Well, after reviewing Rise of the Leviathan yesterday, today, I have something even more exciting. I was able to interview author Austin Dragon, who from all accounts appears to be incredibly fascinating and inspiring.
Read my interview with him below (I am bolded):
Is Dragon really your last name or is it a pen name?
Haha. Yes, it’s my real name. In my first career in the corporate world for twenty years, everyone said how cool my name is and that I should get better use out of it. Now I am.
Who are the authors (books, songs) you turn most to for inspiration?
I would have to go back to childhood with the old Hardy Boys detective series as an early favorite. Later it was Sherlock Holmes. Basically, I was reading and watching on TV lots of mysteries that spurred by interest in writing. As for my love of science fiction, that all came from the television: The Outer Limits , Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, etc.
How did your political and military past influence your view of the future?
One day I should write a non-fiction book about my political journey. From the standpoint of the book it is taking an unemotional view of our politics and projecting it out into the future. For example, one hundred years ago in America virtually all Blacks were Republicans, now they’ll virtually all Democrats. Such societal transformations are fascinating. How did we get from there to here? In the After Eden Series, there is no liberal or conservative as we know the terms today because all the arguments of today are “settled.” All drugs and prostitution is legal, any kind of marriage is legal, the US Constitution has been abolished and replaced, there is no such thing as privacy when it comes to the government, government virtually controls every sector of the economy, and people are so dependent on and connected to their technological gadgets (including smart-cars, smart-houses, etc.) they are a kind of quasi-cyborg.
I loved that I was able to serve in the military; that’s the good part, but many of the things that I saw in terms of management, efficiency, and basic commonsense began my deep skepticism of government’s overall role in providing for the needs of the people. This was only reinforced a hundred-fold when I was in the trenches of politics myself. Like every other part of society we have people who are great, good, mediocre, foolish and downright bad. This is another subtext of the series. The government can do anything and the people are sheep—forget eighty years in the future, that’s how it is now.
Do you see the After Eden series as more of an inevitable reality, or more of a “fiction” universe?
Sadly, as I touched on already, most of it is inevitable. Despite the happy-talk from some futurists, the greater man’s technological advancement, the “lesser” he becomes as a human—the culture naturally goes in the opposite direction. Technological advancement and cultural advancement are two separate things, but we keep linking them together. People have to fight to be good. So what if every person has every basic need fulfilled by their technology, then what? What does the person do then? Often they make the trivial important and the important invisible. In the series, that has horrific consequences.
Do you believe that fiction has the power to help make real changes in the world?
I do. If done well and enough people read it or see it on the screen, people can be inspired to do amazing things and make the world better.
Who are your favorite characters in the series? Did you find yourself falling in love with characters you never meant to like?
In book one, the Amish girl Kristiana steals the show. Other favorites are “General” Moses, M, Logan, Edison Blair and Pagan Paul. In book two, Shoshana, Father Marcos, Sister Cyclops and the Betty Boop Twins, Gideon, Mr. Haggard, and Goli, the tek-lord.
Each book will have its own set of characters that will be favorites. The story is World War Three; we are just getting the back-story on characters and events on how it came about and who were its heroes.
Did you spend a lot of time researching science and technology trends before writing the After Eden series, or did you rely on your gut instinct of current trends?
It was a combination of both. I’ve always followed science and tech trends. Also, I’ve been very good at predicting trends myself in terms of science and the culture.
How did your religious and political views influence the telling of this story?
It does and it doesn’t. I have almost been conservative religiously. Politically, I went from being liberal to conservative. Currently, I’m not very pleased with my fellow human as problems go on and on, year after year, decade after decade without solution and there is absolutely no reason for that at all—other than politics and laziness.
However, the series is beyond me. We’re dealing with societal, national and global trends. Liberal, conservative, libertarian, socialist, etc. will not be the same in eighty years anymore than they were eighty years ago. The only personal experience that I’ve allowed into the series is that things are not always black and white, and, more often, they are much more complicated and nuanced than some would have us believe. Not everything fits in the square box. It may need to be put in the funny-looking, mashed up, trapezoidal container thing in the corner.
When you’re not writing, you do ___
Currently, train for my marathon, read, network with our writers and artists, grow my business, bike and I love the beach!
When did you first realize you wanted to become an author?
I was born a writer but then life happened. Twenty years later and now I wonder how I could have managed not to be doing this all along. I was supposed to write one book as part of my yearly “bucket list.” Now, I’m in the midst of one seven-book science fiction series and already have the next in mind, along with a few other genres of books.
And for something completely off-topic: What is your favorite food to eat? Movie to watch?
Favorite food is Italian, though with my training I don’t eat the amounts I used to. I love all kind of movies. The last best one I saw was the latest Captain America and I can’t wait until Godzilla (please make up for that garbage one from 1998) and X Men: Days of Future Past. On TV, I’m looking forward to 24 and can’t wait until The Walking Dead returns.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Austin! As I suspected, we like many of the same things. 🙂 Sci-fi lovers/writers have to stick together.
About Austin Dragon
Austin Dragon has pretty much done everything. He’s been in politics, the military, been a corporate recruiter, taught English, lived in Paris, and now, has written a series of excellent sci-fi books. You can learn more about Austin on his website After Eden Books.