I’ve not yet met Peter Cawdron, though I follow him in For a Few Credits More. I like that story though, and he’s clearly a thoughtful fellow. If I ever get to Australia, I’ll make sure to look him up and share a few beverages discussing the universe.
Interview: Peter Cawdron
What is your quest?
I was a religious nut for decades. One book held all the answers. Only one group was capable of interpreting it. Everyone else was sincere but misguided. Thankfully, my one saving grace was honesty. When I heard a preacher trash Charles Darwin, likening him to Hitler, I felt conflicted. Hitler was a pretty bad dude, setting the world on fire and killing tens of millions of people. Didn’t Darwin sail around the world collecting animals? Really doesn’t seem comparable, does it? I grabbed a copy of On the Origin of Species and a highlighter pen and began reading. Much to my delight I realized Charles Darwin was methodical and honest in following the evidence wherever it went. He too was conflicted by religious sentiment, and once wrote to a friend saying, his discovery of evolution by means of natural selection felt like “confessing to murder.” In Charles Darwin, I found a kindred spirit.
Since then, I’ve taken off my rose-colored glasses and seen the world anew. I’ve come to appreciate the astonishing times in which we live and the way science has transformed our world—at times for the better (vaccinations have saved hundreds of millions, if not billions of lives), at times for worst (our infatuation with fossil fuels has allowed us to ravage the environment). In all cases, however, science has been a catalyst for change.
When I write, I try to inspire a sense of awe about reality, along with a need for responsibility.
What is your favorite word?
We’re all shortsighted.
A hundred years ago, we thought the Milky Way encompassed the entire universe. A couple of decades ago, Hubble showed us that even our most outlandish predictions were shortsighted. We now recognize the observable universe as spanning 93 billion light-years! We think the entire universe (not just the portion we see) is a minimum of 156 billion light-years in diameter. Then there are the emerging theories challenging this, looking at the curvature of the universe on a cosmological scale that suggest the real size could be as much as 23 trillion light years, and yet here we are on Earth, fighting over a scruffy patch of ground for oil or ideology. Our behavior is insanely shortsighted.
Likewise, the idea that we are alone in the universe is foolish and conceited. We have no reason to believe that—and every reason to believe otherwise. Like a medieval scholar standing on the shores bordering the Atlantic Ocean, making any kind of judgment about the existence of other continents is steeped in hubris. We need to wait until the evidence is in.
We share this astonishing planet with upwards of a trillion other species, but we only care about a few (deep fried chicken, anyone?). The rest, we’re happy to drive into extinction. As a writer, I try to get readers to see the bigger picture and inspire a sense of awe and reverence for this celestial oasis adrift among the stars.
What is the average flying speed of an unladen dictionary?
In orbit, or within the atmosphere?
Being an independent writer is akin to being a busker on a street corner. No matter how good you are, you’re only ever going to reach a handful of people for a few minutes at best. Trying to breakout as an author is like talking at a rock concert. There’s so much noise it’s hard to be heard. There are a lot of great authors rocking the world. I’m glad to be one of them in my own small way.
What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?
My holy-hand grenade would be participating in anthologies like the one we both contributed to—For a Few Credits More. The best advice I can give to emerging authors is to collaborate in an anthology. It’s an awesome way to contribute to the writing community, meet other authors, and reach a wide variety of readers. Too many people underestimate the importance of short stories. They’re an awesome way to grow as an author and provide readers with an opportunity to sample a wide variety of writers to find those that match their tastes.
- Favorite Muppet? Animal
- Favorite Sports Team? Queensland State of Origin team (unknown outside of Australia)
- Lime or Lemon? Lime (in a Corona)
- Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Yo Yo Ma (playing Bach’s six cello suites)
- Favorite Superhero? Ralph Hinkley—The Greatest American Hero
- Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica
- Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? I write best on rainy days
- Coffee or Tea? Hot chocolate (dark)
- Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Science fiction with complex characters
What question(s) would you like to ask me?
If you were a character in Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, who would you be and why?
Rob’s Answer: Probably Barliman Butterbur. Wait. He works too hard. In truth, probably some random hobbit in the Green Dragon. I like food, beer, good cheer, and I hate wearing shoes.
If I was feeling especially heroic, then I would say one of the Blue Wizards, probably Pallando. I’m the kind of guy who likes to do a bunch of stuff, but not necessarily in the limelight.
Tell me again where we can find your stuff?
And where can we find you?
I wish I could attend some of the US conventions, but the cost is prohibitive from Australia. Maybe one day I’ll make it to Comic-Con.
Thanks to Peter for taking the time to answer my questions.
If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.
Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.
Have a great day.
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels
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