Babouc's Vision & Cycles of Norse Mythology

An intriguing interview with Glenn Searfoss about his writing and views of the world we live in today. He talks about his book Babouc's Vision, a futuristic fantasy with a frightening social commentary and his book Cycles of Norse Mythology a fascinating history of Norse mythology with thrilling tales of the creation of the world, battles by the gods, and much more....

 AR:. I want to thank you for consenting to this interview.  It is a privilege to have this one-on-one with you.  Can you give us a bit about your life?  Where are you from and what got you into writing?

GS: The answer to that question is long and involved, but I’ll lean toward brevity. 
I grew up in the hills outside a small town where I spent much of my youth working on farms, wandering through woods, and reading. My school grades were sufficient to qualify me for a moderate scholarship, which made if financially possible for me to attend a state college.
In college, I had an English writing professor who told me I didn’t know how to write, would never know how to write, and to just give up. Believing her, I spent the next fifteen years working a variety of jobs while experiencing life in its many flavors.
While working in a small Tech company that developed desktop publishing software, for fun I began writing short stories to use in software testing. Having gotten a taste, I started authoring technical articles and moved from there into writing technical reference books and product manuals. After receiving positive feedback from publishers (and many users), I realized my old college professor was wrong; not only could I write, but I enjoyed doing it.
An avid reader of science fiction, mythology, and classic literature, I began expanding my writing into fiction, incorporating my life experiences, interest in natural sciences, and my surmises of future developments into short stories, then into novels. Here I am today.

AR  Babouc’s Vision is a futuristic fantasy with a frightening social commentary. It appeared that it might have been written to express your own feeling of the state-of-affairs in our society. Was the rampant divisiveness felt in our country a factor in your decision to write this story?

GS: The dark tone of Babouc’s Vision reflects my deep sadness (let me be honest…disgust) at domestic and world events. The glimmers of hope present in the book reflect the everyday kindnesses shown by a few—far too few—people I know who continue to reach out and help others in need.
The gotcha with the book is that many of the stories are based on actual events, so it stretches the notion of fantasy.

AR: What do you feel about today’s state of affairs in our country?

GS: We have forgotten how to think for ourselves, how to see things clearly, how to be civil with others, and how to work together. Our country has been hooked into a cycle of fear and anger (though I consider anger is just another form of fear). And there are any number of individuals and groups willing to use that fear and anger to manipulate.
We need to step outside the fear and work with others to our common good. That means listening to and working with others and accepting we may not get everything we want. We need to remember hope.

AR: Do you feel authors should use their fictional books as a platform to educate people about political issues, failures, and dangers?

GS: To me that is inherent in the art. To be relevant, writing must reflect the colors of the world in which we live. Education is putting ideas forward. By presenting ideas within the framework of fictional works, hopefully, people will feel less threatened and be open to considering their possibilities.

AR: I felt that your story rang true for a lot of places today. One, in particular, is Haiti whose reality is almost a clone of your fictional story. How do you think countries can return to their civility and peace when things get so far out of hand?

GS: I wish I had an answer to your question, but I do not. Outside assistance can help, but given the waning attention span of global good intentions, it should not be the only avenue. Ultimately, any hope of lasting civility and peace must come from the people within the country.

AR: What inspired you to write your book on Norse legends?

GS: Frustration, really. I grew up with a smattering of the Norse myths. When I looked for more, all I could find were fragmented references and incomplete collections. So, I decided to bring the Norse gods alive to modern readers by creating an interactive unified view of Norse Mythology. The reference section in the back of the book provides source materials for anyone wishing to delve into the subject. (No. Marvel comics is not a reliable source for Norse Myth.)

AR:  Which of the two books was the most rewarding to you in the terms of how you felt at their completion?

GS: Babouc’s Vision was an emotional catharsis, but Cycles of Norse Mythology was more rewarding due to its scope. But once having completed a book, I’m ready to move on to the next project.

AR:. What were your hardest scenes to write? And why?

GS:  I guess that would be interactive social scenes. It is easy to write a purely descriptive scene but challenging to bring it alive by creating that same scene using one or more characters’ physical actions and dialog. Finding and maintaining a character’s voice and mannerisms within shifting social environments is tricky.

AR:  How do you select the names of your characters in books like Babouc’s Vision? Are they names of real people you have known in your lifetime?

GS: While many of the characters are inspired by people I know and have known, the names in the book are unique and come once I have spent enough time with the character. I’ll start with a working name but finalize it once the feel is right and the character tells me.

AR: What occupations have you been involved in prior to becoming an author?

GS: Many. Here are a few: Farm worker, Garage worker, handyman, landscaper, valet, baker, shipping/receiving, software technical support, software marketing/sales, technical writer, and Documentation Manager.

AR:  What is your work schedule like as a writer?

GS: I try to put in an hour or two of writing every night, either directly on a manuscript or handwriting scenes and dialog that will be worked in later. But there is also the non-scheduled component; I always keep a notepad handy to jot down dialog, descriptions, and ideas that come to me during the normal course of the day or night.

AR: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

GS: Changing my perception of what is considered complete and learning the patience of rewrites, editing, rewrites, and editing. To pause and come back later with fresh eyes and perhaps a new perspective. And to not be wedded to my own words but be willing to change or let them go as the story requires.

AR: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

GS: I don’t often hear directly from readers of my books. I mostly rely on their review feedback – good or bad. I try to learn from both.

AR: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

GS: It started when I was fourteen but gelled when I was twenty-seven.

AR: What are some of the books you have read and what genre of literature are you attracted to the most?

GS: My taste in literature varies. I have read a lot of science fiction, historical references (often translated), short stories, poetry, and novels that appeal to my taste. Here is sample of this range from some of the books I have read over the last two years: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius (translated), Medea by Seneca (translated), Sounder by William H. Armstrong, Berserker by Fred Saberhagen, The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley, A Dog of Flanders – by Maria Louise Rame (Ouida), The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, Euripides/Alcestis and other Plays (translated), Greek Lyric Poetry (translated), and Poetry collections of Shelly, Byron, and Tennyson.

AR: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

GS: I spend time with my family, play with the dogs, work in the yard, go to local museums, do grocery shopping.

AR: What does your family think of your writing?

GS: They are supportive to a point. They do not like it if I become so absorbed in a work that it takes me completely away. Balance is a thing I had to learn…and it is essential.

AR:  As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

GS: I wanted to find dinosaur fossils, and to be an astronaut. I ended up doing something completely different.

AR:  What is your next project?

GS: I have recently completed a book project and have already begun the next. And I have these books out to publishers:
A Question in Time: (This novel has currently been accepted by a U.K. Publisher.) It pays homage to three great Victorian characters of literary fiction: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Dr. James Watson—with a sly aside to a nefarious criminal—and the time traveler of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

On deck:
A Prayer for Hecate: This presents the Argonautic expedition from Medea’s perspective. It will also go beyond the expedition to the death of her children in Corinth, her experiences in Athens (The myth of Theseus), and – instead of disappearing into the ether as traditional Greek myth would have her– what happens to afterwards when she and her son Medus by King Aegeus of Athens return to Colchis.

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