I love speculative books that are set in an intelligently drawn fictional universe, so I tried to write the kind of book I would want to read. Unfortunately, my novel is difficult to peg into a particular genre. It has elements of both science fiction and contemporary fantasy. It starts out like an episode of "The X-Files," then veers into "The Matrix," finally transforming into a "Wizard of Oz" type fantasy. This is intentional as the reader is slowly pulled from a reality-based world into a metaphysical fantasy realm. For some anxious readers the transition is a little slow, however this is only the first book of two.
This was a very challenging book to write which required a ton of research. Fortunately, I love reading about fringe topics and conspiracy theories, material which I then pulled together for this book. It was difficult to get the balance right between plot, character, and background, to make it work. Some of this weight slows down the plot. I thought "The Da Vinci Code" did an admirable job with this balancing act. There is so much material out there to work with I'm really surprised more writers don't mine it for plot ideas.Since the fantasy elements in my novel are somewhat analogous to current political and social issues I use them to satirize aspects of contemporary life. The novel maybe set in the Cold War days of the early 1980's, but the issues of apocalyptic politics are still very relevant. I unapologetically admit to taking dead aim at the cultural wars in American life.
Music plays a big part in the story. I originally wanted to quote dozens of songs throughout the book, unfortunately the hassle and expense of securing the rights would have been absurd. The story itself was largely inspired by the Synchronicity that occurs when you play Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" while watching "The Wizard of Oz." Music and film have central role in the story, as elements of Synchronicity that reflect the larger plot. It's all kinda meta.
That said, this is still an era novel dealing with the anxieties of growing up in Ronald Reagan's Cold War America. The progressive, new wave, heavy metal, and punk rock music reflected the times, the insecurities and the concerns. I wish I could release a soundtrack for the novel, however the playlist is on my website.
My favorite novel, science fiction or otherwise, is "DUNE" so I would have to say that Frank Herbert has had the greatest influence on my writing. There is nothing dumbed-down about a Frank Herbert novel - they are epic in scope and ambition. He infused his fictional worlds with philosophy, religion, politics, sociology, ecology, history, and Jungian psychology. My influences tend to be classic sci-fi/fantasy authors like Asimov, Tolkien, Clarke, Orwell, and of course Douglas Adams (who spoofed them all.)