Friday, October 04, 2013

Guest Blog by Libby McGugan, author of The Eidolon - October 4, 2013

Please welcome Libby McGugan to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Eidolon will be published on October 29th in the US and Canada and November 7th in the UK.

A big thank you, Sally, for the invitation to join The Qwillery party! It’s a privilege to be here.

Why I wrote The Eidolon and a few thoughts on why anyone writes anything.

Here’s the longer answer to this one. For those with a short attention span, the brief version will be posted in the Debut Author Challenge on 28th October.

Does the world really need another book? According to Google, who actually counted, there are something like 130 million books out there. We’re not short of them. So why bother?

For me, it was something that wouldn’t leave me alone. It was a way to explore some thoughts I’d been chewing on for a long time. I didn’t set out to be a writer, but I did have a story I wanted to tell.

I had a great upbringing. My mum is a Catholic and my dad was a Protestant (a pretty antiestablishment union for its time and place). When my dad was in his twenties, he realized that religion wasn’t working for him, so he turned to science, as a layman, to try to figure out what’s going on. He lived and breathed it. So we had this dichotomy of worldviews in our house – science on one side and religion on the other. They coexisted harmoniously and respectfully, but it did make me think. I grew up with TV science documentaries, New Scientist, Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke. Until my dad died in 2007, we frequently had long discussions into the small hours about cosmology, life on other planets, quantum physics and what it all means. It left me with a sense of wonder about the world that’s still with me. It’s partly why I went into medicine – I was fascinated by the design of the human body. It lets you enjoy a good meal, go to a movie, eat popcorn and you don’t have to think about what your hepatocytes are up to with your Sauvignon Blanc.

I also grew up with George Lucas, Yoda, The Force and all that this represents. I can still tell you pretty much every line, including Greedo’s. (‘Otta-toota, Solo. Jabba wanecheko, bashuniawe kantanya wanya ooska, hey, hey, hey, hey.’ I’m not kidding.) This, too, left me with a sense of magic about the world. But it kind of clashed with the whole science thing.

I love science, with its homage to evidence, fastidious rigor and obsession with facts. But I also love the spirit of life – the thing that makes you feel, love, question, desire. For a long time, I couldn’t square the two – it seemed like science was real but detached and the spirit of life inspiring but intangible.

In the end, I sat down and wrote a book about a scientist who’s exploring these ideas. As it turns out, The Eidolon is the first in a trilogy. It’s dressed up as a thriller (with some unabashed parachuting into fantasyland), but it’s really a story about one man and how his worldview is shaped and changed by his experiences. Once it got hold of me, it snowballed, and I’ve loved the whole journey. Even, and in fact especially, the editing! Given that writing is a fairly solitary process, working with other people – Cornerstone’s Literary Consultancy to begin with, Ian Drury, my agent, and Jonathan Oliver, chief editor at Solaris - to improve what’s on the page, has been thoroughly rewarding. It’s an ongoing apprenticeship and each contribution sharpens the story. I’ve also been lucky to have some really supportive and patient people in my life to allow it to happen.

For me, writing this story and the ones that follow is a chance to explore two apparently disparate ideologies, and I see now that it is that space in between, where the edges blur, that it gets exciting. It’s our curiosity, our foresight, our ability to ask ‘what if?’ that drives science. So from this vantage point, science is an expression of the mind. And the best part is we get to benefit from the daydreams.

So why do we write stories, or for that matter, play music, study physics, climb mountains or do whatever our thing happens to be? Maybe it’s because those passions are the fabric of life. They connect us with ourselves, with other people and with the world around us. It’s the stuff of life, of feeling truly alive.

The Eidolon

The Eidolon
Solaris Books, October 29, 2013 (US/Canada)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

A contemporary SF thriller. The divide between science and the human spirit is the setting for a battle for the future.

When physicist Robert Strong loses his job at the Dark Matter research lab and his relationship falls apart, he returns home to Scotland. Then the dead start appearing to him, and Robert begins to question his own sanity. Victor Amos, an enigmatic businessman, arrives and recruits Robert to sabotage CERN’S Large Hadron Collider, convincing him the next step in the collider’s research will bring about disaster. Everything Robert once understood about reality, and the boundaries between life and death, is about to change forever. And the biggest change will be to Robert himself... Mixing science, philosophy and espionage, Libby McGugan’s stunning debut is a thriller like no other.

About Libby

Libby McGugan was born 1972 in Airdrie, a small town east of Glasgow in Scotland, to a Catholic mother and a Protestant-turned-atheist father, who loved science. She enjoyed a mixed diet of quantum physics, spiritual instinct, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Her ambition was to grow up and join the Rebel alliance in a galaxy Far, Far away. Instead she went to Glasgow University and studied medicine.

A practising doctor, she has worked in Scotland, in Australia with the Flying Doctors service and, for a few months, in a field hospital in the desert. She loves travelling and the diversity that is the way different people see the world, and has been trekking in the Himalaya of Bhutan, potholing in Sarawak, backpacking in Chile and Europe, and diving in Cairns.

Her biggest influences are Joseph Campbell, Lao Tzu, David Bohm, Brian Greene, and Yoda.

Website  ~  Twitter @LIBBYMcGUGAN  ~  Facebook


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