Tell us about yourself
My story is the all too common double-life of a lot of indie authors. I work as a software developer during the day, and at night I try to make progress on a story or two. I’m married to an incredible woman who makes all of this possible. We have three children and live in Virginia, fairly close to DC. When I’m not reading and writing, coding, or chasing kids around, I try to get outdoors. Lately I’ve been on a triathlon kick and am currently working my way up to a marathon. Hopefully that won’t be the last thing I do.
1.) What is something that many people might not know about you?
I wrote my first computer game when I was fourteen.
It was a space trader game – a multiplayer BBS door game pre mainstream-Internet. Lots of late night modem squeeeee-ching and blocky, home brewed ANSI art.
Honestly, it was a total dud. But I did get a few checks in the mail, one of them arriving all the way from Okinawa.
2.) What inspired you to write your first book?
I was very spacey in school, existing more in imagination than real life. And most of these fantasies revolved around robots of one kind or another. Too many episodes of Robotech, Voltron, and Transformers, I suppose. Later, this obsession grew to encompass artificial intelligence and I figured: write what you love.
So a plot had been simmering in my head for a few years, but I lacked the confidence to do anything with it. And then authors like Hugh Howey and William Hertling started blogging about their self-publishing experiences, which ultimately gave me the courage to give it a go.
3.) Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t really have a favorite, but there are a handful of authors that have had a lasting impact on me. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising was the first full-length novel I read. I love the way she keeps her writing complex and poetic, full of magic and myth. She always, always respects her younger audiences. Then Ray Bradbury introduced me to Sci-Fi with The Martian Chronicles and what an intro it was. I took a multi-year break from reading, and Dune was my return. Hands down my favorite book.
And more recently (as I mentioned earlier), it was Hugh Howey and William Hertling that gave me the courage to self-publish. They will always be modern day heroes to me.
4.) If you could have dinner with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
A dream come true would be a Singularity seafood buffet with Ray Kurzweil, Charles Stross and Vernor Vinge. I’m not sure I could make it through dinner without my head exploding from fan-overload though. And if it did, hopefully they would have the foresight to have uploaded it to the cloud first.
5.) What book are you reading now?
I’m loving Dark Beyond the Stars and also reading Steinbeck for a change of pace.
6.) Are there any new authors that have captured your interest?
Too many to name. I like short stories because they’re pretty easy to squeeze in, and I really enjoyed parts 1 and 2 of Eamon Ambrose’s Zero Hour series. He slams on the accelerator and never lets up. No surprise here: I’m really into near-term Sci-Fi, especially anything AI related, and William Hertling and Ramaz Naam never fail to deliver. They’ve been doing their thing for a while now, but I still think they count.
7.) If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in any of your books?
I don’t think I’ll ever be content with my writing – so an emphatic yes. Not that I’m a perfectionist, rather I know I still have much to learn about writing. I’ll keep tweaking indefinitely; not always for the better. And because The Quantum Door was my first novel, I look back and there are definitely parts I would change, having learned a thing or two in the process (hopefully).
8.) Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m working on a follow up to The Quantum Door. Here’s a sneak peak (it’s very rough — I make no promises about the quality):
She would be expected home by now and soon her parents would begin to worry.
But just as she turned to go, a strange breeze caused the leaves to sway and the surface of the pond to ripple. Jordyn shivered and wrapped herself in her arms to suppress the chill. The frogs had ceased their chorus, leaving the night eerily quiet.
As she watched, a spec of white reflected off her pupils. The dot lengthened into a blinding sliver of light that just touched the water and quickly grew outward. And all at once the air in front of her tore open and the earth shook with a thunderous boom. The pond shimmered from the electric blue vapors that now swirled above it.
The door had opened.
Jordyn gasped and took a step back, her hand covering her mouth. The wind, stronger now, rushed through her short hair.
She heard a noise, several loud cracks, before a ghostly form fell backwards through the portal. It looked like a robotic mannequin; scarred white plastic wrapping a skeleton of steel. One of the creature’s arms covered its scorched torso, where smoke billowed from the wound. In its other hand was a glowing dome. For an instant, the creature seemed to hang in the air, suspended by the ribbon of smoke.
But the illusion was shattered when the door collapsed. Time snapped back and the robot splashed down. The pond hissed and sprayed as Jordyn watched the bot sink slowly into the water.
9.) If you were to get rid of one state in the US, which would it be and why?
Vermont for sure. After all, there are strange things going on in that state. I’ve heard rumors of bizarre quantum anomalies in the mountains. Some kind of blue light that appears deep in the woods. Really weird stuff.
10.) A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
The penguin lights up a cigarette and takes a long, confident drag, the smoke warming its lungs. And then, through pursed beak, the bird exhales a thick cloud that curls around you, blinding you.
The haze clears. The lights are dim now, the room in shadows. You glance over at your friends, Sam and Diane. They are different now. They are penguins, too. And Bobby, well, once he was like you, but now he is all tux and wings and dorsal. You realize this is all wrong and your head shakes from side to side. You try to step backwards towards the door. But Sombrero is there, waiting.
The smoking penguin steps forward and embraces you with an outstretched wing. “You are with us now,” it says, pulling you closer. The white rings around its eyes are hypnotic.
And then it hits. You glance down at your webbed feet and feathered chest that used to look very different.
Go ahead, pimp whatever book you want:
Easy choice as I only have one: The Quantum Door. A sci-fi adventure for younger readers (and adults too), the book is really about the unbreakable bond between two brothers. I hope you’ll give it a try, especially if you’re into robotics and AI.
Discover what lies beyond the Quantum Door. The mysterious woods behind Brady and Felix’s house have been deserted for years. But things change when a fence goes up and the brothers notice strange things happening at night. From the moment they dare cross the fence, the brothers enter a world of dark technological secrets that will rock the foundation of everything they know to be true. And once they enter, there’s no turning back. Some places are better left alone…
GIVEAWAY: Jonathan Ballagh is going to giveaway TEN, yes ten, prize packs that include a signed copy of The Quantum Door with a signed Ben Adams print. To enter this amazing giveaway answer the following question in the comment section:
If alternate realities existed, which one would you visit and why?
The giveaway will be open until Friday, October 16, 2015 at 8:00 am (est). Due to shipping this giveaway is only open to those in the United States. Good luck to everyone.
I would like to thank Jonathan Ballagh for joining us today for this edition of 10 Questions With… I hope you enjoyed learning about this new author.
While you are waiting on the giveaway, The Quantum Door is free for the Kindle or Kindle app October 14, 2015 only. Head on over and pick it up while you wait to see if you win the giveaway.
Make sure you follow Jonathan Ballagh on Twitter.
Make sure you also head on over to his new website.