Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Interview With Author Gary Andersen

Code Name: Zeus

1.      What inspired you to write your book? I am a child of the Depression and Dust Bowl years. I spent many hours listening to my grandfather and other older relatives and family friends who were immigrants and children of immigrants. Having traveled internationally for decades and having friends who are immigrants from six continents, I believe I offer a unique perspective. Several are neighbors; while others live in many parts of the country. I believe they are what made this country great; however, they came over the decades knowing they faced hard work and possible hardship.  I also have strong feelings of how technology has formed history and is affecting our lives.

2.      What is it about? Code Name: Zeus tells the story of immigrants and their children and grandchildren who came to this country over a period of many years. Some were much more successful than others, but virtually all found a life better than they left behind. My characters become discontented with the trend of the economics and politics of the country. They prepare for a future disaster, which eventually happens. A small number of people survive because of their preparations, heavily dependent on technology, rather than fail as in Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (1957) and Mordecai Roshwald’s Level 7(1959) where all human life perishes.

3.      What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? An engineer who worked for me years ago had a sign on his phone: “Life: Problem, solution, new problem.” I want my readers to realize there is no utopia. Life has always been a struggle and it will always be. Those who attack the problems of life head on lead more satisfactory and productive lives than those who do not. I have been to at least a dozen Socialist and four Communist countries. Those who believe Socialism and Communism provide the path to a successful future only need follow the trash heaps of history, e.g. the old USSR or present day Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. Worse yet: North Korea.

4.      What advice do you have for writers? Having not written fiction before, other than a children’s book I have never published, I was concerned about how to discipline myself. Over the two year period I wrote Code Name: Zeus, I asked writers I know how they approached the challenge. Everyone had a different process. My approach was to use my sometimes insomnia to my advantage.  Being a fairly unorganized person, I used an approach I learned from Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974). Bob wrote a couple of technical manuals for an engineering department I managed as a contract tech writer years before he completed his book. He always kept his material organized. This approach, especially when writing fiction, allows the mind to operate freely. I always updated my master copy each time I wrote something new. This allowed me to write chapters of the story from different time periods as ideas for the story came to mind.  The biggest problem when covering over a 100-year period is getting the chronology correct.

5.      Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? Being a new writer, I don’t have much experience with the publishing world. That being said, I think it is becoming a totally bifurcated market: Print vs. electronic.  As time goes on, more and more books sold will be digital copies. Having been associated with high technology most of my life, I am beginning to feel like a Latter Day Luddite; technology is causing life to go out of control. There is too much information and it is difficult to know the difference between fact and fiction. Information is increasing exponentially while the human brain is incapable of expanding on even a linear basis. Furthermore, I still like holding a book because I already spend too much time on the computer and my smart phone.

6.      What challenges did you have in writing your book? Staying organized and controlling my characters was a challenge for me. They seemed to take on a life of their own and sometimes they created the need for new characters. I knew fairly well the beginning and the ending of my story from day one, even though I originally set out to write a few short stories. The other problem, as I mention above, is keeping the chronology of the story.

7.      If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? People with a firsthand awareness of the history of the first half of the 20th century, particularly from a conservative perspective, are rapidly disappearing. I find even my children, who were mostly educated during the last 25 years of the 20th century, are not aware of much of the history of the first half of the 20th century. They are very well educated but know little of the Depression, the two World Wars, and for that matter, the Korean War. I often reference two books written by John Barry, The Rising Tide (1998) and The Great Influenza (2004) as examples of how deficient our history education system is. Also, Amity Shlaes’ The Forgotten Man (2007) and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s No Ordinary Time (1994) show counter-perspectives of the first half of the 20th century. I believe I offer a fictional novel connected to a thread of history.

For more information, please see:

2041: So, what will the book market look like?

How liars, losers, and manipulators get media coverage

How should writers do a great Q & A?

The real payoff from blogging for five years

Why must you promote your book?

Can books lead us to the truth?

What Book PR Is In Your Equipment Bag?

In Death, Do Writers Part With Their Work?

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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