Five Questions with Anthony Black, co-author of Social Distancing.

Just recently, I shared some of my thoughts regarding Social Distancing, a collaborative project with Anthony Black. As we make this short story available on Amazon, I ask Anthony some questions to gain a little insight in regards to this story. Anthony’s creative approach adds depth and uniqueness to this story. The world Anthony helps craft is not only relevant, but quite possibly right around the corner. In this interview, Anthony talks about the current social climate and how it lends itself to dystopia as well as his approach to writing. There’s also a Conan the Barbarian cameo you dare not miss!

Without spoiling anything, what is your favorite thing about Social Distancing, the story?

When I think about it, it’s the subtle connections and interactions that the main character has with the world. Much of his daily routine is second nature, yet  from the perspective of the reader, it’s somewhat frightening to see what ‘could be’ in a society that is regulated to social distance as the ‘new normal’ so to speak, and how a person can accept the loss of free will.

What is it about this year (2020) that lends itself so well to dystopian science fiction?

The most obvious thing is the pandemic. For many years, you’ve always heard about it as some horrible thing that may happen, and has happened, in the distant past, but it always felt like something out of a story, it didn’t seem real, it wasn’t tangible, and now suddenly, it was. 

Even with all our knowledge and advances in medicine, we still were caught by surprise by the reality of a rapidly spreading virus that we ultimately had no real immediate control over.  This revealed something to me. Points of crisis can happen so suddenly and influence a society so quickly.  

The second thing is the reaction to the pandemic. While I feel much of what was done was justified to prevent the spread and to save lives, speaking strictly from an objective perspective, the actions taken to enforce quarantines, to close businesses, to make people wear masks, implies a sort of fragility to our freedoms. If the wrong people are in charge during a real crisis, and want to take advantage of such a situation, they likely will. 

The third not as obvious thing is the rapid progression of technology and its influence on society.  Even without a pandemic, people aren’t as directly sociable when they can text, or use the computer, or another form of technology.  Social distancing seems to be a natural progression in tandem with technology.  Additionally,  technologies such as virtual reality, within the past year, have become more mainstream. That dystopian near-future science fiction you’ve always seen in a Phillip K. Dick story is becoming more real.

For many, this is their first time getting to know you – what are your writing strengths? Which genre do you most prefer?

I think some of my strengths include creativity, analysis, and planning. I like thinking about how the world the characters are in influences them and how they influence the world around them. I also like the idea of approaching a scene or setting from a different perspective and seeing how the story can change and grow based on an unusual choice. While I love Fantasy, I tend to prefer Science Fiction a bit more. I find the endless possibilities of our future, for good or ill, very intriguing

What is your favorite movie from the 80s, and why?

This is a tough one. There are so many fantastic movies that I’ve enjoyed growing up in the 1980’s, but my favorite 80’s movie is probably Conan the Barbarian. I love Robert E. Howard stories, and despite the limited acting ability of Arnold, the raw emotion and excellent soundtrack brings the story to life and drives Conan’s quest for revenge to a fulfilling conclusion. I also always liked the idea of a forgotten civilization existing beyond our knowledge of history, where magic might have existed.

Do you think we’ll be revisiting the world introduced to us in Social Distancing?

I’d like to revisit the world if possible. The idea is strong and there is a lot of history that we (Will and I) can focus on. I think the potential is there for some really great stories and world building. So, we’ll see as it comes to us!

Thanks for reading! Social Distancing is out now for just 99 cents!

Visit Anthony’s new Smashwords page here!