AARON C. YEAGLE: What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
ROBERT ALBO: An odyssey. I have mild dyslexia. As a child, I struggled with reading and remembering what I had just read. I did well in math and science, but poorly in English, history, and foreign languages. In my twenties, I overcame this issue and started to read more seriously. I always had a creative mind, but it was only later in life that I explored writing. I wrote a meta-physical pamphlet before moving to my visionary fiction series.
AARON C. YEAGLE: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
ROBERT ALBO: As a child, I was a tease. I wantonly said things to get reactions from others, often a negative emotion. I’m not proud of this but, in the process, learned the power of both positive and negative words.
AARON C. YEAGLE: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
ROBERT ALBO: Purchased a book on writing. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print is an ideal book for novice writers because it tells them how editors and agents evaluate the manuscript. Each chapter focuses on an attribute of good writing with core concepts and helpful examples.
AARON C. YEAGLE: Does your family support your career as a writer?
ROBERT ALBO: Yes. My wife considers it work even though there are no expectations of financial success. In my view, it will only be a career if my books are popular. Otherwise, it’s a hobby. I hope it becomes a career.
AARON C. YEAGLE: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
ROBERT ALBO: I remember writing simple creative stories when I was seven or eight years old. Unfortunately, over time, I became disillusioned with writing because I would drop words and use poor grammar. I didn’t think I had the writing capabilities so didn’t try to develop them. I wish I had, even though math and science were much easier for me.
AARON C. YEAGLE: What is your favorite childhood book?
ROBERT ALBO: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. This was my favorite story as a child because I felt like I was in the imaginary cold land of talking animals and a witch. I enjoyed vicariously experiencing basic human characteristics like goodness, friendship, deceit, evil, sacrifice and redemption. If there were any allegorical references to Christianity, I didn’t make the connections.
ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR:
ROBERT ALBO: AARON C. YEAGLE: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It depends on the draft. Writing the first draft energizes me with ideas for each scene. The final drafts are exhausting because of all the fine tuning, such as selecting the ideal word. The middle drafts are fun, making connections, adding details, and rearranging or dropping scenes.
AARON C. YEAGLE: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
ROBERT ALBO: I hope so since I don’t feel emotions strongly. I have two tricks. When I read a book, I note sections that show emotions so that I can refer to them later. When I write, my first draft is ideas. In later drafts, I put myself in the scene and add the emotions.
AARON C. YEAGLE: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
ROBERT ALBO: You must write so that readers visualize themselves in the story. This means using details not generalizations, showing not telling, writing for the reader not the author, and connecting the scenes to story and character arcs.
AARON C. YEAGLE: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
ROBERT ALBO: A bit. I don’t know where the ideas for my stories come from. They often surprise me. It’s like a hidden voice inside of me that wants to get out. It just needs words.
AARON C. YEAGLE: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
ROBERT ALBO: Stand alone. Readers don’t need to read the earlier stories, but if they do, they will have additional insights.
AARON C. YEAGLE: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
ROBERT ALBO: I did, but then I thought it would be a missed opportunity. Now, I emphasize the point so most people will catch the clue. For example, Anni, the AI villain in book 2, sets up an Asian persona named Honey to partner with the protagonist. The clue is Anni is pronounced like Honey in Chinese, which few people would know. I use Google Translate in the story, which readers could replicate to hear the pronunciation for themselves.
ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF WRITING:
AARON C. YEAGLE: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
ROBERT ALBO: Original. I love ideas that make me think and ask why. Why do the universal constants in physics work out perfectly to allow life in our universe? Why does the pitch of a doubled frequency sound higher, but somehow the same as the original note, while all the other frequencies in between sound completely different? Humans have been around for 200,000 years operating like other herds of animals, so why have our unique advances only occurred in the past 20,000 years? If there is a universal spirit, what would its purpose be? Are people driven by emotions or rational thought? I expect only a small subgroup of readers are interested in these types of questions.
AARON C. YEAGLE: What does literary success look like to you?
ROBERT ALBO: A passionate group of readers. I hope the ideas in my stories will resonate with people and cause them to think differently.
AARON C. YEAGLE: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
ROBERT ALBO: Going from ideas to a story. I start with many different ideas. Then I create the story. As a result, some ideas get dropped, and the story arc and ending evolves. It would be easier if I could start with an outline, but that’s not the way my brain works.