SF I Carol Ervin Interview

Editor’s Foreword

Special thanks to author Carol Ervin for doing this interview with us. You can find her novel, Dell Zero, on Amazon by clicking here.

Thank you for finding the time to do this interview with us.

In your novel, Dell Zero, your protagonist has to decide between immortality with a certain conformity or an ephemeral but free life. What was the inspiration for that idea and what pushed you to write the book?

The kernel of inspiration for Dell Zero was a gradual (yet sudden) realization of some current truths: pills and medical procedures are giving us longer lives, possibly pushing the human race toward immortality. At the same time, the birth rate in westernized nations has declined, unbalancing the population. I think a society made up dominantly of old people would not be a good thing. We need youth’s openness to new ways of doing things.

The society of Dell Zero is stagnant because there are no births, at least none in the ruling population. The only creativity tolerated in that society is in the segment dedicated to entertainment. All other activity is prescribed in rules that may be centuries old. The economy of necessary resources (fuel, food) is borne by a slave culture (some might say that’s kind of like today).

Some reviewers have drawn comparisons between Dell Zero and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. How do you feel about those comparisons and was Brave New World an influence?

I suppose Huxley’s work was as much an influence as any other story depicting the rigors and possible terrors of a future society. I’m always interested in how people manage their needs and take care of their loved ones in a radically different time and place. I like science fiction with a core of truth, and am more interested in the culture than the science.

What are some of your favorite science fiction works that focus on the cultural rather than scifi aspects of their fictional world?

I loved The Hunger Games because the society seemed almost a logical extension of our own, from the poor working classes to the elite, bored, ridiculously fashioned men and women of the capital, demonstrating our widening gap between rich and poor. The book has so many analogies—to beauty pageants, to drafting young people (from the poorer classes) for war, to reality television shows, to people’s addiction to sports.

In what ways is the protagonist, Dell Zero, similar to yourself? What skills or characteristics does she have that you wished you did?

Now that’s an interesting question, and it strikes home. Dell is very young and innocent, living on the fringes of the immortal society but totally ignorant of it. Though I’m not young, I grew up in a fairly sheltered time and place, and in many ways I still feel ignorant of what’s around me. Perhaps we all do. Dell is illegal, either the improbable offspring of her “immortal” guardians (who maybe weren’t completely sexless) or of the primitive tribes who are allowed to reproduce in the wild and are regularly captured to become slaves. Finally, she’s female in a time when there are no obvious sex differences in the dominant (immortal) culture. As a female, I also came of age feeling not as well prepared or respected as a male. So yes, I can identify with Dell. Her special skill is only that she’s quicker, a better learner and a better worker than the immortals. In other words, she has the strength and imagination of the young. I’d like to have that.

What kind of research did you have to do to write Dell Zero?

I don’t remember conducting any extensive research, but I made volumes of notes to build the different features and classes of this society.

The world of Dell Zero is what you’ve described as a “sexless, controlled society” with people heavily influenced by the drugs they take to extend their lives. Similar visions of a suppressed humanity have been expressed in works like George Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World and even the Borg of Star Trek. How concerned are you about this being a probable future for the human race?

Our world currently has a couple of good examples of tightly controlled societies, one apparently successful, but others being destroyed by years of revolution. In Dell Zero, we learn that one of the drugs (vitasat) was first used to control criminal and anti-social behavior and to keep workers on task, then was prescribed for everyone. I can imagine our society mandating a drug for all types of offenders. Drugs to improve children’s behavior are in wide use today.

As an example, some people worry children are being over-prescribed or perhaps unnecessarily prescribed ADD/ADHD medications. Without getting into a debate regarding the merits of those concerns, do you see society’s willingness (or perhaps overeagerness) to try to medicate problems away as a slippery slope? Maybe a society starts out by prescribing medications to a certain segment of society but over time that gets expanded to everyone. And because the process is gradual, people are more willing to accept it.

People who are desperate for a solution will try anything. We need to be smarter and more vigilant about the potential harm of fixes, including environmental ones like introducing a new species to control a pest, but I don’t think we should turn against them. We need scientific advancement. The motivations of the ruling class of Dell Zero were good, but their science belonged to the past.

In addition to Dell Zero, you have six historical fiction books (The Mountain Women series) and one suspense novel, Ridgetop. Which genre is your favorite to write in?

You know, I enjoy both historical and science fiction, but the historical fiction has found an audience, so I’ve continued that series. Dell Zero has not found many fans, though it’s a favorite of several of my friends and family, and they’d like to see a sequel. I think Dell Zero is too speculative for many readers and doesn’t have enough hardcore science for others. I’d hoped it would appeal to a mainstream audience. Maybe its day will come. It’s currently free on Amazon and other sites.

How long have you been writing and what first motivated you to become an author?

I started writing in earnest 17 years ago, after working with language as a teacher and technical writer for most of my career. Wanting to write was always about putting an idea on paper to see where it would go.

What are you most grateful for in your writing career so far?

I’m grateful for the writer friends I’ve made, for the modest success of my books, for the letters I get from readers, and of course, for the addition to my income.

Would you rather have all your published books lost forever or be unable to write new stories? And why?

Now there’s a unique question, and I can’t think of anyone but yourself who’d think to ask it. Someday I’ll have to stop writing because I won’t be able to think anymore, and that will be hard. I kind of know that part will happen, so in a way I’m prepared for it. But I also know that except for classics, a book’s appeal does not last even a generation, so in a sense all my books will be lost forever—even though they’ll still exist in the digital universe. I hope both the books and story ideas last long enough to “see me out.”

What do you do when not writing?

Easy answer. I rest from writing. I also try to read fiction that inspires me to write better. And I do boring housework stuff.

What would you most like to learn how to do?

I’d like to learn to be calm in emergencies. Ha. I’d also like to sit down in front of my laptop and have a story pour from my fingers, start to finish. That won’t happen either.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know?

I rewrite everything about a dozen times.

What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

It’s work, so you better love it. It also helps not to care about what everybody else thinks. Just the important few.

In a race on a level surface between a turtle on a skateboard and rabbit with a limp, who wins?

Since I limp, I’ll take the guy on the skateboard.

Thank you very much for taking the time to share with us!


About the Interviewer

Dan C. Rinnert is the publisher of ScienceFictionFantasyHorror.com.


About the Author

Formerly a teacher and business owner, Carol Ervin now writes full time. She is the author of eight novels in print and ebook and five in audiobook format, all available from Amazon.


Where to Find this Author

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Selected Books by this Author


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