Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.
T. Austin Campbell is a scientist, philosopher, and writer. In his previous career, he was a research geneticist. Now a full-time novelist and wanderer, he draws upon his travels and memories and his imagination in crafting tales of high adventure, romance, and triumphs of the human spirit in a world of ever-changing realities. He has published The Grasshopper Man, The Blue Plane, The Temples, The Dark Plane, and The Elysian Fields. The House of Storms will be published soon. He is currently working on The Lake of Fire and The Winds of Reality.
Remember, love is the most important reality. These words comfort the captives of The System, a universe of alternate realities. The people captured by the System call themselves Outsiders and continually try to return to their Original Realities, The Outside. In the events of successive books in the Blue Plane series, some of the mysteries of The System are revealed, but its purpose remains enigmatic. There are softspots that serve as passageways between venues. There are Temples that chronicle the adventures of The System’s captives and contain arches that mark some of the softspots. Doug and Chris Scott, and Warren and Jane Spencer serve as guardians or guides to newer captives. The Grasshopper Man, an enigmatic figure, appears occasionally—and always very briefly—to serve as mentor and prophet. Li Meigui, a female Chinese karate instructor, seems to be able to enter and leave the System to serve as a deus ex machina. The System seems to like certain characters and has placed them in stable venues, and then uses non-sentient copies of them as characters in new venues. As the captives investigate the System, more people are captured and try to cope with shifting time periods and realities. The captives try to learn more about The System as the events of each book move among distant past to postapocalyptic future venues. The travelers come to realize that what will sustain them is love.
Wolf: If you could be any animal in the universe, what would it be and why?
T: An eagle who is actually a shape-shifter. This gives me freedom and flexibility. And the shape-shifter aspect gives me the opportunity to be something else as needed or desired, like a giant black bird, a camel or a cobra, a mouse or a sheep, as in The Elysian Fields.
Wolf: One and everything all wrapped up in one. What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
T: Lamb penises boiled in a seasoned broth in Inner Mongolia were acceptable; they tasted like lamb. Baluts in the Philippines were interesting; biggest problem with those is the retching sounds other Westerners were making at the thought of eating duck embryos, or even looking at them. Deer tendons Chinese style were interesting; texture was nice, flavor was a bit bland. Rooster combs were a bit much but I do like stuffed chicken or duck feet, again Chinese style. I passed on silkworms, crickets, and grasshoppers. I totally love sea cucumbers any which way; but then, they are standard fare in Chinese cuisine. And fried rocky mountain oysters are great, despite the shock value guys try to put on them.
Wolf: Wow. You’ve tried some really cool sounding things. I haven’t had duck feet, but love chicken feet. If you had to pick a weapon, what would it be and why?
T: A good knife serves as a weapon, but not all situations need to be lethal. A knife lacks the reach of a gun, but it has many more uses that can help keep you alive, from skinning game to cutting rope.
Wolf: I like the way you think. What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
T: Given them a kind of immortality. My characters are normal people who have been trapped in an alternate reality I call The System. Characters trapped in The System can die, but return in different scenarios, usually with memories of their previous scenarios. They also are given skills or knowledge to deal with the “adventures” they are thrown into.
Wolf: Hopefully they don’t make the same mistakes in their new adventure. What is the meanest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
T: Trapping them in The System, of course!
Wolf: You’ve just been turned into a plant. Describe yourself.
T: I am a tea rose with beautiful. fragrant, deep red flowers. I am very prickly, so be careful how you handle me! I’m also a dawn redwood tree, tall, enduring, resiliant, and ancient.
Wolf: Cool. I have a dawn redwood in my front yard. Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?
T: Dog! Besides having a fantastic sense of smell, I am always on the move– unless I’m taking a dog nap. I’m also friendly, loving, and faithful. As Wendy Francisco says, “G o D and D o G, … I can’t match their love for me.”
Wolf: Sweet. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
T: Self-teleportation. I’ve always been fascinated with what’s over the horizon, so I’d transport all over the world to take a look—and a taste!
Wolf: I’ve always been a fan of teleportation. There is a door at the end of a dark, damp corridor. You hear rumbling. What do you do?
T: Teleport the hell outa there!
Wolf: What five items would you want to have in a post-cataclysmic world?
T: Endless food, water, and fire for starters. Protection, shelter and weaponry. Transportation that would not break down or run out of fuel; maybe an armed helicopter to get out of bad places and into defensible ones. And maybe Mad Max, Rambo, Court Gentry, or Jack Ryan Jr. as a companion!
Wolf: I think you went a bit over five items. Which of your characters is your favorite?
T: Jane Conroy Spenser. She is in all of The Blue Plane series books. She is fearless, resourceful, strong. Capable of defending herself and her charges. She has great character and resourcefulness. She has a sort of rough-hewn compassion. She can be a loner; but is absolutely devoted to those few she selects as friends. She’s also an attractive, appealing woman.
Wolf: Describe a meal you would be served while visiting another world.
T: Haven’t a clue. Now, ask me about a five-star French restaurant. I’d look at the specialties of the house and probably order caviar, some sort of black truffle soup, boned pheasant stuffed with fois gras, sautéed sole, beef bourguignon, a cheese plate, and crème brulee, with appropriate wines, of course.
Wolf: You do like food. What is your favorite body of water and why? (river, ocean, waterfall, puddle, bottle…)
T: Beautiful bays like Milford Sound in New Zealand or some of the bays on the island of Kauai, especially the cove at Princeville on Kauai’s north shore.
Wolf: Kauai is definitely beautiful. I was there for my honeymoon. What story are you working on now?
T: Completing the editing and designing a cover for The House of Storms, book 6 of The Blue Plane series. About to begin editing Lake of Fire, number 7. Winds of Reality is underway.
Wolf: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
T: Take Great Courses, primarily on history, religion, cosmology, and art. Read other writers’ novels. Take LONG road trips. Eat and cook interesting foods.
Wolf: I kind of figured you food thing. What do you read?
T: Action adventures. Romantic adventures or mysteries. Scientific, Philosophical, Historical, or Artistic college courses. Love cosmological theory, like particle physics and general relativity. Already know a fair bit about genetics and evolution from my previous life as a plant scientist, breeder, and geneticist. Enjoy religion courses but from philosophical or historical viewpoints, not dogma. Hungry for history, ancient and recent. Want to understand art, what makes good art, composition, pigment chemistry, and physiology and psychology of the viewer.
Wolf: Thanks for visiting. You can connect with T Austin Campbell through his website: TaustinCampbell.com
Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Star Touched and Wolf Dawn.
Eighteen-year-old Tatiana is running from her past and her star-touched powers eight years after a meteor devastates earth’s population. Her power to heal may be overshadowed by more destructive abilities. Fleeing the persecution of those like her, Tatiana seeks refuge in a small town she once visited. But this civil haven, in a world where society has broken down, is beginning to crumble. Will Tatiana flee or stay and fight for the new life she has built? Only by harnessing the very forces that haunt her can Tatiana save her friends…and herself.
A Hidden Past – A Deadly Secret
Gifted with the ability to wolf-talk, Kara has lived with the wolves since she lost her memories eight years ago. Now at sixteen, snippets of her past send her searching for answers.
But the warm welcome she receives in the human village hides more danger than life with the pack.