Today we have an interview with Samson Tonauac, author of Dreamsphere. You can find the full review of this bizarre sci fi adventure through time and space here.
You may also purchase a copy for yourself through the affiliate link here:
Questions about Writing
Is writing your full time job? Do you also consider it a passion?
Samson Tonauac: If answering emails count, then writing is definitely my full-time job. A significant portion of my life has been wasted responding to pointless emails at my 9-5 that eventually end up returning to the great abyss. Like Sisyphus rolling the rock up the hill only to watch it rollback down, emails are the bane of my existence. Answer one, receive twenty more. They are like an existential horror worse than the infamous Hydra from Greek mythology—a horror so great, that if Hercules existed today, he’d surely be found half-naked, smelling of body odor and booze, weeping, rolled up in a fetal position in some office cubicle imploring the gods for mercy. Emails are not my passion.
With that said, there are nearly 2 million self-published books being cranked out per year. Most of which also end up in the abyss never to be read. It is a tough market to break into and also why Dreamsphere: The Day We Stopped Dreaming is available online for free for anyone that wants to read. Self-publishing isn’t a moneymaker. But world-building is my passion.
Amanja: Ugh, I totally understand the drudgery of a repetitive job. I can’t do the 9-5 office thing, my face would be stuck in a permanent eye roll scowl combination from having to respond to small talk every damn time I pass the same person whose name I never bothered to learn in the hallway on the way to get unpleasant but free caffeine.
I appreciate though that you offer your book to the masses on the internet. I truly enjoyed it and think many others would really get a kick out of reading a story that’s actually different for once! Break up that monotony!
What is your schedule for writing like? How much time does it take to write say 1 chapter?
ST: No schedule. If one envisions a world, creates that world in his or her mind, characters will begin to populate that universe, and the stories will follow thereafter. World-building doesn’t necessarily happen in front of a screen. It could be in the shower or driving to work—it could be while you’re daydreaming at work—it could be when you’re changing a diaper in the morning after it has had time to marinate overnight and the scent sends neurons into a chaotic chatter dreaming up the impossible and thinking what the hell did my kid eat. Letting your mind wander and wonder is how amazing new worlds spring into existence.
How much planning goes in to writing before you actually write a sentence? Or do you just let the words flow and do heavy editing later?
ST: As noted previously, for me, it is all about world-building. The words are secondary. Depending on the complexity of the system or universe you’re creating, world-building could take anywhere from a few weeks to an entire lifetime.
How do you handle criticism or negative feedback on your writing?
ST: With the book Dreamsphere, for example, there were a number of beta-readers that read the work while in progress. Any negative criticism given was amped up and incorporated into the book. It became the book. There are too many people out there writing books to be liked, and what we get as a result is a hodgepodge of mediocre stories without much substance. There are a lot of great writers out there, but many times it is talent wasted because they are too scared to let their true voice be heard. My first copyeditor for Dreamsphere quit because it was the worst book she had ever read. Her words, not verbatim, was that it was a despicable piece of garbage that resembled nothing that she read before from a no-talent writer. She wanted nothing to do with it. What can you do but grin a little? At least I got a refund.
A: Wow! I think there’s something very impressive about causing a copyeditor to quit like that. I know that the main reason I so enjoyed your book is because it was so unlike anything I’ve seen before. I get so bored reading the same stories with the same characters over and over again if something is different I give it extra points. Even if it made me uncomfortable or disgusted.
Do you have any tips and tricks for aspiring writers?
ST: Be different. Drink lots of caffeine. Research. Substance over length. Read as much as possible.
A: I think substance over length is great advice for many areas of life…
Questions about Reading
Do you think it’s necessary for a good author to also be a prolific reader?
ST: No. But it definitely probably helps!
How do you find time to read?
ST: Many people do not actively engage in life. That is, they are passive. They watch things go by, miss opportunities, waste moments—kill time. Time is everywhere, ticking by, begging to be seized. Five minutes here, ten minutes there. Twenty minutes on the toilet, thirty minutes waiting for your significant other to get dressed, forty minutes in the doctor’s waiting room. Plenty of time to read.
A: Basically all that time most of us fill with phone scrolling.
Does reading give you inspiration for writing? If so what books have inspired you?
ST: Once in a while, a book or a series comes out that really shocks your core beliefs—that is so revolutionary and different that you’re just kind of awestruck riding cloud nine from all the endorphins released thereafter for weeks, months, or even years. Without a doubt, some of the works that have influenced me the most include: Life of the Cosmos by Lee Smolin, Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis, and any book written by Oliver Sacks.
A: Transmetropolitan was definitely one of those books for me as well. It’s Warren Ellis’ masterpiece.
Who’s an author that you think is criminally under-read?
ST: Though I don’t think it is a criminally under-read series, I barely hear anything about Transmetropolitan these days. Sure, it is now an older work—going on 20+ years. But, it is also a series that is now more relevant than ever to what is happening in America. Boundless political corruption (from both parties), increasing income inequality, descent into nepotistic popularism, throwbacks to the age of racism and ignorance … all of which threaten life as we know it.
Spider Jerusalem is the anti-hero journalist we need today. Besides, he carries a bowel disruptor that makes politicians shit their pants as they quake in fear of his presence. Add that to the balance of powers in America, and the scales start tipping back in favor of the people.
A: I read Transmetropolitan about a year into Trump’s reign and was shocked at how prescient it was. It should be mandatory reading in today’s culture. Available here (affiliate link):
What’s a book from your childhood that holds a special place in your heart?
ST: Though I now read a lot of books, I wasn’t an avid reader in my childhood. However, after high school, I stumbled upon Michio Kaku talking about String Theory on the radio. This led me down the path of actually obtaining a degree in physics and eventually onto the book, Life of the Cosmos, which is an epic non-fiction overview of cosmological natural selection. The book is a beast, as are all books by Lee Smolin. His writing style is very logical and very systematic in structure. It is perfected genius. There is probably no book that has had a greater impact on my life and my way of thinking about the universe (or multiverse if you will).
A: That sounds spectacular! I just added it to my list and if any readers are interested they can find it here through the affiliate link:
Questions about Your Book
How much of the book is ironic or satirical and how much is serious? Do you personally follow the consumerism philosophy?
ST: Hedo-consumerism is the ultimate meaning of life. People may balk at the idea, but these are usually the same people that get a new $1,000 phone every year, binge watch Netflix, chug a gallon or two of extra spicy chicken vindaloo in one sitting, power read a 1,000+ books a year, etc. We are consumers, we are the universe experiencing itself (Alan Watts), and there is nothing wrong with that. So consumption needs to stop being villainized, and instead, appreciated for what it is. We came from nothingness, and unto nothingness we will return. Better make the best of the infinitesimal sliver of consciousness in between. With that said, it is really up to the reader to decide if the work is ironic, satirical, serious, all of the above or none of the above.
A: I actually really like this idea. I’ve always found people who say otherwise to be… phony. I’ve never met a person who didn’t find the value of themselves through what they own and it seems unnatural to try.
Dreamsphere is nonlinear in its approach to story telling. How did you decide the structure of the book since it isn’t chronological?
ST: The idea behind this is to resemble life and the process of remembering. Leading up to the creation of Dreamsphere, I read nearly every book ever written by Oliver W. Sacks, a famous neurologist. Some readers may notice that this name resembles Clive W. Rossak, one of the main heroes in Dreamsphere. If you rearrange the letters in Oliver W. Sacks, you get Clive W. Rossak. Also, the whole memory thing was a play on one of Sacks’ patients named Clive Wearing, whose anterograde and retrograde amnesia is perhaps the most bone-chilling and inconceivable illnesses ever created by god … or evolution—take your pick. Watching Clive Wearing’s documentary should be a federal mandate.
You see, there are gaps in our memory. As we age, these gaps grow increasingly large, until the chasm between what we remember and what we don’t is so great, that the vast majority of our life is lost. We may have lived—lots, we just don’t remember it. We think we do, but we don’t. That is the sad reality of our feebly biological “big brains.” In addition, when we recall things, we don’t recall the memories in between the gaps in a linear fashion. The book aims to capture this surreal and disorienting effect.
Who would you consider to be the target audience of Dreamsphere?
ST: Anyone looking for something different, something unique, and something that I hope pushes all the wrong buttons. More than anything else, I wanted the book to get people thinking—to stir up debate and to challenge the norm. If people don’t have to sit back and think a bit about the contents, then I definitely haven’t done my job.
A: Well if my audience is anything like me then they should definitely check out this book, cause that describes me pretty well!
What came first for this book, the philosophy, the characters, or the storylines?
ST: The world-building came first. Walking through what the future may be like with the introduction of artificial intelligence—the singularity, and how that will change us as a society, as a species—how it will change what we consider to be meaningful. If society does not define in the present what is meaningful and what it means to be human, we could be in trouble in the not so distant future. We’re hitting a stage where we can literally alter our DNA, pick the children we want, and even modify the children we want (CRISPR). So, I ask: who, or what do we want to become? Humanity has an ugly history, and rightfully so, evolution is a harsh and unforgiving process. Life on Earth sufferred for billions of years, just to what? To get a few decades of matrimony and alimony? But our sins, per se, are our sins, not that of evolution.
Once the world was in place, the characters and the storylines followed. The philosophy of the book was what it is. Most of the book simply layed out facts and presented the ways in which various individuals interpreted those facts.
Can you tell us anything about any sequels that may come after Dreamsphere?
ST: As of right now, the title of the sequel has changed to Deathsphere and it will plunge further down the
rabbit hole shit hole glory hole of nihilism. Free will, will play a central theme in the work. Also, it is really regrettable that more books haven’t capitalized on the idea of in-book advertising. This could push down the cost for consumers and allow advertisers to market their goods. A win-win for both readers and authors. If TV can be free, and radio can be free with commercials, why can there not be free books? I’ve fond memories of my childhood flipping through bad robot comics found at sketchy flea-markets and stumbling upon advertisements of weird gadgets—shortwave radios, model cars, alien probes, Rube Goldberg like sexual devices and other unmentionables. So definitely, we’ll see more advertisements.
A: I really enjoyed the idea of advertisements and it must be coming soon in the future in our reality.
Questions about You/ Just for Fun
What is something mundane that doesn’t seem to bother most people but drives you absolutely insane?
ST: Not much bothers me. Relax, things will work themselves out. People are all different, and that in itself is something to be celebrated.
What’s the best trip you’ve ever taken?
ST: Mongolia. It is the most disorienting and surreal place that I know of. No one speaks English, Soviet-era architecture dominates the city landscape, all of which is overshadowed by a frozen desert, and it is sometimes colder there than in Antarctica. Getting a shower can be quite a frigid and exhilarating experience, even in upscale hotels. Is a sheep head the main course or dessert? Doesn’t matter. It can all be downed with a bit of fermented horse milk or vodka, and trust me, you’re going to need the vodka to get the sheep head down without it coming back up.
A: You had me at frozen desert.
What’s your favorite present you’ve ever received?
ST: Someone gifted me once the book The Meaning of it Allby the famous physicist Richard Feynman. It was a good book—and it sure as hell beats all the ties I’ve accumulated over the years.
If a stranger wanted to win you over, how would they start the conversation?
ST: Something deep. Whether that is intellectual or unique or simply belief challenging, it doesn’t matter. Anything that gets me thinking is a good way to start a conversation. Though I have to admit, I’m a terrible conversationalist as I often have to sit back and think about an idea for a while in order to really come up with anything meaningful to say.
What’s something you would scream at your younger self until you were sure they heard you?
ST: Write more. Read more. Looking back, not having read more when I was younger seems like such a wasted opportunity. That is something I regret.
Where Can People Find You?
Dreamsphere can be downloaded for free at https://www.endev42.com/dreamsphere and people can follow me at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19599450.Samson_Tonauac
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
ST: To answer this question, to be honest, I read the other author interviews on your website. I was a shocked that Patrick Canning recommended not mixing peanut butter with white rice. With a little ingenuity, you can make Thai Peanut Sauce with peanut butter and come up with some really great rice-based dishes. It would be great to see other authors continue this discussion on your website in the future.
With that said, I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read Dreamsphere and giving me the opportunity to answer the questions on your website.
A: Actually I make a really delicious peanut sauce using peanut butter, soy sauce, coconut milk, maple syrup, and red pepper flakes. So I agree, share your peanut rice recipes below!