Welcome to Dylan Callens.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. My novel is called Operation Cosmic Teapot. The title is derived from Bertrand Russell’s analogy of a teapot floating in space, which represents that the burden of proof lies on a person making a philosophic claim. In particular, he says that those believing in a god need to provide evidence.
I’d say that the novel is contemporary fiction with great deal of humour thrown into the mix.
Where do you find inspiration? Inspiration comes mostly through reading philosophy. When I read something that I think is really thought provoking my mind starts spinning stories. I start to wonder what would happen if…
Aside from that, I find inspiration in conversations with others throughout the day. I teach media studies and am always interested to hear what bizarre things might come out of my students’ mouths. Their idiosyncrasies allow me to explore unusual modes of thinking.
Do you have a favourite character? If so why? In Operation Cosmic Teapot, that is a difficult question to answer. I love God because he’s really quite down to Earth. He’s struggling to stay afloat, like so many people that I know. Myself included, in some ways.
Then there’s Nietzsche. He’s had such a hard life and I cannot help but feel sorry for him. I understand why he wants to seek revenge on God. Yet, his antics make me laugh.
Are your characters based on real people? Yes, in this novel they are. Half the characters are based on philosophers while the other half are based on gods. All of their histories are three-quarters true. The other quarter is poetic license.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? Oh goodness! There was so much research required for this book. I spent more time researching than writing, I think. There was a great deal to wrap my head around.
First, there was all of Nietzsche’s history to consider. There is quite a bit of debate about his life, such as whether or not he had syphilis, or how he ended up in a catatonic state. I always went with the stories that seemed the most humorous to me.
There was God’s history to deal with as well. Outside of the Bible, there are other writings about him, most notably the Ugaritic Scripts. For me, dealing with this history was a mess because there was so much writing done. What I essentially did was just find a narrative that suited my purpose. I’m sure that there will be a number of complaints about inaccuracies.
The list of research goes on and on from there, but I think that’s enough for now.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? The central message in the book, I suppose, is that history is a fluid thing. It changes depending on perception. If we were to look at it in a post-modernist way, then certainly having people in charge of gods indicates that I am questioning authority. But as a post-modernist I wouldn’t dare tell readers what message they are supposed to get from Operation Cosmic Teapot.
Important? Important to me. I’m not sure that it will be important to anyone else. It’s unique, I’m sure of that. I’d like to think that others will feel it’s important. If not, I just hope that they are entertained.
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be?Absolutely! I think that the general public regards self-publishing as a world meant for those that aren’t good enough for publication houses. My guess is that it’s hard for those that don’t write to understand why someone would want to go the indie route.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? I wouldn’t dare comment on reviews of my own work. I fully believe that if someone hates my book, then they should slam it. I’ll shake my head about the review but I won’t give it a second thought, unless there was something in the review that could help me improve. Given the nature of my book, I fully expect that there will be those that hate it.
I think over time reviews are less important. As a new writer, I see them as critical because it’s one more way to get my name out. Even the bad ones have an upside, I suppose.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? Yes, but for entertainment purposes only. If a book grabs my attention, then I’m going to pick it up.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? First, don’t stop working when the book is done. I’d say network over promoting, but it’s kind of the same thing, in a sense. I think it’s easy to get discouraged when one avenue shuts down. The internet provides so many possible networking opportunities that if you keep plugging away, something is bound to work.
Second, make sure your media looks as professional as you can make it. I find it hard to buy a book from someone if their website (for example) looks like it was done by a child. For me, if a person can’t take the time to figure out how to design a good website, then what is the inside of their book going to look like?
Third, continue revising your book after your first publication. If you find errors, or a reviewer points out some kind of important inconsistency, then it’s a good idea to fix up that error and publish a new edition. We’re lucky in an electronic world to have that opportunity.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I am very good with a yo-yo. I have considered entering professional competitions.
Book links, website/blog and author links: