Today I am interviewing Stephen Zimmer, author of the new YA dystopian, modern fantasy novel, Dream of the Navigator, first book in the Faraway Saga.
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DJ: Hi Stephen! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Stephen Zimmer: Hi DJ! It is wonderful to be back on your site, and for those who may not know me just yet, I am an author and filmmaker currently living in the heart of the Bluegrass State of Kentucky. I write speculative fiction and love exploring new horizons. My work includes fantasy, epic fantasy, steampunk, horror, cross-genre fiction, and now YA/Dystopian fiction. I love hearing from readers, so if you are enjoying any of my books, please do drop me a message with any comments or questions!
DJ: What is Dream of the Navigator about?
Stephen: Dream of the Navigator follows the story of two teenage boys and two teenage girls who are growing up in a near-future setting in which society is run by technocrats, and cities have been replaced by massive urban centers called technates.
Technology controls everything in a person’s life at this point and the only real escapes appear to be through virtual reality, other forms of entertainment, or substances. The four main characters make big discoveries about the true nature of dreams and consciousness, and come to realize that they are not as confined as they originally thought. Whole new worlds are opened up to them.
The storyline follows their response and what they do with this powerful new knowledge in the quest to gain freedom from the stifling world that they have been born into.
DJ: What were some of your influences Dream of the Navigator and the series?
Stephen: Both dystopian and fantastical literature have had an influence on me when it comes to this series, but I have to say that 1984, by George Orwell, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, and The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis are the most profound.
This series involves a mixture of dystopian and utopian elements within the methods of control used by the ruling class over the broader society. Some aspects are pleasant to experience, such as the virtual reality realms that so many citizens spend their days within, while others are suffocating, such as the constant monitoring, warning, and penalizing in response to an individual’s behavior and its adherence to the rules set in place.
DJ: This is series seems like it is a bit of a departure from your fans may be used to in your previous works (such as The Rising Dawn saga and Dark Sun Dawn series). Why did you decide to make the change?
Stephen: I always enjoy exploring new horizons. The deeper level themes are still there, as far as a love of individual freedom and the importance of natural rights for every person. It’s just the setting and some of the stylistic approaches that give this series its own unique identity in comparison to my other work.
While I do think this series will appeal to some new audiences, I also am confident that those who have read and enjoyed my other work will have a great experience adventuring in Faraway too!
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Stephen: I think that the main quartet of characters have a lot for various readers to relate to. To use a few examples for each of them, Cayden struggles with low self-esteem and the challenge of being highly-introverted. Haven is self-motivated and ambitious in a world that actively suppresses those kinds of traits. Salvador is a loner and a dreamer, in a society where privacy has become just about impossible to experience. Jaelynn is more of a free-spirit and social in nature, but underlying that is a real toughness and sense of protectiveness toward those she cares about.
They are four very different individuals, but all of them have a deep yearning for freedom and to be able to be themselves.
These characteristics have a lot of importance in terms of how they respond to the discoveries they make. I think readers will understand and sympathize with the kinds of choices they make, as well as the kinds of fears and anxieties that all of them have.
While nobody yet lives in the kind of society portrayed in Dream of the Navigator, elements of it do exist very prominently in our world of today, so there are plenty of things to help audiences relate to the world of the technates.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the Faraway Saga like?
Stephen: I haven’t revealed everything just yet and don’t want to give too many spoilers away, but I can say that it is a planet like ours in terms of geography and climate. It has undergone a profound shift in its governmental system whereby there is a global council that sits at the top of a network of regions that are made up of population-dense technates.
There are no more rural areas for the average citizen to live in. Unless a person is part of the small, elite ruling class in place, everyone else lives within the technates, with their soaring buildings and pervasive technology. Robots and drones provide security, labor, and services, and there is a constant monitoring of everything from an individual’s energy use to food consumption, with enforced rationing and cut-offs.
Jobs are hard to get so there is a universal income feature but it is set up in a way where there is no possibility of accumulating wealth for the average citizen. In a way, this system is like a monthly allowance. All transactions, of course, are monitored and fines deducted instantly for any infractions.
With few opportunities available, most people are immersed in various forms of entertainment and pleasure, ranging from the advanced virtual reality networks, to sports and concerts (though these are becoming less and less live events than something attended through VR technology), to substances in some areas of the technate (though these don’t play a big factor in the first book).
It is a society that has advanced technologically, but very few retain any real sense of identity or genuine sense of purpose. This is the reason why escapism governs the lives of most in this world.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Dream of the Navigator?
Stephen: For me, the exploration of the Artist’s personal realm and the scenes in Faraway were my favorite moments in the writing of Dream of the Navigator. They represent so much to me on a personal level, and they are also very powerful and uplifting in terms of what they represent. I always feel refreshed after working on a scene set in one of these places.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Stephen: I think they will find the blend of fantastical elements with hard dystopian elements to be a very interesting fusion that opens up a lot of possibilities for the next books in this series. Some readers will talk about parallels between the world of the book and some of the technological and geopolitical trends in our world. Others will bond with the main characters on the first stage of their character arcs. I really don’t think it will be any one thing that all readers will be talking about (I could be wrong!), but I do think they will find it to be a very different, fresh kind of series in the realms of YA literature.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began the Faraway Saga? Dream of the Navigator is only the first book, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Stephen: At its core, the book is about keeping an open mind to the nature of the universe, and it is also about the importance of an individual’s natural rights and ability to exercise them in their lives. They are messages of empowerment for everyone and I do hope readers embrace them.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Dream of the Navigator that you can share with us?
Stephen: It’s the first line in the book! 🙂
“Your eternity will fail!”
It is part of a short prologue, but there is so much contained in that sentence in terms of the entire series that I couldn’t pick any other. Its meaning will become more and more clear as the series progresses and the reader comes to understand what both the protagonists and antagonists are about. Just to be clear, that quote is directed right at the foundation of the antagonists! 😉
DJ: Now that Dream of the Navigator is released, what is next for you?
Stephen: I am always hard at work writing. I am currently working on the 4th book in the Fires in Eden series, which is epic fantasy, and some Rayden Valkyrie/Ragnar Stormbringer Tales. I do hope to get into the followup to Dream of the Navigator in the early part of 2019 so we can have a new installment coming out along a reasonable timeline.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Stephen-Zimmer/e/B003NEH9EA/
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bBprDP
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Dream of the Navigator and the Faraway Saga that we haven’t talked about yet?
Stephen: I don’t want to give too much away, and I think we’ve covered quite a bit to this point. So there’s nothing I see missing in this interview! 🙂
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Stephen: Thank you DJ! And thank you to all of you who read this interview. I invite you to explore Dream of the Navigator and please do drop me a note with your thoughts and comments. I love hearing from readers!
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*** Dream of the Navigator is published by Seventh Star Press and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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“1984 and Brave New World meets Narnia”
Cities have been replaced by technates. It is a world of soaring apartments, hundreds of stories high, where technology measures, monitors and rations to meet the needs of the greater populace. It is a world of drones, in the air and on the ground, and advanced robotic beings who carry out much of the harder labor, security, and even pleasure assignments.
Those discontent, or who resist, are taken to Rehabilitation Centers, established after the embrace of the Greater Good Doctrine.
For most, virtual realms, substances, and entertainment provide escapes, but for Haven, Cayden, Jaelynn, and Salvador, growing up in Technate 6 is a restless existence.
A hunger for something more gnaws inside each of them. Discoveries await that open the gates to transcend time and space, and even new planes of existence. Nothing in their universe, or others, is impossible to explore.
What was once reality, now seems like an illusion in a deepening experience.
Begin the journey to Faraway, in Dream of the Navigator, the first book of the Faraway Saga!
Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels and novellas(Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk), the Ragnar Stormbringer Tales (Sword and Sorcery), and the forthcoming Faraway Saga (YA Dystopian/Cross-Genre).
Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.
Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.
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