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Interview with Michael Camarillo

He was born in California and raised in Texas but strives to be a citizen of the world. He holds a dual bachelor's degree from Brown University in Archaeology and Architectural Studies and is currently pursuing a Master’s in International Relations at Troy University.

Michael has published a non-fiction travel book as a part of his family travel business, Novel Excursion Travel. He is also working on a children’s book series that will put his business vision (changing the world one nameless stranger at a time by bridging cultures through travel, education, and service) into action through the eyes of his two children exploring the world around them and meeting new people.

He loves to travel, culture, baseball, and anything involving outdoor activities. His greatest passion is his family - Amanda (wife), Sarah, and Adrian.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I have been to 27 countries.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
Yes. I am working on Book 2 of The Keeper Program series. Warder 516 will be released later in 2022. Book 3 and Book 4 will follow in short order to close out the series. Hoping to have the entire series out by the end of 2023.

Q.3 What inspired you to write Keeper 829?
Just before writing Keeper 829, I was going through a major transformative moment in my life. My wife was my rock and she helped me find my way through an existential journey. I found solace in writing and my characters brought to light thoughts and questions that had long since only lived in my mind.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Ensuring the voice is authentic, and not how I perceive the behaviors, thoughts, or demeanor of the opposite gender.

Q.5 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I don’t have a formula or any method for that matter. I am a meticulous researcher, so I am constantly looking for information, innovative concepts, and various historical perspectives. When it comes to plotting and character development, the story really wrote itself for Keeper 829

With Warder 516, I drafted out a brief synopsis on my phone while waiting for a flight from start to finish. I still have the note. Beyond that, I have continued writing in the same “go with it” fashion as the first book.

Q.6 How do you see the future of science fiction literature? Will sci-fi maintain its independence or intertwine with other literary genres?
Science fiction will remain as strong as our imagination. The advances in technology and seemingly “futuristic” concepts coming to life only enhance the potential of forward-thinking and innovation. I see many story elements and themes being rehashed but with a new take, in a much more technical manner. I see sci-fi and dystopian literature as nearly inseparable, even now, and much more so in the future. As geopolitical shifts continue to rage on, there is going to be much more discourse about the fate of the world.

Q.7 How do you see the relationship between science fiction and culture? How about the boundaries between science fiction and reality?
Sci-fi and culture are intrinsically linked, as our norms, values, and beliefs greatly influence our perception of the world and progress. The boundaries of sci-fi and reality are blurring more than ever before. We are seeing things of fiction readily accessible in everyday life. Our reality is dictated by our perception; thus, fiction has been trending ever closer to reality.

Q.8 To what extent can science fiction affect 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?
If we look at sci-fi historically, we will see that it is uniquely positioned to lead us forward into the next generation through progress and innovation. A lot of the technology we use today was inspired by fictional creations in the past. We are only limited by our imagination. With that potential comes the responsibility to integrate real social and geopolitical issues that can shape our global society in the near term. Identifying these issues and shedding the veil of discretion will help us find solutions.

Q.9 Is classic science fiction literature different from modern science fiction literature? Have the key aims of the genre changed considerably or not?
I see modern science fiction becoming more technical, only because the sensibilities of our audience are more advanced and attuned with what is actually realistic and possible. There is a greater need for accuracy and well-founded concepts. That being said, the key aims of the genre have not changed, in my opinion.

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?
People have been bombarded with innovation since the turn of the century. The rate of progress is moving so quickly that society is chomping at the bit for the next invention. The film industry has brought science fiction to life in a big way. Many of these imaginative concepts are now much more accessible to a wider audience (those who don’t like reading), greatly increasing viewership and popularity.

Q.11 For long, humans have been looking for immortality at all costs. Do you think this will lead to our eventual dehumanization?
To an extent, yes. Keeper 829 is actually based on this premise, this search for immortality. Organic systems are finite, so artificial modification seems to be the way ahead. Of course, it all depends on how we define humans.

Q.12 Science fiction has a long history. Which era do you consider the most effective period in the whole history of the genre?
I don’t think there is a single answer to this question. Picking one would be a disservice to the rest. Every period of sci-fi history has had a profound impact on society. It bridges us from our technological present to our innovative future.

Q.13 In many science fictions stories, the existence of God is denied. Could we call science fiction an atheist literary genre?
My first instinct is to say yes; however, when I think about it a little deeper, I don’t necessarily agree that the genre is holistically denying the existence of God. Science fiction is inherently searching for purpose and meaning, and ways to define it. This is not unlike theistic ideologies. 

It’s all about finding order in the chaos. Even if the consensus of the genre denies the capital “G” entity, I see the themes and characters being driven in the same direction. It’s all semantics.

Q.14 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?
I agree with him 100%. If it were possible to agree more, I would. Disaster is the precursor to rebirth.

Q.15 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
I listen to podcasts about writing while I run or cycle every morning to refine my craft, and I write in short bursts whenever I have time between raising children, running my business, and going to school.

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
My names in Keeper 829 were specifically chosen based on their religious symbolism. While my book is based in a faithless society, there are major religious and philosophical themes that are played out through the perspectives and experiences of my characters.

Q.17 What do you want readers to take away from your book?
Not everything is as it seems. If you look deeper into every situation, every notion, every occurrence, you’ll find there’s much more than meets the eye. Divisiveness is a result of narrow-mindedness.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. Lin-Manuel Miranda
. He is a genius, and I am astounded by his creative mastery and artistic ability. I would love to just sit and have coffee with him while he shares his life story and creative process with me.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
Blood and Gold by Anne Rice. I love the characterization of history, the dynamic characters, and the intricate storytelling. As a history buff (studied Archaeology and Architecture in college), specifically a Roman History lover, the way Roman society is portrayed is extremely entertaining to me. I find myself living vicariously through the characters.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
I have enjoyed every moment of it. There have been ups and downs all along the way. I wrote the first 10 chapters by hand on grid paper, then finally moved to a laptop when I moved from Germany to Texas. 

My wife has been beside me every step of the way and I read every single word to her, multiple times. This book wouldn’t be what it is without her support. I have met a lot of great people along the way, as well, notably my editor Rebecca Robinson and my beta reader Shelly Helsing. They both contributed in such a big way.

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