Wednesday, June 13, 2012


While I always wanted to be a writer, when I was young my mother told me two things; first, that before writing about life, one had to live life, and second, that it was always good to have a way to put food on the tables while pursuing dreams. And so, while tutoring creative writing at nights in University, during the days I became an engineer.

I started out at the McGill Center for Intelligent Machines, and soon went on to found one of the world’s first tactile interface companies, eventually selling it to a company in Silicon Valley. I spent many moons thinking and working on human perception, and this drove my creative thinking as well as my technical innovating. Since then I’ve worked in a variety of endeavours, getting involved in everything from nanotechnology to weather prediction, genomics to cybersecurity, and even social intelligence research work which I won a major award for in 2008. It was at that point I decided to return to my dream of writing, and began writing the Atopia series of books. Just this month, “Brothers Blind”, part of the Atopia series, became the #1 best seller on the Amazon Science Fiction/High Tech best sellers list.

Atopia is an exploration of the meaning love, life and the pursuit of happiness in the near future world that is teetering on the brink of post-humanism and eco-Armageddon.

Set in the mid-21st century, Atopia is an enormous floating platform in the Pacific Ocean where the world’s elite flock to escape the crush and clutter of a packed and polluted Earth. Atopia is more than just a retreat, however, it is the new Silicon Valley where Dr. Patricia Killiam is rushing to perfect the ultimate in synthetic reality to save humanity. As the world’s remaining resources near exhaustion and the Water Wars engulf the planet, the question is whether Dr. Killiam is unwittingly saving the world only to cast it towards an even worse fate.

The book breaks new ground as an emo-cyber thriller, looking into the technological future but from very human point of view. The story is told through the eyes of ten narratives that wind their way through the world of Atopia to entwine together, eventually revealing the mystery and danger that lies at Atopia’s heart.

How did you start out your writing career?

I started out writing young, and even began tutoring creative writing at college while I was earning degree in engineering, which was an unusual combination. I made a career out of writing business plans for aspiring new technologies, which was a kind of science fiction if one stopped to think about it. When I turned 40, I decided to take a year off work and sit down to write all the stories I had been collecting and thinking about over time, and that’s how I got started.

What did you learn while writing this book?
It allowed me to explore some thinking I had been having about life, the universe and everything, so to speak, and to put it all together. Writing is a very cathartic experience, allows one to pull out emotions and realize them, see them for what they are. That is what I learned.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
I had a vision of the future that I wanted to share, a cautionary tale of what could go right and wrong. While this has been done before many time, I believe my unique experience in bringing so many innovations to life in reality gave me a different perspective.

What came first with this story, the characters or the plot? Why?
The plot, as a result of the thinking behind the ideas I wanted to explore. In fact, most of the plots come from ancient texts, but put into a future context.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
A kind of belief in the idea that you I have something to say that others would be interested and ready to devote their time to listening to.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
I love being able to connect with people and have them connect with my stories and characters. I hate the moments when things become stuck, the frustration of not being able to make something come together the way I want.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
How peoples’ attention spans have diminished greatly, how powerful the new self publishing arena is, and how expensive it is to live with three dogs (kidding, I love them!)

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Just write, write whatever you can, get it down and then improve and improve the next time. It sounds cliché, but the longest journey is just one step at a time. As for a do and a don’t...don’t write anything too long to start; get some short stories out there and see how people respond and build from that.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand? How painful the process is!

Tell us something few know about you?

I am secretly a cat person (don’t tell the dogs)

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I work in the field of cyber security, basically protecting information in the cyber universe.

What do you do to interact with your readers?
I have a great website for future prediction that allows readers to enter their own predictions, vote on them and communicate with me.

Our theme for this month is INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS. Have you ever considered self publishing your work? Why or Why not?. If you are a independent publishers, can you offer some tips for taking this journey.
Yes, I started out entirely self publishing. I think it is important to come up with an online strategy that complements whatever the stories you want to tell are...

Who was the first author you ever met?
I met Carl Sagan when I was young.

Oprah always asks, what do you know for sure?
That I won’t live forever.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
A sweeping epic starting in the distant history that will explain psychic phenomenon, ghosts, UFOs and religion...stay tuned 

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

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