Author Calvin Fisher's first novel, Northfield, takes place in a post-apocalyptic world shrouded in poisonous gas and day-to-day survival that depends on wearing a gas mask and earning "credit cards" instead of currency. Why do so many sci-fi stories take place on an Earth that is dying? Calvin talks about that and gives us a preview of his book.
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Tom Kranz 0:08
Everybody, welcome back to the independent author, podcast. I'm Tom Kranz. And this podcast is about the people who are either independent authors or self-published authors are people who follow their passion for writing wherever it takes them, in many cases while maintaining a full-time life, doing something else, before they hit fame and fortune. Anyway, that was kind of my dream. I don't see fame and fortune anywhere down the road. But I do enjoy writing. I've enjoyed it since I was in high school. And I'm guessing that my guest today is, is in the same category. My guest is Calvin Fisher. He's a software engineer currently residing in Denver. And he's just released his first novel science fiction novel called Northfield. Calvin, how you doing today?
Calvin Fisher 0:59
I'm doing pretty well, Tom, thanks for having me on the show.
Tom Kranz 1:02
Yeah, of course. I haven't read your whole book. But I've read about the first three chapters or so and I gotta say it instantly grabbed me. And it kind of reminded me a little bit of Mel Gibson's character in the Road Warrior. It seems to be about a lone hero. I actually don't know if he's a hero. But he sounds like he is dealing with an earth that you can't even breathe in the air, you need a gas masks to go out because of, you know, whatever happened there. Tell us just a little bit about the story without giving us giving away too much.
Calvin Fisher 1:35
Yeah, for sure. So Northfield is set in a post-apocalyptic world. The main character, Northfield, is in a really bad situation. Pretty much, in this toxic world, people are just very cold and harsh towards one another. It's a very cold place to be. But he's tried to retain his humanity through whatever means just to honor his dead wife. The thing though is an adversary blackmails him. And he has to choose whether to honor his wife and the memory of her or to survive because if he doesn't assassinate a man, he'll be killed himself. But little does he know, his target holds the key to saving the world.
Tom Kranz 2:20
Wow, that sounds pretty big. The things that drew me in right away are, it starts kind of very focused on one character, which I find actually much easier to deal with when I'm reading anything. Um, we're starting on this one guy. And it goes into a lot of detail about his life, his living conditions, you paint some great word pictures, and descriptions about what it's like living in a world where you can't step outside without a gas mask, and how all the buildings are set up with these air filters. And the constant dialogue he has with his late wife, I haven't gotten to how she died yet. I'm sure that's an important part of the story. And I can see already that he's already kind of grappling with her image and her memory and his version of God. The thing that I like about this and science fiction in general, good science fiction is always about people. Right? The, the atmosphere that they're living in, and kind of the toys that they're dealing with in the future. They're part and parcel of the story. But the stories are always about people and humanity and human emotions. What was your approach to this when you started writing it?
Calvin Fisher 3:36
I think you've pretty much summed it up with what you were just saying as far as character was the most important part of me. And making sure especially got the main character, right, as well as all the side characters you need and grow to care about along the way. The science fiction stuff is important and you know, all the drapings of that into the plot. But really, the heart of the story is the characters and I tried to keep in mind on that the entire time while writing and revising.
Tom Kranz 4:06
Did you always want to write? So this is your first novel, I assume this is your first novel that has either been published for you or you self-published?
Calvin Fisher 4:16
Tom Kranz 4:17
Why did you decide to go for science fiction? Has it just always been an interest of yours.
Calvin Fisher 4:22
You know, I've always since I was a little kid, I've been a comic book reader. So that sort of realm of science fiction, sort of the fantastical has always drawn me in. But Northfield actually started as a thriller, sort of in the vein of something like Vince Flynn or Tom Clancy. It was only after sort of scrapping that project that Northfield sort of came out of it. So sort of figuring out that it wanted to be post-apocalyptic was sort of the key to making everything work. But yeah, sort of, fascinatingly enough, it didn't really start as post-apocalyptic.
Tom Kranz 5:01
So, we've talked about the post-apocalyptic dystopian theme a couple times now. And I mentioned Road Warrior. It's one of my favorite movies along with the latest one with Tom Hardy.
Calvin Fisher 5:16
Mad Max Fury Road?
Tom Kranz 5:17
Yes. So, um, and in the novel I wrote that we also have a dystopian, what do you think? Is our fascination with that? Are we, do we just think we're all kind of resigned to the fact that it's gonna come to an end one day? Or what? Why do you think this is such a recurring theme in sci-fi?
Calvin Fisher 5:37
I think it's because it's a genre that sort of lets us look at our worst nightmares in a way, at least as a society, our societal worst nightmares. And we get to see characters who we can relate to sort of grapple with these really hard worlds and just situations and seeing that overcome the bad spots there. And I think really inspires us and gives us a lot of strength. So I think that's the biggest draw science fiction has seen people beat the nightmares that we find sure
Tom Kranz 6:11
Tell me a little bit about your writing process. How long did it take you to write this? Where and when do you write? Do you do like, shut a door and say, Okay, I'm going to sit down and write now? Or do you just kind of do it in the course of your day-to-day life once? How do you do? How do you do what you do?
Calvin Fisher 6:29
So I started writing Northfield back in 2017, was when I started, I finished the first draft later that year and December of 2017. And I got around to publishing it in 2020. Between them, I sort of go back and forth between editing and working on Northfield and working on other novels. But sort of a four-year journey in total.
Tom Kranz 7:00
Did you self-edit this book?
Calvin Fisher 7:03
I did a lot of self-editing. And then sort of at the last point, I hired a professional freelance editor to you know, polish it up and sort of making sure everything was prim and proper.
Tom Kranz 7:18
Yeah, I mean, it reads really well. It's there's no question, you know, you paint great pictures with your words. There's no confusion, you know, I don't have to kind of figure out what did he mean by that? It reads really well. And I think that's a function of good editing and actually good thoughtfulness and putting this together. Do you think you're going to write another book? You said novels? So I'm guessing you have others in the works or another one in the works?
Calvin Fisher 7:45
I do. Yeah. Working on a sequel to Northfield currently, and I've got a couple other things sort of in the works ash-e-r
Tom Kranz 7:52
Well, alright. So Northfield, by Calvin Fisher, and it's F-i- s-h-er, correct?
Calvin Fisher 8:01
Yep, that's correct.
Tom Kranz 8:02
I got fishers in my life. We throw a C in there. Calvin Fisher, Northfield. It's available on Amazon, and I can't wait to finish it. Calvin, I really appreciate you joining me. Watch out for the snowflakes. And good luck with your continued writing.
Calvin Fisher 8:17
Thanks so much, Tom. I appreciate being on the show.
Tom Kranz 8:20
All right, man.
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