I’m delighted to welcome Earik Beann to Linda’s Book Bag today. As you know, I’m cutting back on blog posts after Christmas to concentrate on reading and reviewing and I think I may have found a new favourite author in Earik as he’s persuading me to read a genre I don’t usually read. I’m so pleased he’s staying in with me to tell me about one of his books. It feels particularly apt to welcome Earik after the recent terrible fires in America as you’ll see…
Staying in with Earik Beann
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Earik. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Thanks, Linda! It’s great to be here!
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’ve brought Killing Adam, my science fiction novel. The idea for this book came about through a fight I had with Siri, the virtual assistant on my iPhone. Seems weird to say I had a fight with a computer program, but that’s totally what happened. I was just trying to get her to add some milk to the grocery list, and she was being completely snarky with me. I don’t know if I interrupted her Facebook time or what, but she just refused to cooperate, and it was a completely maddening experience.
(I love that insight into the inspiration for Killing Adam – makes me want to read the book! I’m so glad it’s on my TBR.)
Anyway, I found myself thinking: I’m a smart guy, and she’s a smart program, maybe the trouble here is that we just have communication issues since we have to go through the whole voice recognition part of it. Wouldn’t it be better if she was just a chip in my head, and I could simply think these thoughts right at her? And if that were the case, wouldn’t it be cool to be networked up with everyone else who had a chip in their heads too? And what would happen to social media in that context? And in that scenario, with every human having chips in their head all networked together to form a gigantic supercomputer, wouldn’t it be crazy if that’s how machines finally became sentient? And after I had that, it was impossible not to sit down and write the whole story down.
(That sounds quite mind blowing in more ways than one…)
Machines becoming sentient and turning on humanity should be a familiar concept to most sci-fi fans, but the interesting twist in this case is that the machines aren’t necessarily separate from us. They’re part of us, and they live through us. They need us. You can make a bit of an argument that social media in general is like a giant sentient being. It creates a virtual world for people to live in where they want to spend every waking hour, and by doing so, social media feeds itself. So the people give life to this thing that wouldn’t exist without them, and when you look at it in aggregate, Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram, or whatever) ends up ultimately acting in its own interests, and driving its own narrative and agenda. This book takes that same fact of modern life and just cranks it way up to an insane level.
(I agree wholeheartedly about that social media agenda Earik. I think Killing Adam sounds fascinating. You’ve persuaded me to read a genre I usually ignore!)
What can we expect from an evening in with Killing Adam?
One of my biggest goals with this work was to write something that I would enjoy reading myself, which means no boring parts! My taste in literature tends to be science fiction and fantasy, and I can’t tell you the number of trilogies I’ve read in those genres. I get why authors do that, because if you can get someone hooked on book 1, you then have a built-in audience willing to buy books 2 and 3. The problem is that most stories aren’t really complicated enough to warrant a length of 1,000+ pages, and the result is that there are huge sections where nothing happens. I’ve become very good at speed reading for this reason, and find myself flying through half the trilogy just to get past the filler. So when it came time to write Killing Adam, I told myself no filler! Only interesting, fun chapters. I’ll leave it to the readers to let me know how successful I was, but it’s something I was really focused on when writing this book.
(Ha! You’ve just described my usual frustration with the genre, Now of course I have to read Killing Adam to see whether you achieved your aim!)
What else have you brought along and why?
I’ve brought along a picture from a year ago, back in October 2017. That’s me and Oscar, my dog, standing in front of our house in Santa Rosa before going on a patrol around the neighborhood. That’s an important picture for me, because I can trace my writing career right back to that moment in time.
On October 9, 2017, California suffered one of the most destructive fire in its history. The Tubbs Fire burned 5,643 structures and killed twenty-two people in Sonoma County. The fire department was completely overwhelmed and was so busy trying to save lives that they had to let many houses burn rather than waste resources in trying to protect them. We had to evacuate our home at 3 a.m., and we drove out through flames and smoke.
(What an ordeal. That must have been terrifying.)
But the very next day, nine of us snuck back into our neighborhood in the mandatory evacuation zone and formed a vigilante fire force. We called ourselves the Pointe Patrol, and saved our neighborhood, as well as an apartment complex across the street from certain destruction.
As if the fires weren’t enough, we found ourselves in the midst of anarchy, with looters running unchecked through the streets. We chased them out of houses with shovels, confronted them when they showed up in disguise, and patrolled the area with Oscar, who is a completely over-the-top Doberman. The other neighbors who had evacuated organized themselves into our support network and supplied us with food and equipment, which they passed through to us across the police lines.
It was an epic, once-in-a-lifetime experience, and being part of that nine-person team along with my wife changed my life in many ways. One of the most significant impacts happened because I had the incredible urge to write down our adventures in a memoir, which was released earlier this year. It’s called Pointe Patrol: How nine people (and a dog) saved their neighborhood from one of the most destructive fires in California’s history.
Check out the cover:
I’m donating all proceeds from this year’s sales of this memoir to fire victims that have been touched by the more recent fires in California, like the Camp and Woolsey Fires. Maybe what Pointe Patrol did during the Tubbs Fire can have a bigger reach than just my own neighborhood.
(What a lovely thing to do Earik. I can’t imagine how so many must be feeling to have lost everything recently. Linda’s Book Bag Readers might like to know Pointe Patrol is available for purchase here.)
After working on that memoir, I fell in love with writing again. I had always wanted to be a writer, and used to spend my summer vacations in high school writing fantasy books. I ended up launching a financial software company and being an entrepreneur instead of a writer, and had sort of forgotten about my writing career, so there was a long 25-year detour that I took around the financial industry before finding myself in the middle of writing Pointe Patrol. That book put me back in touch with all of my early dreams, and directly led to me writing Killing Adam, which was a blast to work on. It was definitely a roundabout path that I took to get here, but I’m very grateful that it all happened the way it did, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
I should hope not Earik. It really has been a fascinating evening staying in with you to chat about both Killing Adam and Pointe Patrol and I wish you every success with both books. Thanks so much for being here.
The world runs on ARCs. Altered Reality Chips. Small implants behind the left ear that allow people to experience anything they could ever imagine. The network controls everything, from traffic, to food production, to law enforcement. Some proclaim it a Golden Age of humanity. Others have begun to see the cracks. Few realize that behind it all, living within every brain and able to control all aspects of society, there exists a being with an agenda all his own: the singularity called Adam, who believes he is God.
Jimmy Mahoney’s brain can’t accept an ARC. Not since his football injury from the days when the league was still offline. “ARC-incompatible” is what the doctors told him. Worse than being blind and deaf, he is a man struggling to cling to what’s left of a society that he is no longer a part of. His wife spends twenty-three hours a day online, only coming off when her chip forcibly disconnects her so she can eat. Others are worse. Many have died, unwilling or unable to log off to take care of even their most basic needs.
After being unwittingly recruited by a rogue singularity to play a role in a war that he doesn’t understand, Jimmy learns the truth about Adam and is thrown into a life-and-death struggle against the most powerful mathematical mind the world has ever known.
But what can one man do against a being that exists everywhere and holds limitless power?
How can one man, unable to even get online, find a way to save his wife, and the entire human race, from destruction?
Killing Adam is available for purchase here.
About Earik Beann
Over the years Earik has been involved in many small businesses, including software development, an online vitamin store, specialty pet products, a commodity pool, and a publishing house. You could say he’s got a bad case of serial entrepreneurism. But above any beyond all that, Earik’s original love has always been writing and telling stories.
As a teenager, he wrote two fantasy novels during summer break. Neither was published—which is probably for the best!—but he loved working on those books, and learned a lot by writing them. Later, Earik authored six technical books on very esoteric subjects related to financial markets. Those were meant for an extremely niche audience, and would be insanely boring to anyone outside that specific group of people.
In October 2017, Earik found himself at ground zero in the middle of the Tubbs Fire. A group of nine including Earik snuck back into our neighborhood in the middle of a mandatory evacuation zone, formed a vigilante fire fighting force, and saved their block (and an apartment complex!) from certain destruction. Working on his memoir of those experiences brought Earik back to those summers as a teenager spent working on his fantasy novels, and rekindled a deep love for writing that he had somehow forgotten about. Now writing is all Earik really wants to do.
Earik lives in California with his wife, Laura, and their Doberman and two Tennessee barn cats. When not thinking of stories, Earik enjoys practicing yoga, riding his bike, and playing the Didgeridoo.