D. A. Blankinship

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The Scoloderus Conspiracy Interview

scoloderus conspiracyEllen M. George is an Amazon Top-500 reviewer. She conducted this interview with D. A. Blankinship to learn more about the Scoloderus Conspiracy and to explore the craft of writing. NOTE: This interview is a condensed version of the interview appearing on Author's Den.

Why did you write this book?

I wanted to tell a story about big government and power, conflicts and conspiracies, and a very bright university professor who is swept-up in all the scheming and intrigue. It is fascinating to explore what happens when almost everyone is deceiving everyone else. The tension rises continually and no one knows what will happen next.

Who is your intended audience, who would enjoy this book?

This story is for people of all ages. As a writer, I do not rely on cursing or graphic sex or violence to prop up a weak or dull story. A brilliant writing instructor once wrote that if you must make a word bold to make the reader notice it, then you have not expressed the thought clearly. I am an advocate of writing clearly and forcefully enough with ‘G’ level language that the dialog carries the impact.

Scoloderus will entertain a junior high student, a college student, a day laborer, a physicist, or someone who speaks English as a second language. It can be done. Young adults appreciate this story and Teens Read, Too has recommended the book. Anyone who has served in the military, worked for the government, taught at a school, worked in a hospital, or has endured working in a bureaucracy will enjoy this book. Anyone who likes to discover plots within plots and turn each page wondering what is going to happen next will love this book.

Why did you call it The Scoloderus Conspiracy?

"Scoloderus" is the Latin name for the Orb Weaver spider. These spiders are so clever. They build specialized webs to catch the bugs other spiders can’t get. An alternate title could be, “With the Right Web You Can Trap Anything.”

What is the story about?

Three hundred years in our future, the United Americas Trade Federation controls the known world. The Libre Voyageurs are a small nomadic group of rebels who have desperately struggled against this super-government for decades. The Voyageurs have a spy working at a UATF military research facility. Their spy tells them how to get the information to assemble a weapon that will defeat the UATF. The Voyageurs are convinced that getting this weapon is worth any risk. They send in an espionage team to abduct the Army Colonel who was the leader of the project and using his own daughter, they begin a charade to trick him into revealing the secrets of Scoloderus. This Colonel is the son-in-law of the UATF’s top leader, Chief Delegate Kara Nevin. Meanwhile, a disillusioned university professor resigns his post and the Chief Delegate recruits him to join the military team that is working to find her son-in-law and get revenge against the Voyageurs. Scoloderus is a story about many very clever people trying to outsmart and out-maneuver each other and avert disaster.

Would you like the book made into a movie or mini-series?

No. Books are profoundly personal experiences. A well-written story invites the reader to co-construct the experience with the author. When I tell my readers about a man or a woman, I intentionally use very few details. That character becomes an image, a voice, and a personality from that reader’s life experience. The reader and I co-create the characters; we co-design the rooms, the landscapes, and even the food that will be served at a meal. If I do it right, the reader will have vivid recollections of the story that I didn’t write. A reader once told me she started to tell a story from the book as if it was something that had happened to a friend; but she stopped herself when she remembered it wasn’t real. I was so flattered. Scoloderus is a different experience for each person who reads it because the drama is also his or her drama. Another reader called my home one evening and said she couldn’t sleep until she knew if some of the characters were going to be all right. I want people to be engrossed in my stories and that can only happen with reading. Reading nurtures our imagination and opens possibilities for us to explore. Reading engages us in asking questions; movies present the answers. I would like to add quickly that Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” stands as an exception to this and if Jackson approached me on adapting Scoloderus to the screen and he had a few hundred million dollars, I might reconsider my position on this issue.

What advice do you have for folks who have a story in them and want to try to write?

I suppose there are at least three tidbits of information that might be helpful.

First, read a variety of great authors continuously. This is somewhat like becoming a good chef or mastering a musical instrument. If you learn what great food tastes like or listen to the most respected classical music, you will recognize it as you start to achieve it.

Second, the Gestalt psychotherapist Fritz Perls said the secret to writing is to begin by writing ‘stream of consciousness.’ Start writing everything that enters your mind, if you do this a few times for a few hours you will discover the connection between thoughts and words on a page. This will help you to decide if you really do enjoy writing.

The third piece of advice is from James Michener. Michener said the only difference between writing and great writing is re-writing. He estimated that completing his novel, “Hawaii,” required more than one million key strokes on his typewriter.

To re-cap, you need to read lots, write like you like it, and re-write until it is perfect.