Everyone, please give a warm welcome to author Ray Jay Perreault. I’ve quite enjoyed his various SF novels, especially those focusing on Artificial Intelligence (AI). You can check out my reviews on his work HERE. Today, we chat about how his past work fed into his creativity as a writer, the subtle meanings of words, the AI classics, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the GIVEAWAY (ebook or audiobook) at the end of this post.
If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?
Interesting question and to be honest, I’ve never thought of such a scenario. One way or another each of the options has a certain allure to it. I guess it boils down to the fact that I’m a Science Fiction Author which would lean me towards the space alien. Of course I don’t want to offend any superheroes or supernatural creatures. If the situation would arise where I need to be saved by one of them, I don’t want to burn any bridges as the saying goes.
Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?
I think ‘reality’ is important in all stories. There needs to be elements of the story that readers can relate to. Every element of our lives is based on shared experiences, even language. When we use a word it brings up a similar image in the mind of the other person. The same applies with storytelling. It is important to have a shared set of experiences for the reader to understand and appreciate what is happening. Of course an author can go too far and present a scene where the amount of mundane detail exceeds what is necessary for the story. Some readers like the details and others want to focus more on the story. My personal style is more towards the latter. My stories tend to move quickly along the story line and I use ‘reality’ in scenes all long as they support and contribute to the story. I have seen some successful authors that can take a couple of pages to describe a field of flowers, but that isn’t something that I do. When I write a story I focus on the story and action, then I have to go back and add the ‘reality’ where I think that it’s necessary to set the scene.
I do admit that I change my styles. Some of my books focus on the action and drama where others focus on the back story. In some situations I like to fully develop the back story because I think it helps when the reader gets to the action. In my book Gemini, I spend almost half the book describing a totally alien culture. I go into their agriculture, history, religion and social practices. I did that for a couple of reasons, first off there were few shared experiences with the reader so I had to develop the similarities. Second, their culture and religion was a key element of the action scenes. If I didn’t take the time to give their back story the action scenes wouldn’t have made sense.
What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?
This might seem as an evasive answer, but I’ve been very fortunate. I spent 10 years flying airplanes in the US Air Force, during which time I traveled to 27 countries. After that I worked for Northrop Grumman and helped design the best weapon systems in the world. During my years at Northrop I had a tremendous amount of autonomy and could do what I needed to get the job done. There were times where I had to make an appointment just to see my bosses. Some of my jobs were damn near impossible, but they were challenging and demanding with associated risks and potential success. They were difficult but I enjoyed the challenges.
I’ve always been lucky, in the fact that my jobs needed creativity. The creativity helped me to become an author. I’ve always loved storytelling and extrapolating future outcomes. Both skills contribute to writing a successful Science Fiction story.
What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?
I always enjoyed reading and letting my mind see the story the author was presenting. I got into Science Fiction early and loved the classic writers. They seemed to open up a world of possibilities that my mind grasped immediately. At that age I never saw myself as an author, although I did enjoy creative writing classes. I remember one of my favorite college courses on public speaking. In particular I remember one live speaking assignment where we would go to the head of the class and the instructor would give us the subject and we had to immediately put together a five minute speech on that subject. I remember one in particular where I was given a paper clip and I had to talk about it for five minutes. After a few seconds of thought I was able to come up with a very entertaining five minutes talking about the design, the functionality and even the artistic design elements of the paper clip. Needless to say I got an A for that and I think I got an A for the entire course.
If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in Artificial Intelligence literature and non-fiction, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?
Without a doubt the first required reading would be Asimov’s “I Robot” series of 38 short stories and 5 novels. They are the basis for all AI writings and were a major influence in most of my books. I loved his ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ and I took them one step further in my short story “Progeny” and then in my novel “Progeny’s Children” where I created Four Laws. The context of my laws were different than Asimov’s because my laws were written without consideration for humans. The story takes place a long time in the future after man was forced to leave Earth because of pollution. The robots that the humans left developed their own society and eventually forgot who created them. Their lives and society was governed by their Four Laws of Conformity.
For non-fiction the list is long. I’ve read everything from political biographies to historical romance. I think the two recent books that I’ve read and left the biggest impression was “1491” and “The Accidental Superpower.”
“1491” is a historical analysis of the American Indian world before Columbus. It described the trade, politics and population. It also shows how large, interconnected and sophisticated the combined cultures were. Sadly it showed the precipitous decline in population because of contact with the Europeans.
“The Accidental Superpower” is a realistic projection of the world order over the next couple of decades. The inverted population pyramid shows that countries like Iran and Russia will be unable to sustain their position in the world as their populations decrease along with their earning power.
Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?
I haven’t had a ‘gushing event’ yet, but I have noticed what I call the ‘bartender effect.’ When a reader enjoys the works of an author they seem to connect with them on a personal level. That connection opens up email where the reader says things that are normally only shared with a bartender. I’ve got emails from well-meaning readers who share with me their challenges and how my writing has influenced some facet of their lives.
What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?
I tend to get involved in a lot of ‘geeky arguments.’ I enjoy language and the subtleties of words. I drive my wife crazy when I debate which word is the best and how a sentence can be said in a multitude of ways and each one carries a slightly different meaning.
What is the first book you remember reading on your own?
I can’t say that I remember the first book, but I do remember when I really embraced reading. During my sophomore year in high school I had a great English teacher that really challenged us. I think we had to read a book a week, and over the summer we had a long list. The interesting point was the varied topics. I read everything from “The Tropic of Cancer”, to “Rabbit Run” to the “Communist Manifesto.” It was during that period that I began to appreciate the written word and how many emotions it can create. I also learned how the author’s styles varied and how they used images and style to convey images.
About the Author
Ray was born in New Hampshire, received his Bachelors of Science in Aeronautical Engineering at Arizona State University. He is now retired from an influential, multi-decade career in aerospace.
Bringing a new voice to science fiction writing, Ray realized there was a niche that was calling him as he began to write deeper characters, create more sophisticated stories and realistic situations for Sci-Fi fans to relate to.
Initially attracted to heroic characters with powerful weapons taking on hundreds of aliens, Ray began his literary career with a desire to extrapolate Sci-Fi stories with a touch of everyday reality that most of us experience in work and our every-day lives.
His literary work is thoughtfully enriched by his decade long experience in the US Air Force where he flew C-130s on missions to 27 countries, and T-38s while training the best pilots in the world, as well as the first female US Air Force pilots.
During his 28 years at Northrup Grumman, Ray worked on some of the most top-secret military aircraft projects in the world including the F-23, F-35, B-2, Global Hawk and many more that can’t be named.
He is grateful to his wife, Charlene and his two daughters, Christine and Robynn for their support on this new journey.
Places to Find Ray Jay Perreault
Book Blurb for SIMPOC: The Thinking Computer:
99.9997% of all humans have been wiped out by a very suspicious virus. SIMPOC’s programmer doesn’t come in to work, that day, the next; or ever. The commander of the space station Oasis, Joan Herl is forced to abandon the station because of dwindling resources. When they land on earth they are attacked by another thinking computer who would do anything to protect itself and to continue thinking.
The moon colony Dessert Beach, is trapped as their resources are running out and they must decide when to come home. They have only lifeboats to carry them back to the lifeless earth and what will they find when they enter the atmosphere and land.
The astronauts trapped on the Mars colony Red Dirt are in worse condition. Their systems will break down and resources will run out. Coming home for them is a different story. The lifeboats aren’t made for that purpose and must be rebuilt before the colony breaks down. Should they stay and take their chances on Mars, or should they journey back to earth.
Book Blurb for Progeny’s Children:
After many years people return to Earth and something else was living there.
People of Earth treated her badly, neglecting the needs of their home planet which resulted in a world that was hostile to life. They were forced to leave and find another planet.
Humanity traveled over 300 years to Horizon. They had learned from their mistakes and took care of their new planet.
1,300 years after leaving Earth they wanted to return to their home. The first ship entered Earth’s orbit and found a pristine planet welcoming them home, but they also found something else living there.
Amazon US Audible.com
Ray Jay Perreault is offering up 2 books, winners’s choices and the winners can each choose the ebook version or the audiobook version (Audible.com account required). You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) Ebook or audiobook (Audible.com account required)? 2) What stories featuring AI have you enjoyed? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways ends October 19, 2016, midnight.
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