Welcome everyone. Tonight, we have Darran Handshaw, who's come in from New York to visit with us.
Welcome Darran, will you get us started by telling us a little about yourself, and where you're from?
- Absolutely. I'm a new author from Long Island, New York. I write in my spare time between working full time as an R&D Engineer for an electronics company, serving as a volunteer firefighter and spending time with my wife and new son.
Congratulations on the new addition to the family. I can imagine that puts a strain on how many hours a day you have for yourself. Any tips for those trying to balance multiple long hour commitments with their writing?
- Thanks! It is an exciting time, though it is quite busy.
- My novel, The Engineer, is a long one - coming in at 229k words at the first draft. Since I knew it would be lengthy, the most important thing for me was to set aside regular writing time every week. At first it seems a bit overwhelming, but it is slow and steady wins the race, and I was able to get the first draft done early this year.
- Every Tuesday after work for me is my writing day. If I miss a day, I make it up somewhere and when I'm on a roll I squeeze in more writing periods. I'd recommend that anyone who really wants to write dedicate a time block for it, even if it seems like it might take a long time. You'll get there eventually.
I can agree with that. I'm more the every day type, but there's times when things just won't cooperate.
Mind if I ask what started you on your writer's journey?
- I've been writing on and off since I was a kid. Never finished anything though in spite of some ambitious world building and story outlines. I also played on a lot of text-based roleplay MUSHes (multi-user shared hallucinations) where the gameplay could be described as theme-driven, collaborative fiction.
- It was actually one of those games that I played on: Redemption MUSH, where the story behind The Engineer originated. The co-creator of that game is now my wife, and we went on some fantastic adventures there before starting our real life adventures together. So, it's a pretty personal story for me. One of the reasons I wanted to make sure I got this one done.
The ones with quite a bit of the author in them seem to be the ones the readers devour the most.
Do you include actual experiences from real life, or focus more on concepts that emerged from the game world?
- It's based on the true in-game story of my character, Actaeon, and the adventures he goes on in Redemption, which is a ruined, futuristic city that is now inhabited by people that had arrived there via portal several generations prior to where the story begins. When I say it that way, it might sound a bit dull, but it ended up being quite the epic adventure for him from start to finish, so I thought it fit a novel format quite well.
- Since I played those adventures, it was very nostalgic to write about those memories. I'm sure there's influence in there from the real world - especially some of the engineering mindset of Actaeon. Being an engineer myself, I have a certain way that I like to approach things and that helps me flesh out Actaeon's approach too.
::chuckles:: Makes sense. And, the concept sounds intriguing for me, at least. (Then again, I'm an old RP player too.)
Since you not only played out the concept, but you also included some of your own mindset in the story, did you hide any messages in the work for readers to find?
- Well, hello from one RPer to another!
- Messages? You mean Easter Eggs or more of a thematic message?
Either / or.
- I'm sure there are a few things in there that others who played the game, and especially my wife, will read and get - hopefully be amused by.
- As for thematic elements, I'm not one to write to a theme. In the case of The Engineer though, Actaeon's personality drives a theme pretty heavily throughout the story, and that is one of truth and transparency. In the novel there is constant conflict driven by that theme. Actaeon wants to study the ancient artifacts, figure them out, find a way to use them and share that knowledge with others. There are many other groups in Redemption that disagree for a variety of reasons and some of them will even resort to violence.
Oh, dear. Now you've got me curious. Are you at a point you can share a snippet?
- Absolutely, here is the opening scene from the book, for your enjoyment:
The Engineer eluded them for hours as he fled across the ruins, but in the end they captured him.
Surrounded, Actaeon knelt upon a large, moss-covered tile and lowered his polished recurve bow gently to the ground before him. Then he raised his hands into the air in a gesture of surrender.
"Gentlemen," he addressed them with cheerful confidence. "It appears we have had a misunderstanding."
Through the lenses of his goggles, Actaeon studied his three remaining pursuers as they closed in on him. The sunlight reflected off their clean shaven pates and their expressionless faces were each divided into four quadrants by a sharp, black cross. They wore boiled leather armor and carried blades fashioned from sharpened shards of debris. One carried a short bow. All of them ignored his friendly greeting.
"If there is something that you wish to discuss; a proposal perhaps? I would be more than willing to-"
Actaeon's words were cut off abruptly as one of the cross-faced raiders lowered his bow and kicked him in the stomach, causing him to double over onto his side. The recurve bow he had set on the ground so carefully was kicked unceremoniously aside to be collected by another raider. That same raider also took the time to work Actaeon's halberd free from the body of one of their less fortunate comrades.
"Careful with that bow, it is not designed for such abuse," Actaeon said, earning himself another kick that knocked the wind from him. He grimaced and rolled onto his back where he could gaze up at the raider who had kicked him. He was rewarded with a faceful of sunlight instead and pulled his goggles down over his eyes to block some of the rays.
Just as the Engineer had begun to catch his breath, he was hauled to his feet by the raider that had kicked him. Actaeon took the opportunity to study his captor's face for any insight. He found there only dull eyes, devoid of all emotion. Without words, the raider pointed north, where the ruins stretched out to disappear over the horizon in a turbulent mess of shattered structures and overgrown debris fields.
"You must mean to communicate your desire for me to walk in that direction," Actaeon responded, as though it were up for discussion. "You would, of course, be welcome to join me heading south towards Pyramid, that is, if you would be willing to reconsider." He was rewarded with a smack to the back of his head.
Actaeon grinned at the raider behind him, "I will take that as the implied negative that it would appear to be." He led the way along then and the three silent raiders followed him closely, letting him choose the path northward.
Ummm, why does this sound like your character's setting himself up for some sound abuse?
Wait, don't answer that - don't want you to spoil anything. ::Shakes head in amusement::
One last question for you, now that you've whet our appetites. Where can we catch up with you around social media or the blog-o-sphere if we want to stay up to date?
- Most of my updates go to my Facebook page
- I also have an Indiegogo site for anyone who wants to pre-order a copy of The Engineer
- My birdsongs are also on the internet: Twitter
The Engineer, the first novel by Darran M Handshaw, follows the adventures of Actaeon Rellios in the ruined, futuristic city of Redemption.
I will definitely have to check into these.
Any last words before we wrap up?
- Sure! Expect The Engineer out late this year. It'll be available on Amazon. It has elements of science fiction, fantasy adventure, war, romance, politics, and, of course, engineering!
Thank you for making the "long" trip over to visit. It's been fun getting to know you, and your work a bit better.
- Once again, thank you for having me.
If you enjoyed the getting to know Darran, and want to connect with him to stay up to date on his work, you can follow any of the social media links above.
Don't forget to check back. In a couple of days Darran will be returning with Actaeon so we can get to know The Engineer a little better before his debut. Until then....
Keep those pages turning.