Frailty of the Humour Mind #1

‘Scientists find brightest thing in universe’

Globe and Mail Newspaper

‘A team of astronomers has discovered the brightest object in the universe – a light source burning with such intensity that they calculate it could barbecue a chicken 3,000 light-years away’

This is disturbing information, especially if you are a chicken.  One would hope there is a sign near the 3,000 light year mark that warns chickens not to get any closer.  No doubt the free-ranging chickens are the most endangered since the others, the cooped-up chooks, are unlikely to be travelling the universe, unless they are finger-lickin’ good astronaut snack-packs.  One wonders how close you would have to be to barbecue an 8oz steak?  Would it cook evenly?

How far is 3,000 light years?  I’d say it’s a fair stretch.  But the scientists who know these things tell us that it is actually a very long way. The Internet tells us that one light year, and I quote: ”Is the distance light travels in one year. How far is that? Multiply the number of seconds in one year by the number of miles or kilometers that light travels in one second, and there you have it: one light-year. It’s about 5.88 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km).” My calculator exploded when I tried to convert that to kilometres.

The brightest thing out ‘there’ is a quasar burning 11 billion light years from earth.  The quasar is apparently five million billion times brighter than our sun.  There are no stores selling the kind of sun lotion you, or any chicken, will need, for protection from over-exposure to the quasar.

If the quasar is the brightest thing in the universe why has it not found a cure for the common cold?  Who is it that does all these calculations anyway?

The universe, according to those who may understand these things, began with a big bang about 20 billion years ago, on a Tuesday.  Some experts argue it was a big ‘boom’.  But definitely not a boom-bang or a bang-boom.

Then later that same day, or 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds later to be precise, gravity set in.  After that, history rolled along quite nicely until we got to where we are today.

And just where are we?  According to scientists we are so insignificant that on a city block size map of the universe the earth would not appear at all.

Little wonder then, that we have not been officially visited by space travellers. And perhaps it is because of our irrelevance in the grand scheme of things that we want to know what is ‘out there’ and how far out there actually is.

But what would happen if the universe decided to chuck it all in and call it a day – the big crunch.

Well I don’t really know.

But fortunately the experts do.  They calculate that in one trillion years only a black hole will remain.  Eventually, there will only be a thin piece of radiation, the odd particle and the occasional barbecued chicken.

Strangely, it will be a Tuesday.

“How Did You Go About Writing The Book?”

I have been asked this question several times. Every writer is different but I found what worked for me with this book, somewhat surprisingly, was a hybrid approach. It went something like this.

1) Write out the main ideas for the storyline.

2) Loosely work out the arc of the story.

3) Create the main characters – about five really, to begin with.

4) Systematically plot out every chapter, start to finish, including a short chapter summary, the scene (where), the goal of the chapter, the characters involved, and how the chapter fed into the overall story-line.   

5) Start writing (after feeling good about finishing #4.

6) Except here’s where it got surprising and interesting. At about Chapter 3 I started to deviate from my detailed outline. As I got more into the characters themselves, I found they started to take over where the story would go next. At first it was a bit frustrating and I thought I’d be going backwards by not sticking to ‘the plan’. Then after a while I let go of that and just went with the flow.

7) Sure, there were plenty of chapters moved around as well, but the nice thing was that I was always thinking about the plot, and I think that helped me write the chapters. Not knowing exactly what would happen through the book kind of kept me alive and engaged with the writing – and there were very few days over the course of several months where I wasn’t thinking about the book and the characters.

8) Created a soundtrack. Sounds odd, but there were a number of songs that seemed super relevant to the storyline and I played those songs A LOT.    

9) For the second book in this series I’m doing something different. Instead of the detailed outline (I still think it was a good idea as it helped to shape my thoughts), I now have the storyline and main chapters mapped out with sticky notes on a wall hanging. That seems to be working pretty well.

Of course, the extent of how well it worked for the first book in the series is really over to the readers!

-CJ

A LOOK INSIDE

A LOOK INSIDE THE SECRET OF IMMORTALITY: THE TOMBMAKERS VILLAGE

Tom walked briskly to his office at the university, which he’d done hundreds of times before. But this was the first time he felt like he was being watched. Unnerving. Sure, it was 3:30am, so some sort of spookiness was acceptable, but something just didn’t feel right. He walked faster. He got to the Adams building, unlocked the front door and shut it quickly. Relief sped through his body. A few minutes later he was huddled over his laptop screen, coffee in hand and silence all around. From the outside, the Adams building was dark except for the faint light emanating from Tom’s office. A man stood motionless in the shadows beneath the maple trees on the hill opposite the building.

Instinctively Tom grabbed his tennis racket that was resting up against his desk, as it had been for two years, and held it out as if he was about to make a line drive to win the Wimbeldon final. The sweat rapidly accumulated on his forehead; his heart beat frantically. The rattling stopped. Now what? Keys fumbled in the keyhole. Eventually the door opened. The man turned the light on and saw Tom five feet away, now poised to deliver a winning overhead serve into the man’s face.

AUTHOR Q&A

What inspired you to write this book?

I enjoy creating something from nothing. The idea for the book had been in my mind for years, and events in my life and those of others I know brought the storyline together. I also enjoy mixing fact with fiction and pushing the boundaries of the possible. While there are no super heroes in the book, I’d like to think that readers see themselves in the roles of the various characters doing their best in extraordinary circumstances and making the best decisions they can. Some decisions, of course, don’t work out. That makes for a lot of fun writing the book.

Where did you get inspiration for your characters?

Tough question. The inspiration comes from the storyline itself and what characters are the best ‘fit’ for the overall arc of the story. And then the characters kind of take over and the story evolves based on how they interact with one another, their own back-stories, personal desires and fears and so on. The characters themselves are all around us in real life. None of the characters are copies of specific, real people but rather, they take on their identities as composites of different human behavior, personalities and traits. I have my own favorite characters in the book but I know readers who have different favorites. I think the characters are continually transformed in some way by the events that occur. And this keeps occurring into Book 2 of the series, which I’m currently writing.