Monday, June 16, 2014

Interview with Dan Levinson

Science Fiction
Date Published: June 17, 2014

In a world where a gifted few can manipulate reality with their minds, two great nations—Calchis and Orion—employ these psionic powers in a covert war for global superiority.
In the heart of Calchis, a powerful young psion named Aaron Waverly is kidnapped, and forcibly conscripted. To the north, in the capital, a plan is hatched to decimate Orion, to be carried out by the ruthless operative known only as “Agent.”
In Orion, fresh recruit Stockton Finn comes to terms with his incredible new powers, and learns firsthand how dangerous they can be. Meanwhile, officers Nyne Allen and Kay Barrett navigate the aftermath of their shattered love affair, oblivious to the fact that Calchis draws ever closer to destroying the tenuous peace.
Finally, in the arctic land of Zenith, Calchan archaeologist Faith Santia unearths a millennia-old ruin. This lost temple might just hold the hidden history of psionic powers, as well as hints of a deeper mystery . . . that could shake the foundations of all mankind.




He ran toward the edge of the cliff.
The sun beat down upon him as his limbs pumped. Earth crunched beneath his feet, and a breeze blew across his black-stubbled scalp. His breathing was calm, meticulously measured.
When the ground slipped away, he felt only anticipation.
Plummeting, the man inhaled. Power flooded into him, thrilling, delicious. He reached out with that power, warping reality with an energy born from the depths of his being. Suddenly . . .
He winked out of existence . . .
And then reappeared at the base of the cliff.

Interview with Dan Levinson:

1)  Would you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m a native New Yorker, was a drama major at NYU, and I’ve been writing since I was a child. I’ve always loved fantasy, and I tried to write my first book when I was nine or ten years old, though I didn’t get very far. I credit my great aunt—who co-wrote numerous romance novels under the name Eve Gladstone—for her patience, mentoring me in that endeavor, nurturing my love for writing.
2)   Which project are you currently promoting?
My sci-fi war epic, Fires of Man, book one of five in the Psionic Earth series.
3)  Can you tell us what the book is about?
Fires of Man takes place in a world similar to our own, in which, unbeknownst to the general population, a select few have developed psionic powers: an ability to manipulate energy and reality itself at a level of thought. Two powerful, neighboring nations—Calchis, and the Orion Protectorate—are recruiting these people, using them to wage a covert war. Now, that war is about to reach a tipping point, and the characters—two fresh recruits, two military officers, an assassin, and an archaeologist—are about to be caught up in it.
4)   How did you come up with the title for this book?
Originally, I’d planned for this book, and the series as a whole, to share the same title: Psionic Earth. However, my publisher felt this title was too obtuse, justifiably so.
I decided on Fires of Man for several reasons. It echoes the common phrase “fires of war,” and the book is very much a war story. Furthermore, to me, “fires of man” represents industry, technology, human advancement. The heavy toll of our societal and technological development is an important theme in the series. Also, I feel the title evokes the incredible, often fiery, explosive powers the characters can employ. It works on multiple levels.
5)   What inspired you to write this book?
Alas, much as I would like to speak of some grand and profound inspiration, the truth is far more banal, and perhaps even amusing. I first conceived Psionic Earth as a teenager, about thirteen years old. At the time, I was very much influenced by video games, and by anime, specifically Dragonball Z. I admit that my main motivation was to concoct a story in which superpowered characters could fire energy blasts at each other!
That said, the setting and the characters always stuck with me, years and years after the fact. I became more and more engaged in the world itself, those adolescent influences falling away with each new version. I’ve always had a passion for the story, and after a time it became an inspiration in and of itself. It’s been a long time coming.
6)  What made you decide to become a writer?
Reading. The way my favorite books made me feel. I wanted to create my own stories that evoked those same feelings in others.
7)   What genre do you generally write?
I’ll cite the broader category of “speculative fiction.” While I’ve always been a fantasy writer at heart, I very much enjoy writing anything that has an element of out of the ordinary: fantasy, science fiction, horror, paranormal, etc.
8)   What character out of your most recent work do you admire the most and why?
Dr. Faith Santia. She’s a young woman working in an older, male-dominated field, who has not only managed to achieve success, but has advanced beyond her colleagues, due to her brilliance and dedication. She is probably the hardest working character in the entire series, or perhaps shares that honor with the character known as “Agent” AKA “John Black.” He, however, is not admiration-worthy, as you will see once you read the book.
9)   What other projects are you currently working on?
I’m in the early planning stages of a dark fantasy series, rife with magic, fae folk, monsters, and the undead. I’m rewriting a YA fantasy novel, The Ace of Kings. I have two short stories and a novella in progress, all of which lean toward horror: The Bad Boom, Night Travel, and Bright Orchards. Last, I have a WIP entitled Shambles—a literary paranormal drama/mystery novel, which is on hold as I work on book three of the Psionic Earth series (the preliminary draft of book two is with my publisher, Jolly Fish Press, awaiting edits).
I have a lot on my plate!
10)  When you begin a new MS, does it start with an idea, concept, or both?
A concept, most often. For example, as mentioned above, with Fires of Man I started with “a world where people can fight each other with superpowers.” I tend to start with the broad strokes, and then get more specific.
11)  What is your least favorite part about getting published?
The anxiety, I’m afraid. I’ve been anxiety prone much of my life, as many authors are (at least, in my experience). I’ve done a good job taming it since I signed my publication deal, but every so often I’ll experience that inner pressure, that wondering of, “Am I doing enough?”
12)  Was the road to publication a long one for you?
Yes, and no.
After graduating from NYU, I wrote screenplays for about four years—into 2011, when I began the first draft of Fires of Man. In that time, I also wrote my first full novel, an urban fantasy piece which, admittedly, was not only inspired by, but far too similar to, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series.
I finished Fires of Man in 2012, and had my contract signed around September. So, in that regard, it wasn’t a long one at all. However, the four years I spent on screenwriting, the trips I took out to Los Angeles, were all integral in returning me to my first love: writing fiction.
And truly, my road began in childhood. When I was young, and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would invariably answer: “A novelist.” So, depending on your perspective, the road was very long, or very, very short.
13)  Do you use a pen name? If so, why?
I don’t. If I ever do opt to use one, it will be because I’m writing in a different genre than my usual material.
14)  Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’ll frame the ideal scenario: the last book of the Psionic Earth series atop the bestseller list, Hugo, Nebula, and Clarke awards on my shelf, and the latest entry in a film adaptation tearing up the box office. That would be all my wildest dreams come true.
15)  What is the best advice you can give to a new author?
Listen to criticism. If it makes you feel defensive, upset, hurt, as if you’ve been stabbed in the gut, that is when you must listen, because, on a subconscious level, you recognize the truth of it. Commit yourself to learning, to improving your craft. Not a one of us begins writing masterpieces.
16)  Where can the readers find more information about you?
On my website, I’m also on Twitter, @ReadDanLevinson, and on Facebook,
Furthermore, I can be found on Goodreads here:

Dan Levinson

Born and raised on Long Island, NY, Dan grew up immersing himself in fantastical worlds. While other kids dreamed of being astronauts and cowboys, all he ever wanted was to be a novelist. Now, he’s living his dream.