Bruce Dunn was born and spent most of his childhood in Larchmont N.Y. He went to Northwestern, near Chicago and started in journalism, but later switched to psychology. Bruce knew before he graduated that he wanted to teach and do research at a university level. After he graduated, he worked in an actuarial department for six months before going to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. There he married Kitty Dubielzig, a student working in the genetics lab of Nobel-Prize winner Josh Lederberg. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in experimental psychology with a minor in mathematical statistics. He taught, did research, and lived on a farm for two years before moving to the University of Calgary in Canada. He spent the rest of his career there until retirement. While there, he taught and published in the area of pure and applied sensory perception, and in research design. For two years, he was president of the Canadian Acoustical Association. Since retiring, he has had time to pursue his interests in anthropology, genetics, particle physics, and number theory. Just as important, now he has time to return to writing fiction again, but not anymore writing about knights, but rather writing science fiction. His first book in this series was “Pygmalion Conspiracy”.
What makes your books stand out from others in the same genre?
It is creative and unique. I will quote from my copy editor from Firsteditiong.com. She wrote about the first book, “Pygmalion Conspiracy”. She wrote, “All I have to say is WOW! I have NEVER read anything like this! This is by far the most creative, unique, captivating, (and educational) book I’ve read/edited in a long time. I couldn’t help but feel enamored with your writing style and the world you created. It’s absolutely stunning. What a creative story! Jeevra is a phenomenal protagonist, and I have no doubt your readers will love this book from cover to cover.”
It is hard to fit into a genre other than simply science fiction. The starting date is around 200,000 years ago and, at least for Goodreads, that is too far back to be called historical science fiction. The whole series of four books covers a period from about 450,000 to about 8000 years ago.
Perhaps it is anthropological science fiction or maybe even creationist science fiction, but it is by no means in the Christian tradition. It is more in the line of genetic engineering.
What part of being an indie author do you enjoy the most?
I’m not sure. I am really glad I had the opportunity to hire my own cover artist (Tiffany Tutti) and my own copy editing company. I would hate to change the story just to make it sell better. Otherwise I’m not sure what traditional publishing experience would be like.
What are some pros and cons to retaining full creative control over your book?
There are no cons to me. However, I can see cons for someone whose livelihood depends on the revenue from a book. I feel pretty sure of the sales expertise of major book companies. For me I want creative control. I am willing to pay for it. However, I do not know if a book company would demand changes for better sales. I will say that two people who wrote to me about how much they like my book worked as editors in major book companies. So I do wonder at times if I made a mistake. I do know that as a self-published author I can win neither the Hugo nor Nebula awards. This may seem arrogant of me, but I do know that a book of poetry that sold only bout 1500 copies won the Nobel Prize for literature.
What was the process you went through to design your covers?
I went to a site that tries to put entrepreneurs and clients together. I was lucky I found Tiffany Tutti. She has done all four covers. Usually I give her six or seven written scenarios and ask her to illustrate the one she feels best about. It’s worked great.
What is the most difficult aspect of both creating and marketing a book yourself?
Since this is history, I had to be very careful in dealing what was known and unknown, and in dealing with my speculations. I created a holy book of a tetraploid species called the Tovazi, which describes the universe before and after the ”Big Bang” We do not have the hard data to more than doubt my description. I postulate one or two extra forces (in addition to the electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces plus gravity), and dabble in extra dimensions. I do worry a bit as they keep discovering more close planets with planets that might support life. There location could be a problem for my history. The marketing is difficult for me. I felt uncomfortable helping my daughter sell girl-scout cookies. I find promoting myself is harder by far then promoting someone else, but I am improving. I’m doing this interview.
If you could go back in time to before any of your books had come out, what would you do differently?
Depending how far back, a lot. When I first started writing what I’ll call Book 1 in 1992, I had every intention of trying to publish with Random House. I had an in with an editor of their children’s section. She didn’t promise I’d be published but that I’d be read seriously. What more could I ask? However, I was still writing Book 1 when she retired. Book 1 eventually reached over 300,000 words and was going on into infinity when I read “The History of the World in 91/2 Chapters”. Instead of writing a continuous history of the galaxy, I could write it in discrete episodes in many fewer words. I did this, but still it was 380.000 words when finished. I still planned to submit it to a traditional publisher. However, reading a comment stream in Amazon, I discovered that the books of new authors should probably be under 100,000 words. Oops. I realized I was looking at four books. I was now well passed retirement and the time to get all the books published, particularly if I had to send them to many publishers. This became a factor. I decided to go the self-published route. If I could do it again I would write them in a reasonable time and try to publish with Random House. I would never have known what I would miss in not hiring Tiffany, nor would I initially known what limitations on my creativity would follow given that route.
195000 years ago, the Tovazi, chosen of God, faced a challenger.
The Tovazi decided they needed greater speed in space to maintain their supremacy. Since they could not remain conscious during near light speed, they opted to enhance one of the intellectually handicapped that could and then use them as pilots. To that end, they decided to employ eager scientists who had a chance of succeeding.
Jeevra, a young research-design expert, along with biologists, and geneticists was sent to the third planet around a middle-sized star. Jeevra and the team worked brilliantly to reach the goal despite a love triangle, betrayal, illness, an attempted kidnapping, and the near impossibility of defining, much less achieving, enhancement.
As they realized they might succeed, Jeevra and many of the scientists came to have misgivings about the governments plan to enslave enhanced aboriginals. Led by Jeevra, the scientists plotted to give those they enhanced a chance to choose their own destiny.
The only way this could be made to happen would be to either get those they enhanced off the planet or hide them in the wilds of the planet itself. To get them off the planet to anywhere safe from the Tovazi, they needed a space ship. None were readily available so they would have to employ desperate measures to steal one. If they succeeded in that, they would have to find a way to stock they ship with supplies so that the newly enhanced could survive on one or more distant planets. On the other hand, if they decided to hide them in the wilds, they would have to teach them to survive on a hostile planet. Plus, if the Tovazi government discovered that the enhancement project had succeeded, the Tovazi government would expect to find them on the research planet. If they were not there, there was no telling what the consequences would be for the scientists and the Tovazi agents would almost certainly hunt the newly enhanced in the wild. No matter what they decided to do, it must be done before the Tovazi agents arrived.
The latter third of the book tells how the scientists dealt with those dilemmas and the huge obstacles they faced from their own people and from their own morality as the Tovazi’s need for intelligent pilots suddenly grew.