Today I am interviewing Joe Ollinger, author of the new science-fiction novel, 10,000 Bones.
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DJ: Hi Joe! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Joe Ollinger: I’m an author. I’m a lawyer. I live in Los Angeles. I grew up in a small town in eastern Florida. I went to USC, where I studied screenwriting and psychology. I worked as a script reader for a while and read a lot of screenplays and some books in that role. Personality-wise, I take The Beatles over Elvis, coffee over tea, pizza over burgers, Batman over Superman, and Kirk over Picard. It’s a narrow margin for all of those except that first one.
DJ: What is 10,000 Bones about?
Joe: 10,000 Bones is a sci-fi thriller set on a world where calcium is used as currency. It follows a Collections Agent named Taryn, whose job it is to hunt down black market calcium to bring it back into the currency system. A job recovering the corpse of a little girl leads her onto the trail of a dangerous conspiracy, which threatens her life and forces her to confront her conflicted emotions toward the world she wants to leave.
DJ: What were some of your influences for 10,000 Bones?
Joe: In terms of literary influences, I grew up reading the classic sci-fi authors. Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Dick. Larry Niven came a bit later, but he’s my personal favorite, and his body of work is comparable to those guys. Years later, I read a lot of thrillers and became interested in the unique challenges of telling an emotional story in that mode of storytelling. In terms of real-life influences, the germ of the idea came from an academic interest in the power of money: the ability or inability of governments to control its value and manipulate it to their ends, the consequences of the use of the power.
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?
Joe: Taryn Dare is driven by a singular desire to save enough money to leave the planet. She doesn’t love her work, but in a way she’s a workaholic to that end. She’s pragmatic and resourceful. She has a conflicted relationship with her society, which she has to deal with over the course of the story. The second lead is Brady Kearns, who is a bit of a cypher. While he’s handsome and somewhat charming, he’s a numbers geek, a former businessman who has taken over the task of auditing the calcium recycling system for leaks. He claims to have altruistic motives, but Taryn has a hard time trusting anyone, including Brady.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role for in story? Why?
Joe: I put a lot of effort into fleshing out the side characters, which can be tough when everything is told from a single point-of-view, and is even tougher when the most developed of those side characters are to some extent suspects in a larger mystery. If I have to choose one of them, it’s Myra, Taryn’s friend and Collections Dispatcher. She looks on the bright side about living on Brink and has established a life there, but romanticizes Earth.
DJ: What is the world and setting of 10,000 Bones like?
Joe: 10,000 Bones takes place on a planet called Brink, which is one of a couple dozen human colonies scattered across our arm of the Milky Way. Faster-than-light travel exists but is time consuming and expensive. Each world is more or less self-governing. Brink is on the path inward to the edge of humanity’s colonization efforts, and it serves as a staging point for those efforts. The older, more powerful, more populous world’s take advantage of Brink’s weak bargaining power to keep shipping and travel costs down.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing 10,000 Bones?
Joe: I love science fiction, largely for the allure of fictional worlds. Brink is not a fun place to live, but I still enjoyed the escapism of sinking into a fictional future society and all the possibilities that opens up.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Joe: Game of Thrones? In all seriousness, I will be thrilled if people talk about it or think about it at all. The ideas I aimed to explore may not be the same ideas people explore when they read 10,000 Bones, or after they read it. I don’t want to influence anyone in that respect.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing 10,000 Bones? Was 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?
Joe: My first goal in writing is always to entertain. If it’s not entertaining, people will stop reading, and after that happens you’re not going to convey any ideas or provoke any thought. I don’t want to lay out the themes for anyone ahead of time; I want everyone to have their own reading of the story and ponder their own questions.
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 10,000 Bones that you can share with us?
Joe: It’s a bit of a spoiler, but I did get in a dig at my own day job:
“You don’t blow up a lawyer’s office for fun.”
“How many lawyers have you met?”
DJ: Now that 10,000 Bones is released, what is next for you?
Joe: 10,000 Bones was part of a two-book deal with Diversion. They’re publishing the second book, which is not related to 10,000 Bones. It’s a contemporary thriller with a sci-fi twist called Your Heart Is a Joy Machine. We’re still somewhat early in the editing process for that.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about 10,000 Bones that we haven’t talked about yet?
Joe: I think the publisher has done a great job with marketing copy, and the book’s descriptions online and on the back cover accurately capture the essence of the story without giving too much away. The one thing I might say is that if you’re only casually into sci-fi but you like thrillers or mysteries, give the book a shot. It’s hard sci-fi, but the plot is a detective story at its core.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Joe: I’d just like to say thank you to anyone who gives the book some of their time. It took me a long time to get to this point, and I really appreciate it any time someone gives my writing a chance. If you like the book, please tell a friend or take a second to post a review on Goodreads or Amazon.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Joe: Thank you so much for taking the time to feature me and 10,000 Bones!
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*** 10,000 Bones is published by Diversion Books and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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On the planet Brink, calcium is cash. The element’s scarcity led the world’s government to declare it the official currency. In the decades since, the governments of other colonized worlds have suppressed shipments of calcium in order to maintain favorable exchange rates, while Brink’s Commerce Board has struggled to negotiate importation quotas to keep the population alive and growing.
Taryn Dare is a Collections Agent, a specialized detective tasked with finding black market calcium and recovering it, so that the Commerce Board can recycle it and distribute it as currency. Taryn is fueled by one goal: to save up enough currency units for a one-way ticket to a better world. But when a job recovering a human corpse uncovers a deadly conspiracy in the system, Taryn is drawn into an investigation that may threaten her life, and the very fabric of her society.
About the Author:
Joe Ollinger grew up in a small swamp town in Florida. After graduating from the University of Southern California, he worked for several years as a reader and story analyst for an Academy Award Winning Filmmaker. Currently residing in Los Angeles, he works as an attorney when he’s not writing.