When and why did you start writing?
My day job is computer consultant, however Iíve been writing, in one form or
another, for most of my professional life. You knowletters, proposal responses,
documentationthat sort of thing. In March of 2000 I decided to see if I could
augment my consulting work with some work-from-home technical writing and
I was fortunate enough to get picked up by CMP Media, Inc., one of the first
publishers I approached. At the time, they had just converted their former
Windows Magazine publication into an online e-zine called WinMag.com and I was
assigned to evaluate new products and prepare 800- to 2,400-word reviews. When
WinMag.com was closed down, I moved to Sandhills Publishingís Smart Computing
magazine, where I wrote mostly how-to pieces for new computer users.
But thats all non-fiction work. How did you get started writing fiction and the novels that make up your series?
Each issue of Smart Computing was focused on a single topic and one month the
topic was one I knew nothing aboutso I took the month off and started writing
fiction as an experiment. By the end of the month I had formulated a story line and
knocked out the first three chapters. I discovered that I loved fiction and a year later
Tractrix was finished! Of course I had to continue consulting and technical writing
for Smart Computing, so my fiction work was done evenings and week-ends
whenever I could find free time.
I understand that your first book, Tractrix, deals with the Maya and their advanced knowledge of science. Have you always been interested in anthropology and early cultures?
Absolutely not! My educational background is in physics and mathematics and
in college I thought I wanted to be an astrophysicist. I was totally focused on
the physical sciences and I stayed as far away from the Social Sciences department
as I could. I had heard of the Maya, of course, but I really knew nothing about them
until I stumbled across an article on the Internet during the preliminary research for
Tractrix. It turns out I could probably have learned more about astronomy from
the Maya than I did in school. What a fascinatingand mysteriousculture!
Over the course of your series, the lead character develops a theory that civilizations existed on earth much earlier than taught by traditional anthropology and that some civilizations, such as the Maya, were influenced by external forces. Do you actually believe this premise, or was it created just for your series?
Well, first of all, itís not my idea at all. Many people now believe that sophisticated
civilizations may have thrived on earth long before the Mesopotamians and
Sumerians. Anthropology still teaches that complex societies first developed from
agricultural roots in the mid-east and Asia about 5,000 years ago. However,
archaeology, especially the relatively new branch of underwater archaeology,
has discovered a number of sites that may be at least 10,000 years old. These sites
were obviously built by people who meet all of anthropologyís definitions of
civilization and yet anthropologists continue to ignore the evidence.
The theory developed by the lead character in my series is actually based on
the research and writings of an Englishman named Graham Hancock, who believes
that a civilization, or a group of civilizations, flourished in several lower-latitude
coastal areas about 12,000 years ago. At the end of the last Ice Age, the levels of
the oceans rose more than 300 feet and 15 million square miles of habitable land
were lost. Until recently, we havenít had the abilityor the desireto explore these
underwater regions for signs of earlier civilizations. My character takes this idea
one step further: if civilization was wiped out once by a cataclysmic change, could it
have happened more than once? And if so, whoor whatjumpstarted us humans
and got us on the road to civilization again?
You say that several sites have been discovered that pre-date Mesopotamiawhere are these sites and why arent these discoveries front page news?
One of the earliest discoveries was made quite accidentally by a Japanese scuba diver
named Aratake in 1986 or 1987. The Yonagui Monument, as it is called, takes its name
from the tiny island nearby where the bulk of my second book (Tsubute) takes place.
But there are other sitesseveral more in the waters of southern Japan and off both
coasts of India. Hancocks 769-page book called Underworld provides a more
comprehensive list of the known sites.
Iím guessing these discoveries donít make the front page because when the media
goes to the experts on the subject (i.e. established anthropologists), theyre told
that the finding must be the work of crack-pots because they dispute the current
thinking on the subject.
The places you mentioned are all in the Far East. Are there sites elsewhere, or has the origin of the earliest civilizations just been shifted a few thousand miles to the east?
Coincidently, my third book is based on a very recent discoveryand certainly
the most puzzling site thus far. Itís in much deeper water. Geologists believe that
the land bridge it once occupied probably collapsed between 15,000 and 50,000
years ago. The site was first discovered in the summer of 2000 by a team of Canadian
researchers and itís just off the northwestern tip of Cubaright in our own back yard!
Unfortunately, not much research has been done on the site, partly due to its
depthmore than 2,100 feet below the surfaceand partly because Castro wont let
any American teams in to survey the site, which is now being called Mega.
Incredible! What do we know about Mega?
Very little scientific or physical information has been released, but the site
covers more than 7 square miles and its structures appear to be made mostly of
granitewhich isnt native to the area. In fact, the closest source of granite is more
than 1,000 miles away! And thatís about all we know, for sure, but it should be noted
that the Mega site was originally on a land bridge that connected the Yucatan of
Mexico to the island of Cuba. In other words, Mega may have some connection to
the Maya! And the characters in Triangle learn a lot more about Megaand those who
built itin the upcoming conclusion to my Seeds of Civilization series. Watch for
Triangle (early 2007) and check out the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say.
Let me close by asking about your personal take on these theories. Since you have a background in science, do you believe anthropology could really be so wrong or are Hancock and the others simply misinterpreting their findings?
I certainly wouldnít characterize myself as a scientist, but as a student of science
it has always bothered me that most of what we call scientific facts are nothing
more than todays accepted theories. Tomorrow, a new discovery might change
the way we view the whole universe. And thats okay. Science is a work in progress
and thats the way it should be. Whats not okay is when men and women of science
start taking their work too seriously and begin calling their theories (their hunches and
guesses) Scientific Facts. Then they become defensive and stop thinking. New ideas
are rejected without consideration because they donít fit the norm.
I think this is going on in anthropology right now. The facts are there, or at least
theres a whole new body of evidence to investigate, but if you pick up any paper or
textbook supported by the scientific establishment youll find the same old song
about the origin of civilizationsMesopotamia, approximately 5,000 years ago.
Theres an old saying that fact is stranger than fiction. I invite you to do a Google
search for Yonaguni or lost city of Cuba and see whats out there. You will be
amazed, at the very least, and you may find yourself wondering if the stories about
Atlantis are actually true!