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Well-Planned Chaos:
Interview with P.D. Blackwell

P.D. Blackwell is a quiet man, unassuming and humble, a contrast to his brilliantly illustrative writing. P.D. Blackwell is not your run-of-the-mill sci-fi writer.

In addition to being well-versed in the science fiction genre, the author also happens to be an accomplished theologian, having immersed himself in the field for well over 40 years.

With a multi-faceted background, Blackwell has crafted a genre of science fiction that places a heavy focus on the human condition and its infinite complexities.

In truth, the author has created stories that span many categories of interest and is sure to attract (and keep) the attention of a multi-generational diverse readership.

Blackwell isn’t just an author; he is a wordsmith who has paved the way for the intersection between fantasy and the exploration of humanity.

You can see so yourself, as Chaos Rising and The Rhysu Alternative, volume one and volume two from his Erstallius Chronicles trilogy, are available on Amazon.

Chaos Rising - The Erstallius Chronicles by P.D. Blackwell

What does P.D. stand for?

Paul David. My mom named me Paul because it means “small.” I was born two months premature, and she said I looked like a prune, black and blue and shriveled.

You have such a rich background. Which came first? Writing? Theology?

I’m actually at work right now. I do data entry and photography. I was a commercial photographer for 15 years, and I also worked for a printing company for 23 years.

I wasn’t expecting that. I thought you started off as a theologian?

The very first job I had (after high school) was in the packing crew of a cheese company in Idaho.

I came back down to Southern California and I washed dishes in a mental hospital, which was interesting. (At this point in time, I was still searching for what I wanted to do in life.)

I worked for Buck Knives for a few years until the company had over-produced and had to lay-off most of their employees. I made carbide cutting tools. Had a cleaning business for a few years. My photography skills led to a contract with Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical. I’ve done a lot of things.

Part of that was because I started studying theology when I was 25, and everything I did was to support that. I did what I could to work the least number of hours possible and still pay rent.

I studied at a local church’s ministry school, and I studied on my own. I entered college with a major in Telecommunications, had great grades (made the Dean’s list), but never enjoyed the culture of academia.

For me, work and a full college schedule was robbing me of too much time. My interest in Theology had been luring me in that direction for years. I acquired the books I needed and studied the same subjects offered in formal classes. I don’t have the degree, but I’ve been studying ever since. That studying began in 1980.

The book I wrote about Christianity [Lawless Tradition: God’s Victory Despite Christendom’s Failure] was out of frustration. There’s a lot of paganism in Christianity that most people don’t recognize. A lot of books written about it focus on holidays and customs that come from non-Christian sources. I saw the need to focus on the perception of God and how that has been changed over the years.

I first discuss culture and the language of translation because culture influences everything we do, whether it’s religion or secular stuff. There was a lot of cultural influence in the first century. It’s mentioned in scripture more than once.

The language of translation is a problem too because you’re going from the original Greek writings of the New Testament, and the original Hebrew and Aramaic writings of the Old Testament, and some meaning has been lost.

P.D. Blackwell

What inspired you to write volume one, Chaos Rising?

I’ve always had an interest in science fiction. I joined the science fiction book club in junior high. In high school there was a Science Fiction as Literature class I took, and I had already read half the books they required.

In the early to mid-70s, I had a dream one night of a bearded man on a cliff looking toward a valley, and there were four objects coming toward him. The objects turned into men standing on platforms with handles, like flying scooters. It was odd.

I thought, “Maybe I can make a story out of this.” That caused me to write a 10-page draft for a short story. Years later, that draft became Chaos Rising.

When I get into something, I go full-boar. In the 80s, before I had a personal computer, I made a three-dimensional map of star locations because I wanted to know a logical direction of travel through the stars to the various places that were in the story.

I also sketched with colored pencils, on an 8 x10 sheet of paper, a map of the terrain I saw in my dream. Once completed, I stored my creations for later reference. It took a while for me to bring this idea out of the background in my brain and do something about it.

What inspired the title?

Imagine, 1500 years in the future, you own a mining colony on an airless planet, and it’s a source of great wealth. One day it’s destroyed. The ships you’ve built to protect your investment are also destroyed in orbit. That would send shock waves through everyone. That’s the beginning incident in the novel.

The female protagonist, Bev Colli, is a miner and she survives with 21 other people. Humanity has settled a large number of planets, controlled by The Merchant Alliance of Great Clans. When the mine is destroyed, a lot of fingers are pointed to various suspects, and the Alliance begins to fracture. That’s where Chaos begins.

Is there a message you hope to spread through Chaos Rising?

You cannot have a society without conflict. There has always been some conflict throughout human history. The same problems that affect us today affect the future society in the book.

In Chaos Rising, the characters are also confronted with new issues. The chaos grows from not only the conflict because of the mine disaster, but from an unusual aftereffect: Some survivors have the same dream of a woman trapped in a cave, screaming in agony.

The book is an unraveling of these mysteries: Who destroyed the mine and the security force in orbit? What causes the odd dreams?

The story is complex, with many characters and motivations. So, I suppose a message would be: No matter how high the odds are against us, if we remain calm and think and search for a path around our problems, we can survive.

Who would you cast to play the protagonist and the antagonist of your book series?

The antagonist is Farquar Polinda, who seeks revenge for the destruction of his mine. I see Vincent D'Onofrio.

The female protagonist – Bev is small and feisty – who’s the girl who played Wednesday on Netflix?

Jenna Ortega. And that’s a terrific choice.

Yes, her.

Are there any upcoming projects you’d like your readers to know about?

The third book is still in the plotting stage.

The second novel [The Rhysu Alternative: The Erstallius Chronicles, Volume Two] begins where Volume One ends and focuses on the continuing problems facing the Merchant Alliance, but also Bev, who has been forced down a path she never expected.

In the second edition of the paperback, I added a terminology listing at the beginning of the book. I took a note from Frank Herbert [author of the Dune novels] to help the reader understand unfamiliar terms.

In the back of the book, there’s a listing of all the planets discussed in the book with related info. I also developed a language called Akün, which is used on one of the planets, and there are maps of various locations and solar systems.

How did it feel finally writing these novels after decades of thinking and planning?

I felt relief. I was very quietly proud of myself for having finished them. I was excited to have other people read them and let me know their reactions. The personal success of that, and the various feedback, encouraged me to continue on.

Just curious: Your protagonist is named Bev. I haven’t heard that name in a while. How’d you come across that name for your novels?

I wanted something unusual, yet simple, so I looked through a book of baby names.

For more information, please visit www.PDBlackwell.com.

Hollywood, CA

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