Author: Greg Hickey
In 2153, cancer was cured. In 2189, AIDS. And in 2235, the last members of the human race traveled to a far distant planet called Pearl to begin the next chapter of humanity.
Several hundred years after their arrival, the remainder of humans live in a utopian colony in which every need is satisfied automatically, and there is no need for human labor, struggle or thought. But when the machines that regulate the colony begin to malfunction, the colonists are faced with a test for the first time in their existence.
With the lives of the colonists at stake, it is left to a young man named Samuel to repair these breakdowns and save the colony. Aided by his friend Penny, Samuel rises to meet each challenge. But he soon discovers a mysterious group of people behind each of these problems, and he must somehow find and defeat these saboteurs in order to rescue his colony.
About the Author
Greg Hickey was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1985. After graduating from Pomona College in 2008, he played and coached baseball in Sweden and South Africa. He is now a forensic scientist, endurance athlete and award-winning writer. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Lindsay.
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1. Tell us a little about yourself and your latest/upcoming release.
I am a forensic scientist by day for the Illinois State Police, specializing in forensic firearms and toolmarks analysis. Basically, I examine evidence from gun-related crimes in and around Chicago and attempt to determine whether or not a particular bullet or cartridge case was fired by a particular firearm. It's a bit like the television show CSI, except that I don't go to crime scenes, drive a Hummer, wear sunglasses all the time or solve crimes with my iPhone. I wrote most of Our Dried Voices while playing and coaching baseball in Sweden and South Africa after I graduated from college in 2008.
2. When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer? What was the very first thing you ever wrote?
When I was in seventh or eighth grade I wrote a short story for English class about a group of cruise ship passengers who get marooned on a deserted island and meet with grisly deaths. I had dreams of expanding it into a novel over the summer, but that never came to fruition.
3. What is your favorite book of all time that you can reread a hundred times, and it still feels like the first time?
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
4. How did you come up with the idea of Our Dried Voices?
The colonists in Our Dried Voices are inspired by the Eloi in H.G. Wells' novel, The Time Machine. In his novel, humanity diverges into two distinct species, one of which is the Eloi, who are frail and unintelligent, and live a mostly blissful life without any need for physical or mental exertion. The question raised in Wells’ novel and Our Dried Voices is how humanity evolved to this state. He solves the problem with an opposing species, the Morlocks, which balance out the existence of the Eloi. Our Dried Voices explores humanity’s seemingly paradoxical quest to devote so much intellect to developing technologies to eliminate the need for said intellect.
5. How many times were you turned down form a book offer before you finally got published?
Probably 20-30 times. I was about two weeks away from starting the self-publishing process when I received an offer from Scribe Publishing Company.
6. Describe your main character in six words.
Curious, intrepid, open-minded, empathetic, independent, lonely
7. Describe the world you’ve created in six words.
Idyllic, automated, worry-free, zoo, anesthetizing, façade
8. How did you come up with your character’s name?
Samuel comes from the Biblical character who is awakened in the middle of the night by a voice calling his name. The Biblical Samuel eventually realizes the voice is that of God, and he proclaims himself God's servant. Likewise, in Our Dried Voices, Samuel is called forth from the colonists by challenges and clues originating from an unknown (albeit secular) source. Incidentally, the names of the other characters all have significance as well, but I will leave their meanings for my readers to discover.
9. What scene was your favorite to write?
There are two: the sub-story in Chapter XIII and the speech in Chapter XXIV. The sub-story is important because it explains how the colonists retain any vestige of language despite many years without mindful communication, but I also wanted the content of the sub-story as literature to reflect the world of Our Dried Voices. It’s intended to be a direct parallel to another very famous story, so there was a lot of work and enjoyment put into adapting that story to fit my needs. The speech is just a big dramatic moment that reveals the hidden workings behind the Pearl colony and the mechanical breakdowns. I remember writing it in my head while running through the suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa, where I was living at the time. I ran for over an hour, and when I came back, I probably had half the scene in my head ready to type up.
10. Can you share a teaser of Our Dried Voices with our readers?
From Chapter XXXIII:
The afternoon wore on. Fatigue set in. Samuel pressed on, forgetting everything he had left behind him, his mind occupied only by a concerted resolve to ignore all thoughts of his painfully freezing body and focus on the sight of the ever-approaching mountains ahead. His stomach began to growl insistently. He thought about eating some of the meal cake, but he could not bring himself to expose his hands to the elements in order to raise the food to his mouth. Soon the old feeling of nausea returned and replaced the hunger in his stomach, though there were no colonists around this time to cause it. He shivered violently. The sun continued its descent in the sky and the faint glow behind the clouds settled over the mountains. The temperature continued to drop. In a few hours it would be night, and Samuel knew he must make the mountains soon after sunset, as he would not long survive the even more frigid chill of the darkness.
To his mind, his pace had not lessened, his direction remained true. But his footprints in the snow behind him told a different story. They had begun to waver of late, to veer haphazardly from side to side, and the space between each footfall grew less and less as he stumbled on. When the sun neared the horizon, the mountains ahead of him grew blurry to his sight as the lightness in the sky spread around the snow-capped peaks and lent them a faint aura of gold. The sun set abruptly, touching the mountains and dipping behind them in a matter of minutes, and the sky turned at once from gray to black. Within a few moments of darkness, Samuel could barely keep his eyes open. His footsteps became shorter and more unsteady. His hands were frozen into fists inside the sopping blankets and they trembled uncontrollably. And always, all around him, there was the cold, borne on the hard and frigid wind, rising out of the snow drifts as each step carried his foot deep into the icy crystalline powder, pressing down from the darkness of the sky as his frozen blankets bound him in an icy embrace.
He walked on, forced himself to put one foot in front of the other in a constant willing of motion, a painfully conscious signal passing over and over again from brain to nerve to leg. Each step was heavier and more sluggish than the previous. A cloud of warmth rose from his still-queasy stomach and spread into his chest and face. His head dragged with exhaustion and his eyes blurred. The snow at his feet appeared soft and inviting. He imagined falling asleep next to Penny curled up in a bed of clean, white, downy snow. He felt his body grow warmer, like feeling of the first rays of sun prickling his skin on a cool morning, except now the soft heat spread outward from deep inside of him with a tingling, numbing sensation. He wanted so badly to go to sleep, to slip into peaceful oblivion. But a whispered, insistent voice in the back of his mind kept reminding him there was something urgent he must do... if he could only remember what that was.
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