Sunday, October 3, 2021

Guest Post: Author Brian Van Norman (Science Fiction author)

Once a teacher, playwright, professional theatre director and adjudicator, Brian left those worlds to travel with his wife, Susan, and take up writing as a full time pursuit. He has journeyed to every continent and sailed nearly every sea on the planet.  His base is Waterloo.  For more, his website is

-How/why did you start to write?

Really, I started writing when I was about twelve.  Life got in the way, however, and I deferred writing until after University.  I wrote a thriller about Columbian/Cuban drug smuggling in Florida for a large Publishing Company (remaining un-named) which died in 1982, a year after they had sent me back to research more information to improve the book.  This set six authors, all under the tutelage of a brilliant editor, completely free.  I was so fatigued and shattered I stopped writing and did other things, and shifted my focus to playwriting.

-How did you become an author?

I’d been on the road as a Theatre Adjudicator for Theatre Ontario for quite a while.  When Susan, my wife, retired, she asked me to stop and pay more attention to my writing, treat myself more professionally as a writer.  After an initial brush with a disorganized and simplistic publishing house I was able to leave that contract and very soon after, Guernica Editions selected my novel IMMORTAL WATER for publishing.

-What did you do before writing full-time? Did it help your writing, how?

Every experience helps one’s writing as long as one is open to it.   I have used multiple people I’ve met to help create single characters with depth and genuine persona.  I’ve used places I’ve been as settings.  I worked in theatre for a long time and understand that publishing any book takes the efforts of multiple people from Printers to Editors to Designers and Artists.  I am very open to editing.  It seems to free me to make changes I’d considered but not accomplished.

-What inspires you to write?

I’m not sure.  For some it’s notoriety, for others its money, and for many more, it’s not being inspired to write, but understanding your need to write.  Perhaps it was inspiration, and I know many authors are avid readers who have favourite books they read which made them want to produce something similar, or very different.

-Why do you write science fiction? What is it about the genre that attracted your interest?

Because of this trilogy AGAINST THE MACHINE: LUDDITES, AGAINST THE MACHINE: MANIFESTO and (tentatively) AGAINST THE MACHINE: EVOLUTION I knew I was going to push borders. I was accustomed to historical fiction writing and even contemporary literary style, but I’ve never written speculative fiction and find it requires even more research and concentration than any other style I’ve tried.

-What science fiction authors have helped you develop your author voice?

In order to understand this style of writing, I’ve had to read quite a bit, but the authors who helped me find a narrative stye?  Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Dick, Bradbury, Gibson, Atwood, Stephenson, Wells, Orwell and Huxley, I have read nearly every book of speculative fiction I could find and I’m gradually discovering a voice through a mix of several authors at one time.

-What are the most important ingredients that must go into very book?

To my mind characters who are unique, believable, complex and intriguing, mixed with action in the form of what these characters actually do and why, are the key elements to any novel.

-Reflect on your writing process...

My process requires a discipline.  I will descend to my office/library and remain there for four hours.  Sometimes it seems a waste of time and sometimes you explode with ideas and find yourself writing six and even seven hours, though at that length of time you may not be making the best judgements.  I realize the discipline is what keeps me going.  Sudden important elements might come to mind when I’m not writing so I always have a small pad and pen to write these out and attach them somehow to my basic outline or concept.

-Please offer some advice to new authors...

This is a hard question to answer because there are so many different styles and genres of writing.  I have to return to the tried and true: “Write what you know.”  If you’ve paid attention the small things which many people don’t notice, a setting can acquire surprising significance, and pieces of character can become interesting characters when put together, but the most important element of any writing, use action to express character or setting or mood: so show the audience what you want rather than tell the audience.

With three highly acclaimed novels currently on the market THE BETRAYAL PATH, IMMORTAL WATER and his latest, AGAINST THE MACHINE: LUDDITES available through Chapters/Indigo and Independent Bookstores(Canada), Barnes & Noble (USA), Waterstones (Great Britain), Amazon, Goodreads and his publisher, Brian's next book, the sequel to LUDDITES set in Waterloo Region, is titled AGAINST THE MACHINE: MANIFESTO.  It will launch this fall on October 1

He is currently researching and writing a third book for his AGAINST THE MACHINE trilogy. An unusual trilogy, it deals with a single them: human/machine interface, but in three very different styles and time periods 200 years apart.  

LUDDITES is historical style with a twist (one person called it Jane Austen meets Quentin Tarrentino).  

MANIFESTO, set in modern Waterloo, Canada is in a more contemporary style (this one is referred to as Breaking Bad comes to Waterloo).  

The third novel, now in progress is written in the varied styles of speculative fiction and is set in a place called Toronto MEG, in 2212.  

His author site is

Visit Brian Van Norman online at...