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Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book. I can attest that Seven Sides of Self is a beautifully written collection of stories. Nancy Joie Wilkie is poised in her prose, clean and clear. I appreciated the mixture of her personal faith, realistic writing, and science fiction in this collection.
What is more, the volume is attractively published and polished.
What other projects are you working on and how do they connect to “Seven Sides of Self?”
I am working on several things right now. First, I have a collection of 101 (or two) page short stories ... actually fables ... each ending with a moral containing a pair of anagrams. The idea is that the fable will highlight either the humor or the irony of the anagramic pair (think “Santa” and “Satan” — or “ocean” and “canoe”). Second, I have started working on a follow-up short story collection tentatively titled, “Faraway and Forever.” There are four stories (“The Wishbringer,” “The Natural Order of Things,” “Half The Sky,” and “The Last Sunday of Summer”) ... all a bit longer than the stories in “Seven Sides of Self” ... and all are in the sci-fi/fantasy realm. I want to explore more fully the Three Laws of Spiritual Mechanics, Mothersouls, and a few other surprises. Third: Some number of years ago, I started a sci-fi novel titled “The Oaks of Mamre.” It explores one man’s quest for immortality and the lengths to which he is willing to go ... even at the expense of other people’s lives. And fourth — there is my music! My fourth collection of original tunes titled “Aurillian Tales” is scheduled for release in early 2020.
What should we know about your work?
I have a deep and unwavering faith that we are all a part of something grander than what we can see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. Call it God, the Universe, or Intelligent Design. I want to explore different aspects of what that might be and how we are related to it. I am also a retired biochemist and an amateur astronomer. I like to base my fictional works in some sort of legitimate framework — something that is at least partially believable to a fellow scientist.
I am also a musician and artist. The whole concept of “mindsights” is all about my ability to bring what is in my heart and mind out into the real world so that I might share it with other folks.
What are you reading now?
I am currently re-reading one of my most favorite sci-fi novels ... by my favorite author ... “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K. LeGuin. I first read it many years ago, and it is becoming obvious to me that some of that story must have touched my imagination. I’m finding that there just might be bits and pieces of its themes in “Of The Green And Of The Gold.”
What inspires you to write?
Since these seven stories were written over the course of the last 20-plus years, there was no one single thing that inspired the collection. Having said that, I would simply say that more times than not, the stories were dropped into my mind by the Muses that apparently follow me around with some degree of regularity. Most of the stories have helped me to deal with my own emotional conflicts — such as how to deal with fear — an example of which is “The Ledge.” While I am grateful to the Muses, their creative flashes happen at a greater pace than I am able to write down their gifts!
How has your work as a scientist influenced your art and writing?
My maternal grandfather was an organic chemist. As a youngster, I would watch him work in his laboratory and always thought, “That’s what I want to do when I grow up” —and so I did! I’m lucky to have known what I wanted to do; not everyone knows their calling. As for the music and the art, I had two musically gifted grandparents and a bunch of mostly older cousins who were musicians, artists, and writers. They were my inspiration. As for a connection, all of these fields are about creating something—taking what one sees or hears in one’s mind or feels in one’s heart and then bringing the thoughts and feelings out into the real world — hence my moniker — “mindsights.”
The stories in “Seven Sides of Self” are so thoughtful and engaging — and at times very personal. What was your creative process?
Actually, the stories really are quite personal. If you know me well, the collection can be thought of a scavenger hunt. There are little pieces of me in each of the seven stories — hence the title of the collection. As for my creative process, there is no one magic formula. As an example, “An Intricate Balance” came to me while out on a long walk. I got home and started writing — several hours later, I had the first draft of the story. “The Ledge” is based on a longstanding fear of high places that periodically invades my dreams. Pieces of “Journey To Pradix” started out as part of another story. “Microwave Man” came about during a long drive with not much to think about. You just never know when the Muses will show up!
You’ve said that the book is a collection of “original stories for original thinkers.” How do you define an original thinker?
I actually borrowed that line from a much earlier project with which I was involved. I was in a band that played pretty much all-original music — music that dealt with some socially progressive themes. We would play various benefit shows and eventually recorded and released a collection of our songs. When I built the website in support of the band and its music, I came up with the phrase “Original music for original minds.” Back then, I defined “an original mind” as someone who is thinking outside the box, someone with different ideas about things the average person hasn’t really considered. I suppose I still think that’s an adequate description. I’d like to think I am an original thinker!
What do you believe makes your book stand out from similar books on the market?
As well as having a writing style that is both lyrical and vivid (so I’ve been told), “Seven Sides of Self” does have a few surprises. Some of the stories introduce the readers to new and unique concepts; other stories challenge the reader with moral dilemmas. The brevity of the stories gets the reader to the main conflict and its ultimate solution without a lot of trivial digression. One thing is certain — all of the stories are imaginative, thought-provoking, and inspirational.
Please tell us where we can find more information about your work.
Absolutely! My website is always a good place to start ... www.mindsights.net. That URL takes one to a Web Portal of sorts ... where there are hyperlinks to each of four separate Websites ... Mindsights Mediaworks (for original art and greeting cards), Mindsongs Musique (for original music), Mindstreets Musings (for original writing), and Mindsights Albums (photographs of trips and special places for family and friends).