Ryan Thomason

WPR Interview with Author Anderson O’Donnell

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After reading the synopsis and backcover, this was enough to pull me into this book enough that I had to have a quick chat with the author behind it. Kingdom looks like a refreshing change from my current book readings (I’m only a little ways into the book myself). Here is a quick synopsis before the interview to give you an idea what Kingdom is all about.

Synopsis:

In a secret laboratory hidden under the desert, a covert bioengineering project–codename “Exodus”–has discovered the gene responsible for the human soul.

Somewhere in the neon sprawl outside the nation’s collapsing economic core, a group of renegade monks are on the verge of uncovering a secret that has eluded mankind for centuries.

In a glittering tower high above the urban decay, an ascendant U.S. Senator is found dead–an apparent, yet inexplicable, suicide.

And in the streets below, a young man races through an ultra modern metropolis on the verge of a violent revolution….closing in on the terrible truth behind Exodus–and one man’s dark vision for the future of mankind.

Welcome to Tiber City.


WPR: What made you want to play with a story surrounding finding the Human Soul?

AO: My decision to explore the possibility of a gene for the human soul was sparked, initially, by my academic background: lots of Plato and Aquinas, etc. But even more importantly, I wanted to try and find a unique way to address the idea that something, right now, is very wrong: there is a post-millennial dread, a strange anxiety that seems to be suffocating society. I wanted to try and understand what’s going on, and maybe, how we can find a solution.

WPR: Are you prepared for whatever response you might get from religious/anti-religious folk because of the premise?

AO: I am. One of the points I’ve tried to drive home, both in the novel itself and through this blog tour, is that this book is not “religious.” It might wrestle with spiritual/theological ideas, but it does not advocate any one religion or god. My background is Judeo/Christian, so the language and allegories I use probably reflect that; my conception of the soul, however, is meant to be universal in the sense that, many people believe there is something out there that is greater than any one of us, be it a god, gods, an energy, a creator, a shared consciousness—whatever. I don’t address things like the afterlife, etc: my goal is to spark a conversation would what happens when we, as individuals, retreat deeper into ourselves and away from that “thing” that binds us to our fellow humans, regardless of what that “thing” is.

So I hope my vision of the soul will appeal to believers and non-believers alike, because if you believe, the story can work on a more literal level. And if you don’t believe, the soul issues still poses some compelling philosophical questions.

WPR: What books have you been reading lately?

AO: Since joining the indie community, I’ve been exposed to a ton of amazing books I otherwise might have missed. I just finished Pavarti K. Tyler’s “Shadow on the Wall,” which was particularly impressive. And in a rare non-fiction binge, I recently plowed through Hunter Thompson’s “The Great Shark Hunt”—the man is one of the most distinct narrative voices of the last century.

WPR: Most geeks can understand Cyber-Punk, but your book is being labeled Bio-Punk, is it more SCIENCE! less high tech?

AO: Its not really any more or less scientific than traditional sci-fi; the difference is that, while cyberpunk predicted that technology would threaten our shared “humanity,” biopunk argues that its biotechnology—our ability to manipulate and, ultimately, change, our genetic code—that.

What’s the world like when Senators live in gleaming towers while the rest of the place seems to be very…ungleaming?

AO: It sucks. I’m kidding—sort of. As the gap between the mega-wealthy and everyone else continues to widen, I don’t think it’s implausible to envision a world a very small amount of people have the means to thrive even as available natural resources dwindle, healthcare costs skyrocket, and employment numbers plummet.

WPR: What is the nerdiest thing you did today?

AO: Watched the first three episodes of X-Files Season 1. On my computer. Alone.

WPR: Do you have short and/or long term plans for if this series takes off?

AO: Retire and move to the Greek isles. And then, from my beautiful island compound, I’ll be expanding the series into different mediums: graphic novels, film, etc. I’d love to explore the history of Tiber City, and there are a lot of ancillary characters whose backstories are begging to be told.

I want to thank Anderson for taking the time to chat with me, don’t forget Kingdom is on sale now, you’d best check it out. I got my copy shuffled to the top of the “To Read” stack. Take a look for yourself on Amazon.

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