Interview with Philip Nolen, Author of Quantum Surge

05 Jan 2021

What can you tell us about your new release, Quantum Surge?

Quantum Surge is the first book of the ‘Jankin Decatur’ series, there is a short prequel to it ‘Quantum Zero’ that introduces the reader to the universe of Decatur. Inspiration came from reading some research papers on quantum entanglement, gravity, and thinking about the ‘barrier’ of lightspeed travel. What struck me was the similarity between today’s science and that of the fourteenth century where travel across vast, empty stretches of ocean seemed as impossible as does our vision for travel across the abyss of space to distant stars. My desire was to present a unique and plausible solution to interstellar travel in our universe.

The story form emulates the classics of the ‘Aubrey–Maturin’ series of Patrick O’Brian set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars but the focus of ‘Quantum Surge’ not on science but rather the adventure of living on a colonial world where the people are outgrowing the need for a motherland and develop the thirst for freedom.

The story-line of present and upcoming novels draw inspiration from the lives and adventures of the inhabitants of America during the revolution and war of 1812.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I am the author of many technical papers as well as business, and grant proposals over past decades. I enjoy speculation on science and the writing of it. I met Isaac Asimov twice and even shared dinner with him once at a conference and after entering semi-retirement a few years ago, my wife suggested that I redirect my love of reading Sci-Fi to writing my own fictional novels.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

  • “Six Frigates” – Ian Toll
  • “Ringworld” – Larry Niven
  • “Ranks of Bronze” – David Drake
  • “Starship Troopers” – Robert A. Heinlein
  • “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” – Jules Verne (Original full version)

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

Isaac Asimov – “In what ways has your work and writings as a scientist influenced your writing of Science Fiction?”

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

First editing of the first completed draft is a fascinating time. At this point I’ve set the novel aside for a week or two and taken time just think about it as I start other projects. It is then, when I begin reading, the story and characters come alive. There are parts I’d forgotten in the grind of churning out a first draft. I may wonder why a character says something or perhaps why they didn’t take another path in the story. It’s like taking the rough carving of a statue and finishing the details, maybe even restructuring its appearance and final form and then fine-polishing the tale to bring it to life. My objective in writing is to make sure the final story is exciting and draws the reader into a new and wonderful world of danger and beauty. To make that happen, the author must make the tale believable.

What is a typical day like for you?

I like to work early, starting every morning before sunrise and work without interruption for a minimum of three hours. My afternoons turn to novel marketing, technical work, or outside activities unless the story refuses to release my spirit. The great author Jerry Pournelle once said he worked in this manner and I have my own ‘Chaos Manor’ in which I pursue my own dreams.

What scene from Quantum Surge was your favorite to write?

“Humphrey’s Folly”, the final chapter of the novel. This chapter was added after my second revision of the work and came from a desire to give the reader a grander view of the universe and beautiful homeworld of Jankin Decatur as I saw it evolving in my mind. This chapter is an insight into the true beliefs of the characters as their lives are changed by their exposure to the challenge, carrying them with it to fates unknown. In it they take action to meet the coming challenges beneath the curse of individuals bound to lead very interesting lives.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Follow your dreams, you never know where they will take you and will never regret the action as long as your soul remains agile and open to reality.

Philip Nolen is the author of the new book Quantum Surge.

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