Interview with W. Lawrence Nash

Why did you write your book, Dot Matrix Apocalypse? I liked the love interest that runs throughout but the real science and the overall concept is, well, frightening. What made you write it?
"I couldn't refuse it. It was roiling in me and the story spun its way out. I felt so strongly about the dangers and calamity that I saw unfolding every day that I could not address them just as observations or ruminations. That was too passive.
I also could not help but see the impact on the average person, on a young couple full of hope for their future for example. Despite the mess the world is in, at heart I am a romantic. I believe that young love will triumph but it is not easy and maybe it won't, can't, triumph in these circumstances. My book is a love story. It is a tough time to be in love.
The energy to write was provided in late 2014, in November. I began to see in the media and to read in journals, articles that at first appeared to be unrelated, but in fact were strongly related. No one else was commenting on them or tying the things together because they seemed to be disjointed and diverse and coming from very different cultures; Russia, China, Germany, the US, all unique in culture and interests or so it seemed. China printed some houses, yes, 3D printed houses. The United States put online for the world to see, the full genomic sequence of over 3000 viruses and at about the same time announced that they had made real viruses from scratch. The next month, a different laboratory made the Spanish flu virus that killed 100 million people in 1918, but they made it stronger and more transmissable. Local and state laws began mandating vaccinations to the degree that uncooperative children would be denied entry to school if they did not vaccinate. These items added up to a very clear picture. That is my book. It is set in Moscow, Vancouver, Mumbai, Shanghai, London and many places of intrigue. The spy culture of the cold war is certainly alive and well and we see it strong in the pages of Dot Matrix Apocalypse. There is fantastic technology in use. This technology is not fantasy or the future. It is used today and it surrounds us. Remote mind manipulation, remote suppression of ethical considerations, dust sized spy machines, they exist. Every day the evening news corroborates my vision of where the spiral is taking us. This is a book that no-one else has written. It is not about ISIS. There is not one zombie or monster, or amazon woman, well maybe one, nor are there spooky anecdotes of mysterious things seen in the sky. Hm. That's an idea isn't it. Zombie vampire aliens escaping their exploding star and landing on earth as a virus against which we need mandatory vaccination. Next book."
What is your writing process?
"I form a complete idea from start to finish in my mind before I start on a page. Every character, every characteristic, every plot angle, every moral message. Must have a moral message.
I spend more time researching than writing. If I describe a west wind blowing off the water, I research that city to make sure that yes, that hotel faces west, yes the temperature of the water and air in September are such and such and the sun sets at such and such time at that latitude and yes that date is a local holiday and so on. I then speed type it to get it out as fast as I can which in my case is slow. I really like being a slow typist. The characters grow and flesh out from the time it takes to set them down, the scenes elaborate in my mind as the letters form words and the whole thing grows. My main worry is that I might never finish a book because I love the writing so much. It is also a danger to rewrite everything to make it better because your gut expressions are usually the best ones even in simplistic tones.
I don't get tired from doing it. I will work ten hours standing at the keyboard and then remind myself that I have not eaten. Healthy, huh?"
You are selling your books for reading on electronic media readers of some type. Do you use social media on a day to day basis to contact friends or promote your book or to see what your friends and acquaintances are up to?
" Well, no. It makes sense in terms of publicizing my book and to tell the world about me and what I am doing, but no. My only concession to electronic contact is an emergency breakdown cell phone which stays in my car's glove box. That reminds me. It is uncharged in my kitchen drawer. Better get it back into my car.
But no. I don't. I looked up a list of the possible social media outlets the other day and I had heard of two of them. I have used Facebook a few times to gripe at somebody but that is my total experience. I think he is still my friend. Also, I learned recently that a hashtag is not something that you eat.
I promised myself that I would master all the intracacies ot these things and immerse myself in them so I guess this is it. It has the feeling of being in the tumbril to the guillotine. The end of the unwired self. The EMW poisoning scares the hell out of me. Glioma here I come. I mean, I do recognize Twitter. It is the age of Donald Trump after all. The list I have of social media outlets has things called Xing, Sonico, Sky Rock, MySpace, LinkedIn, Bebo, Habbo, Friendster. Sounds like a list of Hobbits. Anyway, I should pay a couple of highschool kids to get me going. I stopped counting at three hundred requests on my email for Meetups, Linkedin, Shtyle, Facebook and some others, so maybe I will answer them. I think I will go buy some tin foil."
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
"I have seen many answers to this question and mine is not one of them. I hate to go to bed. I detest sleeping. It means hours and hours of time lost that you could have experienced something and did not. I am always fired up to fill my day with as much as I can create and study and enjoy and then there is love. The love story is most important to how I feel about this book. I have planted a kiss, sung a song and walked and inhaled the sea as much as anyone. Those things run me along a million strings of thought that are spread in a million directions. It lays them all out in the hand of my mind and offers them for me to pull them in and gather up whatever is attached there. It is like sitting beside a fast flowing stream of all things and all you need to do is reach in and take from the endless current going by and going by. How could you not want that every day. Every day I can hardly wait."
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
"Yes I do. In fact I just found most of the typwritten pages of the first story in a packed box labeled "kid stuff" which I had put away years ago. There are about twenty wrinkled unnumbered pages that I had typed on my old Corona typewriter. A mechanical one, not electric. It was my mother's and she pecked out poems on it every day for most of her 92 years. She saved some money and got an electric one but she hated the lack of physical contact on the roller and the sound was different and she went back to the mechanical one.
My first effort is a fantasy short story for children which I really enjoyed reading again when I read it the other day. It was quite well done. The little girl heroine and the the little boy quasi villain are really good characters. I will polish it up and publish it in an unbusy time. It is unlike anything that I have seen so maybe it will be intereresting for some young readers or for parents to read to the little ones. Do they still do that? I hope so. I also found twenty or so of my poems in that box, so they too might show up inside some dialogue somewhere. Poems on their own don't get much attention."
Who are your favorite authors?
"Hm. I read just about anything and I have never found any book that did not have something in it that could stimulate me. As a boy my house was filled with books. My father was a plasterer and an opera singer and my mother kept house and wrote a million poems. They had no schooling but they were educated. The first books that I read as a tyke were by Jack London. I read quite well before starting school as a result. I have no favorite author, but I find myself returning to Dickens and to Rafael Sabatini often, so maybe they are my favorites. Sabatini wrote a book called Scaramouche, whose first line I never forget. "He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." That says a lot about Dot Matrix Apocalypse. I also re-read James Clavell because he had a way with the immediacy of certain things. Trevenyan too. That of course is in fiction but I have read and re-read all of William Manchester and Elizabeth Longford on Wellington. Margaret Atwood. Very strange mind. Richard Gwyn. Can't forget Robert Massey and his book "Dreadnaught". Ask me next year and I think that the list will be different."
How do you approach cover design?
"That is a conflicted thing with me. After all the hard work of the writing I am torn between a cover that reflects the contents of the book and one that will sell despite the fact that it is almost extraneous to the material contained there.
For example, a book on bicycle repair showing a sprocket and a flat tire won't necessarily sell. Put a short shorts lady sitting on that same flat tired bike clutching a socket wrench to her cleave and see what the difference is. My current book cover is about what is in my book, whereas my website has a nice big eyed girl. I like those. I will see what a few months brings and then come back to it. We will see. I suppose long legs never hurt anybody."
Describe your desk
"My desk. Well. I don't have a desk. This may seem odd for an author but it is so. I have converted an old roll top electric organ into what passes for a desk. I love it because I can roll down the top and things are covered. I know what evil lurks under there of course, but for five minutes it looks civilized. I have built in an adjustable column for my monitor and keyboard so that I rarely sit when I work. Standing to work is a healthy approach and in fact, I am much more creative when I work standing up. Also, my butter tart diet needs some compensation. Seriously, I can't clutter the desk which keeps my thinking more immediate. There is no place to stash something that you try to put off doing, so I do it and it is done. I still need to add a bar glass holder on the outside of the right side of the cabinet someplace. It helps me think. Yes.
I face west and I leave my doors and windows open to let in the light and to hear the traffic and the kids bantering on the way home from school. The clamour of the day is real music to me. Different music from the Elgar or whatever I usually have playing, but music all the same and maybe better."
What are your five favorite books, and why?
"DreadNaught by Robert Massey. Whirlwind by James Clavell. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Moses and Monotheism by Sigmund Freud. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Jaynes. Why? On reflection they carry a pleasantness with them that goes beyond the logic or content of their script. I am not speaking about the validity of their theories or the wonder of their times. They are part of their time with me and who I was then when I read them. Those are the first five books that come to mind but they might not really be favorite. I guess I am deflecting the question. Ask me again next week and they will be different. I have changed every year of my life and what was good then is not good now and what I need now did not exist then and also I do not care for trivial books the way I once did. If you asked me which are my least favorite books that is another matter and Don Quixote is first in that list. That wasn't what you asked me was it?"
What are you working on next?
"I am writing the sequel to Dot Matrix Apocalypse. The fantastic technology described and used in Dot Matrix Apocalypse is real technology. Most of us don't have any idea of it. It is as if the world has become a fancy car that moves so fast that you can't really see the scenery anymore. Where was I and what just happened? Don't know. We were going too fast. When reading Dot Matrix Apopcalypse it might appear to the reader that I had taken from news items and written about them. Actually I had anticipated events before they were news items. I predicted them. In Dot Matrix I write of federal data control centers in 2018. Today in the European news, the European Union wrote draft legislation proposing licenses for internet use.
My sequel is called 'The Boys Are Coming'. Events portrayed in it will happen within this decade and The Boys Are Coming tells the tale. Get ready for a hell of a ride because it is accelerating us into a future that five years ago none of us could believe. Nothing will be left untouched. Birds will still twitter in the hedgerow but there will be fewer of us to hear them."
Published 2016-06-05.
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