Monday, August 19, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Author Christian Baker

Christian Baker, Author

Christian Baker combines the genres of thriller and science fiction to bring us THE BLEAK DOOR—“a scifi thriller with elements of horror, love, and fundamental humanity,” according to a reviewer. Written to both deliver a deep message and to entertain, the author says “science fiction is just an excuse to deal with a very tangible and real subject in a different way.”

When he’s not writing, Baker enjoys exploring new subjects—particularly those dealing with human nature. And he values his loved ones most of all.

Don't miss the excerpt following the interview.

Q: One of your reviewers claimed, “The fusion of real and surreal kept me glued to the page.” When writing THE BLEAK DOOR—or any science fiction—how important is “reality” or “credibility” to telling the story? How do you create that sense of reality?

Christian Baker: From my point of view, credibility in what is written makes the difference between the reader just reading a story and really experiencing it. This is key. I like my readers being immersed in and gripped by it, being oblivious of the hours going by, of the world surrounding them.  In my view, this is only achieved when the situations and the characters are natural, like ourselves, like our life. Thus, author and readers are bonded by the mind and emotions. It is a very special experience.

Q: Why did you choose science fiction as your genre? What first attracted you to it?

Christian Baker: I am very fond of literature as a whole. Perhaps science fiction awakens that fascination and the search for the new, the mysterious, the unknown, which all of us have deep down. In THE BLEAK DOOR in particular, the science fiction approach allows touching on very strong issues in us and our society far more subtly than a conventional story might have posed. But, ultimately, and upon finishing reading the book, the sense of reality it puts across is so clear and tangible that it transcends the genre.

Q: You describe THE BLEAK DOOR as a “science fiction thriller?” How did you make it a “thriller”?

Christian Baker: Since my early youth, I saw myself by and large as a reader being forced to make a decision between two types of books. Those with excellent content aimed at the intellectual readership and those that are fast-paced and emotion-charged, but leaving a void in readers when finishing them. When I undertook this fascination endeavor I strongly set my mind on putting together the purest essence of both universes so that the reader could be engrossed in the franticness of a thrilling story and, at the same time, feel his/her intellectual side is intact. The fusion of the science fiction and the thriller genres set the proper framework to envelope the hidden intrinsic message with the background of a fast and dramatic story.

Q:  Would you say that THE BLEAK DOOR is more “thriller” or “SciFi?” Would readers who enjoy thrillers like it even if they’re not SciFi fans?

Christian Baker: I think it strikes a balance. In the case of THE BLEAK DOOR, science fiction is just an excuse to deal with a very tangible and real subject in a different way. If the typical thrillers' reader allows science fiction as the author's license so that he can approach tangible and real issues, not linked to fantasy at all,  he might be pleasantly surprised.

Q: Did you write THE BLEAK DOOR to deliver a message and/or for the readers’ entertainment? Reviewers, for example, said “Behind the apparent fiction the story presents very basic questions of our existence and humanity” and “thought-provoking.”

Christian Baker: I wrote the story seeking both things equally intensively. I wanted the reader to be shaken by a deep message and, in turn, even when exhaustion led him to drowsily close his eyes, he would be unable to put down the book.  The experience had to be intense in both senses.

Q: How did you come up with the title THE BLEAK DOOR? Why is it significant?

Christian Baker: I wanted a title that wasn’t evident just as I wanted the reader to immerse himself in the story without realizing what was coming. THE BLEAK DOOR shows us a threshold hidden by a door. It doesn't allow us to fully grasp whether it is convenient for us to go through it or not. It is part of the discovery we will have to live through as we begin to understand and experience things along the story.

Q: How do you create characters that are “well drawn and create a real emotional connection with the reader”?

Christian Baker: The story has several characters, which at some point get linked to us from different aspects of our inner selves. They are somehow a mirror of us. And, as we progress in the story and become part of what they happen to face, we gradually rediscover ourselves. The real and emotional connection is just a natural consequence of feeling protagonists, not just readers.

Q: How important is the concept of “villain” to THE BLEAK DOOR? What makes a memorable villain? Do you need a villain to have a hero?

Christian Baker: I think that the villain in a way embodies the challenge we have to face. We might state that when the villain is simple and predictable, our challenge is minor. In THE BLEAK DOOR the challenge we have to face will be immense. The process we are involved in is more significant than the outcome itself.

Q: What’s next?

Christian Baker: First and foremost to enjoy the present, and how positively and beautifully readers are welcoming the book. I believe books have a life of their own. They are like our children, given birth by their parents and then they spread their own wings. I feel that THE BLEAK DOOR is in that trajectory and my wish is that it reaches many, many people with its message. Then, the readers will wink an eye at me, another message will be given birth to and we, once again, will renew that mutual understanding that will bring us together in another story, other emotions, a new learning process.

Q: Tell us about Christian Baker. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I am knowledge-hungry, eager to dive headfirst into new subjects and go all out for new experiences. Human nature fascinates me, and so do its challenges - those that aim at a more fair world with happier, inwardly fulfilled people.

And, above all, enjoy my loved ones, and appreciate what having them next to me each day means.

About Christian Baker

I came into the world one year before a man would walk on the moon, at the end of a decade that held the dawn of change in its guts. I was raised during a special and complex time but I retain memories of profound sensitivity and a love of knowledge that impregnated the experiences of my childhood. I look back fondly on my afternoons in the neighborhood.  I can still see old the cinema where sensations, words and images appeared as if by magic before my wide eyes.
Time advanced with its sure steps and my love for the seventh art spread to a passion for literature. In the pages of books I discovered that prodigious spark which unites the author's tale to the depths of our imaginations. Through reading, writing and the tests life uses to shape us, I learned and grew. Creation and vision nested deep within me.

One day, four years ago, the stream of words and images that I had intoxicated myself with for so many years as reader and spectator, along with the clarity conferred by life's challenges, gave way to the writer that had been lurking within me, waiting for the chance to break free.
That is how THE BLEAK DOOR was concocted, an intense and powerful tale, one that sticks to your skin as soon as you take it in your hands. We will travel its pages together, setting off as spectators. We will move quickly into a world of unique sensations, down a winding path paved with fear, drama, doubt and reflection. It will force us to look within ourselves, to flee, to rediscover who we are.

It is my hope, dear reader, that we remain forever united by this experience and that we may journey together always.

About THE BLEAK DOOR – A science fiction thriller novel

The President of the United States is abruptly hit by a serious and unknown disease. Suddenly, and while his successor was being discussed, he miraculously recovers. Relief rapidly spreads among his assistants and public opinion. The most powerful man on the planet has come back. Or, at least, that is what everyone thought. 

A different enemy, beyond our understanding, expands his webs. Soon changes in laws, persecutions, and weird and flabbergasting experiments start to take place. A top-notch interdisciplinary team is clandestinely put together in order to grasp the inexplicable and thus put up some sort of resistance. They were not aware that the knowledge of that truth might only be the beginning of the nightmare. 

THE BLEAK DOOR tells us about a world becoming oppressive, violent, without any clear apparent reasons. It faces us with complex questions of our inner self and our response towards  manipulation both from an individual and a social level. It positions us before our selfishness, our decisions. And, above all, their consequences. 

An electrifying, obscure, fast-paced story from its very first page. 

The Beginning

Few minutes remain before I see his eyes again. My pulse races as the desire for his voice, his skin, his breath, devours me from within and pulls me uncontrollably towards the abyss. We know what they do to those like us who dare to defy the ban on contact between our castes. And I feel a profound terror each time I think of this.
The rocky mountainside offers our protection, the place where our bodies and emotions intertwine and we dedicate ourselves to one another. Like those old poems I read in the pages of that black covered book that accompanied my first juvenile sensations.
Kaled appears silently, like always. I pretend that I don’t see him coming, although I would sense him from a thousand miles away. He hugs me from behind, pressing his body against mine as his lips caress my neck and I shiver within. I turn around and kiss him passionately, as my breathing and my feelings tremble beyond my control in an attempt to express what words cannot transmit.
Our clothes disappear, leaving our bodies to meld with the rock and warm air. There is no other place in the world. The rules of others do not apply to us. We belong only here, always and forever.
We fall asleep, my ear against his chest, tasting his heartbeats and the humidity that pounds against our bodies. I delight in the moment, trying to make the most of each second, before we must furtively lose ourselves in the shadows and return to our respective places, pretending not to miss the other, lost among so many strange faces.
 A sound. I open my eyes quickly. He remains asleep and all is silent around me. I shut my eyes again and I let myself be enveloped once more in the warmth of his skin and my emotions.
When I feel the cold metal against my skin, terror overcomes me and a scream escapes my throat, mingling with the cries of my beloved. Several armed men surround us. I try to grab my clothes, almost as a reflex, but one of the men steps on them, forbidding me to cover my nudity.
They put us against a rock wall, separate us, and look us over. They can taste their miserable victory, knowing that in those moments they are our God, as our fate lies in their hands.
 One of them smiles, and approaches Kaled. He places a knife  a few inches from Kaled’s abdomen as he passes it from one hand to the other, prolonging the horror of the moment as long as possible. Kaled tells me to close my eyes, not to look, but I want to see the spark in his eyes up to the last second.
And as the tears spring forth uncontrollably, I feel the earth shake under our feet. Maybe it is my denial, my way of escaping the inevitable. But then I see Kaled’s face and the faces of our attackers, and they all show a mixture of confusion and disbelief. A feeling of emptiness takes hold of my stomach, and my legs no longer hold me up, as I surrender to the fog of confusion.
When I reopen my eyes, the mountains have disappeared, and pearly white walls reframe my outside world. I find it difficult to focus my eyes as my heart pounds with unbridled force. I take a few seconds to realize that I am hanging upside down and unable to move, next to the bodies of the men that were our captors only a short while before. They are naked now as well and their expressions show terror. I cannot see Kaled. Dear God! Where am I?
A man dressed in a strange suit enters the room. He carries an unrecognizable instrument in his hand. He approaches the first of the group and rests the instrument on the skin of the man who had made a game of threatening Kaled. A suffocated howl of pain escapes his throat, as his body convulses. Other figures covered in those strange suits enter the space and now our screams and horror combine into one cry as we realize we will be next.
Someone approaches, extending that strange instrument towards my body. I close my eyes as tight as I can. My heartbeat is as strong as the fear that now invades my entire being. I think of Kaled, in his sweetness, in his skin, in his warmth.
Then only my old poems and the shattering of a thousand glasses within me.


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