Toanan, the Heretic, by Allen Whitlock

by | May 13, 2021 | Author | 0 comments

What’s your novel about?

Jacob Quince, a recently minted PhD having no luck in the academic job market is offered a research position by a small group, high up in the U.S. government, who have been complicate with aliens but now know the aliens have been playing them.  When his new boss, the Secretary of Defense is assassinated, Professor Quince becomes the lone contact for, Toanan, an alien who wishes to defect. Together, Quince and Toanan must stop the alien’s destructive endgame and save humanity and our planet.

What inspired you to write the book?

In short, to have the UFO/alien stuff make sense, if only in fiction between pages one and 346.

Fiction is for personal nags, disquiets, and puzzles. If I thought I knew something, I’d write an essay. We all hate not knowing and we humans too often exhibit the proclivity of a tired fly, landing on the nearest available cow pie. I’m now regretting the cow pie analogy realizing I know nothing about why flies value cow pies even less in why the ETs of modern legend value the bovine anus from which said pies emerge (UFO occupants are reported to excise such, along with lips and eyeballs, leaving the poor cow dead and a leaving head-scratcher for the rancher and local sheriff. Lights were seen that night. Is it aliens or natural causes?)

And, what of abductions? Anal probes? To aim higher: what of the gods of ancient myths? That is a topic vast enough to fill untold hours of television. (I admit a dramatic use of the word ‘untold,’ because there are a countable 193 episodes of Ancient Aliens at this writing. Almost six weeks of solid watching assuming a 40-hour week of 8-hour days with a one-hour lunch break. But I have no firm count on the number of narrator statements leading with, “Could it be…?”)

When I was young, UFO’s were an assumed reality with sightings covered seriously in newspapers and even the major photo journal Life magazine had a special edition on the topic. I’m not expert on the topic but kept track over the decades. Serious thinkers in the UFO field, have, over time evolved from a ‘nuts and bolts’ physical aliens from another planet to more esoteric ideas. I’m now at the most skeptical about all explanation. And, you know what? It’s not as much fun. So, to finally answer the question of why I wrote this, I set myself a goal. I wanted to take everything, from every phase of UFO speculation and jam it… er, I mean cohere it into a congruous mélange, while also adhering to a hard-science sensibility within a kick-ass story populated by compelling characters—something only a write of exceptional genius could do (If you find one, let me know!)

What is your target audience for the book?

I wrote this for myself and others who are intrigued by the UFO mysteries but wanted something that was not a mystical take or one that painted the aliens as unknowable to our feeble minds. I wanted the satisfaction, and the challenge, of a hard science–or at least firmly gelatinous enough to sink one’s teeth into, both with the science and the motivations of the humans and the aliens.
I hope the fact that it was a personal challenge to make disparate elements gel, does not make it sound like it has all the excitement of gluing a broken vase together or that it is a trivia hunt full of Easter Eggs only meaningful by people steeped in UFO lore. It is a character-forward actual story with a great ending.

I hope that you, dear reader, finds a bit of respite between page one and the end and a meaty “what-if” that is internally consistent and may even make us question what we think we know.

What are your future goals/plans for the book?

I have two follow-up novels in mind. I know the end of book three. I know the structure of book two and have written some chapters. However, without readers, I’m nothing. I know little about promotion and see writing ad copy as a specific skill that deserves my respect and that I can only mimic weakly, so, I’d love to get picked up by an agent and a traditional publisher.

And something about yourself?

I was raised in a peculiar neighborhood, in NE Portland, Oregon which was an assembly of post-war workers from almost every state and ethnicity, who moved west to work on roads, hydroelectric dams, and other Eisenhower era projects. Our a tiny house was trucked in and plucked down on a lot on a long dirt road, in a strange jog in the city line which allowed for chickens, goats, ducks, and seemed to sponsor bike gangs and other and various forms of lawlessness. Many of the older boys did time in prison. Fear, constant rain, and poor health led to a lot of time indoors, reading. For a long time, I counted not going to jail as a major life-goal achievement but my love of reading and my favorite authors—Wells, Shakespeare, Doyle, and various pulp authors–eventually lead to the study of writing and writing fiction, myself.

I hope you enjoy “Toanan, the Heretic.” It is you, the readers, who give the meaning to any author’s writing. Consider hat doffed, or a salute if you prefer.

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