It’s Blogtober Day 5 and I’m here with a super exciting post! You’ll probably have seen Orgo’s on Twitter, or the hashtag #iwantanorgo – if you have then get ready to meet the guy responsible! R. J. Furness is the author of Dissent: RENEGADES, and the MG Orgo Runner series – both perfect!
I contacted Rick to ask if he would be interested in an author interview, and to my delight he said yes! I had SO many questions to ask and luckily enough he answered them all SO brilliantly!
Without further ado, let’s get into the Q & A!
Q: Introduce Yourself!
A: Hi. My name’s R.J. Furness, and I’m the author of the “dissent” and “Orgo Runners” books. Both those series are interlinked and set in the same world. They are original dystopian adventures set in a future ice age. I think it’s fair to say that it’s unlikely you’ve read much like them. As for me, I’m a stay-at-home parent/writer, and I live in Southport with my incredible family. Oh, and I also ‘appear’ to have an overactive imagination.
Q: What age were you when you first started writing?
A: In the most literal sense, this happened before I can remember. I can recall many occasions, at very young ages, where I thought about how much I wanted to write. In fact, I used to have so many notebooks in my primary school years. One stands out more than others because I used to bring it out every Christmas. I decorated that book in intricate detail. Then, as December arrived, I would remove it from the drawer where it lived and start writing Christmas tales. Every day up to Christmas, I would come home from school and create a new story. On Boxing Day, it would then return to its home in the drawer and not resurface until the next December. I never let anyone see any of those stories either.
Q: Why did you want to be an author?
A: I’ve always wanted to be an author. Always. Why? Because telling stories and transporting people to other worlds is magical! I have been jotting down story ideas my whole life. That said, many of those ideas never became fully formed stories. For one reason or another, I never made a deliberate effort to develop them further. Put another way, I was a writer, perhaps, but not what I would consider an author. Until now!
Q: Who inspires you?
A: My family inspire me more than anyone else in the world. My wife, Emma, and our children have been so supportive. The feelings I get when they read my books can’t be explained either. I love sitting down with our children and talking about the “dissent” world, or the adventures of the “Orgo Runners”. They are such special moments. Also, I ask our children to give me ideas for “Orgo Runners”. My family are so involved and continue to inspire me.
Q: What inspired dissent: Renegades?
A: Years ago, after watching the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”, I wondered what happened next. At the end of the movie, the world as we saw it had frozen over. I began to wonder how long that would last. Had this catastrophic crash in the climate resulted in a new ice age? How might that turn out?
As I developed this idea, I realised that many of the things that concern me today may still exist in the future. If humanity went on and found a new way of surviving, it is likely that we would still have many of today’s challenges. Would we learn from our past mistakes and do things differently? Actually, I’m not so sure we would. Are you? With all that in mind, climate change, oppression and equality are all examples of things that inspired “dissent RENEGADES”.
Q: Was dissent: Renegades always going to be a series?
A: Nope. One book! It was supposed to be one book! But after I started planning it out, it became evident that I was kidding myself. There are so many stories to tell in this world. Likewise, there were so many questions I had when I started writing “RENEGADES”. Since the book’s release, readers have also started to ask me those same questions. So, I need to keep writing until I’ve answered them all!
Q: Which character is the easiest to write for?
A: Hmmmm. I going to say Morrigan. Halfway through writing “RENEGADES”, there was something about Morrigan that compelled me to write more about her. As such, she got her own small book not that long after “RENEGADES” came out. I love writing for all my characters, and I wanted to reflect that in the books by shifting to different points of view where possible. Yet throughout writing the first book, there was something about Morrigan that stood out. I’m looking forward to getting back to her journey in “dissent Book 2”. Even if Morrigan isn’t technically a ‘main’ character.
Q: How did you come up with the now famous orgo?
A: Whilst creating the “dissent” world, I wanted to evolve certain present-day creatures to make new ones. I’ve always been a huge lover of imaginary beasts. Likewise, I’ve always had an interest in dinosaurs too. However, one of my sons (Lewis) isn’t much of a fan of either of those things, and I wanted something in this world for him. At first, I had no idea how to achieve that.
Lewis is obsessed with cars, stories about racing and he adores Knight Rider. So, I needed to figure out how I could include that? It was at that point, that I realized I needed an animal that people could race around on. With this world being quite primitive, that seemed to be the obvious answer. But, I wasn’t convinced horses would have survived the ice-age, and so… The orgo were born.
Some of the orgo’s features grew from things that spark my own imagination. In some ways, they’re similar to dinosaurs in appearance. Yet, it also made sense for the orgo to be a large ice age type mammal (which is why they have thick, fleecy fur). On top of all that, I’ve always been mystified by eggs. Don’t ask me why—I couldn’t explain that fascination. Needless to say, I find bird eggs, reptile eggs, and of course dinosaur eggs, enchanting. I can’t tell you how captivated I was by the velociraptor that hatched in Jurassic Park. So, the orgo had to be egg-laying mammals too. Oh, and like KITT in Knight Rider, I wanted these animals to have their own personalities.
Since publishing these stories, the orgo have taken on a life of their own. Both children and adult readers embrace them and love them the way they would with their own pets.
As for Lewis…
Whilst the orgo aren’t machines, they have now inspired him to learn horse-riding. It’s the closest he can get to riding orgo for the next few thousand years.
Q: What inspired you to write YA/MG books?
A: I’ve always loved books written for those age groups. It wasn’t a deliberate decision, that was just how it turned out. In some way, I was compelled to write for young adult and middle grade, more than choosing to do so. I mean, who doesn’t love YA and MG?
The only thing I’d add is that when I was writing the first “dissent” book, I realised that I’d have loved this world as a child. So, I decided that the “Orgo Runners” stories would be written with a slightly younger age group (MG) in mind. Now, both YA and MG readers can fall in love with the orgo. Like me, so many adults enjoy YA and MG. As such, many more people can immerse themselves in these stories.
Q: Describe dissent: Renegades in 3 words.
A: Crikey. I struggle to describe it in three paragraphs. Er…
Unique. Dystopian. Adventure.
Q: What is your favourite part of being an author?
A: Talking to people who have read my stories. Every, single one of them. I love my readers so much. They’ve taken time out to dive into a world that I created. And that—is such an awesome feeling!
Q: What is your writing process?
A: To start at the beginning and end with ‘the end’. Kidding. I wish it was that simple. Okay, here goes… First, I take hold of one of the crazy story ideas that are swirling around in my imagination. Then, I summarise it in a sentence. After that, I expand that idea into a paragraph and start considering things that motivate each of my characters. In simple terms, that leads to a fully formed idea, and most of the characters burst out of that idea.
The next step is to break down my story into ‘acts’ and decide what happens in each act. Needless to say, this then leads to those acts being broken up into chapters. Lastly, once I have all those chapters mapped out (and only then) I start to write. That is where the problems begin, and usually, those problems come from characters. I often find, that once the characters start speaking for themselves, things can change. Sometimes a lot of things will change. It’s funny to think about how much my characters decide their own fate. They write the story for me in many ways.
Q: What is the most difficult part of being an author?
A: For me, it has to be unexpected interruptions. I’m quite busy with my day-to-day commitments. Although appointments are planned, other things occur without warning. On several occasions, I’ve found myself in a wonderful writing flow and then received an urgent call or email. I’m then thrown into ‘real-life’ issues that suck me out of my story. The bigger the challenge, the longer it can take me to centre myself and get absorbed back into a flow. To resolve this, I find that music helps me to reconnect with characters.
Q: If you could have written one book that’s already out there by any author – which would it be and why?
A: Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. As a child, the movie was everything to me. It was uplifting, magical and filled me with happiness. Without the book, the movie wouldn’t exist. It is that simple. I wish I could have been the person to write that book, even if it only filled one child with as much joy as it gave me.
I’d like to add, that Mary Poppins also has a message that I hold dear. And so, as a parent, I truly believe in the magic of it too.
Q: Any advice for future authors?
A: I am only at the start of my own book publishing journey in many ways. By that, I mean I am only just beginning to get my work out there. Having said that, recently I have read so many tweets and articles about authors ‘running their ideas passed publishers and agents’. And sometimes, it appears that authors do that to see if their ideas are good ideas. In my mind, if you have a story to tell—tell it! There will be people out there who want to read what you’ve written. There could be lots of those people too. At this stage, I’m still working on ways to find more people who may enjoy the “dissent” stories. But I know they exist, and I’ve already met a fair few in one way or another.
Write your story, and get it published in whatever way works for you.
Thank you so much to Rick for doing this Q and A and having such wonderful answers! It was a pleasure as always, and thank you for trusting me with your wonderful books!
You can buy Rick’s books below:
And find him on Twitter – @RJFurness
Until next time,