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Interview with Mark Dowson

Mark Dowson

He grew up in an industrial steel town of Consett, County Durham, the UK, in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. He has lived in Milton Keynes, in the UK, for the past 17 years. He has invariably commuted to London and the surrounding counties for work as a construction and energy professional.

Mark's inspiration to write the trilogy has come from his knowledge and experience in carrying out his own personal wind energy research at a Master of Science degree level. The story’s foundation is based on his own factual research dissertation and has transformed and expanded upon these facts to create an exciting fictional mystery thriller.

Q 1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I carried out little rituals in the form of nervous energy and superstition caused by OCD as a child. This has manifested in requiring creativity and research to be released in my day job, or I suffer from anxiety, hence a significant motivation to become a creative writer. I am obsessed with developing original ideas and strategies or being original inside or outside of work.

I control my OCD by being productive with my time spent out work training as a veteran amateur athlete. Energy and creativity have been my addiction in life, hence why I excelled at running and art at school. My ability to use creative thinking makes me think of things that most people don’t in the workplace. This could be perceived as being slightly autistic on the spectrum due to displaying high imagination and Hyperfocus - which focuses on the big lateral picture simultaneously as well as in-depth detail.

Q 2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
I will be focusing on trying to market my books 1 and 2 heavily over the next 4-5 months. I have now finally created a marketing team of about 4 different people/companies. I have suffered over the last 18 months with my anxiety compounding, due to not being able to write more books, due to having to do the marketing myself, or trying to build the right marketing team to help me. 

Then my Book 3 will be launched either at the end of January 2022, but it is looking more like April 2022 as I will have to complete it causatively to make sure it is exactly how I want it - a work of art as a masterpiece. I have to carry out some research in my current role working with top government scientists to find out if my experience can give me ideas to create final ideas and material for my third book. That's the last jigsaw piece to my trilogy. Then I will need to edit it with my co-editor in America and then self-publish it, which takes another two months in itself. So realistically, it will be March/April 2022 before it's launched. Then 3 months later, I will launch all three books as one trilogy book special edition in time for the summer around July 2022.

Q 3 What inspired you to write the ReCO2gnition series?
I used my Wind energy research from my Masters of Science degree dissertation as the foundation for the main theme of climate change and renewable technology for the story. The protagonist has elements of my own career journey in pursuing the fight against climate change. I have over 18 years of renewable energy experience and a further 5 years of research in wind energy. So, you could say it is semi-autobiographical, although I haven’t found out how to time travel yet.

The Sator Square theme was first introduced to me as a child by my uncle James, so it is again a personal experience influence. I used the Sator Square to form an original idea of using an authentic archaeological relic, a fictitious time travel portal hidden by the church over generations.

Q 4 What is the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Not to make the dialogue between the male protagonist and female lead too flirtatious, which could undermine the story's arc. To find a narrator and character voiceover who could do primarily a female voice and a male voice for the audiobook. The female voice was more critical in its authenticity to get correct, as well as the Italian accent to be mastered.

Q 5 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
No, I don’t have a set formula. I build them from autobiographical experience, from the people I have met in my life, or influenced by characters in movies I have watched that may portray a similar behavior to some of my characters. While also I use my imagination, of course. Plot-wise, I can also be inspired by favorite scenes from my favorite movies.

Q 6 What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Self-belief is more powerful than what others think of you. I have used this personal journeyman quote from my own experience to push on and complete my trilogy while the odds were severely against me. I overcame adversity with all my problems trying to find a traditional publishing deal and subsequently learning all-new activities associated with publishing, editing, and marketing myself. This has been a very daunting experience for me while having to provide to work full-time to provide for my family. Sleep was a luxury for me whilst I achieved my end goal of completing each hurdle along the way. I have been a 3000m steeplechase athlete, so I’m used to jumping over hurdles. Patience and Determination are the two main attributes that helped me achieve my goals.

Q 7 How do you see the future of science fiction literature? Will sci-fi maintain its independence or intertwine with other literary genres?
Speculative fiction and Environmental Sci-Fi will intertwine, or instead has already, with dystopian and sci-fi subgenres.

Q 8 To what extent can science fiction effect or improve the developments in science and technology in human life? Is it right to say that science fiction can change what human life looks like in the future?
Yes. 100%. Exactly what I have just intimated about HG Wells and Mary Shelly influencing real-life scientists to progress factual science. The Sci-Fi writers are Thoughtful and Creative Visionary Leaders for the world. Creative visionaries led with their unique visions and thought leadership to influence and guide real-life scientists to create the correct design philosophy in the real world, inspired by science fiction’s omniscience and pre recognition of what life could be like in the future and mirrored to what reality could be like in the future.

Q 9 In many science fictions stories, the existence of God is denied. Could we call science fiction an atheist literary genre?
No, not at all. Visionary and Spiritual fiction, which are sub-genres of the Sci-Fi genre. My trilogy crosses over to these subgenres and many other subgenres embody the form of faith from God or different related theology beliefs. Moreover, social science can cover how spiritual healing can help the psychology of protagonists on their journey in Sci-Fi stories. Psychology is the science of the mind, and the mind is much more powerful when it is underpinned with spiritual belief. If you think about most Sci-Fi stories, they tend to have a protagonist who is on a personal journey of discovery and adventure to find himself spiritually in transforming into the hero of the story. Subliminally, the Sci-Fi novel - Dune is an example of spiritual fiction.

Q 10 What do you think are the main reasons for the popularity of science fiction? To what extent has the film industry helped in popularizing the genre?
I think most people like the big concept ideas, which the science fiction genre gives you more than any other genre. If you like ideas, science, and history, science fiction is for you. My ReCO2gnition trilogy like Frank Herbert’s famous Dune novel has political greed as well as ecological abuse, and unchecked technological progress themes. These are big popular themes in reality, and a lot of science fiction stories use these themes in the arc of their stories. 

Frank Herbert’s Dune - used the popular space theme which was inspired by the American space age race in the 1960s at the time it was written. Likewise, the ReCo2gnition trilogy has been inspired by my own environmental research. Science fiction is the perfect genre to tell a story that not only entertains on grand themes but subliminally or literally reflects the way we are in society relating to political, ecological, and technological change at any given time in history.

The film industry has the capacity to deliver the big-budget cinematography and special effects required to make the science fiction story come alive from the book and do the story justice. However, sometimes if the story is not character-driven enough, the story can become lost in the cinematography, which a science fiction writer doesn’t want to see happen. That’s why it is vital to have an equal balance of a plot and character-driven story.

Q 11 Ray Bradbury considers sci-fi as “the important literature in the history of the world because it’s the history of ideas and the history of our civilization birthing itself.” Do you agree with him, as many sci-fi stories do, indeed, depict disaster?
100% Yes. I believe that recessions, depressions, wars, and disasters are cyclical in every generation. Population control and the economic influence of - there is enough food and space on the planet for a limited amount of people to live at a given time, is something that makes you think that reality is scarier than fiction. I used historical fiction and dystopian themes in my trilogy to help guide the future of tomorrow’s world.

Q 12 Science fiction has a long history. Which era do you consider the most influential period in the whole history of the genre?
Dystopia, and Social Science fiction sub-genres, during the 1920s- 1970s.

Q 13 What’s your writing schedule while you’re working?
I write ideas on sticky labels when working. I draft up these ideas on evenings after work. Then, I write and edit the drafted notes when I have time off from my full-time job when I am in between contracts over the past three years.

Q 14 Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
I am a serial note taker while at work. I draft all my ideas on sticky labels while working.

Q 15 Who designed your book cover? How do you select him/her?
I designed the concept art as I am my own artist with approximately 50 pieces of art associated with the book trilogy I have created. I then asked my graphic illustrator and hybrid publisher to produce the final artwork to digital graphics for the cover.

Q 16 How do you select the name of your characters?
Autobiographical experience and interest as well as from previous movie influence or from his imagination.

Q 17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
Yes. I like a mixed bag. But obviously, it is better if the bag is full of good ones. I deal with it well. Because you are not going to be liked by everyone, that’s life. It doesn’t personally affect me, as I feel blessed that I can turn a nonscience fiction reader into a science fiction reader and that the majority will like my book. 

I am writing about undoubtedly two topics that are the most current and apt for our time, which are environmental and mental health. So how could I feel aggrieved by the odd dislike? I am also leading people who are non-readers to become interested in reading. This is all empowering.

Q 18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
William Shakespeare. I would like to meet him and ask him politely if he would co-write book 4 in my series. I would like him to give me some tips on how to craft my plot and scenes within my story, and lastly, I would also buy him the best three-course meal at a restaurant of his choice!

Q 19 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
A. The Time Machine
by HG Wells. I hope that I can influence scientists, business people, engineers, and architects with my own scientific factual research featured in the books as well as the possibility of being influenced by my fictional ideas also.

Q 20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
Rough!! As aforementioned, I don’t think I would want to go through it again, writing and definitely trying to find a publisher and marketer again. This has been nothing short of traumatic. I am just glad I have survived this far. I may not have struck a movie or Netflix deal yet, but this time next year, ‘I could be a millionaire’ or instead ‘I should!’ if I find the right people to help market my trilogy.

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