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, Luciano W. Pesci – Luciano is an economist, futurist, and data scientist. A highly loved professor at multiple higher eds over the last decade, he’s now an academic mercenary, focused on technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and asteroid mining.
He’s the proud father of four spirited boys, loves cooking with his wife, Nicole, and wandering Utah’s wilderness with his chocolate lab named Kitty. In his free time, Luciano enjoys reading about history and society as inspiration for his science fiction series.
Luciano is also the founder and CEO of Emperitas, a business intelligence solution that combines data science with agile research and economic modeling. He holds a PhD and an MA in Economics, an HBA in History, and a BS in Political Science.
Thanks so much, Luciano, for joining me!
JSC: Do you have any strange writing habits or superstitions?
LWP: Only a few … I like to be in nature when I write (which can be tough during a Utah winter). I wear a Roman signet ring that my mother gave me after completing my Ph.D., and I always keep a gladius near me – it’s a sacred object of sorts. Beyond that, I’m usually accompanied by my chocolate lab (named Kitty), and I listen to high-energy music in headphones the entire time.
JSC: What were your goals and intentions in Subsumption, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
LWP: I decided to write the Subsumption series instead of writing a textbook (which was expected of me as an economist) because the ideas were important but I knew they needed a more engaging format. Beyond being entertaining, I had a secondary goal of providing moral instruction and a tertiary goal of doing all this while embedding deep intertextual symbolism throughout the narrative. I suspect that I’ve accomplished the first two goals for my target readers, but I’m still waiting for an inquisitive individual to expose examples of the third goal.
JSC: Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
LWP: I run a data science firm and teach both privately and publicly, so writing has always been a part-time gig for me. At times I wish I could just write, but all of the best plot and character ideas I “discover” come to me while I’m working on other projects or teaching. When I’ve tried to just work/teach and not write, or just write and not work/teach things go sideways for me quickly and fate forces me back into this intellectual love triangle.
JSC: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
LWP: I’m a huge fan of technology and incorporate it whenever possible. For research, I use Pocket to aggregate my source material, then I distill that down into Evernote. From there I leverage Scrivener and AEON for writing and tracking my timeline/universe details. I include both Grammarly and ProWritingAid in my editing process and love formatting with Vellum. I’m also mildly proficient with the Adobe suite for creating graphics and editing audio/video.
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
LWP: Dante Alighieri and I’d ask how he was able to cram so much vivid information into the Terza Rima verse form, all while using archaic technology (could you imagine writing by an oil lamp?) with the Catholic Church scrutinizing his every word on penalty of a very fiery death.
JSC: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
LWP: To silence the self-doubt. There was a long period where I hid the fact I was writing because I felt like it was outside of my domain of expertise. That anxiety would seep its way into my mind and take me out of the flow state when writing. When I finally learned how to ignore that dark inner voice of doubt, the quality and quantity of my writing increased exponentially.
JSC: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
LWP: I walk my dog in the mountains, listen to music, and smoke a cigar. It never fails.
JSC: Do you ever base your characters on real people? If so, what are the pitfalls you’ve run into doing so?
LWP: Some of my characters are Frankensteins of other people, and a few are strictly fictional.
But the overwhelming majority of my characters are explicitly based on real people from my life (friends, students, employees, colleagues, my dog, etc.) and carry their real names, though not always the exact nature of their real-world personalities. When I finally revealed I was writing, I asked each person for their blessing if I’d used their likeness. So far, no one has declined and I’ve not had any issues. Now, when someone close to me (who isn’t a character) reads the book they pitch me on including them in the rest of the series. This definitely beats making people up.
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
LWP: I do and I approach it with a strong dose of Stoicism. My goal is to sort through the reviews and identify the pieces (friendly or hostile) that I believe contain truth, so I can learn from them. I ignore all the rest. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s been worth the effort and I’ve improved some of the subplots for the rest of my series because of random feedback I received.
JSC: What are you working on now?
LWP: I have two writing projects running in tandem. The first is a three-book non-fiction series that outlines the data science process we’ve pioneered at my firm. I’m planning a rapid release for those three books (Thinking Broadly, Mining Deeply, Explaining Simply) in late 2021. I’m also continuing to write in the Subsumption Series and will release a novella this fall and another next spring in anticipation for the release of Guardians in 2023, which is the second full novel in my series. Meanwhile, I’m researching and outlining the rest of my series, which currently includes a half dozen novellas and two more novels (Subsumption and Guardians excluded).
And now for Luciano’s latest book: Subsumption:
Marcus carries the weight of the cosmos on his shoulders. Now, the alien allies are inviting him to join their research Cohort. But the experiments are pushing him to the breaking point, and time is running out to get his home life in order before doomsday arrives.
Hecate was cresting over the western mountains. No matter how many times they’d seen this, it was still amazing. In sci-fi stories, aliens arrived in aerodynamic starships, but the Federation didn’t do that; they appeared with a planet. Hecate was perfectly pale blue and the size of Jupiter. It had a single blemish resembling the Great Dark Spot of Neptune, and the entire planet crackled with an electric layer of Auroras. Four moons of differing colors orbited the Federation planet, and when the whole entourage was visible, it occupied an enormous portion of Earth’s empyrean.
“Shadows may walk around looking like us, but they’re alien in every sense of the word,” Jordan softly spoke as they watched the planet rise. “The Federation has, what, a billion years of evolution on us? The movies of our youth lied to us, man. We have zero chance against them. Look at what happened to North Korea—there one minute, gone the next. That’s the war of our future, Marcus. No explosions, no heroic overcoming of unbeatable odds. Just inexistence. How do we fight that?”