Earth Interrupted – An Interview with Author Bill Dahl
The following is an interview I just completed regarding the upcoming release of my new novel, EARTH Interrupted. I hope you enjoy it! After reading the below, if you have additional questions, please send them to me. Thank you.
RELEASE DATE: November 1, 2013
Question 1 - Where did the idea for the novel Earth Interrupted come from?
Dahl Response: Over the past 6 years, my life has experienced some unique interruptions. These interruptions have been caused primarily by my Black Lab Reggie, as well as some unanticipated health problems (behind me now).
You see, Reggie requires getting outdoors – excursions out into nature. I obliged – begrudgingly at first. It changed my life. We have spent an awful lot of time together hiking, camping, fishing and capturing photographic images while exploring the expanse of the western U.S.
Along the way, I found the solitude and inspiration that allowed me to see life in new ways. I guess you could say a refreshing new awareness and perspective were birthed deep within me. I developed new concerns, curiosities and hopes about life; some of which have been revealed in Earth Interrupted. I’m certainly NOT the first human whose worldview has been rearranged by the impact of an unexpected, challenging health event or a dog in one’s life.
Question 2 – Give us a few examples of a few themes in the story.
Dahl Response: Of course. Several of the central themes of Earth Interrupted involve inertia, progress, time and next.
In terms of inertia, we are all pushed along by the priorities and time constraints of daily living. Inertia oftentimes creates short-sightedness; impairing us from seeing the big picture; and giving deliberate, serious consideration to where our lives – and human civilization might be headed. Inertia has a tendency to constrain our focus to me and mine rather than us and ours. Inertia assumes that energy expended (individual, collective or in commerce) is almost wholly positive and productive. I challenge these notions in Earth Interrupted.
Progress is a component of the human psyche that has been infused into the worldview of man for centuries (actually millennia). Progress is the notion that life will get progressively better. Yet, there is a price to pay for progress. Clearly, we currently inhabit an epoch in history where issues like climate change, resource depletion, clean/alternative energy, drinking water, fertility, food supplies, bio-engineering, advances in neuroscience, medicine, genetic engineering, and the trajectory of technological advancement — all pose both promise and peril for human civilization. Yet, it’s my view, that the notion of progress is one that deserves a reappraisal. I use the novel to pause, to interrupt, if you will, and reconsider this widely held proposition. This will be apparent for the reader of Earth Interrupted.
Time– If there is a sub-title for the novel, it would be from sometime to SUMtime. More specifically, the reality of our passive acceptance of time passing is intricately woven into the notion of progress. For most of us, we assume that tomorrow will come and present itself just as yesterday did. In Earth Interrupted, sometime (the assumption that time is an unlimited resource available for our consumption) morphs into sumtime – whereby the ongoing and cumulative deleterious effects of passing tipping points in threats to human existence now require humans to adapt, make new sacrifices and develop new ways of living – as well as attempt to alter the trajectory that threatens life on Earth, as we now know it.
Next – as a theme within the novel, next is explored extensively. Again, next is an assumption that is part of the interwoven strands of inertia, progress, and time. Next is a grammatical term in the English language that is primarily relied upon as a central assumption in human existence. Next is an expectation. We assume that next is good, next is certain, and that next is simply another part of our assumptions about time – there’ll be more of it – and it will be better than the past. Yet, when one looks around today and recognizes the threats to next – the least we can say is that these threats are global, tangible, multi-dimensional, numerous and complex.
These threats also possess elements of energy or inertia. They are part of the voice of progress you hear today. Of course, inherent in these threats, the dimension of time resides. Unrestrained in their current trajectories, these themes may well define what’s next for the human species. Finally, there is also a paucity of concerted collective effort directed toward retarding, redirecting or eliminating the same.
Question 3 – Why is the letter ‘R’ in the title of the book upside down? What does this represent?
Dahl Response: One thesis of the novel is it’s time to wake up! It is ‘R’ time, as simple as that may sound. Sometime has morphed into Sumtime. It’s essential that we engage in deliberate actions to rouse us from the comfort and complacency that resting in the notions that inertia, progress, time and next saturate us with. We ‘R’ responsible for what we pass onto our children and our grandchildren. It is ‘R’ time to Reimagine a vastly better future, versus riding along toward a destination the current trajectory will likely deliver us to. It is ‘R’ time to Rehabilitate environments and ecosystems we have damaged. It is ‘R’ time to Recreate new ways of collaborating and cooperating together – toward these ends.
Question 4 – How have you “flaunted the conventions of fiction” in this novel. Can you provide a few examples?
Sure, there are several:
- There are embedded links in the story for e-book readers to click on.
- There is a Character Reference Index at the beginning of the book (editor suggestions).
- There is a Recommended Reading section – an index at the end of the book – where I provide the reader with additional books to read (non-fiction) that provide additional resources to explore based upon specific subject areas I have illuminated in the novel.
Question 5 – How is the phrase “passing the hat” a central theme of the novel?
According to the publisher and the editors, I have to be careful not to answer this question too thoroughly. Let me say, it is a tangible, central theme. I mean, look around today and see how comfortable human kind (individuals, governments, cultures, organizations and societies) has become passing increasingly severe problems from one generation to the next. Frankly, it’s a pandemic. Kicking the can down the road has become globally acceptable behavior. Yet, this behavior has accretive, oftentimes negative consequences. It’s only a matter of time before you reach a point as a species where tolerating the intolerable catches up with you…
Question 6 – What roles do faith, religion and secularism play in this novel?
A great question; throughout the novel, the issue and capacity of human belief, cognition, hope, deception, confidence, trust, certainty and uncertainty – the animal spirits – if you will – are at play here. All the characters, as humans do, come with their own set of beliefs, attitudes and values – some of which are god related. These attributes bring both flavor and fodder for the story line in the novel. You’ll see.
Question 7 – Is this novel part of a series?
Yes, a trilogy actually. Book 2 is well along the way in the writing process
Question 8 What potential outcomes does this novel possess that you hope for.
There are three primary outcomes I would like to see:
- A reinvigorated dialog, accompanied by new forms of relational collaboration that about the array of social and ecological threats that currently confront the human species.
- A new meaning for “the hat” – you’ll see.
- Unanswered questions, inspired curiosities, and a desire to discuss and explore the same with others that the novel inspires.