The new cover for
Over the last few months, Variance Publishing has hosted on their blog a number of posts featuring their offerings and commentary by their authors, and they graciously invited me to contribute. Stanley Tremblay of Variance gave me permission to repost these here, and today’s post is the second of the three I contributed, an interview by Craig Alexander, author of The Nineveh Project, with yours truly.
Author on Author – Craig Alexander on Daniel Brenton
Here it is fans, the last week of “Author on Author.” I know, a round of awwws followed by boos and hisses. Don’t worry, another fun author-involved project will be coming your way soon, but let’s not detract from our project at hand where Craig Alexander pokes and prods into Daniel Brenton’s thoughts, life, and career.
Craig Alexander: Some of my favorite novels, like Red Moon, are collaborations. I’ve always wanted to know how that works. Can you give us any insight into the collaboration process?
Daniel Brenton: Craig, thank you for the kind words regarding Red Moon. I don’t think my experience is representative of all collaborations, of course, but I can certainly share it.
There was a long process with Red Moon. The first spark was in fact was a short story I wrote in junior high (and long since lost … probably for the best). In the early 1990s the memory of this story sparked in Dave the idea of a writing a screenplay, in part motivated by the success by the then-recent film Apollo 13. For those not familiar with Red Moon, a portion of the novel is set in 1968-1969 on the Russian side of the Moon race, and follows the story of Grigor Belinsky, the only Soviet cosmonaut to (secretly) make it to the Moon.
Dave and I wrote a screen treatment which, unfortunately, went nowhere. The best input he received on it was that, with the ’60s and the Cold War so far behind us, no one would care about Belinsky and his journey.
Dave didn’t want to give up on the story, and he revisited the idea after about a year with the intent of making it a novel, and devised two storylines set in 2019, involving a “return to the Moon” mission and the international intrigue behind it
So, to answer your question, mostly due to my circumstances I took a back seat to the effort. I did actually write about 20,000 words to the novel, of about 12,000 actually wound up in it, smoothed over a little to better fit with Dave’s style. (If you’ve read the story, my chapters follow Belinsky through his lift-off, his flight to the Moon, and his long vigil there.) Beyond this, I helped develop the character of Mirya, Belinksy’s dissident wife, focusing on her religious and “mystical” side: I hit upon the idea of her experiencing an apparition of (what is now) the Russian Orthodox Saint, Xenia of St. Petersburg, an event that colors much of the 1960s narrative.
From my experience, our collaboration — which I certainly consider successful — was based on an agreement on who has final say on the vision of the book. Dave did, and I accepted that, partly because he had in fact picked up the ball and run with it, and partly because I trusted his instincts. I have a hard time picturing an effort to write a novel using a different paradigm.
CA: What’s next? Can we expect any more great reads from you in the future?
DB: In terms of collaborations, I’m sure if Red Moon becomes wildly successful, there would be the follow-up stories. Dave originally saw this as a trilogy, and I cooked up the premise for a companion novel featuring a number of the same characters and situations. I do have to say that Dave appears to be caught up in the movie industry to some extent, providing filmmakers working on anything related to the subject of ancient Rome a ready crew of extras with authentic regalia and weaponry.
On my own … I’ve found myself becoming something of a “go to” person on the subject of gratitude (which has become quite popular in Personal Development circles) that my fiction writing unfortunately is lost in the steam sitting on a back burner somewhere.
I would like to eventually pen a novel that has spiritual significance to the reader, a’la L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, or Bach’s Illusions. If the story demands a serious dose of action and suspense, Variance would be the first place I’d take it.
CA: Okay, this is a toughy. A large portion of your website is dedicated to the search for gratitude. Every time you open a paper or turn on the TV these days it’s bad news. Do you have any advice on how to stay positive and have a spirit of gratitude in these tough times?
DB: Craig, you’re too kind feeding me this question.
I could get on a soapbox about this, but I’ll reign myself in … a little. Maintaining an “attitude of gratitude” has four gifts for us: 1.) it makes our lives work better; 2.) it is a spiritual path all by itself, 3.) it is a power for change, and 4.) for those who spend any time thinking about the Law of Attraction, the common wisdom is that you have to be grateful for what you have before you can get anything better.
The first step in having a spirit of gratitude is to understand without reservation that it’s worth doing. There are three ways this happens: you’re raised with it by loving parents (or parent, or guardian) who sees the importance of it, you get a niggling hint of it and use something like a gratitude journal to help train yourself to “keep it close,” or you do it the way I did it — you have significant emotional experiences that spell it out for you in really big letters.
I was involved in a motor vehicle accident many years ago where a fatality was involved, and I was pretty shaken up, but I walked away with only a couple of cuts on my right hand. Reflecting on the event over a period of a few years I realized the improbabilities that lead up to me being virtually unscathed by that accident, rather than being a second victim of it. It left a permanent impression on me, and it has shaped my spiritual life as well.
I think most of us who have managed to live more than a few years into adulthood have had some experience that forces us to get in touch with who we really are and gives us the chance to remember what’s really important.
All of us in America had a significant emotional experience less than a decade ago — 9/11. This also played into my recognition of the power of gratitude, though I am saddened that many of us were strictly focused on identifying and eradicating an enemy, and failed to find gratitude in their personal situations in the aftermath of that dark day.
CA: Now for something really important. I have to admit I am sort of a UFO buff. (Yes, I watch UFO Hunters) Do you have any inside information on UFO phonomenon? Are people filming and seeing experimental military aircraft, meteorological events, or are we not alone?
DB: Straight out:
Do I have inside information on the Unidentified Flying Object question? No.
Is this phenomena military craft, meteorological events, or little gray men from Zeta Reticuli? The two former, I’d have to say yes, this is part of it. The latter … is going to take some explaining.
Are we being visited by people from other planets? I don’t think it’s impossible, and there is a phenomenon that is unexplained, but seriously doubt that’s what we’re seeing.
Craig, I suspect you picked up on the fact that I used to blog quite a bit about the UFO question, and it is in fact a life-long interest. The problem with the subject (and there is a problem) is that there’s such a small “signal to noise” ratio that it is very difficult to get to the core of it. A huge part of the noise is the UFO audience/community itself. Instead of eating up the Variance blog with my thoughts on that little problem, let me point you to this article on my own blog, “Thankful to be in a Better Internet World.”
The most intelligent thinking on the subject I’ve run across come comes from computer scientist Jacques Vallee, a life-long researcher of the subject. His premise, if I may do it the injustice of capturing it in a few words, is that the phenomenon is part of an intelligent control system that is shaping the human species at the mythological level over a period of millennia.
If you are seriously interested in his take on the subject, I highly recommend his non-fiction “Contact Trilogy,” Dimensions, Confrontations, and Revelations.
Another answer to the puzzle which I think has a great deal of merit is the study done by near death experience researcher Dr. Kenneth Ring, documented in his book The Omega Project: Near-Death Experiences, UFO Encounters, and Mind at Large. In this book he points out the similarities between near death experiences and UFO abduction events, and the significance of the commonalities.
Dr. Ring, in fact, states that people do have very real abduction experiences, but that these little gray men are archetypes, straight from the collective unconscious.
We’re probably seeing a lot of things we’re calling UFOs that are really Identifiable Flying Objects. Some things are unexplained, and it’s clear to me that there are folks who don’t want to understand them, and folks in our intelligence communities who want us to believe things that probably have no basis in fact.
What I feel the preponderance of the actual phenomenon is, is a manifestation of consciousness — of which we are a part. If you really look at the events — especially the contact events — you’ll see that they are riddled with nonsensical elements. What I believe is that there is a consciousness, possibly even an aspect of our own consciousness, “clothing itself” in the metaphors of our times and interacting with us. I also believe that these events are best understood at the symbolic level, specifically for the experiencer, and generally for us as a species.
And until I get something better, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Wow, who thought that this would have been such a memorable final Author on Author? Though I’m not surprised by these two great writers. Great job by both of you! Dan, if you write it, we will read it =)>, I look forward to the day it happens.
Beyond this, I would like to thank all of the authors who provided the time and material to make this sub-blog as informative and enjoyable as it was. Fans, if you missed any of the sessions, be sure to look back and check them out! They were all amazingly insightful in their own ways. Some had great writing advice, others humor, while others could be considered borderline life coaches. Lastly, thank you (or #gratitude in today’s case) to all the fans out there who read and enjoyed this active look into our authors daily perception of each other, along with providing comments. It would all be for not without you.
Thanks again, Stanley, for showcasing Red Moon.
Copyright © 2010, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.
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Daniel Brenton is the creator/author of the 5 Second Novel series, co-author of the space race thriller Red Moon (with David S. Michaels), and is the author of the satirical column The Round Files, published in Stuart Miller's short-lived Alien Worlds Magazine.
Despite being a writer, Daniel has no cats at this time, is unwilling to become an alcoholic, and has a very difficult time keeping a straight face while writing about himself in third person.