Today, I'm interviewing Karl G. Rich, the talented writer who contributed What Would You Ask Yourself? to "The Temporal Element." Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Mr. Rich.
RICH: Thank you for having me in this digital environment.
MTI: Let us start with some introductory material. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
MTI: So, what first compelled you to start writing fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?
RICH: I tell my friends I am a herd animal. I do not lead, but neither do I fall behind. As part of nature’s herd and owing to the circle of life, the dirty coyotes and hyenas of life have clamped their jaws on my throat. And, like a grainy, NGO film I have slipped the pack’s best efforts and have returned to the herd—for now. Since facing my personal mortality, I have started thinking about my bucket list and writing a novel filled the pail to the brim. I have, since, emptied my bucket and I’m ready to kick it to the curb.
I typically read Fantasy/Adventure and have for twenty five years, but I write Alt. History/Low Fantasy.
MTI: If you had to pick the one author who has most influenced or inspired you, who would it be?
RICH: Robert Jordan, hands down. His death occurred while I was struggling with my own health. I’m waiting as long as possible to read his last book in the World of Time series, now finished by Brian Sanderson. I’ll know in my heart Robert Jordan is truly gone when I turn the last page of A Memory of Light.
MTI: As you know, The Temporal Element is a Martinus Publishing 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?
RICH: Here’s the deal, I am able to divorce myself from reality when I read. If I could divorce myself from reality in real life—someone out there would have already had me institutionalized or at the very least, I’d be on better pharmaceuticals. I have an extensive background in science, not just Star Trek Tech. As a society, we can barely keep the multinational, Hadron Collider working and all that does is ram hydrogen nuclei together. So, in my opinion, that doesn’t bode well for traveling the space-time continuum. Sorry, Q.
MTI: Regardless of the possibility, if you were given the chance to visit any point in history, when would you visit?
RICH: I think I would go back, slap my father, and ask, “What are you thinking? Stop it! Jesus Christ, put some pants on, I don’t want another sister!” Oh, wait, that was a serious question wasn’t it? Skip that, I think I would go back to the 1950’s for the innocence, the babes, and the cars. And while I was there, I’d put Dion on the plane instead of Buddy Holly, and then I wouldn’t have had to listen to American Pie for six-long-months back in ‘72.
MTI: Yes, you can't beat 50's cars. However, as great as it would be to have Buddy Holly alive and well, I'm afraid it's a common misconception that American Pie was about his plane crash (it's actually the story of America's transformation from the 1950's into the late 1960's, but that's a whole other story).
Thinking forward now, what piece of futuristic technology would you like to own, or have for your personal use?
RICH: Very simple, but for all the wrong reasons, I want better battery technology to eliminate internal combustion cars. Not because electric cars are “Greener,” but so that every country that holds oil as a hostage to our economy can drown in it. God, I hated the oil embargo and current gas prices. *Steps off soap box*
MTI: Don't get me started on Energy Policy (rather, the lack thereof) in the USA. Now, getting back to your writing; can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
RICH: I’m working on a futuristic, dystopian science-fiction story. As a meteor approaches Earth, an alien race bets on the human kill rate instead of taking steps to prevent the disaster. The Over/Under is slim, but if a slight modification can be made to the human genome, more humans may live, and that is where the big money’s bet. “Shaving the Kill Rate” will be available…
MTI: Other than the appearance of What Would You Ask Yourself? in The Temporal Element, do you have any other stories scheduled for publication in the near future?
RICH: Unfortunately, no. I have a few stories out in contests, but nothing else has been accepted.
MTI: You have a background in sailing. Tell us a little about your time on the water. What do you like about it?
RICH: I have been sailing for forty plus years. Sailing takes the skill of a chess master with a modicum of physical ability. Put a sail on it and I can get you from point A to point B. Put two sails on it and I don’t even need a rudder. It is all I have ever wanted to do, and life is the only thing that gets in my way from doing it. Power boating is as brainless as driving a car. Sailing is like flying a glider. A sailor is at the mercy of Mother Nature, and woe to those who don’t pay attention to her.
MTI: On the lighter side, what sort of television programs do you watch these days, if any?
RICH: I watch too much television. Monday Mornings on TNT has caught my attention.
MTI: What sort of music do you prefer? Any bands we should know about?
RICH: I grew up on rock from 30-40 years ago. I just bought Foreigner’s Juke Box Heroes CD if that gives you any indication of my taste. The last concerts I went to were Meatloaf and Elton John, and yes, they are still alive.
MTI: As we near the end of our interview, is there anything special you'd like to say to your fellow writers, or to potential readers?
RICH: Write for fun, if it’s a hobby and you can make a little on the side, then great.
When making money is the reason to write—that is when your hobby becomes a job. Remember, stress kills. Your job is allowed to shorten your life, your hobby shouldn’t.
MTI: Very pertinent advice! By now, everyone's eager to check out your work. Before we go, do you have a few paragraphs of a story you'd like to share, maybe something new that nobody else has seen before?
RICH: This from my book The Mad King of Beaver Island.
King Strang swung his gaze between Jack and Brother Bedford. The Mormon King appeared cool and collected as if on a Sunday morning walk, and not present to quell a lynch mob. He held up his hands, palms out. “I want everyone to settle down.”
A shot rang out and smoke curled from the barrel of Brother Bedford’s gun. King Strang's hands went to his gut and he doubled over. When he pulled his hands away, no blood soaked his shirt. He glanced at Marshal Clinton with wide open eyes and eyebrows raised to his bald pate.
“Look everyone!” The Mormon lawman stepped forward, grasped his leader’s hand and held it up to the crowd. “Not even a bullet can harm our illustrious leader. God protects this man as if he is His only son!”
The crowd stood silent. The echo of gunfire rang in their ears. Belief rekindled within each heart, as displayed on every face.
“Is he the Messiah?” a whispered voice sounded for all to hear.
Proto grasped Jack’s elbow. “What have you done?”
Eyes quit blinking around the mob as their hands fell to their sides. Lips moved in prayer asking for forgiveness in doubting their leader.
“It’s Numont! He started this!” Clinton pointed at Jack. The mob turned as one in his direction
Another man stepped forward to the side of Tom Bedford. “You fool!” He ripped the gun from Bedford’s hand.
Tom Bedford peered at the man. “Brother Wentworth, stay out of this.”
“Oh, for God's sake, you missed him.” He cocked the pistol and aimed at the King. After the echo of the gunfire died down and the smoke from the powder drifted away, the Mormon King genuflected on his knees. This time blood seeped between his fingers. Fear squeezed his eyes shut and his ashen face streamed sweat. God had not saved him this time.
“My God, what have you done,” wheezed King Strang.
MTI: Certainly a tempting sample. Thank you, Mr. Rich, for this insightful interview. Those who wish to read more of his fine fiction can pick up a copy of The Temporal Element.