Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, E. Robert Dunn – Born in the Midwest, raised in the Northeast, E. Robert Dunn began writing at the age of 14 and continued through his higher education in the Southeast where he currently resides.
Thanks so much, Robert, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
E. Robert Dunn: I started my journey as a writer around the age of 14 when my English teacher took notice of my writing style with essay assignments. Knowing that I did not ‘fit in’ within the local small town my family had moved into.
I used journaling and short story fantasy as a way to ‘escape’ a reality that was polar opposite to how I felt and interpreted the smalltown world around.
My instructor went above and beyond to ensure I had a future far, far away from smalltown USA, PA. He reached out to contacts in NYC and eventually arranged for me to sign with a literary agent.
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
ERD: Johnny Byrne, an Irish writer and script editor for the BBC. He travelled extensively in his youth as a travelling poet. During the 1960s he worked as a literary editor, and wrote short stories that were published in Science Fantasy magazine and with Gerry Anderson productions such as SPACE: 1999. I would ask Johnny how he secured is position in writing successfully for television/film.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
ERD: My genre is science fiction. My style is what I call ‘reality-based’ scifi. I love research. So, when I am world-building, I investigate everything I can about that world to make seem real—from sociology to zoology to geology to spacecraft engineering.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
ERD: Well, excluding my short stories in my high school paper, my first ‘professional’ publication was a first edition of my book series Book 1, “Last Generation” by Cybernetbooks.com.
Here’s a synopsis of the book: The year is 6752, A.T. and Earth is but a memory to its space faring descendants. The urbane beings of The System embark on a test-colonization mission to a far off solar group called Mira. The AST [Aidennia-System Transport] Saarien’s flight path is ended abruptly and the colonizing supership explodes under a hail from Tauron Starhounds; a century of peace with the Tauron Empire is fractured. Six Aidennian survivors jettison in a terra-forming conestoga Pioneer Pod. Now, a young male echelon couple and their fellow crewmembers must deal with a reality in which their peaceful existence is shattered by war and prejudice. The only solace appears in the form of an unknown, arid planet in a ternary star group. Upon the Pioneer Pod Four’s descent into the planet’s atmosphere, a defense planetary shield is activated and causes the Pod 4 to crash land in an ancient, dried-up seabed. This sets the Aidennians on a jarring adventure where survival is a game of chance with the life forces of the Universe.
JSC: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
ERD: Ummm. Weirdest thing … other than locking myself away for (a) weekend(s) GOOGLing and reading reference books and forgetting to eat or sleep …kind’a of being in a fugue for days on end… nothing ‘weird’ yet.
JSC: Have you ever taken a trip to research a story?
ERD: No trips—that costs money. I do all my research online and/or in the local library.
JSC: What is your writing Kryptonite?
ERD: Deadlines. I write, review, rewrite, review, rewrite … see that pattern here. Having a deadline seems to ‘weaken’ my ability to deliver a solid piece of work I am proud of presenting. Then again, without a deadline, I would never finish writing a piece. A necessary evil to keep me grounded and focus.
JSC: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
ERD: I exercise. Take a leisurely long walk. Go out with friends and ‘check in’ with them and their lives (yes, I ‘borrow’ real-life experiences/conversations from ‘others’). I even may pick up a book I haven’t finished reading, watch a DVD I’ve purchased yet haven’t viewed. Sometimes taking a hot shower or even a nap helps ‘unblock’ me.
ERD: E. Robert Dunn. My full name is Eston Robert Dunn. E. Robert Dunn came about by my literary agent (at the time) to ‘mature’ me… you see, I was 14, and E. Robert Dunn does not sound like a 14-year-old. Also, at that time, the entertainment business was very ‘specialized’. Actors acted. Writers wrote. I did both. I acted under Eston Dunn and began writing under E. Robert Dunn for that reason too. Those reasons do not apply in modern times, but after writing XX-amount of years under my pseudonym, to suddenly start writing and acting under Eston Dunn would eliminate my history under E. Robert Dunn and be confusing to those that know my author personae under the pseudonym.
JSC: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
ERD: Stay in NYC. Do NOT move to Florida!! Because of the AIDS epidemic of the 80s, everyone I knew in the entertainment business (including both my agents) died. I panicked and moved to Florida hoping for a fresh start (big fish, little pond). It was known that MGM Studios was moving a fully-operational studio to Fort Lauderdale at the time. I moved to be a part of that ‘move’. Well, that did not happen (like so many things in Florida) and I became ‘financially stuck’. The site for MGM became a gated community and MGM became a theme park in Orlando!
JSC: Do you ever base your characters on real people?
ERD: Yes, I do. I use not only my journals from my childhood/early adulthood, but also I record ‘outings’ with friends to review and possible use real life conversations, conditions, fears, etc.
If so, what are the pitfalls you’ve run into doing so? Well, not everything that happens in real life is ‘believable’ in fiction. I get feedback all the time with several of my plays with “People don’t talk that way”, when in fact, they do and they have. I am quoting 9 times out of 10 someone I know, a conversation had when I hear that feedback.
JSC: How long do you write each day?
ERD: I don’t have a ‘daily writing’ schedule. Partly because I have a full time job and two part time jobs to make ‘the rent’. My style is to ‘jot things down’ as I encounter them for use ‘later on’ when the muse hits me. But, I try to do at least 5 hours of writing per week.
JSC: Do you reward yourself for writing, or punish yourself for failing to do so?
ERD: I don’t have a punitive approach to myself. Since writing is not my primary source of income, I still treat it as ‘my retirement/pay back student loan’ fund. I write more for the ‘therapy’ of it, rather than the vocation of it. Now, if that situation ever changes (praying for that movie and/or TV and/or Netflex deal), then I may change my perspective.
JSC: Do you read your book reviews?
ERD: I’ve stopped. Since I generally disagree with reviewers POVs. I’m the kind of person that if a reviewer dislike something, I will love it. If they love it, I’ll dislike it.
JSC: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
ERD: Well, that depends. LOL! For my first 6 books, it took relatively short amount of time (<6 months per book) because they were based on storyline scripts I had submitted (but, were not used) for TV shows like SPACE: 1999, Battlestar Galactica (Original Series), and/or Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. For Books 7 through 12, that has taken longer … almost a year per book (give or take a few months) because those were sequels on the world I had built for “Echelon’s End” and took longer to research and review … again, without a deadline, I tend to write, review, rewrite …
Robert provided us with a huge interview, so we broke it into two parts. You can read part two here.
And now for AUTHORNAME new book: TITLE:
Just imagine worlds in which harmony between peoples has been established. Where families are cultured and treasured. Where species from different worlds commune in peace. Imagine further these worlds having resolved all misunderstandings between sexualities, a series of planets where same-gender Echelon relationships are the majority and opposite-gender Reproductionist couplings are seen as necessary only to propagate a species.
Now, imagine this civilization on the verge of extending itself into unexplored space … sending out the cream of their generation to colonize this Utopian philosophy into the Unknown.
Book 1, Last Generation. The year is 6752, A.T. and Earth is but a memory to its space faring descendents. The urbane beings of The System embark on a test-colonization mission to a far off solar group called Mira.
The AST [Aidennia-System Transport] Saarien‘s flight path is ended abruptly and the colonizing supership explodes under a hail from Tauron Starhounds; a century of peace with the Tauron Empire is fractured. Six Aidennian survivors jettison in a terra-forming conestoga Pioneer Pod.
Now, a young male echelon couple and their fellow crewmembers must deal with a reality in which their peaceful existence is shattered by war and prejudice. The only solace appears in the form of an unknown, arid planet in a ternary star group.
Upon the Pioneer Pod Four‘s descent into the planet’s atmosphere, a defense planetary shield is activated and causes thePod 4 to crash land in an ancient, dried-up seabed.
This sets the Aidennians on a jarring adventure where survival is a game of chance with the life forces of the Universe,
Born in the Midwest, raised in the Northeast, E. Robert Dunn began writing at the age of 14 and continued through his higher education in the Southeast where he currently resides.
In addition to penning the science fiction series “Echelon’s End”, E. Robert has also written two off-Broadway plays, “LipSync” and “A Dragged Out Haunting”, and penned a local play entitled “VOiCES”.
Just last year, E. Robert was a contributing writer to the online STAR TREK: Odyssey’s Season One Finale webisode [featured in STARLOG Magazine, January 2008, “Beyond Hidden Frontiers”, p.89].
Besides being a produced playwright and published author, E. Robert has had articles printed in local newspapers as well as medical newsletters. He has also graced many a stage by his given name: Eston Dunn.
Recently, E. Robert founded the non profit www.WatchOutWeb.com Charities, Inc, to promote positive images that breakdown traditional barriers while building bridges between peoples while educating through entertainment.