Welcome to Cool SciFi's 10 Questions With...! In the days ahead we will be sitting down and talking with people from the sci-fi & fantasy genres to bring exclusively to you, our community members, some insight into the people behind the works that we all enjoy. If you have suggestion for future articles then let us know!
For our first edition we are very happy to sit down with James Fink, author of the new novel Robot Soul.
James is a Finance Manager who originally wanted to apply his sense of humor to television comedy but, thankfully for literary fans, he decided to take a different journey by writing a science fiction novel instead. James' writing started during his travel time on the commuter train as part of his daily transit. Motivated by the idea that someday he might be sitting on that same train next to a person reading a James Fink he was determined to put down on paper his ideas.
Cool SciFi's 10 Questions With... James Fink, author of Robot Soul
Q1: James, thank you for joining Cool SciFi today. The title Robot Soul sounds intriguing; what is it about?
A: It is the year 2015, and household robots are as common as electrical appliances. The town will be shaken by an unforeseen incident, where one of the household robots commits a murderous act.
Q2: Where did the world portrayed in Robot Soul come from?
A: The idea came after my daughter had bronchitis. The doctor was hesitating between a virus or just plain asthma. So he gave her a couple of pumps to help her breath properly. I guess it was bronchitis since she never used the pumps again. Then 1 week later my son couldn’t breathe properly to the point where he was hospitalized for 1 week. Again, the doctors were not sure (and never really knew) if it was an asthma attack or a virus. His pumps are also collecting dust in the medicine cabinet. Then people started to tell me their stories about their kids having asthma. It seemed that every kid in the neighborhood had a pump. I began to think about our future society. You see a lot of post nuclear stories in the scifi world but I thought that our society was slowly polluting itself into that kind of world rather than having just one bomb do the work.
Q3: What can you tell us about the world in which your characters live?
A: I thought about the big cities being so over polluted that everyone was moving into the suburbs including the industrial world. I thought about this small and beautiful city full of life in the outskirts of Chicago being rundown by the former residents of the big city. My wife said it would be ironic if you called the city, with barely any sunshine nor vegetation, Greenview. I wrote about 200 pages on this society.
Q4: James, this is your first novel and you come from an accounting background. How did a first time writer with no experience get his first novel published?
A: After I finished the 200 pages, I wasn’t sure what to do. I had a few friends read it and obviously they loved it. I started searching the Internet and found this website (www.guru.com). On this site, I could post my project to see the response I could get by the writing industry. The response was amazing. I got around 30 quotes in an hour. That’s where my publisher the Empty canoe was chosen (www.emptycanoe.com).
Q5: The shock & excitement of finding a publisher must have been incredible. How did you go from having a 200 page rough draft to a finished proof?
A: Since it was my first attempt at a novel, I thought I would need a ghostwriter to complete the project (which The Empty Canoe could do) but instead I found a great teacher. Mike Canu , the publisher, reviewed my first draft, provided a detailed critique and advised me that I should write the novel on my own, rather than have it ghostwritten. With the publisher's guidance and suggestions, my draft doubled to the existing novel.
Q6: Where did the inspiration come from to writing your first novel?
A: I found my inspiration on the commuter train. My ride from my house to work is about 30-35 minutes. I would show up twenty minutes before the train left and start writing on my laptop. My goal was about 3 pages a day and I could easily do that on the train. I watched the people around me and they became the physical traits of my characters. For the emotional state, I would imagine how the people around would interact if we lived in Greenview.
Q7: Obviously you're a fan of the genre. Who has inspired you?
A: The creator of the X-files (Chris Carter) and other authors such as, John Irving and Stephen King.
Q8: Where can we find Robot Soul?
A: It has just been released recently on the internet (Amazon and Barnes & Noble). You can take a glimpse of it on www.robotsoulthebook.com.
Q9: What advice do you give for other aspiring writers?
A: My advice is, if you have a good idea, start by writing from the beginning to end, and if you are not finished writing, don't go back to the beginning because you will never finish. If you have a dream, go for it!
Q10: Going back to the origins of Robot Soul, how are your kids doing?
A: My daughter is fine today but, after his sickness, my son started to show signs of autism. I’m not sure if the sickness was responsible but I’m sure the environment had something to do with it.
James, thank you for time and spending a few minutes with us today. We wish you the best of luck with Robot Soul and look forward to your future works.
James is an avid fan of the genre and, we are happy to say, is a member of the Cool SciFi community as well. Please be sure to check out Robot Soul and let James know what you think!
You may contact James at his web site (http://www.RobotSoulTheBook.com), on Cool SciFi (jamfink), or by email (email@example.com ).
UPDATE 2020-08-20: Robot Soul is available on Amazon.