Hello, lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Charles Freedom Long
Charles Freedom Long is a psychologist who has lived and worked in three continents, four countries, and four states. He currently shares a little retirement cottage with his wife and three Maltese dogs, in a small village in the boonies of snowy Western New York, where there are more cows than people.
Why do you write? I write because I cannot imagine not writing.
A series of cross-country, cross-border, overseas, and third world expatriate work and living adventures taught me how differently other people live life and view the world. How much what we assume is reality, and “the way things are,” is very different from what others assume. After all this traveling and living in foreign cultures, particularly the third world, I find science fiction is a natural place for me to write, since its boundaries of imagination are limitless. A recurrent theme in my writing is “It ain’t necessarily so.”
I write to challenge readers’ fixed ideas in a way that will make them consider other possibilities, particularly about sentience, free will, and life after death.
And much of what I write is about things that are not what they seem, but might be. Psionics, multi-sensory human beings, telepathy, telekinesis, precognition, clairsentience, energy medicine, awareness and ongoing communication between the living and the dead as a fact of daily life, and how that might affect life and philosophy of a world.
How long does it usually take you to complete a book? Since I’m always involved in world-building, it seems to take over a year. Even with the heart of the research into my chosen world, the Seven Worlds of the Anthelion Galaxy, already done, each book demands additional, extensive investigation in order to make it real to the reader.
And much of what I write is about things that are not what they seem, but might be. Psionics, multi-sensory human beings, telepathy, telekinesis, precognition, clairsentience, energy medicine, awareness and ongoing communication between the living and the dead as a fact of daily life, and how that might affect life and philosophy of a world. Here, we’re in the world of the “not provable, but not impossible,” so logic must rule the day. You can stretch the rubber band of belief, up to, but not beyond the snapping point. So an equal but different kind of research is required. What does philosophy, religious and spiritual systems of thought, say, or wonder about these things?
And, I’m a perfectionist, who will devote as much time in editing and rewriting as I think is necessary to polish the gem until it gleams.
What have you written? The first book in the Seven World’s series, Dancing With The Dead, has won three awards and has been favorably compared to the work of Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, and C.J. Cherryh. It’s a thriller about a brilliant astrophysicist whose entire life has been about becoming a “martyr for truth.” on the moon, who falls in love with just the wrong person— Doctor Quenby, a cat-like, bipedal alien coworker from a planetary race of pacifists, and begins to question his sworn mission to destroy Luna City and everyone on it. The dead on Earth and other worlds fall in on both sides of law enforcement and the plotters, and our hero’s quest for ultimate truth takes him beyond the veil called death and into another world.
I am currently finishing Alvar’s Spear, the sequel to Dancing With The Dead, and expect to have it in publication shortly– Hopefully, by the end of April. Alvar’s Spear takes on the theme of sentience, in addition to the theme of destiny versus free will that ran through Dancing With The Dead.
Thirty years after dancing with the dead, half-Terran, half-Antal, Gar has just one desperate last chance to save the Antal hive from immolation at the hands of its own mother, the sentient moon-world, Alvar. He must do this before a mutant conspiracy turns Alvar into a fetid swamp and enslaves the Antal. Alvar has sworn to hurl herself into the gas giant she orbits before she allows that to happen. To become Alvar’s Spear, the planetary savior, Gar will confront enemies, assassins, a traitor, and a beautiful, brilliant, Terran geneticist. He will travel into the mysterious Forbidden Mountains of the vild, from which no one has returned. If successful, he will save Alvar.
But the danger of creating a savior is that he will be his own person. He will do what he will, and whether his acts are judged good or bad will only be known in the unrolling of time. Time does unroll. What it reveals may not be to everyone’s liking.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I do both. I come up with an idea, then create a plot outline, flesh it out into chapter by chapter sections, and then, let the creative juices take me on a ride.
Where do your ideas come from? Ah, well, here is where I have to say that I have one piece of paper that says I’m a psychologist and another that says I’m a medium. I talk with dead people all the time. My ideas come from both sides of the veil called death. And when I write, I’m actively involved with those on the other side of that veil.
Which writers inspire you? Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Ian Banks, C.J. Cherryh, Joan Vinge, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, T.S. Eliot, Thomas Merton, Paul Beard, Evelyn Waugh, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell.
You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser? Okay, Here are the first couple of pages of Alvar’s Spear:
Fatal Affliction–It takes time to ruin a world, but time is all it takes.
“What?! You’re going to do what?” The twin strips that ran along each side of Gar’s navel—the birth scar he hid from everyone—glowed blood red. It always did when he became enraged. Gar uncrossed his legs. It didn’t help. The razor-sharp claws in his toe-pads sprang out. He scraped them hard against the green bark of a mandibu tree, drew six long nasty gashes in it.
“You heard me,” the voice said.
“No you’re not.”
“Have I ever spoken falsely?”
“You’ve never been irrational either. But I guess there’s a first time for everything.”
“You forget to whom you speak.”
“This is crazy. I can’t believe you don’t have better options.”
“Options? Of course,” the disembodied voice responded. “I can permit the malignancy to run its course. Terra did that back in her twentieth century. Allowed a great evil to start a planet-wide bloodbath. War does not breed sanctity. It promotes the basest elements in the species. Once greed, amorality and hubris are allowed to flower, they twist everything to their ends. I won’t make the same mistake Terra did.”
“I could terminate the Antal hive. Start over again if I wish. But I don’t like that either. How do I prevent what has happened from happening again? What aspect of the Antal personality do I carve out? What part of free will, of choice, do I eliminate in the new species? What kind of hive would that become? I acknowledge that my own hubris blinded me to the way the hive would become too stolid over the eons. That I can accept. We all make mistakes. And you, my goldeneyes, my human/Antal hybrids, would have resolved that in time. But time has run out on us.”
A strong wind shook the mandibu trees. They groaned, swayed back and forth. Green-brown leaves rubbed against each other, clattered, stroked, murmured.
The sound became the moan of a vast host of ghosts.
“The Aké,” Gar called out over the keening, “Use the Aké to influence the hive.”
“Gar, the Aké lament but say their counsel would fall on deaf ears, as it has in the past. Do you think I want to do this? Annihilate myself and my creations? Admit the weakness I might have foreseen left an opening for evil to do its work? Admit I’ve been defeated by a bunch of bugs? Outworlders from a malicious planet who infected the hive with a vile mutancy, a cancer that eats away at it?”
“Why can’t you just remove the cancer?”
The sky darkened. “Don’t ask the same question again and again hoping for a different answer. You think I can do whatever I want? Can you? I am bound by cosmic law.”
The ground trembled. “So what remains is to terminate myself. Change my orbit. Join with Algot. Merge myself and every living thing upon me into the cosmic soup.”
Gar’s toe claws dug deeper into the mandibu tree. “You would kill all your children?”
“It wouldn’t be killing, just changing life forms.”
“We have a right to complete our destinies!”
“As what? Slaves? Drudges? Fomenters of galactic evil? No. I’ll not permit that.” Alvar swept a warm breeze across Gar’s cheek like a soothing mother’s hand. “I could regenerate in a different galaxy as another planet, or star. You would all begin anew, come with me if you chose to.”
“But we don’t want to die.”
“Everything that lives, dies.”
“But not at the hands of its own creator! Not in a fiery inferno.”
“You fear the fire? Do you want to know what it would be like? Here. . .”
The warm breeze turned hot and slapped at Gar’s face. He was drawn up into Alvar’s mind. Gar’s body temperature rose. She drew closer to orange Algot. The gas giant loomed on the horizon. Nearer and nearer. Until Algot’s blazing heat stirred Alvar’s atmosphere into swirling orange whirlwinds. Nearer still, and the smaller moons, Söti and Pårrl, exploded into blazing globes. Firestorms spread along Alvar’s surface. Alvar became a flaming mass. Gar’s body exploded. His atoms diffused. His vision blurred. He lost his ability to move. He and the trees and the tall grass blended into each other. He felt his own sharp claws digging into himself, the mandibu tree, his Antal paw bent and crushed him, the tall grass. His mind wobbled. He struggled against the loss of identity as his ego dissipated, as he merged into oneness with all Alvar’s creations. And then went beyond, as she merged into Algot. Into a void where he was not, they were not, only the void and consciousness existed.
With a shock like hitting ice-cold water following a sauna, he snapped back into full self-awareness.
“No! No more! You can’t do this!”
“Oh, but I will.”
Do you have any fur babies to brag about? My three Maltese, Valentino, Tooki, and Katie. “Tino” is the best-behaved, eldest child, at seven years, and 5 ½ pounds. Katie, his sister, is 6 ½ years old, 9 pounds and Mammy-rules-the-roost to the boys. And Tooki, our wild one, is three, and six pounds of energy and mischief.
Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes? Absolutely. You just have to get past that. And learn the techniques that create good love/sex scenes.
What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? I believe self-publishing is a wave of the present that will become a tsunami. But it requires entirely more self-discipline than traditional publishing. I review Indie books professionally—have for four years now—and I have seen a great improvement in the general quality of the books I’m being asked to review. The wealth of unique ideas and approaches is, I believe, the Indie world’s greatest asset. Thoughts that would never make it past the hurdles of traditional publishing. Of course, there are also still too many slap-dash, poorly written, awfully edited books coming out.