Thursday, July 23, 2015

John Ploskina, Author of The Far Unlit Unknown

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Today we are interviewing John Ploskina, author of the young adult sci-fi novel "The Far Unlit Unknown."

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a world traveling adventurer, author, arachnid enthusiast, engineer, and one of the few people to both sing in death metal bands and teach kindergarten. 

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences.
Nathan, a maladjusted class clown and Cello, the school’s top student, investigate the disappearance of their history teacher.  Instead they find a tear in the fabric of Space-Time that opens to the universe next-door. 

Lost in the multiverse, alone with no weapons and few supplies, they are drawn into the machinations of a mad scientist who won’t hesitate to destroy entire universes in his plan to build a “perfect world.”

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
Anyone who ever sat in class, stared out the window and lost themselves in dreams of adventure and romance.

What inspired you to write a novel about two students who must venture through the Multiverse to rescue their teacher?
When I was in school I was chronically bored, and books were like little glimpses into other worlds that were more vibrant and interesting than the real one.  I often wished I could crawl into them and get lost.  The premise of Perfecting Reality is just around the corner from there.

science fiction, sci-fi, action, adventure, eccentric detective, mismatched couple, multiverse, mad scientist, young adult sci-fi novel, john ploskina, far unlit unknown
Author John Ploskina.

In your book, the characters get lost in the Multiverse. For people not really familiar with the term, can you explain what Multiverse means?

A multiverse is a set of universes that exist simultaneously.  Some scientists believe that our universe is one small piece of a multiverse, and different types of multiverses are described by different schools of thought within theoretical physics.

Perfecting Reality is inspired by the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, or MWI.  It’s far too much material to explain here, but if you Google for “MWI Quantum Mechanics” there are lots of interesting articles out there.  Or, if you’re so inclined, Cello briefly covers the key concepts in The Far Unlit Unknown.

That said, I don’t think you need to be into the hard science aspect of MWI to enjoy the story.  MWI is a canvas.  You can skip those parts and just enjoy the ride.

Have you always been interested in physics and the universe? Or did your interest develop as you wrote this book?

I’ve been interested in physics, especially theoretical physics, since I was a kid.  However, I want to be clear that the multiverse presented in Perfecting Reality is not a representation of a scientifically accurate multiverse.  I use the multiverse is a metaphor for the infinite variety and potential of human life.

Who was your favorite character to write?
Cello is my attempt to put an Agatha Christie-esque detective into a unique context.  Cozy mysteries are my comfort genre.  I read a lot of Rex Stout when I’m in a bad mood, and the Eccentric Genius Detective is my favorite archetype.  It was fun to take that kind of character, drop her into a sci-fi novel, and see how she copes with it.  I deeply enjoy writing scenes where her personality clashes with Nathan.

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?
In no particular order: J.K. Rowling, Ayn Rand, Stephen King, Agatha Christie, H.P. Lovecraft and Rex Stout.  They write stories that keep me reading into the night, frantically turning pages even as my eyes ache and the piercing shriek of the alarm clock looms.  They also use language in unique ways. 

Tell us about your creative process, from initial idea to published manuscript.
At all times, my brain involuntarily vomits up premises for novels and characters.  In the heat of the moment, everything seems like it might be good.  I carefully sort the complete nonsense from the ideas that may have promise. 

I have a lot of false starts.  I’ll write a few chapters and then forget about the idea, or suddenly realize that it’s stupid.  The stories that get finished are the ones that stick with me and don’t fall apart when the real work gets under way. 

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of ebooks?
I’m just happy to see people reading. 

Personally, I resisted ebooks for a long time.  I love the feel and smell of a real book in my hands.  Physical books have a presence and a personality all their own.  I’m only truly comfortable in a room full of books.  Every once in a while, I’ll pick up a used novel from somewhere and find hand written notes in the margins.  It’s like sharing the book with a total stranger.

I finally grew to love ebooks last year.  It was the Kindle app on my phone that brought me around.  The book is always there, ready to go.  I now read books at red lights and in line at the grocery store.  How cool is that?  I read a lot of non-fiction that way, because it’s easy to highlight and return to specific passages.  For fiction, I still prefer paper.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
To put so much entertaining and thought provoking content out there that I’m unanimously elected supreme ruler of Earth. 

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?
All the not writing.  Nothing’s worse than the time you have to spend not writing.  Sleeping, eating, hygiene, maintaining the facade of a productive member of society…  All time that could be better spent writing.

What do you have in mind for your next project?

I’m hoping to publish my next book before the end of the year.  It’s a horror novel for adults.  After that, I’ll be returning to the Perfecting Reality universe… but maybe not in the way you’d expect…

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
I can’t promise you that it will bring meaning and purpose to your existence, but I won’t rule out the possibility. 


An excerpt from "The Far Unlit Unknown":
    Nathan checked his watch again.  The Librarian would be back in about four minutes.  Plenty of time.
    The library was empty and quiet.
    He made his way to the back room, the Librarian’s personal office.  Everything was neatly arranged on and around a small desk, and Nathan could hardly stand it.  He wanted to knock it all over and spoil it, but he resisted the urge.
    On the far edge of the desk a DVD player was wired to a carefully organized mass of cables that ran into a panel set in the floor.  Nathan pressed the eject button.  Inside the disk tray was a DVD-R with today’s date written in black.  It was the same brand, model and color as the one he’d prepared and smuggled in.  He pulled a permanent marker out of the pencil holder on the Librarian's desk, set the two DVD-Rs side by side and carefully forged the date on his blank one.  The Librarian's “4” was tricky, but he regularly practiced imitating all the teacher's handwriting.  When he was finished it looked perfect.
    Even if they checked, no one would know it was a fake until it was too late.
    He placed his DVD-R in the tray, closed it, put the original between the pages of his math book and walked casually out of the office as if he had every right to be there.
    That was when he noticed that the library wasn't empty after all.
    A small girl was sitting at a table by herself in the corner, staring at him through enormous glasses over a book as thick as any dictionary.  She was pretty in a plain sort of way, with ashy grey skin and an elfish face.  Wild hair, black as the void of space, was dangling down around her shoulders.   Her intense eyes, magnified by the lenses in her glasses, drilled into him.  It felt like she was staring directly into his brain.
    Nathan had seen her in the hall but had never spoken to her.  Word going around was that she was some kind of genius with top marks in every subject, but that she was a total oddball.
    “What did you see?” he asked her.
    “Nothing,” said the girl.  She shrugged, and the corners of her mouth curled up, ever so slightly, into something that only hinted at a smile.  Her eyes drifted back to the pages of the book.  “Nothing at all.”
    “You are a smart girl,” Nathan said, and walked out of the library.
Book trailer for "The Far Unlit Unknown":

More Information

Buy "The Far Unlit Unknown" on Amazon
Visit John Ploskina's website

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