Today I’m starting a new phase in my blogging – going beyond the ‘me,’ stepping out into the broader field of publishing in general. I’ll still be bringing you all the latest in my own writing experiences, but I hope to also interject some other new voices to the site.
I’m privileged to have with me today Gary Henson, author of the new Science Fiction novel, Genome. Gary, welcome to A Writer’s Haven.
Thanks so much, Steve. Being interviewed is kind of a bizarre concept for me but I think I like it!
Let’s start out by getting to know you a bit. Who is Gary Henson?
I was born in a small town in the Texas panhandle and then moved to Boulder in the mid 60s.
I joined the Navy in 1970, at the age of 17, to be a nuclear submarine machinery operator. Fancy term for mechanic. I served on several subs on both coasts and then exited for the civilian life.
My first job out of the service was repairing air compressors. Then I worked on a computer tape drive assembly line and went on to other ‘odd’ jobs where I got bitten by the software bug.
I’ve been a software developer since 1980 when I worked as an electronics test machine programmer. I’ve programmed embedded 4 and 8-bit widgets, wrote PC drivers for tablets and plotters for Hitachi and too many other projects to recount. I’ve always loved the creative part of programming. Developing software is the next best thing to writing. You get to use your imagination and the rewards are usually instant. Nice.
I’ve been married for 41 years to my high school sweetheart, Debbie. We have two amazing daughters. I enjoy spoiling my granddaughters and handing them back to their parents.
You sound like a busy man. How much time do you spend writing?
I plop my butt on the couch with my laptop almost every night and write while I watch TV with Deb. On weekends I try to dedicate at least part of the day to writing, working on my blog or learning more about the ePub world.
Okay, the book is called Genome. It looks like a science-fiction, techno-thriller, with ghosts and a hint of romance. It sounds fascinating. Tell us a little about it.
The story centers around a trio of characters; Jack, Frankie and Emily. They grow up like typical teens in Boulder Colorado, with dreams of starting a company together. Jack and Emily become closer as time goes by; the ‘first kiss’ romance we all share. Their dreams seem to be coming true as they enter CU as engineering students. Then Emily is murdered and Jack’s world falls apart.
The story moves forward with Jack and Frankie becoming partners in a bio-genetics research company. The ‘Geek Squad’, the company software team develops an AI to control the research laboratory and like all geeks go way off into left field, actually creating a sexy personality for ‘PIP’, the AI.
Things are going great until Emily’s ghost haunts the dreams of a pretty medium, Samantha. At this point Jack and Frankie are drawn into Sam’s world of spirits and nightmares. It seems Emily’s killer is back.
Jack Thomas sounds like an interesting character. Is he anything at all like you?
Sure. Handsome, intelligent, fun loving, good sense of humor, full head of hair and of course, humble. I think every author draws on parts of his soul when he writes. And I added things into Jack’s character that I wish I had, like a great memory. My memory is barely above the average aquarium fish. I rely on dogged tenacity to overcome my lack of mental dexterity. But Jack does have my curiosity and ‘what if’ traits. He trusts his intuition and will try to find an answer even while stumbling in the dark.
So, Gary, where did you get your idea for the story?
It started as a screenplay actually. In 2005 I decided I needed something that was NOT work related to do, as a hobby I guess. I’m an avid reader and I grew up reading Heinlein, Asimov, Clark and other ‘hard’ SciFi authors. I’ve been writing software since the days of the Apple and TSR80. I also have a passion for reading about genetics and bio engineering. How life works at every level fascinates me. How do billions and billions of cells make up a functioning plant or human.
Is the red I see the same red you see? Why do some people see or hear things the rest of us don’t?
So I mixed my passions together and played around with the idea that genetic traits could be analyzed and manipulated using a sophisticated artificial intelligence controlling a lab and a kick ass holo-room. Trust me you’re going to like PIP and the modeling room.
I eventually hit upon a story line that seemed plausible and fun. Most of all I wanted the story to be fun.
And the AI software is an actual character in your story?
Yes. ‘PIP’ became one of my central characters and a great way to move parts of the story forward. I had an absolute blast bring ‘her’ into the story a little at a time. I think your readers will enjoy how she evolves during the story and the slightly sexy take I’ve put on AIs. The story isn’t about PIP but she’s deeply interconnected with the characters and provided me with some great ‘what if’ opportunities. She’s the subject of one of my blog posts, check it out.
As a teaser to your readers I’ll also say that PIP and the Geek Squad carry on into the next book. I’ve got a great outline for several more stories as well as a back story. Stay tuned!
That sounds great, Gary. Thank you for taking the time to visit with us today. The book is Genome, and it’s available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Follow Gary’s blog at: http://garyalanhenson.blogspot.com/