Monday, March 4, 2013

Author Interview: Arthur M. Doweyko

Today, I'm interviewing Dr. Arthur M. Doweyko, an exceptional author who contributed the short story Harry and Harry to "The Temporal Element."  Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Dr. Doweyko.

MTI: Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

DOWEYKO: Ever since taking a vocational aptitude test in high school that told me I had an equal chance of success in science or art, I've opted to use creativity as a central force in my life. It's been a key to my success in science (from a PhD in bioorganic chemistry to drug-discovery research culminating in the discovery of a new cancer drug) and the arts (from a one-man art exhibit to a number of awards in writing). I am now a writer of science fiction tales which draw upon real science. Of course, I don't mind inserting some fantasy here and there, just to keep the reader guessing.

MTI: Fascinating.  Now, getting down to business; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

DOWEYKO:  It's hard to pin down the first compulsion to tell tales, but I can say that as a child telling stories to my friends, I'll never forget seeing the twinkle in their eyes as I drew them deeper into a particularly dramatic scene. I love that feeling. I think the best story is one that the reader accepts as possible. A believable situation gets the reader into the story quickly, and once in, they are compelled onward to, hopefully, a satisfying conclusion. 

MTI:  Tell me, if you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired your fiction writing exploits, who would it be?

DOWEYKO:  This is a tough one to answer with one author. However, I could be sly here and say that my favorite author was 1/3 Asimov, 1/3 Crichton, and 1/3 Serling—Asimov for the pure science, Crichton for the believable hook, and Serling for the nostalgic fantasy.

MTI:  Now as you know, The Temporal Element is an anthology devoted entirely to time travel adventures.  These fictional accounts are fascinating, of course, but do you ever believe that humanity will discover a viable way to travel backwards and forwards through time?

DOWEYKO:  Of course, there are lots of theories of time travel, and they all require either a tremendous amount of energy and mass, or a convenient wormhole. These approaches seem theoretically sound, but incredibly difficult to pull off. Having said that, I think the first tractable forms of time travel will be to the future (one-way), simply by using Einstein's space-time effects at velocities approaching the speed of light. Travel to the past is a lot more problematic, but an existing wormhole might allow it (assuming different space-time at either end). The CTC (closed time curve) device mentioned in Harry and Harry, is a fictional example of a real scientific effort underway at the University of Connecticut, wherein spinning laser beams will be used to establish a space-time distortion sufficient to allow particles from the future to arrive in the present. In theory, the CTC works only as long as it is kept running.

MTI:  If you could go back to any point in history, when would you visit, and why?

DOWEYKO:  If travel to the past is made possible, then I'd opt to show up just before the universe appeared. Now that would be a trip.

MTI:  Indeed, and then we would have to redefine Planck's constant, I believe.  Now, looking forward, what one piece of futuristic technology would you most like to own, or have to use today?

DOWEYKO: In keeping with the theme, the obvious answer is a time machine—one that goes in both directions. Second to that, assuming that future tech works out the kinks to the development of reliable nerve-cpu connectivity, I'd be interested in linking my mind directly to all the data available in the world, perhaps a form of the internet. Such a link could represent the next big thing in the evolution of man.

MTI:  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
DOWEYKO:  I am in the midst of writing a new novel, Angela's Apple. It's a story about a guardian angel, who is not an angel, that assumes a human form because of love for the man she (it) is supposed to worry over. Together, they stand up to the greatest conspiracy ever to face humankind. So, it's a story about who we are, about aliens, and about secrets.

MTI:  Thought-provoking stuff.  Other than Harry and Harry appearing in The Temporal Element, do you have any other stories slated for publication in the near future?

DOWEYKO:  I generally write short stories on a continual basis, taking the opportunity during breaks while working on the novel. There are a couple of shorts in the publication queue:
            Cherry Creek - In the late 1800s this town was a thriving mining center. Now it's a ghost town, I mean a real ghost town. The story was a Finalist in 2012 Royal Palm Literary Award Competition. To be published in the Dead Rush Anthology, Wicked East Press, ed. Jessica A. Weiss, 2013.
            Flib734 - A story of dementia, a story of friendship. Fred copes with loneliness by discovering an intelligence in the mainframe. To be published in the Abandoned Towers Magazine, ed. Karin Abel, 2013.

MTI:  Ah, yes, I'm familiar with Jessica A. Weiss.  We both participated in a writing competition/exercise years ago, hosted by Pill Hill Press.  Good fun.

From reading your bio and website, it appears you have some fascinating ideas about fictional alien encounters.  Tell me, do you have any thoughts concerning the works of Erich Von Däniken, or the "Ancient Astronaut" theories?

DOWEYKO:  I am an avid follower of the Ancient Aliens TV program, and have read Von Däniken extensively. I think there is viable evidence that something odd occurred in the past, although I doubt all the claims the show or Von Däniken makes. The most compelling evidence is in the form of carved stone, wherein the best example is in Puma Punku, Bolivia, where the stone work was clearly cut by machine at a time when that was impossible based on our current understanding of history. I also am a fan of the recently deceased, Philip Coppens, who made some outstanding contributions to our understanding of really ancient civilizations.

MTI:  Excellent answer.  Okay, let's take a breather and try something a little lighter, shall we?  When you have the time to sit back and relax, what kind of tv programs do you like to watch, if any?

DOWEYKO:  Science fiction is my favorite genre, but there are few TV programs that have intelligent plots and believable characters. I must say a few recent shows were enjoyable: Fringe and Battlestar Gallactica had some level of real science embedded which made the stories credible. I still don't like hearing rocket blasts in the vacuum of space, but what the heck.

MTI:  Any particular music that you enjoy?

DOWEYKO:  Any music which departs from the usual formula. Two groups come to mind: Queen and Pink Floyd.

MTI:  As we get near to the end of our interview, do you have any thoughts of wisdom you'd like to share with potential readers?

DOWEYKO:  Wisdom is located between the ears of the listener, thus difficult to impart. Readers of science fiction should demand that we move away from the cult status of dystopia, vampires, zombies. Get away from comic book heroes with flat, untextured personalities, clichéd behavior, and plots heavy on violence. Much of what we see in movies has also penetrated the writing world—lots of action, little intelligence. As I get older, the most interesting questions are the ones we seem least able to answer: who are we, why are we here, does something happen next? If you're going to read or write, give these questions a try. Like issues of morality, there are no easy answers, but the exploration of possible answers can be quite a thrill.

MTI:  To wrap things up, I'm sure our readers would love to see a few paragraphs of your recent work.  Dare we ask for a brief sample?
DOWEYKO:  Here is a sample of a recently completed short story, Little Snowy Mountains:

Dr. Armstrong Pearl reached beneath the fossilized remains of the sauropod's tenth cervical vertebra, and ran his fingers over the smooth surface of what felt like a cranium. Beads of sweat coalesced into streams that ran along his temples, seeped into the gullies and rills of his weathered neck, and emptied into a marsh on his tan khaki shirt front.

            He was part of a group of intrepid souls interested in paleontology and willing to donate time and energy to one of the Little Snowy Mountain Institute's summer digs. The sixty-five million year old sauropod fossil was this year's focus—which put it about fifty-five million years ahead of the first hominids. What exactly were his fingers caressing?

            "Whatcha got there, Armstrong?"

            He brushed a handful of dirt back onto the skull. "Nothing. Just trying to get under this verterbra, Johansen."

            "Careful you don't get stuck and make us dig you out." Johansen chuckled at his remark. "We're closin' shop in a few minutes, so wrap things up."

Armstrong watched the man wander off. Long shadows caressed the exposed verterbrae. As he reached down and slipped his finger below the nasal bone, he saw other team members rising to join Johansen. The skull could be the find of the century. He clawed away some more loose dirt, wincing as his hand wedged between rock and bone. He pushed down and ran a forefinger along the smooth edges of an alveolar margin which preceded the upper teeth.

            The group following Johansen was nearly out of sight. His fingertip curled around a tooth, and tugged it loose. He tossed a scoop of dirt over the skull. When he held up the specimen for a closer look, he squeezed his eyes shut, took in a deep breath, and looked again to be sure. It was a human canine, and it sported a ceramic crown.

MTI:  Thank you, Doctor, for taking the time to be interviewed, and for giving such insightful responses.  I certainly enjoyed it, and I'm sure our readers have, too.  Those who want to read more of his work can pick up The Temporal Element.

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