Voight-Kampff Author Interview: Joseph A. Turkot
Time for yet another installment of the Voight-Kampff questions, part of the scheduled blog posts for WHAT TOMORROW MAY BRING! The featured author today is Joseph A. Turkot. (To read his interview on his own blog and to learn more about him and his writing, click here.)
Author of six novels and many short stories, Joseph Turkot grew up and lives in New Jersey. He began writing and drawing at a young age. As a kid, he dreamed that he was A) Luke Skywalker, B) A hobbit, or C) Goku/Bruce Lee, depending upon what day it was. Today, he has crafted his own worlds, filled them with characters, and painted their stories. He writes in a variety of genres that include: realistic fiction, science fiction, dystopian, horror, and fantasy. Subscribe to the mailing list, found on his website, for notification of new releases.
* HAVE YOU WRITTEN IN ANY OTHER GENRES BESIDES YA DYSTOPIAN? WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS GENRE?
I started in fantasy, rather epic, Shakespearean fantasy: Darkin. The sequel, Darkin 2, was toned down (as far as its Shakespearean-sounding language), but still retained some of it. It definitely became more readable. After the second book, I moved into horror for a brief spell, writing a couple short stories. From there, I jumped again, publishing a serial novel called Black Hull. This was a fun ride through time and space for me, and a chance to work on terse language. Something I wanted to get good at. Some say I did this too well, and they wanted more description. In either case, I jumped again, going into writing a YA mystery novel called Neighborhood Watch about a serial murderer. This was a blast to write. I felt like I was reliving parts of my own childhood because the setting was so similar. And then, yes, finally, I arrived at the post-apocalyptic, or dystopian world of The Rain. I’ve always been attracted to dystopian literature, maybe because I see so much of the real world in there. It’s not all far-fetched and impossible to me. Okay, maybe The Rain is. But some of the stuff, like 1984, or Oryx and Crake, seem pretty possible. And so I see the cautionary tale thing writ in all its glory within the framework of those stories. And although the setting in The Rain is maybe not as believable in my story, it still provides a place for the characters to think about some aspects of humanity that might otherwise be overlooked or seen as ordinary. I’m all about examining beliefs with an open, malleable mind.
* DO YOU HAVE AN INTOXICANT OF PREFERENCE FOR THOSE TIMES WHEN YOU ARE WRITING?
It used to be coffee. And it still is–kinda. I have been mixing in tea. I know, this isn’t very exciting. Sometimes I’ll have several cups of coffee in the same day. But I’m supposed to cut back, so, yeah. That’s the tea. Black, and sometimes Green. Also, running. It acts as an opiate to my mind. Really. I get a lot of thinking done during my runs.
* IF YOU GAVE ONE OF YOUR CHARACTERS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES, WHAT WOULD THEY SAY?
Get us the hell of this ice. Put us some place warm and dry. Stop having fun with us. No, in all seriousness, it depends on which story we’re talking about. If I chose Colin from Neighborhood Watch, he’d tell me it’s time to hit the streets. Pump some air into your tires, grease the chain, and ride through the fall leaves. Smell that air and see those pumpkins.
I like to incorporate wacky scientific facts into my book. Well, maybe they’re not so wacky. One of my favorites, from Black Hull, is the M-82 anomaly. That is pretty much the basis for the Utopia of that book. And as far as The Rain, it’s usually just looking up something like the way a waterspout looks, or confirming something I’ve read in the past about exposure. One area I love, but am lacking in still to this day, is seafaring terminology. I’d love to know more, and incorporate more. I didn’t know, for instance, that I couldn’t use rowing when it concerned a canoe. I honestly never knew that. He said it had to be paddling. I don’t know if I managed to go back and fix that yet. But now it’s in my head–rowing for boats, paddling for canoes. Little things build up in my brain. Most of them useless. Sometimes, crucial to the plot. I try to double-check those ones.
* WHAT BOOKS HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING?
Wow. This is like the impossible question. I mean, I’ve read a lot of books, and they all sort of blend together now. Just a big pile of plot, character, conflict, and setting, all congealing in my imagination forever. But honestly, I can think of it in time. That makes it easier for me to answer this. In the beginning, there were the Goosebumps books. This was the first series I absolutely fell in love with. Like, cherished the covers and everything. Smelled the pages. Later on, as I got older, I got into the science-fiction and fantasy stuff. You know–Lord of the Rings and all that. Still, on the side, because of high school mostly, I was exposed to Steinbeck and Orwell and Hesse and some others. Good old literary fiction. And lately, it’s all about non-fiction. This is the way it’s gone for me for the past few years. It started with The Perfect Storm and Into Thin Air, and then, I’ve been tracking down new adventure survival stories ever since. It’s no wonder my current series is a combination of a post-apocalyptic, dystopian Earth and a survival adventure.
* ANY MOVIE, ANY BOOK…WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE PROTAGONIST?
Man. Another impossible question. I mean, who has favorites anyway? Aren’t they supposed to change as we do? But, just for the heck of it, I’m going to go with Alan Grant. He was my biggest hero from about age 8 until about age 12. Seriously, who else knew that much about dinosaurs? And dinosaurs, that’s about the most important thing to know something about. So he was tops. Not to mention how he handled himself when they wanted to kill him and everyone around him. So suave. And the outfit he wore–so amazing. But again, the list of heroes would be long.
* IS THERE AN AUTHOR THAT YOU WOULD REALLY LIKE TO MEET?
There have been many. I think right now, who it would be, I have to pick Hugh Howey. He’s been a real inspiration to me, mainly from his forum posts. He’s really encouraging. The stuff he says makes you think you can do it. Anyone can do it. He’s not spewing mindless enthusiasm, it’s actually all concrete and meaningful. So yeah, I’d really like to have a cup of coffee with the guy. Talk about his days at the bookstore.
* WHAT ARE YOUR PET PEEVES?
People who are not open-minded. They have a completely closed belief system, and you can’t do a thing about it. I for one will change my mind if the evidence shows up to change my mind. I’m not going to stick to an outdated belief because it feels better, or sits right, or is more comfortable. So there you have it. I’m pretty open to anything. In fact, the principles I cherish most might be open-mindedness and willingness. When someone has the willingness to learn something new, try something new, be open to the possibility even, of some kind of change, that really turns me on. Not sexually of course, but intellectually. I am a philosophical kind of guy, deep down, but there aren’t too many people you can really talk about that kind of stuff with.
Don't forget to snag your copy of WHAT TOMORROW MAY BRING,
the YA Dystopian boxset, including Joseph's novel The Rain