With Stephanie Hopkins
Richard Bunning was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, UK in 1956 and has subsequently lived his life in Lincolnshire, Vaud in Switzerland, and the Manawatu in New Zealand. His main schooling was in Leicestershire and Worcestershire, followed by enjoying a degree in International Relations at the University of Keele in Staffordshire and agriculture studies at Cirencester in Gloucestershire.
Currently, having retired from fulltime farming he lives with his family in Switzerland. Writing as a self-published author is his main activity, whilst inconsistently helping to maintain the household. The share of domestic responsibility has recently been augmented by the need to walk the dog. This regularly imposed time in the countryside has greatly added to his time to daydream ideas.
So what in the years and places has inspired his writing? A diverse education certainly helps, but what really has driven this ambition has been a nosey interest in others’ fortunes. Innate character as well as experience has certainly added to the drive to write, in that it seems likely that whatever his upbringing he would have been more of a story teller, an observer, rather than a volunteer character in dynamic adventures. Of course, life often imposes stories rather than simply facilitating them, but Richard has no interest at present in looking inwards for drama.
One big effect on his writing has been the growing conviction that biology and circumstance decide everything. Richard believes that if there is any truly free will it is a rarity. Actually, the author isn’t at all sure that free will exists. This allows him to say, ‘I am a writer, because that is where life pushed me’.
Stephanie: Richard, congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion. Please tell me a little about your book, Another Space in Time.
Richard: Another Space in Time is a speculation on the ‘possibility’ of second or multiple lives. In this science fiction adventure story, the main character is ‘reborn’ as an adult into an apparently parallel world. Rodwell, was murdered in his bed, to awake in my invented place. He is totally bewildered, doing all he can to rationalise away his experiences, only to finally be forced to recognise that he’s no longer on the Earth. Alienated, struggling to adapt to the fact that so much is familiar whilst so much isn’t and before he has made much progress, he finds himself hunted by both terrorists and police as ironically enough, a murderer. How does one go about surviving for long enough if an alien culture to find a way of proving one’s innocence?
Stephanie: Your premise is really interesting. What was your inspiration?
Richard: I was drawn to write this particular story by dissatisfaction with conventional religious beliefs in life beyond the grave. I have long had the desire to try and discover my own logic for sentient existence. Nature is cruel indeed if it has created our intelligence, our ability to so fear death’s annihilation, if there is nothing beyond this life. We have a scientifically illogical, highly overdeveloped, intelligence for the task of simply providing for the survival of our physical species, I suggest that there’s no satisfactory way in which Darwinian science can explain why biology has thrown up such an overwhelming superior species as ourselves. If death is the end, then what a waste, then what a blind alley evolution has chased. This all sounds like grand pontification; incredible pretentious; it is, however, the honest answer to your question. Of course, I make no pretence of forwarding any serious debate. The book is nothing more than mainstream Speculative Fiction. My goal is to entertain, not add yet more vague dialogue to the meaning of life. But wouldn’t it be nice if the evil really were eventually called to account, and if necessary piety to become one of a god’s chosen for second life wasn’t really as unattainable as most religions make it out to be. Do you know any pure spirits that would really pass through the ‘mediaevalist’ religious bars raised to any devilment, I certainly don’t?
Stephanie: Were there any challenges along the way while writing your story?
Richard: I am challenged most by severe dyslexia, followed by, as are most aspiring authors’, self-doubt. I didn’t for long attempt to get through the cronyistic barriers of traditional publishing. I feel fortunate to live in the midst of a new dawn of true publishing democracy. We can now all have a voice, which is surely a good thing. Democracy is a good thing! The down side in this freedom is that the individual has to find the good amongst an ocean of indifferent material for themselves, as the imposition of ‘excellence’ is no longer imposed by the censorial gates of established publishers. We have lost the dictatorial and institutionally biased industry that so limited the choice of what was available to read. Democracy is always hard work. Organisations like BRAG help the reader through some of the hard search by finding high reading material in what is now such a huge industry. BRAG helps reduce the challenge I have in finding readers.
Stephanie: What interest you the most about writing Science Fiction?
Richard: I enjoy writing Science Fiction because it gives me such freedom to speculate, whilst keeping me constrained within those parameters that science is currently unable to prove as false. We cross the border into writing fantasy when we forgo the science that is accepted as wide truth at the time of writing. So then, I like the discipline of science fiction because it maintains a connection to the possible by imposing reference to current fact. Science does the same for many popular fiction genres.
Stephanie: How long did it take for you to write your story?
Richard: Another Space in Time and its sequel took 4 years from inception to publishing. The progression of the two books overlapped.
Stephanie: What advice would you give to someone who wants to write Science Fiction?
Richard: Believe in yourself and write for yourself first. That audience of one is all you really have. When you get to the last words for the first time, then you can start to listen to others. Whatever you do though, keep the story yours. Science fiction allows one to wander anywhere in any past, present or projected timeline, whilst hopefully tying the story to a strand of plausibility. Everything that science hasn’t proved to be wrong is permissible, which isn’t much of a constraint when so little has been proved to be definitively right. Writing good Science Fiction is no easier than writing good anything else, whatever certain branches of literati may claim. Above all, right what you want to write. That way you are more than likely going to produce something worthwhile. Worries about what genre the book should be marketed in come later. Sadly, readers do tend to stick to favourite genres. However, marketing worries really should be an afterthought. As it happens, cheap and free e books are helping breakdown readers’ resistance to experimenting with books outside their familiar fare. So go for it. Just write your story.
Stephanie: Is this your first published book?
Richard: My first published books were very different. I built up my writing confidence with first publishing reinterpretations of the language of neoclassical plays. Recently, I have had the self-belief to confine myself to my own material. These earlier books are not ‘academically rigorous’ but rather designed for good general reading and adaptation to modern theatre.
Stephanie: What writing project are you currently working on?
Richard: I am currently inventing a world in which spiders are in overwhelming control, just as we are on Earth. I also spend a lot of time writing short and micro stories.
Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?
Richard: I discovered BRAG through my search for good independent authors and as a result of my passion for supporting the self-publishing cause. Both strands of enquiry led me to BRAG and other similar ‘standards protectors’ in our reinvented industry.
Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?
Richard: Readers can purchase my books from Amazon and Smashwords, as well as from many other web active sites.
Thank you, Richard.
Author Links: http://richardbunningbooksandreviews.weebly.com
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Richard Bunning, who is the author of, Another Time in Space, one of our medallion honorees atwww.bragmedallion.com . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Another Time in Space, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.
Stephanie Hopkins is a respected book reviewer at Layered Pages. She conducts author interviews and helps promote the B.R.A.G. Medallion. She has reviewed books for the Historical Novel Society, is Co-Admin of English Historical Fiction Authors Group on Facebook, and is an avid reader of Historical Fiction, Alternate History, Non-Fiction and History. She currently has several writing projects under way. When she is not pursuing her love of a good read, chatting with authors and fellow readers (which is pretty much 24/7). Stephanie also enjoys creating mix media art on canvas. She is also into health, fitness and loves the outdoors. These days she has no idea what rest is!