Author Interview with Alan Joshua

Today I’m interviewing Alan Joshua, author of science-fiction novel “The SHIVA Syndrome”. Welcome to my blog!

51RymJFaz-L._UX250_How long have you been writing?

Since I could hold a pen; elementary school to be exact. I was/am in love with film and drew poster ads for exciting films—Destination Moon, for example–adding text. Later, school compositions gave me the chance to exercise my imagination and share it. I wrote my first (unpublished) novel while working in a mental institution. The environment was as surreal as the book.

What is your favorite genre to write?

Sci-fi by far. I was stimulated by comics, movies, and reading Asimov and other major writers. I can remember a boost of adrenalin while reading R.U.R., by Karel Čapek. He first introduced the word robot into our lexicon. Later, when I saw Gort, the robot in The Day the Earth Stood Still, I was over the moon with excitement.

Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

Actually, I’ve tried quite a few—of those I care about. With art, science, and psychology backgrounds, it’s very hard for me to limit myself (and feels artificial) to restrict my writing to genre categories. Writing is organic and should encompass whatever is needed to tell the story. The SHIVA Syndrome is multigenre. It even includes a touch of romance. It blends real and speculative science, a huge dose of psychology and parapsychology, myth, anthropology, genetics, neuroscience, and other areas needed to bring it to life. I think of it as “edu-taintment,” both for thinking readers as well as myself.

The Midwest Book Review said, “At first glance one would think this to be either a sci-fi saga or perhaps a thriller: technically, that’s correct; but it’s so much more. Its focus on untapped human potential gone awry in a deadly experiment also lends to its enjoyment by new age readers or any interested in the paranormal – and let’s not forget the reader who enjoys political intrigue and a bit of spiritual reflection in their reading. The Self-Publishing Review put it well: “Any attempt to describe the book in a single statement is difficult, but the book mixes uncommon palettes and manages a masterpiece with it.”

I’m not sure about it being a “masterpiece,” but I was honored when a British critic said, “Joshua shows his working in a way Asimov might have been proud of, bringing this plethora of scientists around a table to discuss the intriguing science and pseudoscience of the novel.  The vision is enthralling, building a fantastical concept from a multi-faceted discussion of the world’s experts as they travel by plane to Russia to investigate the crash site.”

Please tell us about your book.

Beau Walker’s academic career is at a standstill, when he’s called to be part of a team that, under military supervision, aims to investigate a mysterious accident near Moscow. A mile-deep crater is all that remains after the city of Podol’sk is disintegrated by a black hole. The investigation is carried out by a secret international collaboration.

Walker and the others risk their as the exploration becomes more complicated, more surreal. Everything suggests that it is the result of experiments on paranormal powers gone very wrong. The SHIVA project is the American counterpart of the Russian project that caused the disaster. The real fear is how to avoid repeating the disaster in the U.S. when none of the scientists has a clear idea of ​​what they are doing and that vital information is being hidden from them by the military.

One reviewer ‘s comment sums it up nicely: “Whatever your thinking. Think again. The first notable conclusion after reading this book is that it is nearly impossible to classify this book in a sole genre. It’s a unique mixture of paranormal, science fiction, thriller, and mystery.”

Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

Understandably, my favorite is Beau Walker. The son of a Mohawk father and African-American mother, from childhood he is challenged by paranormal “gifts” he cannot understand. He grows past those early limitations to become a researcher, only to carry the painful residue of his formative years with him and into the story.

My least favorite is also an intriguing enigma of a man: Karl Slezak, the director of the SHIVA project. He is almost reptilian in his cold-bloodedness and, up to the very end, shows Machiavellian traits.

Both Walker and Slezak are inscrutable and not easily understood.

What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Finding some way to make the ideas accessible to most readers. There are important, real issues and concepts that need to be understood. It goes far beyond soft sci-fi into areas not explored by many other writers. Paddy Chayefsky tried in Altered States, his only novel, but wasn’t very

successful. Heinlein touches on it in Stranger in a Strange Land, but doesn’t penetrate into the psyche of Valentine Michael Smith.

What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

These are two questions.

First, I have no routine. I’m more of a “pantser” and, depending on my state of mind, will either write or conceptualize.

I do need my muse. Call it insight or inspiration. It’s a blend of thought and feeling that says “Aha! That’s where it goes.”

Quite often it’s the characters who take my hand and lead me. It’s during those times that I feel as if I’m “channeling” them.

How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

A few years. SHIVA started as a screenplay, then grew exponentially. Finally, I realized it had to be a novel.

Can you tell us about your editing process?

My experience tells me that I can only go so far in self-editing. It’s like someone trying to psychoanalyze themselves. You can’t be sufficiently objective to see what needs to be seen and do what has to be done.

Luckily, I had some fine editorial help along the way.

Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

Many readers/reviewers have asked for a prequel dealing with Walker’s life and a sequel.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I suppose it would be, as the anthropologist Joseph Campbell said, to “follow your bliss.” There are moments of utter confusion and doubt. These have to be endured. Then again, there are times of clarity where you find yourself happily and busily drawn forward. These are the blissful moments when the effort and product make perfect sense to you. You have to tolerate the former to get to the latter.

Another awareness is that there is no real sense of completion. Even once in print, you will always find changes you would like to make.

Why should everyone read your book?

Not everyone should. One reviewer said, “The SHIVA Syndrome was a phenomenal read but it is not a quick read…The story was amazingly developed to keep the reader attentive and on their toes constantly and always guessing where the plot is heading up until the very end.”

However, those readers who are seekers and not wanting literary “chewing gum” seem to find it an extraordinary and worthwhile trip.

If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

This is a tough call. I’d have to say four at least.

Shakespeare, of course. His use of words was beyond brilliant and his plays mirror reality, comedy, the tragic, and the paranormal. His work was absolute genius.

Philip Dick would be another. His unusual views of other realities was extraordinary.

Jules Verne, for his futuristic visionary writing that presaged what has been realized in the present.

H.G. Wells, another visionary, who blended science fiction and social commentary.

What inspired you to write your book?

My psychological research into the paranormal and my personal exposure to it. I wanted to convey the sense that what we consider as “paranormal” is actually a normal extension of human consciousness. We love books and films dealing with these subjects as they open up worlds and possibilities beyond our senses. But limiting this to shallow, faddish pulp stories about vampires and zombies sells short the richness of parapsychological realities.

Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

I’m formulating ideas for a prequel and sequel to SHIVA, as well as another parapsychological suspense murder-mystery.

That’s about all I can say at the moment.

 Thank you for having me as a guest. I hope I’ve been helpful in answering your questions.

About the Book

TheShivaSysndrome-EBOOK-newTitle: The SHIVA Syndrome

Author: Alan Joshua

Genre: Science-Fiction

Science opens a door for humans to reach God-like powers of creation and destruction. A secret Russian mind research laboratory in Podol’sk erupts, annihilating thousands and leaving a monstrous, one-mile deep crater in its wake.

Beau Walker, a parapsychologist and reluctant empath, is coerced into joining a research team, code-named SHIVA, to investigate the mystifying catastrophe. What seems at first to be a scientific investigation leads Walker and the research team into realities beyond mainstream comprehension.

Walker soon learns enough to threaten his life and the continued existence of humankind. He must fight against political and military deceptions, deadly human and superhuman adversaries, and his personal demons to unlock the riddle of the SHIVA syndrome.

The SHIVA Syndrome offers a dizzying ride into human abilities far beyond the known.

The SHIVA Syndrome was written by a published clinical psychologist and parapsychologist. It is endorsed by an internationally known psychologist and parapsychologist.

Comments

  1. Thanks for having me, Majanka. It was a pleasure.

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