WF: When do you first remember writing creatively and how long have you been writing for?
RG: I’ve always enjoyed writing as far back as I can remember. I recall one of my first serious attempts at story telling occurred in high school about a cop who travels back in time creating a paradox. My English teacher was impressed speculating I could write well beyond my grade level. I’ve continued to write creatively ever since in some form or another. My first published novel is entitled Seventh Journey Book 1.
WF: What should one do in preparing to become an author?
RG: Get clear about your goals. Do you want to be on shelves? Will an eBook be enough to fulfill your dreams of being an author? Do you want to be the next Stephen King? With over 600 pitches sent to individual literary agents every week, and thousands of books published per month, the literary world is full of competition. Check your judgements and expectations at the door when it comes to the publishing process, and simply focus on the joy that brought you to pen and paper. Be happy about each milestone, as you look towards the next one. Like anything else, the path can be challenging, so be sure to have fun being a story-teller, and stay the course.
WF: Do you have a favorite author or authors?
RG: There are several authors who have influenced my writing such as Deepak Chopra, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, and many others. I’ve read several even more obscure books as I’ve researched different philosophies and belief systems over the years. I enjoy reading different perspectives and empowering ways of thinking as I believe this helps propel me towards my goals.
WF: What is Seventh Journey about?
RG: In Seventh Journey readers meet Jacob Cross, a staff scientist at Netex, an advanced research firm with more than one secret agenda. Using a sound wave technology called Auditum, the nefarious research firm develops a mind-altering headset with the power to control minds and even hurl users into a different dimension.
Cross had been deeply involved in developing the headset and was lead to believe the technology would serve various medical applications. Now terrified that his invention will be used to enslave millions, Jacob sends himself through the dimensional portal. But will he be able to stop the firm’s devious plan?
Seventh Journey is the recipient of the coveted Editor’s Choice and Rising Star Awards on behalf of Publisher iUniverse.
WF: What drives Jacob, motivates, and/or inspires him?
RG: Jacob is inspired by a strong moral compass, and the thought that his invention may be used as a weapon. The headset Jacob created uses sound waves to “entrance” the brain, causing it to vibrate at specific frequencies and can even hurl users into a different dimension. In certain configurations, the headset can even cause users to become obedient to suggestion and fall victim to mind control.
WF: What’s Jacob’s job? What does he do for a living?
RG: Jacob is a brilliant research scientist working for Netex Corporation, a research and development company which designs products and advanced technologies for various purposes. Jacob was hired specifically to come up with a new auditory technology, and created the “Auditum headset,” a device which vibrates the brain at frequencies well beyond normal, causing various states of mind.
WF: Who is Tamara to Jacob? Can you give us a bit about the first time they meet each other?
RG: Jacob meets Tamara by way of experimenting with the “Auditum” headset, a technology which sends him into another world. The first time Jacob sees Tamara, she is standing on a white beach a distance away from him amid a few scattered rocks. She waits for him, enticing him with her flowing sun dress and goddess like form. Tamara tells him to “Get up!” which causes Jacob to awaken to his real world girlfriend, Anna who is saying the exact same thing.
Jacob experiences a time lapse, as he has lost several hours of the day by travelling to this other dimension. He becomes cautious, yet curious and later attempts a second experiment with the headset. He again finds himself on a white sandy beach, with Tamara awaiting his arrival. She explains some of the basics of this other dimension, why he has arrived on a massive white beach, and some of the challenges to come.
WF: What can you tell us about “Project Auditum”?
RG: Project “Auditum” is a covert technology developed by Netex Corporation, a largely military controlled company. “Auditum” utilizes focused sound waves, and offset frequencies known as “binaural beats” to cause the brain to vibrate at specific levels. The results of these vibrations may cause advanced healing, psychic abilities, and other unknown side effects.
“Auditum” is funded under the guise of creating self-healing soldiers by entrancing the brain into meditative states. The real motives, however, are much more sinister as Jacob soon discovers. Experimentation on animals reveals the headset’s ability to cause complete obedience in the user, and in the wrong hands, it would mean horrific consequences.
Fearing that the motives of Netex CEO, Edward Aidan might mean disaster, Jacob takes the technology and uses it on himself. He soon realizes that prolonged exposure to the “Auditum” sound wave sends him into a different dimension altogether.
WF: Can you tell us a little about who is the monstrous Luzige?
RG: Luzige is a “Jinn” or genie from the other dimension with unbelievable power. He is a devourer of worlds, fuelled by the fear of those he torments. Much worse than any imagined devil, Luzige seeks only to enter other realities and destroy them, out of sheer contempt for life. He is only able to enter a particular dimension through a “host” or vessel, and with the advent of the “Auditum” technology, he may have the access he needs to enter Jacob’s world.
WF: What should your readers take away from Seventh Journey?
RG: I would like readers to ponder the possibility of other dimensions and forces beyond the ordinary. This will be a continued theme throughout the Seventh Journey series.
WF: Was Seventh Journey your most difficult piece you’ve written for publication? Why?
RG: Being my debut novel, it is the furthest I’ve taken any of my creative works. It was my most challenging piece as I needed to create a story which flowed and held together the various thoughts, concepts, and phenomenon I wished to discuss. Working with the publisher to polish the work was equally challenging, but ultimately I believe I made the best choices for the material.
WF: What’s in store for the next book of Seventh Journey?
RG: Many of the characters from the first book will make an appearance, but not necessarily in the way you would expect. Book 2 picks up after Auditum hits the streets, and this will change the world in significant ways. With Book 2, I also plan to go much deeper into the other dimension, with the heroes confronting new monstrous adversaries in both realities.
WF: What are you currently writing?
RG: Most of my creative writing is focused on Book 2 at the present time. My other free time is split between promoting Book 1 via my websites, interviews, and preparing for my Book Signing Event on May 19th at the Bay & Bloor Indigo Book Store – Toronto, 2PM – 4PM. I’d like to take this opportunity to plug that event, for more information please visit www.RobertJRGraham.com.
WF: What are other stories you have written?
RG: Much of my other creative works revolved around unpublished poetry, or a few short stories which were mostly sci-fi oriented. Some of my favourites include an unfinished novel about a computer engineer who creates artificial intelligence, and another story about a cop who has to go back in time. I have also written several articles online, and spend much of my time maintaining www.RobertJRGraham.com, my popular magazine website which caters to various author interviews, and articles written by other writers which fall in line with my topics of interest. Many of the concepts or exploratory ideas nested within my websites have made it into my creative writing.
WF: What is your writing environment like?
RG: I enjoy writing in my living room, with a laptop comfortably resting on my armchair as I overlook my view of the lake. If I’m not in my living room, where I write and also spend time with my family, I retreat to the office upstairs which has the same view. My office contains my library of books, Superman collection (I’m a huge fan) and other interesting artefacts from my travels.
WF: What university/college did you attend? Was it worth it for you to go to school for writing?
RG: I have attended Seneca College for Applied Arts and Technology. I took a 4 year computer systems course, with several creative writing classes chosen throughout. Outside of Seneca I’ve taken many Learning Annex courses, Psychology courses through Ryerson University, and other forms of education which continue to benefit my development both personally and as a writer.
WF: How do you take a thought/idea for a fiction book and turn it into a plot worthy of a novel?
RG: There are several methods to create a novel, and I’ve posted some really good ones on my website. In principle a good story involves giving the reader what they want. Be sure to have some interesting twists, some well-developed characters, and sufficient motives in your plot. If you can build all of that around your own unique fiction idea, then I think you’ve got something.
WF: Do you think science fiction writers draw a certain personality? If so, how would you describe it?
RG: With movies like Marvel’s Avengers being the largest grossing film of all time, I think science fiction and fantasy draws many personalities. Science fiction or fantasy has many levels and can span many topics, which is what makes it so cool. You can create characters with powers, and ridiculously large battles using only your imagination, and it’s absolutely fun to write.
WF: What is a typical cliched story for science fiction?
RG: I think I’d say the flying saucer. The imagery of a dinner plate style space craft with little green aliens walking out is probably by far the hokiest science fiction tale of them all. This cliché has been overdone so many times that even if by chance aliens of this nature do exist, we may just deny it even if they’ve landed right in front of us.
WF: How do you plan the layout of a novel? Do you have a pre-set outline you generally follow, or does the story grow organically?
RG: Personally, I create a high level series of events in my mind, and begin to expand on them with increasing granularity. I do this until I’ve essentially structured the topics and events of each chapter, and proceed to write them out. I at times break from this to write blasts of inspiration that may hit from time to time. Once I’ve captured all the nuggets of creativity that may flow out, I go back and work it into the story.
WF: Also, if you could give one piece of advice on creative writing, what would it be?
RG: Write often, and be passionate about your story or message. If you don’t have the passion behind it, you won’t have the strength to brave the nights where it’s just you and a pen. Be persistent, have faith and you’ll get to your goals.
WF: What has being a writer taught you about yourself? About life?
RG: It’s taught me to be patient, and enjoy the process. Creating the book was the easy part, but the responsibility of finding a publisher and editing that came afterwards really gave me an opportunity to demonstrate who I could be as an author. I had to be willing to adapt and change my material, polish it, restructure and finally trim it to ensure the best possible experience for readers.
It’s taught me that in order to meet my goals I need to be willing to adapt, and seize opportunities as they come. And in closing, it’s taught me that doing what you’ve always dreamed of is one of the best possible experiences you can hope to have, so dream big and go for it.
WF: What do you do when you’re not writing?
RG: Spending time with family and friends is important, so I try to do that as much as I can. But when I’m not at work, or focusing on my series, I have several interests and activities for downtime.
I enjoy running www.RobertJRGraham.com as it’s a great way to share ideas and helpful messages to my readers. Training martial arts is also a passion of mine, as I’m a practitioner of the White Lotus System of Unarmed Combat working towards Instructor ranks.
WF: What is one thing you can say to aspiring authors to help them make their dream come true?
RG: Be willing to invest time and money in yourself to achieve your goals, ‘cause if you won’t… who will? Believe in yourself, be persistent and you’ll get there.