Interview with Conor P Dempsey

Tricia:. Today’s interview is with Conor Dempsey, author of The Exiles of the New World. Thanks for joining us, Conor. Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

Conor: Thanks for having me, Tricia. Well, let’s see. I’m 28. I was born and grew up in Kentucky, but spent the last decade or so in the Midwest, specifically Wisconsin and now Chicago. I enjoy many pursuits outside of writing, such as traveling, thinking about traveling, reading, rock climbing, biking, dodgeball and watching movies. I still remain a rabid sports fan, especially with my allegiances to the Cubs, Kentucky basketball, the Bears and Liverpool FC. I would also love to live in Ireland or New Zealand some day.

Tricia: Ireland? Me too. When did you begin writing?

Conor: I used to write a lot as a kid. Although I’m not much for poetry now, I won some poetry contests in grade school and had to go to city hall in Lexington (KY) to read them. I think that period of time might have also featured some terrible Star Wars fan fiction scribbled in notebooks, but my selective memory is spotty and purposefully so. I took a break from writing after that and didn’t seriously clamp down and make a go at being a serious writer until the end of college.

Tricia: Can you tell us about The Exiles of the New World?

Conor: The Exiles of the New World is a science fiction novel that follows two seemingly unrelated stories. The first thread is about a group of survivors who find themselves trapped on a spaceship hurtling out of the galaxy with shrouded purpose. The second chronicles a man with no memories who finds himself on a barren, desolate earth, left to explore the fate of the planet and its population.

Tricia: Let’s have a look at the official blurb:

On a seemingly quiet summer day, a mysterious pathogen is released upon a remote observatory in New Mexico, killing the sole technician on duty. A recovery team later finds the technician’s body with a note containing the last set of spatial coordinates the observatory’s telescope was pointed at, which the technician believes has triggered the end of days.

The next morning, disgraced physics professor Theodore Kim finds himself on a spacecraft orbiting Saturn. With no recollection of how he got there, he tries to piece together his recruitment as part of an unwilling crew along with his longtime girlfriend, a retired physician, a Russian aviator, a zoologist, and a stay-at-home mother. Without explanation, the experimental craft known as the Moirae departs the galaxy for an unknown destination.

Back on earth, Douglas Silva, a man with no memories, discovers a landscape punctuated by death and abandonment. With no knowledge of the earth’s demise, he is haunted by a single vision. A dream. A dream of a man falling from the sky. A dream that, unbeknownst to him, belongs to Theodore Kim.

As Silva moves deeper into the wasteland and the Moirae drifts farther away from the galaxy, the questions mount. What has happened to the earth? Why has the Moirae been cast off into space? Are they the last ark of humanity, sent to colonize some distant planet? Or have they been sent on a fool’s errand to search out God in the depths of space, as some of the crew believe? If so, why did they send Kim, a boozing agnostic, to do the talking?

Tricia: How did you get the idea for the book?
Conor: As with most writers, I think it started with a single image or idea. In this case it was the image of an astronaut drifting helplessly in space. This eventually became the prologue for the book. Everything sort of sprang from that, even as the story was lined and bolstered by more ambitious ideas.

Tricia: Which character in your novel did you enjoy writing the most? Why?

Conor: Probably Teddy Kim, the protagonist. Since our characters are inevitably outlets of some small part of ourselves, he seems to be the least like me and therefore the most fun to write. Leave it to an introvert to have a good time writing an extrovert. His verbal sparring with the Paul Grant character provided some of my favorite passages to write.

Tricia: What was the most challenging aspect of writing your novel?
Conor: Piecing together a somewhat complex plot that features two intercutting, but separate stories. Then linking those two threads together so that they not only connected, but hit similar beats in pacing, theme and emotion was quite difficult. It was like trying to write a really long episode of Lost, but with the added responsibility of actually taking time to answer the questions posed.

Tricia: It certainly seems all that hard work has paid off. Which authors have inspired your writing?

Conor: I certainly benefit from having some humor in my prose. I don’t have an overly lyrical style for my writing and truthfully, I couldn’t pull off literary fiction if I tried. So, having said that, the types of work that most influence the way I write are from people like Douglas Adams, Ray Bradbury, Tolkien, Michael Crichton and Brain Jacques. But literary scribes like Jack London and Steinbeck also had a big impact on me. I just am incapable of writing like them.

Tricia: Maybe one day a new author will say they’ve been inspired by Conor Dempsey. How cool would that be? I have to ask this next question of all my November interviewees: Are you participating in NaNoWriMo?

Conor: I am, but I always cheat. I’m going to use it this year as a means to finish up the first draft of my second book. I plan on attending some of the NaNoWriMo events in Chicago though. Nanowrimo.org has groups in most cities if people are looking for some companionship in their NaNoWriMo journey. Should be fun!

Tricia: Um, yeah. I plan to cheat at NaNo too, but don’t tell anyone I said that. What advice do you have for new or aspiring authors?

Conor: It has almost become a cliché to say this, but I still think it’s sage advice. Never write something just to follow the trends. Certainly it is fine to write a zombie or vampire book with the glut of zombie and vampire fiction out there, but just make sure you’re writing it because you want to write that book. Not just because you think you’ll have a better chance of getting published or because you saw the box office numbers for Twilight. It’s possible that you might boost your chances to have your work read, but you also boost your chances of producing a derivative product. So, if you really want to write a book about a scrappy underdog vampire baseball team or The Joy Luck Club of zombie fiction, go for it. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

Tricia: I think that’s great advice. Where can my readers go to learn more about your work or to purchase one of your novels?

Conor: My website is not a bad place to start, conorpdempsey.com, but you can also find the book itself on Amazon (link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Exiles-World-Conor-Dempsey/dp/1467509833/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335940163&sr=8-1) and just in the last week I finally got a facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TheExilesOfTheNewWorld) page up for it. I can be reached on twitter @conorpdempsey too.

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