Monday Original Content: An Interview with Oscar Simanjuntak

Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, how did you get acquainted with science fiction/fantasy?

I first made contact with the the world of science fiction/fantasy when I read Lord of The  Rings at High school. Of course before that I had seen movies and read comics of the genres, but I’ve never read a SF/F novel before that and I was hooked ever since. couldn’t stop reading them. I was interested in science and learning how the Universe works, so reading SF/F became a favorite hobby of mine, besides computer programming.

What made you decide to pursue writing as a career?

I graduated with a Masters degree in Chemistry and Chem Eng, and I have worked starting up a Biodiesel plant and then designing some patented civil engineering systems for my family’s company but I found that my heart wasn’t in the the jobs that I was doing at the moment. It took some soul-searching, and after some thinking and contemplating I decided to start my own novel, which was a dream I had since a long time ago but never had decided to start. Well actually, more to the point I had also learned stocks trading in the Indonesian stock market a few years ago and was making some profit until the Global crisis came in 2008 and wrecked my investment. A few weeks after that I began to think that time was precious and my novel couldn’t wait anymore and that was when I started my novel.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I have tried to contact agents to represent me in the US & UK but haven’t found the right one so far. And plus I was reading a lot about people who have self-published and the emergence of the various eReaders, so put the two together and that was my reason. Although I would be interested if the ‘right’ agent would like to represent me.

What made you decide to publish it as an eBook? How did you select the platforms (Smashwords, Kindle) in which it would be available?

Like many other authors, I think that the industry is changing, the convenience of an eReader is a plus compared to carrying your hefty books everywhere you go. Also I wanted to reach readers all over the world and eBook is a good way to do that. For the platforms I basically choose the ones with the biggest catalog and reaches the most customers.

For readers unfamiliar with the book, could you introduce to us your ebook Rise of an Angel (The Tales of Jonathan Iveron)? In your opinion, what sets the book apart from what’s currently out there?

Rise of an Angel is an epic science fiction and fantasy crossover novel. It is set in the future with all its advance technology but also has elements of the ‘fantasy’ which I wrote as inter-dimensional energy of the unseen Universe, scientists have theorize about the existence of dimensions above the space-time continuum and I think higher dimensional planes is an interesting subject for SF/F writers, those dimensions are the basis of my ‘fantasy’ elements since we as a species don’t know much (yet) definitive about those dimensions. That’s why I put the year of my story in 2180 since I hope that our children’s children’s children would be able to learn more about the Universe and its strange dimensions.

About the story it tells the story of a military Sergeant in future Indonesia who found an ancient artifact that has a mysterious ability to interact with the trans-dimensional energy, and strangely it reacted to Jonathan as if it was designed for him, or for a person with a similar genetic makeup. As the story goes he would be recruited by the ‘Angel units’ which was a military force comprised of human beings who have (in the future) evolved further from ‘homo sapiens’ to ‘homo angelus’. These angel units have special powers which are why they were called ‘angels’. Later on he woudl discover that there was a conspiracy to use the artifact to bring down the government of Indonesia, using its power to defeat the Angel units who watchwd over the nation. It was up to Jonathan to stop these conspirators and uncover their secret plans.

What made you decide to set the story in a future Indonesia?

I wanted to introduce my country in a new light. I wanted to create a vision of Indonesia that is more advance and more positive than it ever was. I believe we can have that in the future. That’s why I described in great detail the technological advances that we can have in future in Indonesia. I also hope that it could radically alter and improve the view and vision that young Indonesian have on their country, and from the many responses I receive from readers in Indonesia I think it had worked. Many had told me that they were impressed with the advance and futuristic Indonesia that I have created and told me that their horizons were opened that yes, in fact our country can be this good and this advance in the future.

Act follows vision and I hope that the vision that I gave them will propel them to act to make this vision come true.

Also I think in the literary world, especially in the SFF world Indonesia has rarely been used as a setting. (except maybe in King Kong where they used a ship from Surabaya, and in Eat, Pray Love where Julia Roberts found elightenment in Bali – which is the setting of my thirs book btw.). So making the exotic and wild places in Indonesia as a setting I hope will bring a freshness to the story that no one in the world of SFF have used before. Indonesia is rich in the fantasy and mystic elements/source material. Just have a look at Erick Setiawan’s popular ‘Of Bees and Mist’ which was very much inspired by the mysticism and folklore in Indonesia.

What kind of research did you have to do?

Science and SFF has been near and dear to my heart so basically I had done probably 90% of the research before I started. But for the remainder I maybe read some new books on the higher dimensions theories, brushed up my knowledge on Einstein’s relativity and watch some hyper-realistic slow-mo action movies like 300 and Matrix for inspiration for the epic fighting scenes in my book.

What were the challenges in writing and self-publishing the book?

As a new novelist of course the challenge is learning how to write a great story, knowing what ‘makes’ a story so good, learning the various elements that would keep the readers entertained and interested in your novel chapter by chapter. The ones that gripped you to the story, that brings tears to your eyes, that blow you mind and that warms the heart.
After that comes the challenge of editing, of course I had to do it myself at the moment which is a challenge since I was also working on the second book of the series. There was also the challenge of balancing your work life and writing, since both are time consuming so I gotta be smart about it and worked hard so both activities can run smoothy. Then come the challenge of coding the  ebook using an html coding software. And after it’s published there’s still the task of marketing it and introducing it to prospective readers.

But even though it’s hard work, the love that I have in writing and reading SF/F keep propelling me to do my best so that the readers can enjoy and be thrilled by the stories that I have written.


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