Cuenca High Life logo
Click here to subscribe to daily news sent to your inbox!
Click here to subscribe to our weekly eNewspaper sent to your inbox!

Cuenca News

Cuenca expat writers discuss their latest books

John Keeble (left) and Paul Anlee discus their latest books at Cuenca’s Cafe del Museo. (Photo by Sandra Materi)

Editor’s note: Cuenca is home to a large and vibrant expatriate writers’ community, its members active in a variety of writing workshops and readers’ groups, some of them hosting the Cuenca International Writers’ Conference in May. Here, two local writers, Paul Anlee (aka Wayne Materi) and John Keeble, talk about their recently released books. This is the first in a series of dialogues between expat writers.

Anlee’s latest work, part of his Deplosion series, is available from Amazon as an ebook, or direct from the author. Keeble’s Beyond Extinction is free for a limited time through Amazon. See the links below for both books.

Writers’ Q&A (Part 1):
John Keeble asks Paul Anlee about his Deplosion series (Book 3 has just been released)

Paul, what is the Deplosion series about?
Some people say God designed the world and only God can change it. But, what would happen if scientists discovered a way to alter the natural laws of the universe, perhaps even create whole new universes? Deplosion explores themes around this discovery in a fast-paced story that touches on science, philosophy, politics, and religion.

How have readers reacted to it?
The response has been amazing, from general readers to other science fiction authors. Yudhanjaya Wijeratne (author of Numbercaste) said: Blew me away. Real hard sci-fi, well-thought-out, well-written. Reid Minnich (author of the Koinobi Trilogy) said: This is far better than Asimov. Another reader called it: … a mind bender all the way through. With a deep plot that blends particle physics and religion to make a complex, highly compelling story that will keep you gripped throughout. What surprised me most has been the positive response from readers who don’t normally enjoy sci-fi, and from those with differing philosophical and spiritual perspectives.

Is this just a story or does it have any deeper meanings in it?
Everything I write tries to incorporate a deeper exploration of humanity’s relationship with our world, our universe. I believe the natural universe contains wonder enough to inspire all of us without supernatural explanations. The Deplosion series explores this idea by weaving a story that spans the time from before the Big Bang to over 130 million years into the future. You can read more about this philosophical approach at www.paulanlee.com.

Conversation continues below graphic.

Paul Anlee’s Reality series begins with the Big Bang.

You’ve written it in Cuenca – was that important to you?
Cuenca played a critical role in my writing and publishing the Deplosion series. The natural and historical beauty of this Andean city combined with the year-round moderate climate provides a “muy tranquilo” backdrop for inspirational walks, punctuated by frequent bursts of colour and celebration (and coffee). Another key element has been the Cuenca: Writing Our World group and broader writing community here. Authors like D.B. McNicol, J. Michael Herron, and Scarlett Braden were instrumental in introducing me to the world of self-publishing. The writing community in Cuenca provides essential literary and moral support throughout the development of our work.

How much of you is in the series?
Probably too much. But I have many different “personalities” (don’t we all?) so it worked out just fine. I got to incorporate the scientist me, the skeptic me, the philosophical me, the wisecracker me, the adventurous me, the robotic me, and so on.

Where do you get your characters from?
I draw from people I’ve met over the years; there are little bits of many other scientists and computer geeks in my stories. I was surprised at how easily I was able to channel the preachers of an evangelical church (Rev. LaMontagne and then Alum) who turned out to be two of my favorite “villains” ever. Writing strong female roles was probably the biggest challenge, but my wife and editor, Sandra, helped with that a lot.

If I read between the lines will I find important messages about my own life?
I’d like to think so. One of my characters, Darian Leigh, said it best: “I believe that it is time for humanity to grow up, to claim its adulthood, and to begin taking conscious responsibility for its future development.” Perhaps it’s more a message for humanity than for any individual. I believe we need to change the way we act as a society. We leave too much to charismatic leaders. We put too much faith — literally — in being rescued from our errors by political leaders, prominent figures, supernatural deities, and wise space aliens. We need to take care of each other and of our planet. No one and nothing else is going to save us from ourselves.

What scientific or technological developments do you think will be important in coming decades?
Robotics and general artificial intelligence will be the key technological area with the greatest impact. While people could face significant and painful job losses, I don’t believe humanity’s very existence is likely to be threatened. But over the next century, machine intelligence could outstrip our own capabilities and threaten human relevance on the larger scale. I’ve written some of these issues into the Deplosion series, including the notion of human rights for self-aware, sentient machines.

What other important issues do you see arising in the next ten years?
I think we’re likely to experience another great financial/economic crisis leading to enormous geopolitical stresses, trade wars, class wars, and possibly wars between nations. Navigating through this will be the greatest challenge of our next decade.

What will you write next?
I’m part way into The Reality Assertion, the fourth and final book of the Deplosion series, and aiming for an ending that will give readers the “big payoff” they deserve for following the series.The Deplosion series is currently being translated into Chinese.

I’m also working on a new short story called Fine Tuned for an upcoming anthology. It rebuts the argument that humans have been created with a privileged place in the universe. I really love the alien characters in this story.

How can I obtain the Deplosion series?
Paul Anlee books in the Deplosion series can be ordered at bookstores, through your public library, or online (or direct from me in Ecuador).

The Reality Thief is available on Amazon (click here).
The Reality Incursion is available on Amazon (click here).
The Reality Rebellions is available on Amazon (click here).

For philosophical discussion and book specials and updates, follow my blog at: https://www.paulanlee.com

I’m also on Facebook at: Paul Anlee or Paul Anlee Fans, and you can email me at: paul.anlee.author@gmail.com

Q&A (Part 2):
Paul Anlee asks John Keeble about his novel Beyond Extinction

John, what is Beyond Extinction about?
It’s about a woman, a man and a golden retriever who are caught in the jaws of evolutionary conflict. Their relationship changes them as they change the world. They are propelled from pastoral England to a final showdown between compassion and science in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilisation. Meanwhile, the planet’s top scientist meets his nemesis, artificial intelligence phones drive everyone mad, and a quiet teacher leads an action-packed rebellion against oppression.

Conversation continues below graphic.

John Keeble’s Beyond Extinction is free for a limited time. See link below.

How have readers reacted to it?
I can let one of the customer reviews speak for itself: Excellent book! Keeble manages to juggle numerous threads and characters – human, genetically-evolved human, technology with personalities, and canine – without confusing the reader. It’s a gripping story, extremely well told. The book makes you both think and feel – and get caught up as the characters seek to survive despite the odds. I recommend it highly.

Is this just a story or does it have any deeper meanings in it?
Beyond Extinction goes right to the center of who I am. It’s a good, enjoyable read, full of interesting and engaging characters. But underlying the easy reading is my horror of our domination of the world. If you want to see what I see, be alert to the story threads that show the kind of world that future generations could inherit.

You’ve written it in Cuenca – was that important to you?
Cuenca has been very important. It has a vibrant writers’ community, inspiring in its enthusiasm, solid helpfulness, depth of goodwill and different skills. We help each other by commenting on work in progress and by sharing information and encouragement.

How much of you is in Beyond Extinction?
Writers reveal themselves in their writing – who they are, what they believe. In Beyond Extinction, my humor comes out, my love of language, my fundamental belief in good people and my admiration for courage and good purposes. There, too, is my horror of cruelty and exploitation and my willingness to oppose it.

Where do you get your characters from?
My characters start as expressions of what I want to say but they quickly become real, acting in definite ways, talking in their own unique ways. Every now and again I use something that I have observed in everyday life, which is a deep pool for those with eyes and ears to observe. There are some good internet pages, too, describing social and personal relationships.

If I read between the lines will I find important messages about my own life?
I certainly hope so. If you are open to it, the story will ask you to take views on moral dilemmas you face in everyday life. It asks whether you think people should be damned because of misjudgements; and whether we can change for the better.

What scientific or technological developments do you think will be important in coming decades?
Technology and science development is exciting and scary. But the key to our future is in the use of such developments. Forget the horrors of machines taking over the world. The powerful are using technology now to grab economies and countries by the throat.

What important issues do you see arising in the next ten years?
The planet and all life on it are being threatened by the sheer success of the human species. We are filling every space, using unsustainable levels of resources, and those controlling the economies and political power are intent on constant expansion. The central issue is whether we can get ourselves under control before we wipe out every nonhuman animal and irretrievably wreck the planet.

What will you write next?
I am thinking about a collection of short stories using the “what if” properties of dystopian and utopian settings to examine and comment on some of today’s social issues.

How can I obtain Beyond Extinction?
You can download it free for a limited time by clicking here, or you can buy it on Kindle as an ebook or, if you are somewhere with Amazon print-on-demand, as a paperback. Book sales income is being donated to an animal charity.

4 thoughts on “Cuenca expat writers discuss their latest books

  1. Fascinating takes on the future. I recently met John Keeble and Paul Anlee and I was captivated by the dedication they each showed to the craft of writing. I plan to read their latest works soon. Thank for the interviews, guys.

    1. Thanks, Robert. I really enjoyed meeting you yesterday as well. Welcome to Cuenca and look forward to some great chats in the future.

  2. What a interesting article! Both Paul and John are terrific writers and great examples of expat writers thriving in Cuenca. Looking forward to the next article in this series.

Comments are closed.