Introduction by Interviewer:
I am pleased to discuss a debut novel, “Corr Syl the Warrior” with its author Dr. Garry Rogers.
Garry grew up on a farm in the Midwest. He has a PhD in Physical Geography and he taught at Columbia University in New York, and at UCLA.
Dr. Rogers has one surviving son, one daughter, and three left-behind cats. One son died after a long battle with diabetes. Garry owns a farm in central Arizona that he manages for wildlife. The farm is home to many species of amphibians, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, fish, mammals, and reptiles.
The novel is the story of a young Tsaeb warrior facing the new demands of adult responsibility amidst the confusion of sexual attraction and the danger of war. The story takes place on an Earth on which intelligence evolved long before humans appeared. It tells of the conflict between the peaceful but powerful Tsaeb civilization and a new species, the ambitious Danog.
Q. Is your new novel available now?
A. Yes. The eBook for Kindle is available on Amazon.
Q. What is your book’s genre?
A. It is EcoFiction for young readers.
Q: Tell our audience what EcoFiction is.
A: It is Science Fiction with an ecology or nature conservation theme.
Q: Garry, tell us what Corr Syl the Warrior is about.
A: "The setting is an Earth on which intelligence evolved long before humans appeared. The story follows a young warrior named Corr Syl into a conflict between humans and the ancient multi-species Tsaeb civilization. Corr is forced to take responsibility for making decisions that could have global consequences."
Q. What gave you the idea for this book?
A. One day, as I finished exercising, I was mulling over a blog post about the decline of native animals when I realized that a pattern in the ceiling texture looked just like an angry rabbit with a very large tail. Peculiar. I thought about how a rabbit might have so large a tail, and a new world began to crystalize.
Q. Do you mean you saw the plot for the novel?
A. Not exactly. Lying there thinking about the rabbit's tail, I decided that a rabbit might grow a large tail if it were intelligent and had learned to control its genetics and chemistry. I wondered why rabbits weren’t intelligent, and I remembered that science does not yet understand the origin or mechanisms of intelligence. What would happen if all animals were intelligent? Over the half billion years that large complex animals have existed, natural selection would have taken intelligence much farther than it has in the young human species. Even with limited intelligence, humans are learning to control genetics. Older and smarter species would have mastered genetics long ago. Then I thought about how humans are damaging the planet, and, I realized it was unlikely that Earth would have survived half a billion years of intelligent life. Then I imagined how it might, and I conceived the multi-species Tsaeb civilization to which Corr Syl belongs, and the EcoFiction theme that could drive a story.
Q: The Tsaeb sound brilliant. Are they cold intellects, do they have normal emotions?
A: Tsaeb desire friendship, truth, and beauty just as we do. Perhaps it is a bit strange, but most of them consider a knack for humour a most desirable talent. Many strive to improve their comedic abilities. They do have one powerful trait that is rare among humans; they have a compulsion created by millions of years of natural selection that drives them to try to understand their surroundings and the full consequences of their actions. This appears in their intense concern for maintaining healthy ecosystems.
Q. You mean Tsaeb have evolved instincts?
A. Yes. In the same way that humans are born with built-in tendencies such as fear of snakes and spiders, the Tsaeb are instinctively protective of their environment.
Q. Is this why you label your book EcoFiction?
Q. Garry, this is your first novel. Do you plan to write others?
A. Yes. I have started the sequel to Corr Syl the Warrior that I will probably title Corr Syl the Terrible.
Q. Starting and writing a novel can be difficult. Tell us about your method.
A. I have not developed a method. For Corr Syl, I had a theme and a backstory for the setting and the conflict. I began the story with an action scene, and let the plot take shape as I wrote.
Q. What is your greatest writing challenge?
A. Characters. I must work harder to give my characters their own theme and backstory, and then let them interact as the plot develops.
Q: Have you written other books?
A: Yes, academic works quite unlike the novel.
Q: What are they about?
A: Two are about historical landscape changes, and one is about Arizona wildlife.
Q: Are these books available?
A: Yes. The University of Utah Press published the first two, and I published the third. They are available on Amazon.
Q: Have you written other books?
A: Yes. I am making final edits on a book about the weed invasion of the western U. S., and I am working on a second volume about Arizona wildlife.
Q: Does your new novel have any connection with your other books?
A: Yes. Natural landscapes are deteriorating and wildlife species are disappearing. Many things that people do are causing the changes. My previous books warn that problems are developing, but I wrote them for an academic audience and they have had small circulation. I wrote Corr Syl the Warrior to reach more people.
Q. What was your best moment as a writer?
A. Two so far. One was when a very difficult article that required two years of fieldwork and intensive quantitative analysis was accepted without revisions by the Journal of Arid Environments (volume 17, pages 319-326). The other was when the Professional Writers of Prescott gave my first short story a first place award in their 2011 writing contest.
Q. Do you get writer’s block?
A. No. I have several projects underway. Switching from one to another renews enthusiasm.
Q. Do you have a special workspace?
A. I have a home office, and I take my laptop along when I travel.
Q. What do you do when you are not writing or reading?
A. I follow an exercise routine that includes yoga, resistance training, and aerobics. I camp with my children, and I work on maintaining a friendly place for wildlife. I like to photograph wildlife, read, and go to movies.