An Interview With Gareth Worthington
Greetings and Welcome. Today I have a privilege to interview Gareth Worthington.
Gareth Worthington is the author of several books and series such as The Children of the Fifth Sun Series, It takes Death to Reach a Star Series, A Time for Monsters, and Condition Black. He holds a degree in marine biology, a PhD in Endocrinology, an executive MBA, is Board Certified in Medical Affairs, and currently works for the pharmaceutical industry. Gareth is an authority in ancient history, has hand-tagged sharks in California, and trained in various martial arts, including Jeet Kune Do and Muay Thai at the EVOLVE MMA gym in Singapore and 2FIGHT in Switzerland.
His work has won multiple awards, including Dragon Award Finalist and an IPPY award for Science Fiction. He’s a member of the International Thriller Writers Association, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the British Science Fiction Association. Born in England, Gareth has lived around the world from Asia, to Europe to the USA. Wherever he goes, he endeavors to continue his philanthropic work with various charities. Find out more at www.GarethWorthington.com.
Mr. Worthington’s latest release, Dark Dweller, hit shelves on February 28th 2023, and has already received numerous 5-star reviews, yours truly included [insert shameless plug for my own review]. Dark Dweller takes place in the future where Earth’s resources have become depleted. To restock helium, the crew of the Paralus travel to Jupiter for what should be a routine scoop. The discovery of an escape pod puts those plans on hold and leads to a fight for humanity’s salvation.
Mr. Worthington, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions.
1) Beyond the synopsis of Dark Dweller, how would you describe your book to a fan?
Fans of my work know my novel are generally action heavy, especially when I team up with my co-author and friend Stu Jones. Dark Dweller is more of a slow burn than ramps up. I wanted to give readers time to contemplate our [in]significance in the cosmos as more and more information is uncovered about the beginning of the universe and the potential inevitability of life—which one might argue renders us unimportant. It’s definitely a “marmite” book, but as a writer I don’t want to churn out the same thing over and over.
2) You describe an Earth with depleted resources requiring humans to travel further into the Solar System to replenish them. Of all the resources Earth is depleting, why choose Helium as the target crop?
So, this one is based in research. If you remove fossil fuels and nuclear fissile material like Uranium, then there are limited options to provide power to people. Solar power is a readily available commodity so monetizing it isn’t as profitable as say, nuclear fusion. In Dark Dweller, humans have perfected nuclear fusion (and big corporations have monetized it of course). In nuclear fusion reactor designs a coolant is needed, and helium has been proposed to be an ideal gas for this—the trouble is, Earth has precious little. Saturn and Jupiter have a lot. On the NASA website you can find information on the possibility of mining Helium from our gassy neighbors.
3) In Dark Dweller, the reader is first introduced to Dr. Sarah Dallas, the Paralus’ psychiatrist. Why did you choose to write one of the main characters from this perspective?
In Sarah, I wanted a character who’s near-entire reason for even being on the ship was selfish. As I said, the book is about exploring our [in]significance and Sarah is on a soul-searching mission. Of course, no-one can have a totally redundant job on a space ship, but my friends in the military (who are at sea or on deployment a lot) have described to me how occupations such as psychiatrist have been introduced and—while understood to be necessary—often feel “in the way” or at the very least part of a “check-box exercise” to allow the soldiers to get on with their assignment. Sarah feels isolated and ponders her usefulness on the ship, in life and in the cosmos.
4) As readers, we come to learn more about Psomas’ time in her escape pod. What influences did you use as Psomas’ knowledge base for naming those she encounters?
Psomas is the ultimate unreliable narrator. You never really know if she has seen the things she recalls, or if she has lost her mind and is compensating—finding a way to deal with being alone for what she claims is more than a century. When you research most ancient mythology around the beginning of the universe, almost all tell of deities before the general pantheon—beings before the Gods we all know and recognize. I combined this idea with Psomas’ potential psychosis Everything you know about the ones she encounters is from her perspective and how her brain was able to cope with it – which means its tainted by her personality and heritage, which for her character was Greek ancestry.
5) Given your extensive educational and professional background, which of your characters was easiest to relate to and which was hardest?
Psomas was the easiest for me to relate to. Her teenage form and the resultant dismissal of her explanations, thoughts and feelings directly came from my own experience growing up where it was difficult to make some adults realize I knew what I was talking about. At five years old I corrected teachers on their knowledge of dinosaurs, at nine I was learning nuclear physics and at twenty-four I had finished my PhD. I am not the smartest person by a long chalk, but it was quite frustrating growing up!
Sarah Dallas was the hardest one to write, because I needed her to be a “rich kid” with presumably “no problems”. Her soul-searching mission needed to come across as exactly that, someone with no problems who invented them—but then, as the story grows, you realize she is actually suffering and that her access to money doesn’t solve everything. It was a hard balancing act to make her start off a little vapid and self-interested and then move her toward a person the reader understood. I have no idea if I succeeded.
6) Given your extensive travels and locations you’ve called home, which has been the most inspirational for writing a book on space?
When sci fi was first a thing, writers imagined a world where life is completely changed and there are flying cars and transporters and three seashells to clean our bums. But the truth is, technology becomes integrated and fits into our world. We still use doors on hinges but have phones more powerful than the computer aboard Apollo 11. An AI can write a kid’s English essay, but we all have toilet paper hanging in the bathroom. For me, this is emphasized one hundred fold in Asia. When I lived in Singapore, I’d visit the electric tree garden in Marina Bay which is so futuristic, and the go home to China Town and a wet market to buy locally picked fruit and fish plucked by my fisherman neighbor. This experience is what drives my thinking when writing about the future and even space – how humans stay the same but our toys get more complex.
7) As a martial artist trained in multiple fighting styles, including, Jeet Kune Do and Muay Thai, do you find it easier to write fight scenes?
Confession time! Fight scenes are easier to write—however, my co-author Stu Jones who is a life-long martial artist and career law enforcement officer, reads all my work and helps bring those action scenes to life. He’s my go to guy to add that extra oomph because he lives it every day!
8) Do you find creative writing such as Dark Dweller a freeing experience or chaos without boundaries?
My job is VERY structured and governed by many, many, many rules. So, writing for me is an outlet to let my imagination run wild—though I have to say, I still stay pretty rooted in the science to keep even the wildest stories half believable.
9) As a philanthropist working with charities all over the world, what experiences have fueled creative writing for you?
I love Africa. It feels like home. I work with a a small village in Ghana, helping the local kids get an education through a scheme that provides food as long as they go to school. I spent my 40th birthday up at 5 am to get the local kids ready at their homes, bath and dress them and walk them to school then make their lunch and take it to them, followed by an evening of games and fun. These experiences help me see the world from other perspectives, and keep me grounded in life and in writing.
10) In your Culturefly article “Gareth Worthington: Time and Time, Again”, you pose the question “Are we important [to the concept of Time]?”. What, do you believe, we must do, as humans, to be worthy of Time?
Don’t waste it. The number one question I get is: how do you have time to do everything? And my answer is always: we all have the same 24 hours in a day. We are so lucky to be here. Just think about the millennia of random events that had to occur for you to exist? In terms of chaos theory one change, one butterfly flapping in front of one dinosaur, one ancestor not being eaten by a predator, one great-great-great grandparent choosing to have sex that day to make your great-great grandparent. The odds of you existing are infinitesimal. We get 80 years, if we’re really lucky. Use them. Fill them. When I worked in cancer, the one thing every patient said before they passed was they regretted the things they didn’t do, not the things they did do.
11) Mr. Worthington, thank you for your time. Please use this opportunity to tell us of any upcoming projects or endeavors you wish us to know about!
The next one is a biggie, with my co-author Stu. All I can say is the current tag line reads: “Insert here [all the triggers], this book is not for you.” Stay tuned.
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Joseph Pietris is a member of the United States Coast Guard by day and heavily involved in the horror community by night. His work has appeared in several anthologies. When not writing, he’s produced reviews and interviews preferring those works generally lost in the cracks. As an associate editor, Joseph has weeding through the submission piles of horror podcasts.
Joseph’s work can be found at Amazon.com: Joseph P. Pietris: books, biography, latest update