Monday, September 12, 2011

The Same Six Questions - Z.D. Robinson

Let's give a big The Same Six Questions welcome to author Z.D. Robinson!

Thanks, Andy! I grew up in New Jersey but live with my wife and three sons in Missouri. I arrived in Kansas City eight days before 9/11! By trade, I am a software developer, and while I'm not very good I somehow manage to fall backwards into the right solution and thus keep my job. When not consumed with reading and writing, I enjoy cooking and reading stories to my kids. After the kids are in bed, I enjoy nothing more than watching Stargate SG-1 with my wife and playing Mario Kart on the Wii together.

Thanks for sharing with us today, Z.D.! Now it's time for The Same Six Questions!


1. Have you published a book yet?

Yes, I've just self-published my first novel, The Great Altruist, which is available as an e-book on Amazon and in paperback and hardcover on Lulu. It's about a girl called Genesis who can travel through time (among other things) and uses her powers to help people fix mistakes in their past. While the book is divided into four parts and tells three distinct stories, they are woven together to provide a complete history of Genesis' life as a completely selfless person. And despite the fact that part one involves a Holocaust survivor who wants to prevent World War II, part two is about a young man who wants to save his parent's marriage, and parts three and four are about an evil organization that wants to destroy all human life on earth, I tried to focus on the characters. In this way I tried to imitate the "Back to the Future" movies - they might have a convoluted plot and bits of technobabble thrown in, but the fun is in the characters' relationships as they travel through time and space. Also, I love stories about people with unbreakable convictions - and Genesis has that in spades.

2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I used to write all the time in high school, mostly heroic short stories that took place in a high school since it was the only world I knew at the time. I grew away from fiction for a few years when my parents divorced and turned to poetry. I was really terrible at it. I self-published two booklets of my original poetry while I worked at a Kinko's but it was terrible stuff. Really shoddy construction, and they were mostly about pining over a girl I had a hopeless crush on or angst directed at my father. But when I moved to Missouri, I started hammering out the details in a story that eventually became part two of my novel. The story about James going back in time to save his parents was largely autobiographical. Much of the events in his parents' youth was taken from real life (although I've excised those things from the current story for privacy's sake). It was when I told people my story idea and it was actually met with excitement that I decided to pursue writing.

3. What was your first lengthy piece of fiction (say, >1000 words)? What was it about? When did you write it? Do you still have it?

I wrote a story in high school - in my computer programming class actually - about a boy named James and the girl he crushed on called Genesis and their discovery that the U.S. government was taking over their high school. It had a really terrible helicopter chase that totally ripped off the scene in the Florida Keys in "True Lies." Now that I think about it, most of that story was a huge James Cameron rip-off! Anyway, the story was terrible and never saw the light of day. I'm sure it's in a box somewhere in my father's basement. It yielded good things though. In fact, some of the story elements moved into other stories which eventually found their way into The Great Altruist. In some ways, that horrible story - written 18 years ago - was actually the beginning of this epic time-travel story.

4. When was your first indication, "I can do this (write)"?

I didn't really believe my work would ever see the light of day. I mostly wrote it for the catharsis concerning my parents' divorce. But then I had this cool character that could travel through time, and I started thinking of all the cool stories I could tell. So I came up with a backstory and ending that suited her well. But even then I was mostly writing for my wife's enjoyment. I published a paperback copy on Lulu mainly as a novelty, but then my boss bought it. That's when I realized I should take writing more seriously. He said, "It sounds very professional." Part of me was offended that he expected it to be terrible. But then I realized I had enough skill to be dangerous.

5. If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which would it be?

I would have to say Genesis. She starts out very arrogant and almost unlikable in the story. But her experiences humble her into a very wise and thoughtful woman. Those who've seen the cover can also that the main character is naked. Although I chose this out of respect for time-travel convention (only living matter can travel through time a la "The Terminator"), I did it for another reason too that makes Genesis so desirable. One things readers will notice is her complete ambivalence to being naked all the time; she simply doesn't care. I suppose I would want to meet her because that is the way I wish more women were - unafraid of who they are and totally confidant.


6. It's a dark and stormy night...you're alone in the house...there's a knock at the door...you open it, look out, and proceed to scream like a little girl. What's on the doorstep?

I'm sure there is a psychological reason behind this question, designed to reveal a deepest fear/joy. In my case, it would be fear. As morbid and terrifying as it sounds, the thing I imagined on my doorstep was the head of a loved one. I'd rather not try to imagine which.
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Yikes! Thanks for playing along, Z.D.! For more of Z.D.'s work, check out his website and his Facebook page.

I hope you enjoyed this installment. Be sure to stop back on Thursday, when author Ruth Madison will be my guest. Until then, write on!