Featured Interview With Richard Hummel
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was raised in good ‘ol Minnesota (Minn-a-sow-ta). Well, at least that’s how everyone thinks we all say it. The reality? Not so much… At least not for myself and many of those I grew up around. I was far enough away from the Canadian border and in a young college town that we didn’t have that really hard accent that comes with the territory. I lived there for over a decade and spent more of my childhood there until my family moved to Arkansas. I stayed a bit longer in MN and joined them for the summer before I headed off to Florida for college. From there I joined the Army a couple years later and bounced between South Carolina, Texas, Hawaii, Iraq, and landed in Virginia. Yep, been a bit around the block, but still in Virginia for the past 7 years.
Do I have any pets… We have one dog named Cocoa Clark (Clark is the name of a character in a Dr. Seuss book and our then 3yo insisted he have Clark in his name.). He is a Shihpoo and one of the most well-behaved dogs ever. Potty trained in a week and a half, he almost never barks unless we intentionally rile him up, he doesn’t shed, and is hypo-allergenic. What more could you ask for in a pup?
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I’ve been fascinated by books since the time I could read, devouring tons of books growing up, trying to mimic hyperspace with my reading speed, and generally just getting lost in the worlds of others imaginations. Somewhere around high school I thought it would be cool to try writing, but never really committed and then sports took hold in full steam as I did football and track. Even being a jock, I played in the school orchestra and pep band for our hockey team. No matter what my extra-curricular looked like, I always found time to read even if that meant staying up all hours of the night until I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open and fell asleep with my face in the book.
So as you can see, I’ve always been fascinated by books. Some of the best times from my childhood were flipping off the lights in the living room, grabbing my reading light, and devouring two or three Hardy Boys books in one setting. I really lost count of how many times I read through all the books, the case files, and even the super-sleuth crossovers with Nancy Drew and Tom Swift. As my reading progressed I read every book in the Star Wars extended universe at least twice until I’d caught up and read everything up until Disney ruined my life and blasted away all the EU. That was a truly sad day for me and really when the lore and history of the Star Wars I’d come to love died. So, when the latest franchise movie came out and Luke died, it wasn’t all that of a shocker or heartbreak for me… Disney already broke my heart years earlier.
I didn’t write any fiction growing up no matter how many times I thought about it. Even in my adult life, it wasn’t even a consideration even though I thought about it from time to time. It wasn’t until early 2017 that I learned of a sub-genre called LitRPG that I really became rabid about reading again to the point I would get little sleep before work the next day. After many months of reading and joining every FB group and Discord chat I could, I realized that I’d been bouncing legit ideas of stories, world-building, and character development for months. Why then should I give all that stuff away?
So, on November 16th, 2017 I picked up a copy of Scrivener and set to work.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I think it will come as no surprise to a lot that I like the big giants in fantasy like George Martin and J. R.R. Tolkien, but I also enjoy a lot of the authors that put together the Star Wars EU. I can remember fondly losing myself in the worlds to the point that I felt like I was watching a movie and even the briefest interruption to do something else and the scene would flit by and I’d miss it forever. Such was the magic of the writers.
Though I love to pick up a book from R.A. Salvatore every now and again (and yes his knew Drizzt book was epic), I typically read in this newer sub-genre I talked about called LitRPG. It falls under a larger umbrella we’ve been calling Gamelit. Basically, Gamelit is any book that employs game mechanics, takes place in a game, or has some type of game-ish theme. LitRPG on the other hand is what we call Crunchy. This includes game elements to the point it’s like an RPG where you have status screens, character stats, skills, abilities, and that character makes some sort of linear progression through the game system and/or world. Many of these types of books employ the Virtual Reality Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) trope in which the real life characters immerse themselves fulling into a game world (Think Ready Player One, but take it a step further and add game mechanics like Jumanji.)
The very first author I read in this sub-genre was D. Rus. He is a Russian author who released a series called Play to Live in Russia that made it’s way into English literature. It isn’t exactly PC all the time, but it was my gateway drug into this genre that eventually inspired me to write my own story.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
My book, Radioactive Evolution, is a story that really came out of thin air. I’d started writing another “crunchy” LitRPG as I explained above, but about a month in, I got this idea for a Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic story that would eventually introduce game-mechanics via way of nanotechnology. I started writing it and found that I enjoyed it so much the other book went into the backlog. I wrote feverishly, consulting other authors, readers, posting it up on a web serial site for feedback, and returning the story so many times in the space of a few months. I actually finished writing that in May of 2018, but then took several months to edit before publishing in November.
The story starts out with Jared Cartwright, a young man 22 years of age that is exploring the radioactive wastelands of an earth that was decimated some several hundred years prior by nuclear war. The elite of society fled the earth on massive floating utopias leaving most of mankind to die in their radioactive cages. It wasn’t until a decade ago that humanity could leave the boundaries of their safe zones. Because a decade ago a brilliant scientist sympathetic to the plight of those left behind created a bio-nanite that recycled the radioactive waste in the air and allowed humanity to survive. Even then, very few ventured out of their colony, but Jared had nothing to lose. You see, he’d lost both his mother and father to tragic accidents. A couple years after he left, he stumbles on a dark secret the overlords of earth kept hidden. The were all dying and there was no cure. But… there was hope and now Jared must survive dangers and peril to fight back against humanity’s captors. He must evolve beyond the mundane abilities of a mere human if he hopes to succeed.
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