Interview with Kerry Downing, Author of Time Slice
Kerry Downing set out to become a meteorologist but was hooked by the world of computers instead, becoming a systems analyst and programmer. Astronomy and science fiction are his true passions and he’s been gazing at the stars during all hours of the night since the age of 10 when he received his first telescope.
An avid science-fiction reader, Arthur C. Clarke and his brand of “it really seems as if it could happen” literature has always been his favorite.
In the 90s, Kerry found the third love of his life: his wife, Lucy. They live in St. Louis, Missouri, with their five children.
This is Kerry’s second science-fiction novel. You can find him on the Web at http://www.kerrydowning.com/, or follow him on twitter via @KGDWrites.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Florissant, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. It was a good place to grow up, and I had what I would call a fairly normal childhood. You know, the usual stuff. Good friends to play with, hated going to school everyday, got bullied a few times. Good old Americana.
My dad bought me my first telescope when I was 10 years old and got me hooked on astronomy. I’ve always like reading and kind of naturally gravitated towards science-fiction, although I’ll read just about any genre of book, or at least try it once. When did you begin writing?
I’ve been a writer of one sort or another for as long as I can remember. My first recognition came in high school when I won a short story contest, and a day off from school! Now that’s a prize that money just can’t buy.
I started my first actual novel back in the late 90s. It all began because my wife expressed an interest in trying to write, but she couldn’t come up with any ideas she thought were good enough or had enough meat on their bones. While we were talking about it, I started telling her about an idea I had, thinking that might spark something in her. After an hour or so of me going on and on about my idea, she suggested that maybe I should be the one to write a book.
I really had no idea whether or not I could do it, but after three months of work the first draft was completed.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
When I am actively in the midst of working on a project, I like to write first thing in the morning. I normally won’t even sit down and start unless I have at least two hours to devote. I’ve found that if I wait until later in the day I’m just too mentally tired to be creative.
The only exception would be if I’m just trying to make a few tweaks to something I’ve already completed. That I can do in snippets as time permits.
What is this book about?
Time Slice is a story about normal people placed into extraordinary circumstances. While a science-fiction/fantasy novel (as my sister told me, it must be science-fiction because it has an alien in it!), it’s also a story about the ups and downs of family life, and the connection between husband and wife. As I like to say, it’s science-fiction with heart.
Here’s some details!
Even though Roy Washburn has only been retired a few months, he’s already bored. When he finds a small metal cylinder with odd markings on an all-too-routine trip to the mall with his wife, he can’t help but investigate.
With just a nudge of the cylinder’s triangle shaped pointer, Roy finds he can float back and forth in the time stream and learns that countless civilizations inhabit “his” Earth, each occupying their own thin slice of time. During his travels, Roy encounters a tall, gangly creature, the Traveler, who knows more than a little about the cylinder and who needs Roy’s help.
Roy’s clandestine experiments with the cylinder continue even after learning that his wife is terminally ill. Roy’s daughter sees this inattentiveness to her mother as just another in a long line of black marks against dear old Dad, and further proof that he hasn’t changed over the years. The chasm between father and daughter widens.
Faced with his wife’s sickness, a daughter who resents him, and an alien who needs his help, Roy must decide whether to use the cylinder to satisfy his own wants or to help those closest to him through their crises. Much to his surprise, the goals are not mutually exclusive.
What inspired you to write it?
I was inspired by a concept I heard about while listening to a course on Time and Space. Yes, I’m that big of a geek. I spend my time in the car driving to/from work listening to CDs about the Theory of Relativity and the like. But I digress …
The idea is called Gravitational Time Dilation. It states that the time a person experiences varies based on the gravitational field they are in. A person flying in an airplane, for example, is in a slightly lower gravitational field than someone standing on earth, so the passage of time they experience is slightly (very slightly) different than that experienced by their earth-bound brother.
So, being a writer, I took that little kernel of information and wondered if maybe there are other civilizations that inhabit these other time frames. We all share the same earth, just at slightly different times.
The characters and storyline all stemmed from that one idea.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Time Slice is available in Kindle ($4.95) and paperback editions on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, and Amazon Japan.
Other electronic versions are offered on Smashwords, BN.com, Google Ebooks or at any of the major online ebook stores.
I’m currently working on getting bookstores such as Barnes and Noble to carry Time Slice, but no luck quite yet.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
My one piece of advice would be to write for only one reason: because you love it. Don’t write to become rich or famous. It’s not likely that either of those things will happen. If that’s your motivation, I wish you well but the chances are overwhelming that your quest will end in frustration.
If you write simply for the joy of writing, there’s no way you can fail. When your family reads and appreciates what you’ve done you’ll light up like a Christmas tree. If you happen to get published, when you have your first sale you’ll light up like Las Vegas.
Best of all, even if nobody ever reads it but you, it will still be worth it because you did something you loved to do. What better way to spend your time can there possibly be?
What is up next for you?
Immediately next for me is continuing to try and get the word out about Time Slice. If you, dear reader, feel so inclined to help me do that, please feel free!
As far as writing goes, I think there’s probably a sequel to Time Slice in the offing. There might also be a prequel to my first novel, The Collective.
I’m also exploring the idea of publishing a collection of my short stories.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Just one other note about Time Slice. Some reviews have indicated that it’s a novel about “Time Travel”. That isn’t quite accurate. In fact, it’s not accurate at all.
To me, a novel about time travel involves either going back or forward in time to a past/future era. Time Slice puts forth the idea that there are countless civilizations in the time stream, each separated by only a few milliseconds. All of these civilizations are sharing the same home (“our” Earth) but we don’t know of each others existence because each one is trapped in their own slice of the time stream (hence the name, Time Slice!).
If only there was a device that would let us slip backwards and forwards in the time stream to see these other civilizations … if only …