Featured Author · Spotlight Interview

Featured Author: Calvin Wolf

Wednesday Spotlight

 
Genre: 
Science Fiction, Political Thriller
Publisher: Ravenswood Publishing
Publication Date: November 25, 2016
Pages: 326
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About the Book

Months after a devastating terrorist attack on the Human Capital Market servers on the University of Wyoming campus, a corrupt administration in Washington is looking to maintain its grip on the future by any means necessary. After a grieving father unleashes powerful forces the president would rather keep hidden, two falsely accused men struggle to find their families and clear their names while being hunted by the full force of the United States government…and two vicious ne’er-do-wells whose grudges run deep. As a desperate White House tries to track down its prized fugitives and keep a discontent public under control, new technology offers wonder and horror in droves. From omnipresent surveillance to secret prisons to trading equity in citizens’ wages on the new stock market, The Singularity is a fast-paced ride into a near future where anything is possible.

Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a high school social studies teacher and department chair, and I currently teach AP Economics and AP Government to high school seniors.  As a result, I have developed more of an appreciation of economics and politics…and it has definitely affected my writing!  My writing could best be described as political thrillers, though my recent novels have added more sci-fi elements to the mix.  There is always an undercurrent of class struggle and economic policy.  I have been a teacher for six years, and I received a post-baccalaureate teacher certification from Texas Tech after earning bachelor’s degrees in Criminal Justice and Political Science, and then an MPA degree, from the University of Wyoming.

I tend to be geographically specific, based on where I have lived and visited.  I grew up in the interesting city of Midland, Texas, which is known for being an oil mecca, a football haven, and the hometown of George W. Bush.  Later, I attended the University of Wyoming and Texas Tech University, and tend to feature those institutions prominently in my writing.  During the summers while I was in college, I worked in New Mexico and regularly include Colfax County, New Mexico in my novels.  I was born in Colorado and spent a lot of time there during college, so that state is also a prime location in my writing.  My family originally hails from Virginia and Pennsylvania, so those states typically receive geographic cameos as well!

I used to be a backpacking guide, so my writing tends to focus on mountains rather than beaches.  I once stood between a mama bear and her cub and lived to tell the tale!

What inspired you to write?

I’ve always been a storyteller.  From an early age, I heard stories and wanted to create my own.  I would think “that could be more realistic,” “that could be more exciting,” or “that could be more…”  I viewed stories as a challenge, and sought to meet those challenges!

What inspired your novel?

I am interested in the potential of nanotechnology, and so The Singularity explores its potential to transform mankind…or destroy it.  What would you do if you were suddenly gifted with amazing speed, strength, memory recall, and inability to be affected by pain?

What is the genre?

The Singularity is a sci-fi political thriller, blending the two genres.  A corrupt government is trying to recollect and control the nanotechnology, which it has dubbed MIST (Microtronic Infrastructural Symbiosis Technology)

What draws you to this genre?

I like politics and imagining how presidents and their cabinets would respond to scary, unexpected threats.  We would like to assume that they have a plan…but what if they don’t?

How did you develop your plot and your characters?

I imagine what the next step would be, and go from there.  I write by the seat of my pants, for better or worse.  There is usually a “movie in my mind” of my novel, and I play various scenarios to see what fits most seamlessly.

What inspired your protagonist?

My main protagonist, Hank Hummel, is based pretty closely on myself.  I imagine how I would react to various scenarios, and then embellish a bit!  I like to think of Hank Hummel as an everyman who finds himself forced into harrowing situations.  He wants to do the right thing, but he has his own limitations.

What inspired your antagonist?

I have a due of antagonists.  Adam Pastorius is scary because he is unpredictable, and little about him is known.  He is a former Syrian spy and is primarily motivated by revenge.  He holds grudges against many foes, and is highly able of lethal retaliation.  This character is inspired by America’s general fear of terrorism:  The scariest thing can be never knowing when, where, or why your enemy will strike. 

The second antagonist, Ben, is a former Russian spy who has become thoroughly Americanized.  He is motivated entirely by profit and is loyal to nobody and nothing.  This character is inspired by the cold, impersonal gears of cutthroat capitalism.  He values efficiency over all else and does not care who he must eliminate to meet his goals.

What was the hardest part to write in the book?

It’s always hardest for me to write the middle.  I know what the climax should look like, but how do I get there?  I try to make it suspenseful, believable, and intriguing.

What was your favourite part of your book to write?

I like writing the climax because there’s good dialogue in the final confrontations between protagonist and antagonist.  I prefer to mix serious “tough talk” with a bit of humor.

Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?

I’m a part-time writer.  I write novels, and also political editorials for different websites.  When I’m not writing, I’m either teaching at a 6A public high school or helping my wife with her home décor business.  I’m currently trying to learn how to stain various pieces of wood to perfection.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a biography of president Lyndon B. Johnson.  I like to read facts that are stranger than fiction, and then include them in my fiction.  I’ve read the biographies of many American presidents and all the major national leaders during World War II:  FDR, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Adolf Hitler, Hideki Tojo, and Benito Mussolini.  Talk about interesting characters!

Who would you say are your favorite authors?

My favorite is Stephen King, followed by John Grisham.  Each writer is great at what he does:  King is a master of character development, while Grisham writes tightly-crafted legal thrillers.  I also loved Michael Crichton’s techno-thrillers, as well as Tom Clancy’s blend of military/tech/political thrillers.  Dean Koontz is sometimes hit-or-miss, but he can knock it out of the park like nobody else.  The Singularity was inspired by Koontz’ Midnight, and his novel The City (same title as mine, entirely by coincidence) was perfect until the climax.

How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?

1.)  I Was An NKVD Agent – amazing true-life story that I randomly discovered on a bookshelf at the University of Wyoming library while doing a paper for a Russian history class.

2.)  Midnight – a late-1980s precursor to nanotechnology, written by Dean Koontz.

3.)  Roadwork – how has this amazing Stephen King novel not been made into an Oscar-winner?

4.)  The Running Man – this book was much better than the 1987 movie.  One of the best predictors of the future ever!

5.)  The Catcher in the Rye – a classic, bar none!

What are your future projects, if any?

A standalone psychological thriller set in an American high school during a hostage situation.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?

My books are on Smashwords, and I love getting emails from readers at authorcalvinwolf@gmail.com 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

To quote Winston Churchill:  “Never, never, never, never, never give up.”

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