Updated: May 11
We are Rajkumar Reghunathan and Susan E. Flint. Husband and wife writing team. Raj is the brainiac plot developer (unless he’s traveling and out of reach,) and I am the character developer and observer of fine details and subtle and not-at-all subtle plot nuances.
When did you realise that you wanted to write and publish a book?
Susan: I had been working on a non-fiction book about spiritual relationships when I hit a wall and couldn’t write. My husband Raj, a doctor of modern medicine and all around renaissance guy always wanted to write a science fiction story. We had attended a local literary festival (we live in India) here in Ooty--and Raj became inspired after chatting with a science fiction writer.
Okay, so you have decided to write a book, where did you start?
Raj had a specific idea about artificial intelligence. His question was, “If AI could distinguish between the social classes, what kind of future would we humans have?”
Once you had started, how long did the process take?
We wrote our book in one and a half years. I was writing full time, and Raj was writing on theside (his medical practice is our bread and butter.)
What were the things along the way that both helped and hindered you during the writing of this book?
Susan: I had what my husband loosely diagnosed me with “functional brain damage” from a prolonged Lyme disease (Borrelia) illness. This was part of the failure with my blog writing and my non-fiction book project. I could string sentences and ideas together; a story theme is easier to research and write, because it could be however I envision it.
Did the process of writing this book come naturally to you? Did it run smoothly? Or was it an uphill battle?
Susan: The first year was an uphill battle. We wrote about 9 or 10 versions of the book. My background is in English Literature with Creative Writing emphasis. It did run smoothly after my brain decided to heal and my thoughts became clear.
Set the scene. When you sat down to write, where were you? What did you need to help you? Did you have a routine with your writing? Tell us what was conducive to a successful writing session.
Susan: I have a rickety table that is large enough for a laptop computer. It faces a window that looks out onto a sunroom where our three cats live. I’d wake up early, and do my quick personal routine, including drinking a smoothie, meditating, feeding our 4 dogs and 3 cats; then I’d put my headset on and pipe in some Christmas music. Yes. This whole book (on my side) is written to a Christmas music backdrop. With so many animals, how can I block out every furry demand?! My husband would use his phone during long trips to the clinic (600 km) to record his ideas and then transcribe. I’d send him a finished chapter, and then he’d add to it in colored text.
Did you enjoy the process and is it something that you plan to do again?
Yes, we are still debating about the sequel to AI: The Final Dominion. It has to be good enough to make your skin crawl with medical nuances of microbots and an Artificial Intelligence leading the way into 2100 BCE.
Whilst you were writing the book, what inspired you? What made you keep at it and not push delete?
Susan: This may sound a little woo-woo, but the characters would come to me in my dreams. Sometimes they would plead their case and argue points. I certainly have a relationship with my characters.
Now the book is written, finished and published, is there anything looking back that you would have done differently?
Susan: I still cringe when I read the first chapter. We had to create an incident that would propel the story forward, and I had to (spoiler alert!) bump off one of my favorite characters--she was beautiful and intelligent, a successful scientist, a young wife and mother--and the one and only love of our leading protagonist. I went to bed for three days after doing so. I would do it all over again, because this inciting incident is the key to the rest of the story.
Did you find the cover design part of the process difficult or enjoyable? And what were the feelings and emotions of handing your creation over to someone else to have the cover designed?
We loved our cover design selection process. It gives a “visual story-telling feeling” to our novella. My husband and I tried several versions of a DIY cover, and then decided to leave it to the professionals.Susan: When I first saw a mock-up possibility, my heart stopped. I fell in love. It was exactly what I had envisioned--and our cover was very--dare I say--sexy. It has the appeal and the dramatic weight for our reader audience.
Is there any advice that you would like to offer anybody reading this who is currently writing, or thinking of writing a book?
Susan: Do your chair time, and creative time. A story is like an entity. Think about it with love. Think about it critically. Treat your work like a good friend, and you will see how your relationship with the words on your page changes. Your story deserves the attention and focus to bring it to fruition. And get up every morning to do it all over again.
Artificial Intelligence is out now on Amazon!
You can get In touch with Susan & Raj here...
Cover designed by DISSECT DESIGNS
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