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A report on the rapid buildup of CO2 in our atmosphere over the past 50 years sparked the idea for my new thriller novel Red Hot Sky. After I read the report, I began wondering what would happen if the rapid CO2 increase continues unchecked. In the past, high and low levels of CO2 in our atmosphere have been associated with radical changes in earth’s climate. The CO2 level was very low during the last ice age. And the levels have always risen dramatically during warming periods between ice ages. Could our present CO2 buildup reach another tipping point, and another radical shift in world climate? But instead of an ice age, can it kick earth into a much hotter and more dire kind of climate?

I used that possibility for the setting in Red Hot Sky. But how will people behave when faced with an approaching disaster that could end of human survival? In this scenario, a powerful computer model foretells the looming disaster. The situation brings out the best In some of the characters, the very worst in others.

The characters were developed out of the challenges they faced. Ben Mason and Claudine Manet are co-developers of the secret computer model. They are the ones who are willing to sacrifice everything to save the planet. They are also in love, and sometimes their passions sizzle, and other times their feelings and misunderstandings drive them apart and put their relationship on thin ice.

A disgraced Russian general waits for a chance to regain his power. He learns of the climate threat through a hacker and seizes on this as this opportunity to not only take over Russia, but to ultimately rule the world. Ben Mason, who had started with the CIA in their forensics lab before leaving to take over the development of the national lab computer model, returns to the CIA and is sent on a hazardous mission to block the general’s scheme. His cover is blown and he’s on the run in hostile territory.

Claudine is put in charge of a massive NASA program to hold off the looming disaster. But just when her project is ready to launch, it is stopped dead by bureaucracy. The climate change catastrophe steadily approaches.

I chose a worldwide stage to emphasize the threat to the whole planet, and to speed up the pace of the story. The action moves from Washington to JPL in Pasadena, to Geneva, to Tehran, to Prague, and finally to Moscow. The aim in writing Red Hot Sky was to provide a fast-paced, knuckle biting, and thoroughly enjoyable experience for the reader. I must confess, I also had in mind the hope that in the process, the reader might become more aware of the risks unchecked global warming poses for the future health of our planet.

Gordon Gumpertz brings fiction readers another exciting action/adventure experience in his new novel RED HOT SKY. This is the author’s second book, following his highly acclaimed novel TSUNAMI.

In addition to writing novels, Gordon has won gold and silver awards in national and regional short story competitions. He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Palm Springs Writers Guild, a UCLA graduate, and an instrument-rated private pilot. He keeps his website current by blogging on natural disasters and natural phenomena.

Gordon and his wife Jenny live not far from the San Andreas fault, where the Pacific Plate thrusts into the North American Plate, building increasingly high levels of faultline stress which, the seismologists say, may soon produce the Big One.

Visit his website at www.tsunaminaturaldisaster.com.

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About Red Hot Sky

CO2 buildup in earth’s atmosphere reaches a tipping point. Global weather destabilizes, turns chaotic. Ice storms, dust storms, floods, blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes pummel the earth nonstop. A secret computer model reveals that the frantic weather will peak out, and transform world climate into an alien environment devastating to human survival.

Scientists Ben Mason, Claudine Manet, and Bertrand Short are developers of the computer model. Ben and Claudine are lovers as well as lab partners. While they work frantically to head off the approaching catastrophe, a disgraced Russian general hacks into their model and sees earth’s bleak future as his opportunity for ultimate world power.

Ben, who had left the CIA to develop the computer model at the national lab, is reactivated by the Agency and sent on a perilous mission to block the rogue general’s plot. Claudine, not realizing that Ben is on a secret mission, misunderstands his absence, putting their relationship on thin ice.

Claudine is placed in charge of a massive NASA project that, if completed on time, could stop the approaching doomsday climate change. But her project is stalled by bureaucracy. Ben is on the run in hostile territory. The climate change calamity steadily approaches.

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Bob Boan has been a member of the space community for over twenty-five years developing RF and optical systems for communications and sensing satellites. He has multiple patents and publications in his field. Previously, he served in academia. He earned a BS from Campbell University, a master’s from the University of Mississippi and a doctorate from Florida Institute of Technology. He’s with us today to talk about his latest novel, Bobby Becomes Bob, published by Twilight Times Books.

Visit the author’s website to read reviews and find out more about his work.

About the book:
(blurb provided by Bob Boan)

Bobby Becomes Bob is story of coming of age set in small-town North Carolina. The story depicts life in rural areas across the U.S. in the Fifties through early Seventies. The events are seen through Bobby Padgett’s eyes. It is a story of sharing. It is a story of great happiness. It is a story of unfortunate events. Bobby was nurtured and sheltered by a small, caring community. Ultimately, that loving little town could not protect him from misfortune in the world-at-large. Perhaps it also proves that all good things and most bad things come to an end. His extended ordeal finally ended allowing him to return to St. Umblers. Was it too late to regain the love of his life – Sam? He and Sam had been nearly inseparable before his departure. Sam, though she had no way to know it, was largely responsible for helping him through his darkest moments.

Read an excerpt here.

Thanks for being my guest today, Bob. From space scientist to literary author… will you share with my readers how this came about?

Mayra, I first flirted with the idea of being a literary author as a young teenager. I wondered if I could tell tales as well as some of my favorite authors. Being the confident optimist that I have always been, I’m sure that it was more like “I’ll bet I can write a story every bit as well as they can.” Nonetheless, I put that thought aside for more traditional teenage activities. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I revisited the concept of becoming a writer. I made several unremarkable attempts at writing over the next dozen or so years. Frankly, looking back, what I wrote wasn’t very good. I found I needed concentrated blocks of time which were unavailable to me in order to write partially because I am severely typing challenged. If I were going to be a successful writer, I was going to have to overcome my time constraints. I retired to write. I flunked retirement several times continuing to delay the fulfillment of my desire to be an author. I finally got retirement about right, I think.

You were a voracious reader as a child. Were you also a young writer or did writing come later?

As I think back to my youth, I wouldn’t say I was so much a writer as a verbose user of words much of the time. When I wasn’t being unnecessarily wordy, I was blunt and brief. Neither of those is a highly desirable trait for an author. Good thing I didn’t have to rely upon income from writing to live during my youth though it probably would not have afforded a much more Spartan existence.

Your enthusiasm for literature was somewhat blunted when you took high school and literary courses. Can you tell us why?

As I mentioned before Mayra, I never lacked confidence. I have been told that I successfully demand to be different. Perhaps there were those who needed the teacher to tell them what a passage or a story meant. That was not me! Maybe I was being a brat but I wanted to get from my reading that which I wanted to get. I wanted to be the one to fill in the bandwidth as opposed to some instructor telling me that when I read the snow was accumulating in deep drifts really meant that the author was in a dark mood. I didn’t see and didn’t want to see the instructor’s interpretation. I pretty much shut down and left the printed word behind except for required reading.

Interesting. I’m sure many students can identify with that. Let’s move on to your latest novel. Bobby Becomes Bob is a coming-of-age literary story set in a rural town. What was your inspiration for it and what themes do you explore in the novel?

More than once, I had heard the advice, “write about something you know.” That sounded reasonable to me so I chose to follow that advice. I grew up in a rural North Carolina town quite similar to St. Umblers during the time frame of the story—the 50s through the 70s. Bobby Becomes Bob is a story of real-life. When I started planning the book, Bobby was going to approximate a superhero. It was only after one of my daughters asked me to tell her about my life growing up that I decided to change the tone of the story partially to answer the questions she didn’t know how to ask. I found Bobby more likable after I made him invulnerable. He was certainly much more realistic. I made Bobby an Everyman. The hero could have been almost anyone from a large number of rural towns across the country. I focused on the ups and downs of life to which any one of us might have been exposed during that period of history.

You’ve also penned two other books, An Introduction to Planetary Defense: A Study of Modern Warfare Applied to Extra-Terrestrial Invasion (Brown Walker 2006) and Williams Lake Was Once The Center of The Universe (Verbal Pictures Press 2008). How was your background helpful in writing these books?

My science background was extremely instrumental in being able to co-author An Introduction to Planetary Defense as it is a science text. It was necessary to do significant research in a variety of technical disciplines to compile the data to complete that book. Williams Lake Was Once The Center of The Universe is a novel. Once again, I had to do research albeit a different variety. This time I sought out stories associated with Williams Lake and other similar venues from the second half of the 60s. I called upon some of my memories as attenuated by 40 years or so as well as those of several friends. It was also necessary to do research for the historical content in the second part of the book.

Bobby Becomes Bob, however, is quite different from these two, and doesn’t have anything to do with space and science. What compelled you to take this new direction?

My desire to write was always genre-free. When I was thinking of writing I actually never thought about fitting into a genre such as fiction or science. I consider myself more versatile than that.

Has the writing of this novel transformed you as a writer?

I’ve learned several lessons as a writer from the experience of going through the process of getting this book published. One of the things that I learned is that I used the word “that” far too frequently. I had to reduce the number of repetitions of the word “that” by at least an order of magnitude. I also found that I had a tendency to oversell a point by repeating it using different terminology. I thought that I was helping the reader understand the point of emphasis; however, in truth I was probably losing the reader. Another major transformation which took place during the publishing process was to understand the importance of maintaining a consistent point of view. Failure to do so can be confusing and frustrating to the reader.

How do you combine your left-brained scientist self with your right-brained creative self when you sit down to write? Does your ‘logical’ side get in the way at times? By this I mean, do you edit methodically as you write, or do you allow your creative side to take control and just ‘write down the bones’?

When I sit down to write I trust my creative side and allow it significant freedoms; however, I have to come back with the logical side and test timelines, accomplishments and the like to make sure that they are within the realm of the possible. While there are exceptions, as a rule I write the entire story before beginning to edit unless my logical nature tells me that there is a problem. If that happens, I stop and edit the sections involved.

Are you a disciplined writer? I read somewhere that you’re able to write 7,000 words in an 8-hour working day!

Being a task-oriented person, I think of myself as a highly disciplined writer. When I write, it becomes my job; I dedicate myself to it day in and day out according to a schedule.

Mayra, I’d like to routinely write 7000 words in an eight-hour day. But, that 7000 words per day was a calculated theoretical upper limit for my output as a metric to help me understand how much time I had to set aside to write a book. Hitting that mark would enable me to write a typical novel in approximately 15 days. The truth is I was falling far short of that level of output. In practice, I was taking more like 60 days eight-hour days. Speech recognition technology was partially responsible for achieving my level of production. In the last couple of years, the technology has improved enough to allow me to approach that 7000 word day on occasion.

I admire your productivity! Sixty days is still quite impressive in finishing a book!

I understand that, as a writer, you were deeply affected by Mark Twain and Jane Austen. Can you tell us what about them you’ve found most influencing?

On the surface, they appear quite different. In practice, they are very similar. They reached their endpoints from opposite directions. Mark Twain used folksy humor to tell his stories while Ms. Austen used the elegant language of the upper crust. Despite their difference in delivery, they both had the ability to relay life in simple, entertaining terms.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

My website, www.bobboan.com, is up and running while undergoing reconstruction. I hope to have the improved version operational by mid-August. I don’t have a blog at the moment; that’s something that I have been considering. Mayra, your readers and others can find me on Facebook which is as close to a blog as I have.

What’s next for Bob Boan?

I am working on a couple of mystery novels. The first of those, Don’t Tell Brenda, is forthcoming from Twilight Times Books, within the next few months. The other is a collaborative effort with Travis S. Taylor. The first draft is currently titled The Defense Affair. It is somewhere in the range of 60% finished. We hope to have it in bookstores early next year. We will begin the search for a publisher by September. Any help finding one would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the insightful interview, Bob, and best of luck with all your writing endevours!

Thank you, Mayra. It was a pleasure being with you. I hope we have a chance to chat again.

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opertionemubookThird-rate Hollywood actors and top NASA astronauts come together in this quirky, hilarious romp of a novel.

Somewhere in the depths of NASA, a team of scientists begin to conduct a top secret operation called OPERATION EMU… Soon afterwards, a Hollywood producer puts together a team of actors for a mysterious, low-budget movie…

Some time later, after an intense training period, NASA sends three astronauts to space on a special mission to visit a nearby planet believed to have intelligent life. The astronauts are sedated for the whole duration of the long trip. When they wake, they realize they have landed on said planet. However, a huge surprise awaits, for this planet is inhabited by primitive cave people who roam around practically naked and who are friendly and naive. Untouched by technology, they live simply and happily, without such worries as politics or feminism. Indeed, the men hunt, and the women cook and take care of their home’s bare necessities. Their religion consists of worshipping animal gods.

The story goes on to show the behavior of the three astronauts toward the aliens. Are the astronauts compassionate and protective, or does their dominating, imperialistic nature as ‘superior’ humans take control? How are their actions and interactions in this new, prehistoric environment where they suddenly have the capacity to become kings and even ‘gods’ to these weaker living beings?

Operation Emu is a thought-provoking satire, one that will make you wonder about Hollywood, science, and the US Space Program. The novel will also make you wonder about human nature and the advantages of technology, as well as our capacity to dominate. We have, in fact, achieved a lot in the last few thousand years, but at what price? Could it be at the price of our humanity? The reader will enjoy the story’s political and religious implications. The dialogue is sharp and propels the story at a quick pace. The characters are offbeat and some of the ridiculous situations will make you laugh out loud. Author B. Brandon Barker has created a smart, funny parody of what really means to be an ‘advanced’ homo sapiens.

If you enjoy satire, you’ll want to add Operation Emu to your shelf.

Visit the author’s website at http://www.bbrandonbarker.com/

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