint. I’ve never run so far, so fast, so much in all my life. My heart? Will it burst?
A minute later she stopped. Her breath came in large gulps while her muscles screamed with pain. A surge of adrenalin (how much of that hormone do I have?) flowed through her while she scanned the floor for centipedes. My God! I forgot to check for the little bastards, though they are the least of my worries now. Then she saw one. A small one. She stepped on it and ground her boot into the cement. Overhead a gray flier glided by. Aster gripped the barrel of the gun like a bat and waited for an attack. But the gelatinous shape flapped by, ignoring her.
She leaned back against the wall, staring straight ahead, but not seeing anything. The sprint, the fear, the need for constant vigilance had exhausted her. She started shaking uncontrollably. She felt dizzy. Don’t faint, Aster. Not now. She shook her head, forcing herself to be more alert.
Black oblivion tried to wedge itself into her mind, the promise of sleep and forgetfulness. Eyes closed, Aster slipped down on the floor and laid in a fetal position. Blackness began to cover her like a warm blanket. Just rest, for a few seconds, forget all of this. Maybe a short nap.
The monotone world surrounding her disappeared. When I open my eyes, I’ll wake up and the black mist of this frightening dream will evaporate away in the morning sunshine of my wonderful, sunny apartment in New York. She opened her eyes and felt tears seeping into her eyes.
Nothing had changed. The dim light, the straight, smooth, drab walls. The emptiness. The coppery smell of blood, human blood, in the air. Nothing had changed in her mind, either. Go back to sleep, Aster. Back to sleep. She started to close her eyes again. Then she opened them wide, surging to a sitting position. No sounds. In fact, an unsettling silence had taken over the Dome. My God. Is it over?
She sighed and peered down the dim alley to the right and left. If they are done with the soldiers, they will be looking for me. Keep moving. Keep alert. Keep alive. Quelling her dizziness as she returned to an upright position, the astrophysicist resumed her trek, walking, not running. Searching the floor for centipedes, listening for sounds, and moving away from monsters.
The lighting was dim, but not dark. Thank God. Light enough to see monsters though, that’s for sure. Narrow alleys leading into other narrow alleys, none straight, turns every three hundred feet. She was lost, hopelessly lost. She grunted. Maybe that was a good thing. Maybe being lost had saved her.
Reaching in her pocket, Aster grabbed a compass. The expedition began at the southern gate so she knew going south was her salvation. The compass needle pointed one way and when she walked a few steps, it rotated to another direction. Useless. She knew better than to hope for a compass to work. The plasma of a nuclear reactor would have to be contained by a powerful magnetic field. This internal magnetic field swamped the earth’s magnetic field.
Cell phone GPS was useless as well. But it could still tell time. She checked it. Less than half an hour had passed since she last checked the time when she went to retrieve cautious Bob Demarco before the battle. God! It seemed like hours!
While Aster’s body was near collapse, her mind continued its ruminations like a mouse on a treadmill. Fear takes away energy. Interesting. She grunted. Interesting that you still think analytically, you idiot. Her eyes snapped back to the floor. No centipedes. Okay, rest a bit. Don’t exhaust yourself, girl. Aster slid down on the floor again and covered her face with her hands. We never should have entered this damned place. Stupid, stupid, stupid. The Dome had sent them one subtle warning after another and, like so many other clues, they ignored them. Humans, she reflected, were particularly adept at twenty-twenty hindsight. Her eyes snapped open and wide-eyed, searched the area close to her. She scooted back up. Any of those damn centipedes around? None. She was safe. At least from those creepy, crawly things.
Then a clacking sound. Those horrible feet, ending with hooves, not feet, the tapping sound on cement. She let out a gurgle of hysterical laughter. Here come the bad guys again! She pinched herself hard to try to get control and took a shaky breath. Don’t lose it now. You’ve made it this far. She got up and moved lightly along the wall and, at the junction, steered away from the clacks. Don’t know where in hell I am. She hummed lightly under her breath, repeating it several times, then giggled. No, but I do know that I’m in Hell, don’t I? How about that, Daddy? You were right all along. Your scientist daughter is rotting in Hell, just like you said I would.
She walked for about an hour, winding her way through the corridors, hugging a wall and trying not to be seen, carefully stepping over the gray cauliflower-fungi peppering the ground. Always steering away from those clacking sounds. Looking for centipedes and either killing them or walking away from the larger ones. They didn’t seem to have eyes, but somehow the centipedes could detect her. Smell? Sound?
Finally, bowing to her fatigue, Aster Worthington, famed astronomer, sagged down and sat with her knees pulled up to her chest. She just couldn’t go any farther. Exhausted, all she could do was keep watching left and right.
If they came down the corridor, she probably couldn’t outrun them but maybe she might get lucky with a shot. She knew she had to hit the head. Of course, it would help if she knew how to work the damn gun. She fiddled with a latch around the trigger. Was this the safety? Off. On. Off? On? Off? She didn’t know how long she had been playing with the gun when she was jerked out of her reverie by a sound.
Instantly, standing up, her head snapped around toward the corner of the alley, and she tightly gripped her gun. Alert. A new sound. Padding sounds. What the hell was that?

What exciting story are you working on next?
A romance murder mystery, Rebecca’s Romances. A teenage girl is traumatized by the murder of her best friend. She leaves her hometown to attend college. Twelve years later she returns. Another murder, identical to her friend’s murder, has just occurred. She and three friends hunt for the killer. As the investigation deepens, she becomes certain one of her friends is, in fact, the killer. But, which one?

When did you first consider yourself a writer? While teaching physics, I would sometimes write humorous stories about students engaging the world and discovering or using physics principles.

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?
I write about two hours a day on my novels. Early morning, well before dawn, is an ideal time to write. No distractions and all thoughts are viable before the sun rises. I spend another two hours a day writing a political blog about the present administration (I’m worried that President Trump is hurting us far more than helping us). The remainder of time is spent taking full advantage of my retirement from taking care of my health to taking trips to exotic or historic places.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not a trained writer. I majored in physics and was far more comfortable with numbers than with words. When I write, the whole story comes out in the span of a few days. Then, it takes months to edit the story, tear it apart and build it back up, bring in characters and kill some off, refine the writing, and finally come up with a smooth story that my readers can fully enjoy. I usually rewrite (edit) a story over twenty times.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher. But, a teacher of history! After my first history course in college, I changed my major to mathematics. I was sure I was going to be a math teacher. It wasn’t until my junior year in college that I realized my love was physics. We’ve been married for over 40 years now.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
In retirement my wife and I watch old shows we never had time to watch while working and raising kids. Now, we enjoy such shows as West Wing, Boston Legal, and Friday Night Lights. But, you have to kiss a few frogs along the way. So, our rule is that we have to give a series three installments before we give it the boot. In a similar way, every book you start to read should be given 50 pages before you discard it.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Robert Sells said...

First, thanks for hosting my newest novel Revelations. This book is science fiction with the emphasis on science. Of course, the last book in the Bible is Revelation. So, the book is also a bit about religion as well.

Now, a warning to anyone who might have an interest in purchasing the ebook... I was unable to change the pricing for the book for today. It will be $3.99 for the next day or so. This morning, around 6 AM, I finally pulled if off.It should change to $0.99 on Tuesday or at the latest Wednesday. My apologies. I'm just not adept with technology in general and Kindle pricing in particular.

Again, thanks for the hosting my novel.

James Robert said...

Congrats on this tour and thank for the opportunity to read about another great book out there to read. It helps out so I can find books I know my family will enjoy reading. Thanks as well for the giveaway.

Bernie Wallace said...

Who is your favorite character in your book?

Edgar Gerik said...

Great interview

Rita Wray said...

I liked the excerpt, thank you.

Victoria Alexander said...

Sounds awesome, thanks for sharing the great post :)

Robert Sells said...

My favorite character is Aster. She's "bright, beautiful, and brillant". She is also damaged good from an abusive childhood. Wary, even resentful of men. But, this weak, sensitive side shows up only under stress. It's interesting to find out how she smooths her rough edges and learns to trust a man.

Cali W. said...

Thanks for the giveaway; I like the excerpt.

Dale Wilken said...

The excerpt sounds really great

Gwendolyn Jordan said...

I like the cover