1. Would you describe the setting (both time and place) of The Genesis Project?
The story begins in the year 2057 on Alan B Shepard Air Station in Southern Nevada. By this time, the world population is about 10 billion; weather extremes brought on by climate change are having a major impact on food production, creating high demand for crops causing drastic increases in food costs. Transportation challenges and the cost of fuel are playing their part as well and our urban centers are suffering.
The Genesis Project is an agriculture experiment of the highest priority, and requires the utmost discretion; therefore, it is conducted as a "classified" experiment at the air base, and those who are working there require high security clearance. This particular site, located within the grid coordinates of area 51, provides the perfect location and security to maintain the integrity of the project whilst those dedicated to its success race to make it work.
2. How does your own interest and experience in gardening and self-sufficient living inform your depiction of your novel's main character, Jarod Ferra?
My own interests in these areas have prompted a lot of thought on my part as to potential solutions for the developing food crisis, and more importantly, the challenges of tomorrow's food production. My desire to grow as much of my own food as possible and to take advantage of the wild natural foods that are available to us, is my own solution, a choice that I have made for myself because I recognize the importance of sustainable living. Because I live in a rural environment, I am able to accomplish this; however, most people live in urban areas where this is not such an easy task. We do possess the technologies needed to create sustainable living and food production in our urban centers, and this really needs to happen.
Jarod Farra is passionate about agriculture, and understands the solutions to the problems we are facing with food production. Growing up as the son of a rice farmer, witnessing firsthand how extreme weather brought on by climate change can impact food is not altogether different from my own upbringing. Jarod's solutions are just a bit larger in scale than my backyard, and his involvement with a large-scale urban solution, where food will be grown indoors and outdoors, will have a major impact on the world. It will be just one of the solutions for solving the world's food problems.
3. You wrote for many years before you sought to publish: what inspired you to start publishing your work?
Being a published author has been a dream of mine since childhood. I wrote many things over the years, with the sincere plan of publishing, but when the project was completed, I would find myself content to pass the pages around to family and friends. Summarily, I think that the creation of the writings was fulfillment enough for me for all those years.
As I have gotten older, I have come to believe that I have more to say and that I have the ability to say it in a more interesting way than ever before. The dream was reborn in me when I recognized a strong love of writing in my eldest daughter. I pressed her to polish her craft and to pursue a career doing what she loved, and she asked me why I had never attempted to publish any of my own writings. I could not come up with a legitimate answer to that query, and in fact, I began to ask myself that same question. After all, it had always been a dream, and one that I could possibly realize.
4. What do you see as the role of writers and artists in addressing the world's problems (and approaching possible solutions)?
I believe that "life depicted in art" is an excellent way to educate. The writer's job is to provoke thought and through the musings of the reader, potential solutions can be born. It is not necessarily the writer's job to find and communicate all the best possible solutions or to have all the answers, which would be an impossible, formidable task. Instead, it is the responsibility of the writer to present the problem truthfully, even though the work is fiction, and present some potential answers to the world's problems; through writing we can inspire the reader's mind, and if we’re lucky, have a small hand in the development of much needed solutions that affect all of us.
5. Who are some authors of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry whose work continues to influence you, and why?
Most of my favorite poets came from the Romantic era, which was roughly between 1790 and 1824. Many of them wrote beautiful poems about nature and the environment before there was an environmental movement and way before we knew what impact humankind was having on the earth. My favorite is William Wordsworth who was from Northern England in what was called at the time, the Lake District, and my favorite poem by the same author is "The World Is Too Much with Us." My favorite line from that poem is, "Little we see in nature that is ours."
My absolute favorite book of all times is The Grapes Of Wrath, and its author, John Steinbeck my favorite fiction writer. Mr. Steinbeck was a realist who pushed the envelope so to speak. What I love most about his work is its rawness. I don't know if he felt any limits in his work, but if he did, you do not see it within his pages. Also, something that puts me in absolute awe of his writing is the way he paints his characters; they are so real and true that you never forget them. I did not read this book until 2005 and was prompted to do so after seeing the old film which starred Henry Fonda. I remember asking myself after finishing the book, why am I just now reading this?
I have to say that I have read more nonfiction in the last decade than fiction, and my favorite nonfiction author would have to be Sebastian Junger. His book, The Perfect Storm; A True Story of Men against the Sea is one of the most thought-provoking works of nonfiction I have ever read. Growing up on the coast, and coming from a community of commercial fishermen, the story hit home. Having survived hurricanes and listened to tales of lost fishing boats at sea my entire life, I was able to relate to the helplessness one feels in the face of a storm of that magnitude. He very accurately described the event and the effect that it had on a community.