B. T. Keaton: Transference

INDIE AUTHOR CORNER / Thursday, October 21st, 2021

Brandon Keaton is a citizen of beautiful Aotearoa. He is passionate about music, loves animals, and also has an undying affinity for gummy bears. His debut indie novel, Transference, peaked briefly at #1 on Amazon in multiple categories including Dystopian, Metaphysical, and Post-Apocalyptic fiction. Brandon is honored to support both the Science Fiction & Fantasy Association of New Zealand and the Libertarian Futurist Society. 


Hi B.T. Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss Transference with me. It was a unique and excellent science fiction novel. I enjoy science fiction and was really happy to see this book on Storytellers on Tour. I jumped at the chance to read and review it, and wow, was I glad I did!

B. T. Keaton, Author

Okay, well, I can’t let that go unaddressed before we get to the questions, Lorraine (laughs). Please, do call me Brandon. And let me just say thank you so much. Time is the most precious thing we have, I think. So, it means a heck of a lot to me when someone takes the time to read the book, let alone to praise it so undeservedly.

Brandon, your book was excellent and so unique. You deserve all the praise for Transference!

Aside from the bio on your book and your website, can you tell us more about yourself, Brandon? (I love animals, too!)

Aw, yes! Animals are like little angels, aren’t they? As kids we had a dog growing up—a Cairn terrier named Dude. He looked like Toto from the Wizard of Oz. I’ve become a cat person too as I’ve gotten older. But honestly I’m not really very interesting… just a big kid I suppose. My sister calls me Peter (Pan). In terms of work I get a lot of joy from helping people, and making people laugh. “Workplace comedian” is probably a more fitting description than any actual job title I ever had (laughs).

Animals are awesome. I always manage to take in any animal that someone doesn’t want anymore-snakes, lizards, turtles. Right now we have a dog (my buddy Luciano) and 3 cats (one whose very cuddly, one that’s pretty indifferent, and one that loves my daughter and does not like me at all!). If you have the imagination to write an amazing book like Transference, you are a VERY interesting person.

Did you always want to be author? How did you decide on science fiction?

How many folks end up doing anything remotely like what they thought they would? I guess it’s luck of the draw to some degree. As a young man, I think I wanted to be creative in some way, like a musician… and I do play guitar so I had the proclivity. As a dorky teenager, I vaguely remember I thought it would be cool to work at Wizard Magazine or something, and maybe eventually break into the comics industry. And I honestly still think that’s cool! (laughs) I don’t know, I guess in a small way I’ve kinda sorta landed in the general vicinity with Transference. And the sci-fi aspect just happened naturally because my late father was a lover of sci-fi—books and movies—and so always having that material in the house growing up definitely nudged me in that direction.

I can certainly relate to your first statement. I never once thought I would be teaching college. Now I am and I love it. You have are very creative and artistic, so I can see how writing would become a part of what you do. Oh, and my son would love to write comics, too. One of his dreams as well.

I’m always in awe of writer’s stories. I write reviews. I teach students how to write research papers, but I am not at all creative. How did you form the idea of Transference?

Lorraine, c’mon, you’re selling yourself short here! (laughs) You know, teachers simply don’t get the love they deserve. I had wonderful teachers growing up, and I’m forever grateful to them. It takes being creative to wrangle a bunch of kids first of all, and then to get through to each one of them individually? That really is an art form because I don’t think all children learn exactly the same way. So, you are an artist, if only of a different sort. But anyway, the idea for Transference came from a desire to make an awesome sci-fi movie. So, it started out as a film script in its original incarnation, and then morphed from there. I wanted to combine sci-fi elements that I had and hadn’t seen before, but then to sprinkle a spiritual thing into the mix as the secret ingredient.

Thank you so much for your kind words. I never really thought about teaching from that angle.
Transference would make an awesome movie! You and my son seem to have a great deal in common. He majored in playwriting and screenwriting, and is hoping to get work in the field. It is such a unique concept-the science fiction and spiritual aspect of the book. It blended flawlessly.

The beginning of the book is very unusual. It starts right in with the interrogation of this man, from his perspective. We don’t know who he is, where he is or what he has done. Basically, the reader is as blind as he is to his predicament. That drew me right in. I had to know everything about this person. How did you decide to start the book by not directly introducing what would be the main character and have the reader find out about him gradually, not only from his narrative, but others?

Looking back, I don’t think I made the best choice in starting it like that (laughs). No, but seriously though, you can almost see how that introduction came from it being a screenplay. Because I tend to think visually, I thought that would serve as an exciting intro for a movie. That opening act then became fleshed out by necessity because, you know, how else was I going to make busting a guy out of the clink believable after he’d been there for decades? Am I right? (laughs). So yeah, I thought it would be intriguing to have the guy tell his life story under duress, and then for the reader to wonder how much of it was even true or not. And I wanted you to care about the main guy, and to root for him, even though he’s probably only half as interesting as half the other characters in the book.

I loved the mystery of how it started. It drew me right in because it was so well done. I needed to find out who this guy was and why he’s being interrogated. It was great choice to keep it that way.

Congratulations on all the awards for Transference. It’s really fantastic science fiction and I loved it. One of the most interesting aspects was the first-person narrative that is used for each character throughout the book. I was never confused and seeing everything through the different characters was great. How did you decide to structure the book using this technique?

That’s a lovely thing to say, thank you. I don’t feel the book’s worthy of any fanfare, but I’m encouraged by the awards in the sense that it must mean the book isn’t complete and utter crapola (laughs). And I’m glad you dug the first-person POV. There’s been a fair few people who disliked that aspect of it, or found it jarring, but for the most part people have responded positively. I tried very hard to make it clear who was “speaking” within the first few paragraphs of each chapter, and to make each voice distinct enough that you’d pick up on it easily. But I don’t think I pulled it off as well as I thought I had. Oh, and by the way, I totally ripped the 1st person-thing from Game of Thrones! (laughs) I just felt like it would be more gripping to be inside someone’s head, and going on that journey with them while things are happening. It gives the book a memoir-ish feeling at times, which I didn’t intend, and that’s probably just a dumb rookie’s mistake.

Now you’re selling yourself short! Transference is worthy of all the praise it is given. I love all kinds of POV in books. First person can sometimes be tricky, especially if you are doing it with several characters. I thought it was great. I was able to follow along without a problem. It was perfectly structured. You didn’t wait many chapters to get back to a character. You left us hanging a bit for maybe a chapter or 2, then we get back into that character’s head.

Do you feel that science fiction can be, for lack of a better term, sort of “tricky” to write? In fantasy, there can be almost anything, magic, other worlds, demons, fae, etc. In science fiction, do you think that an author has to look at the science aspect and have it “make sense”? Perhaps, it has to seem to the reader like it’s something they could see happening in the future? I hope that makes sense?

Absolutely it can be tricky because even though it’s fiction, I think you ought to try and sell it as reality. If I don’t believe it’s possible, then I haven’t done my job right. I purposely used current modern-day events as the basis for the book’s past… so, when characters are describing Earth decades earlier, there’s a solid grounding of familiarity there. And in that grounding the story is based in both fact and some truth, which allows the rest of it to be more believable, even if the rest of it were somewhat far-fetched. Broad reader appeal was really the goal, and I didn’t want to make it so techy that it would turn anyone off. And I’m not good enough to write “techy” very well anyway. The biggest thing I struggled with was moving through space faster than the speed of light. At the mid-point of the book, one of the characters (“NAV”) explains it as only a computer can. If an artificial intelligence could put it in layman’s terms that made even the vaguest sense, then I figured I had done okay. I then felt that I didn’t have to really lay it out in such a way that maybe, mmm, I don’t know, something like Star Trek has done so well before.

I can see it as being a little tricky. You don’t want it to be so “far-fetched” that the reader can’t envision it. I also don’t think it necessarily has to be to techy-as long as it’s explained well-and it was. Very well, I might add! I had no problem visualizing the technology you wrote about and the process of transference. Oh, and a fellow Star Trek fan!

As a scientist, an Environmental Scientist, science fiction fascinates me. It is from both the science aspect and ethical aspect. As a teacher of Bioethics, one of the main things we tackle is that just because we can do something, does it mean we should? You do both in Transference, which I felt contributed to how brilliant the story was.  For the first part, was it difficult to do the science of transference of one’s essence into another body? Did the ethical aspect grow from that?

You hit the nail on the head. The can we/should we aspect is one of the linchpins of the story that I always had in the back of my mind. There’s a slight pessimism buried deep in me that says, you know, we’ve been given this wonderful thing… this big, beautiful blue planet… and look what we’ve done with it. And so, if transference existed, what would we do with it? And I think the answer goes without saying. Trying to get the science of transference right caused more than a few brain farts, too, let me tell you! (laughs) And that was loosely inspired by Ghostbusters. How can you take an ethereal being and contain it with man-made tech? And even if you could do that, how do you then separate the link between both body and soul, if there is such a link? So, I guess I’m saying that with the science of transference, yes, even though you can do that, you also can’t do that… that it goes against laws which we are not meant to break, or perhaps rules of the universe that we simply cannot fully grasp because we’re not supposed to.

Excellent (wow, I just sounded like I was grading a paper!)! I totally agree. Our technology is advancing faster than the ethics of whether or not we should something can catch up. I also agree about what we are doing to this planet-our home, we have no place to go (I have a lot of pessimism about it, and sadness). The science of transference, if it were possible, would more than likely be something we can’t control. I think this point came across so well in the book. It’s analogous to what we can do with genetics. It is a powerful tool, but how far do we go with it?

Do you have a favorite character from the book and if so, why are they your favorite?

Oh yes, I really enjoyed writing Terra, the Surgeon, and Elisabeth. Terra is based on a lifelong friend, a person whom I have known and loved since childhood. And although it’s not a literal interpretation of her, there are elements of the real person that define parts of the character and the choices she makes. The Surgeon is just so vivid in my mind as a talking, breathing person, and I was really hanging on every word he had to say… almost as if I wasn’t writing him. And I don’t understand why that is, he just clicked with me for some reason. He might be the character that I most wish I was, if I were living inside the story. Elisabeth’s part in the tale is a short and sad one, but I enjoyed the challenge she presented also.

Oh, Elisabeth made me tear up. It was so sad, but certainly showed the abuse of transference. I think it’s so cool to base a character on someone you know. I can she then how she would be a favorite. I just loved to see the story through the characters eyes.

Were any characters more difficult to write than others?

Oh, probably Elisabeth and Terra. I say that partly because they’re female, so, to try and think in their shoes given their individual scenarios and backstories was kind of an eye-opening sort of learning experience… like a struggle with the opposite sex that somehow ends up delightful (laughs). But Jovian was tough too, because he is so deluded and really kind of tragic that I found myself feeling drained after writing him. I can only imagine it’s exhausting being anything remotely like him.

I always wondered if it was difficult for men to write female characters and vice-versa. They were amazing characters. Jovian was as well. You really captured his cruelty, and yes, his tragic existence so well. I can imagine it would be hard to write a character like that.

Well, you probably get this quite a bit, but will there be a sequel to Transference? I hope so!!

Thank you so much for saying that. I hope so, too. It was never my intention to write a follow-up, or to make it a trilogy or anything like that. I wanted the book to be a self-contained one-off, but to still leave it open-ended to some degree so that the reader could imagine where it might go after the last page. But, you know, once the book was published the realization hit me that I wanted to stay in that world a little bit longer… and so the wheels began to turn almost against my will (laughs). So, yes, I have written about one-third of the follow-up. But I’ve been known to take my time, and I’m easily distracted, which is partly why I’m not quite there just yet. Keep your fingers and toes crossed that I’ll have it ready for 2022, will ya? (laughs)

Yay!!! I am so happy to hear there will be a sequel. I’m patient and can wait (sort of!). No matter when it comes out, I’ll be reading it!

Thank you so much, Brandon for stopping by and sharing your amazing creative process. I am staunch supporter of indie authors and I hope that more people will read your amazing work. Everyone-READ INDIE!!

Barrabas Madzimure is banished to the desert planet Eridania for his many crimes. Slaves to the Church and to the will of its prophet Jovian, a charismatic figurehead who rules everything on Earth, Madzimure and his cohorts toil underground digging endlessly for the substance eridanium—the source of Jovian’s alien power.

But Madzimure can no longer hide from his past. Facing execution, he claims to have once been Thaniel Kilraven, transferred decades earlier into the body of Madzimure against his will. Under interrogation the stories of both men are brought to light, and the terrible fate of the lost Kilraven bloodline is revealed.

Madzimure escapes, knowing the only way to salvage what’s left of the Kilraven name and confront his destiny—and Jovian—is by facing them head on. But the horrific truths he finds on Earth might be the undoing of all mankind. What if everything humanity believed about civilization was a lie? Will anything or anyone be left from the fallout?

The story of a grim personal mission, Transference takes the reader on a heart-racing journey through rebellion, revenge, and revelation by way of the soul’s search for identity.

Find out more about B.T. Keaton on his website: https://www.brandonkeaton.com/
Purchase Transference on Amazon
Review of Transference

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