Interview with Barry Broad and Drew Mendelson

Barry BroadBarry Broad was born in Los Angeles in 1957. He is a lawyer by training and has spent his professional career as a lobbyist, representing a variety of union clients from the Screen Actors Guild and the Teamsters to the Longshoremen and Jockeys’ Guild. His work has brought him in contact with people from all walks of life and he has used those people and their stories to dive deep into the lives of the characters that animate his fiction. He earned his law degree from the University of California, Davis and attended King’s College, Cambridge University, in England and U.C. Davis as an undergraduate. He is the author of two espionage thrillers, Eve of Destruction and its sequel, Requiem for the Damned[

Drew MendelsonDrew Mendelson is a novelist and short story writer born in 1945 in Kansas City. He has worked as a labor journalist and photographer and as a political speech and op-ed writer for California’s governor, state senators and state treasurers. Drew is a Vietnam War combat veteran. He and his wife, Susan, live in Sacramento, California. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing and is a longtime member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. His other longer published works include two science fiction novels, Pilgrimage and Marin 2120 CE, and a Vietnam War novel, Song Ba To.

Let’s start off by asking, How did you two meet?

Barry BroadBarry:  I first met Drew when I was serving on a state commission that was taking a controversial position and Drew, who was a press person for the Governor, was sent to help us handle the situation.  A few years later, our families were on a trip to Israel together and we really cemented our friendship. We began sharing our manuscripts and discussion fiction writing and that ultimately led to our collaboration on Dark Sea Rising.

Barry, Enrique Gonzales is a high powered corporate head risking it all on this venture. What legal aspects did you bring to the story Deep Sea Rising to make the situation so realistic?

Barry: As a lawyer, I’m familiar with how securities laws require publicly held corporations to disclose financial risk. The problem that faces Clearsea Energy in the novel is that it has sunk a huge investment in what is turning out to be a failing effort to extract oil from Marianas Trench in the deep Pacific. Revealing what is happening could sink the company; revealing why they are having problems would shock the world.

Drew, in Deep Sea Rising you created a language for the He’e, the creatures from the deep. What was the process you went through to create this new language?

Grandson KevinDrew: As with humans, the He’e have several modes of communication. The most ancient comes from color changes on their arms and bodies. That’s a more sophisticated version of how octopuses communicate today (yeah, it’s hard to say how much context there is in octopus arm patterns, but it seemed a good place to start).  The also communicate in thought patterns similar to human speech. The language I drew from is Hawaiian, which seemed plausible for a species dwelling in the central Pacific. I created the He’e Dream as a way to record memories and history, Barry extended that as a means for Humans and He’e to communicate.

Collaborating on a story can be challenging. What is the process you two went through in writing Deep Sea Rising

Barry: Basically, I wrote the human side of the story and Drew wrote the “He’e” version of events. As the plot advanced, we passed the manuscript back and forth between us but did not interfere with each other’s telling of their side of the narrative. We did this because we wanted to tell the story in two distinct literary voices and points of view and to have minimum interference with the other’s voice.

Drew: We talked through the main plot structure, then each of us took off on our own tangent, conferring when the parallel plots called for joint actions. Much of the time we wrote separately, after hashing out the continuing direction the narrative was traveling.

Barry BroadBarry, you’ve written a couple of espionage thrillers, Eve of Destruction and its sequel, Requiem for the Damned. What aspects of writing espionage thrillers did you bring to the science fiction novel Deep Sea Rising?

Barry: I definitely wrote Dark Sea Rising as if it was a thriller. It is plot intensive in which the characters are uncovering and then trying to make sense of a mystery. In addition, the main human character Gusman, is a classic character straight out of the espionage genre: the cynic with a heart of gold.

Drew, you’re a Vietnam War veteran. What elements of that part of your life are included in Deep Sea Rising? 

Vietnam Veteran, a former artillery observer and fire support coordinator attached to the 4/3 infantry battalionDrew: Great question. War, whether fictional or real, earthbound or something in deep space, creates its own alien environment. Like that of the He’e, the land of the Vietnamese was invaded by several different forces seeking hegemony or control of resources or regional political domination. For Dark Sea, I wanted an alien civilization that had lived in peace and relative harmony with its surroundings for many generations, a civilization suddenly exposed to the incomprehensible greed of a powerful civilization. A number of possible futures sprang from this. The aliens could be conquered or destroyed, the story focusing on their loss. The aliens could reach stalemate and accommodation, but with the possibility of further conflict hanging there like the sword of Damocles, or the aliens could demonstrate their own power and either conquer or take a share of long term coexistence. That’s war in a nutshell. I don’t think it would be greatly different if one side of the combatants were an entirely alien race.

What books/authors do you like to read and why?

Barry:  I am a very eclectic reader. I have been in a book group for about thirty years. One of the things I love about it is that we often read books that I would probably have read on my own. At this moment, we are reading V.S.Naipaul’s wonderful classic novel about post-colonial Africa, A Bend in the River. There is genre of fiction that I do not like.  I also love to read non-fiction books, especially autobiographies, and books about history and science. For me, choosing what to read is like being a kid in the proverbial candy shop. I want to say yes to everything.

Drew: Among the newer science fiction authors, I like Neal Stephenson, particularly Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon. I like the great newer author Paolo Bacigalupi, particularly his novel The Windup Girl. I like the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, for her beautiful styling of language and lovely sci-fi plots. Though it’s not sc-fi, I loved the Stieg Larsson novels, set in Sweden for their wonderful characters and intricate plotting. I like Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon novels. I am also a big fan of earlier, non-sci-fi writers, Sinclair Lewis (particularly his powerful apocalyptic political novel It Can’t Happen Here), John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men of course, but also the Monterey novels like Tortilla Flat ) Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, and Rudyard Kipling’s Kim (and his amazing poetry.) That’s just a sample.

Dark Sea Rising book cover

Listen to an excerpt on iTunes.

Dark Sea Rising is written by Barry Broad and Drew Mendelson
Published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
Copyright by Barry Broad and Drew Mendelson
Audio Copyright Twinstar Studios
Read by: Chip Michael and Eddie Louise from The cast of Sage & Savant

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