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Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: Featuring Dustin R. Cummings

As part of the Feather & Dove book tour for Exiles of a Gilded Moon Volume II: Kingdom’s Edge, I am happy to have author Dustin R. Cummings on episode 6 of the SBAIS today! He nailed some tough questions about the narrative, his literary life, and of course brunch!

As far as the books – I read and reviewed book one, Empire’s Wake, a few months ago and you guys can search for that here on the blog if interested! I’ll be posting thoughts on Kingdom’s Edge soon and am definitely curious to see where he takes the series from here.

Enough from me – here he is!


1) Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your books!

Thank you for inviting me! I’m originally from  Mid-Michigan and have lived in New York City for the past several years. 
 
I am a practicing surgeon in the metropolitan area, with a speciality in minimally invasive surgery. In my free time, I like to read, write, exercise and go to museums, especially the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love the ambiance, and being around ancient things. 
 
I am about to publish the second book in my series, Exiles of a Gilded Moon in a week. I am working on the 3rd and final book in the series, which will hopefully come out in 2022. 
 
2) I think Empire’s Wake is the first book I have read by an MD that isn’t medically related fiction! Did you think about writing something medically inclined or have you always wanted to write a SFF?
 
I have long been interested in writing and literature, and most of all history – I am a professed history nerd. I often contemplate the major events that preceded all of us, and wonder what things would look like today if certain points in history had been different. 
 
The Exiles of a Gilded Moon Series originated from my rumination on history, specifically the European age of conquest. My story arose from a short literary sketch I started, which was inspired by a painting I created for my high school French class. Surprisingly, it happened to be an abstract sci-fi painting! Back then, I wondered what a story about that painting would look like, and Exiles of a Gilded Moon came from that moment.
 
I have definitely contemplated writing something medically related, and I hope to in the future. I wouldn’t necessarily make medicine the main focus. I feel that medical related issues contribute an intriguing narrative arc, and they are most interesting as part of a larger story.
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3) What has your literary life been like? As in – what genres and authors did you love as a kid, vs. as an adult? 
 
As a kid, I really enjoyed any sort of book that involved horror and fantastic elements. I was a fan of the R.L Stine Goosebumps series, and Steven King’s Pet Sematary.
 
As an adult, much of my literary exposure was through my French major in college. I enjoyed reading enlightenment era works by Rousseau and Diderot. I also learned a lot from reading  French Caribbean literature. I was particularly interested in works that dealt with identity, colonization, and the complex relations between the Caribbean islands and metropolitan France, as they transitioned from colonies to integral parts of the country. 
 
As for now, I enjoy reading a variety of genres – anything with a fantastical element will usually get my attention! I also read a decent amount of non-fiction historical works, specifically related to the European age of conquest, or the history of the Americas. 
 
4) Exiles of a Gilded Moon covers some tough narratives like conquest and slavery, but I also see themes like coming of age, redemption, and moreso in book 2 discovering your identity – what are your thoughts on putting these more difficult narratives into Scifi/fantasy? 
 
Exiles of a Gilded Moon indeed covers difficult themes in the course of a young man’s coming of age. I wanted to show how someone who is dealing with his own inner turmoil might navigate his complex, human society with its historical legacy, societal divides, and cultural intricacies. 
 
I wanted to examine what it would look like if someone like Darshima, and the diverse people of his realm suffered a singular, monumental injustice. We often think of invasion and slavery in its general aspects, but I wanted to examine it from the individual level, as well as the global aspect. I sought to use a fantastical location, to tell a story that would feel familiar to readers, that was hopefully less weighted with bias and pre-conceived notions. I used fantastical elements, as they speak to all of us on a deeper level. We all wish that we had some power to shape events seemingly beyond our control. Fantasy allows us to envision worlds where this is possible. 
 
5) Was there any particular scene that was hard to write for you??  {{I’ll tell you the hardest to read afterwards}}!
 
There were several scenes that were challenging to write. I would say the invasion was difficult to compose, given the vividness of the imagery and the description the suffering. As you know, the first half of the book is a very methodical buildup of Darshima’s world and a meticulous exploration of his family and social dynamic. I spent much time with descriptions of people and places. I wanted everything to feel real, and for readers to bond with the peoples, cultures and places. 
 
The invasion represents a violent and calamitous end of innocence for Darshima and his people. As Darshima and the readers learn through the rest of the book, what they thought was an age of innocent before their realm’s fall, was anything but. The transition from freedom to slavery, conquerer to conquered at the individual and societal level is abrupt and jarring. It took some time to settle within me. 
 
The scenes of Darshima’s capture and enslavement were particularly difficult to write. My personal background is Caribbean and South American. In a sense, these scenes were a reflection of my own ancestry through a fantastical mirror. Having to imagine every aspect of Darshima’s toil was a unique emotional experience, and I did my best to express the characters’ thoughts and actions during their suffering. 
 
{{Yes, so like he said in the first paragraph – he spent a lot of time world building a beautiful city, creating a culture, got me all attached to it …. then totally levelled it in the invasion and conquest.  It was hard to read but thinking back on it, the sense of loss was real}}
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6) Specifically in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, do you have a favorite author or one you always recommend?
 
I tend to enjoy the classics, specifically H. G Wells (The invisible Man, The Time Machine, etc.) and Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles.
 
{{This is a response after my own heart, I totally grew up on Asimov and Bradbury and to a lesser extent, Heinlein had a few fantastic stories)
 
7) Did you base any of your characters on real life people?? Darshima’s whole complicated family dynamic felt very real 
 
I like to think that all of the characters have a bit of myself in them, as well as people I know. I have a twin brother (I am the younger twin), and a mother and father whom I adore. I’ve been fortunate to meet and work with so many interesting people throughout my life. My family and friends have all had an influence on me, and that is represented in the story through the events and in the characters.   
 
I really wanted to portray Darshima’s complicated but nurturing family dynamic and how it helps him grow. How he learns to navigate relationships, solve predicaments, etc. is based on some of my own experiences. I would also say, some of the scenes were fantastical portrayals of some of the things I’ve seen and experienced in my own life. 
 
8) What is your favorite brunch food?
 
There are so many to choose from. I love eggs Benedict, either with Canadian bacon or smoked salmon. 
 
9) I know it’s cliché but I aim these interviews at indie authors and the indie community, so I always ask if you have any advice for authors trying to write or publish a novel?
 
I would suggest that anyone interested in writing, please keep writing and don’t be discouraged! We are in a difficult time right now, and people are seeking some means of escape and whimsy, what better means than your future book?  Work on your craft, read in the genres that interest you – even if it isn’t the genre you necessarily want to write in. See how your interests can help you craft your own unique voice and tell your story. 
 
Moreover, reach out to other writers and authors via social media, and don’t be scared to share your writing, its the best way to achieve growth, and get you ready for the steps needed to publish. 
 
10) Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! If there’s anything else you’d like to add or mention or talk about, please do so here!!
 
{{Dustin didn’t have additional comments so I’ll just take the space to say THANK YOU for serving during a pandemic! To him and all the other HCWs working, struggling, bringing hope, and getting through right now, keep your heads up!  I started reading a lot more SFF during the pandemic and I am personally endlessly thankful for the authors giving me these stories to escape into. Again, thank you)!
 

Meet the Author:
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Dustin Cummings is an author who lives in New York, NY. Originally from Mid-Michigan, he is an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, classical music, and long walks. He is an assistant professor of surgery in the New York metropolitan area.

Find Dustin and Exiles of a Gilded Moon online:

Author Website: https://www.dustinrcummings.com/

Twitter: @dorenavant2020

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dorenavant/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08LDBW29J?binding=kindle_edition&ref=dbs_dp_awt_ser_img_widg_tukn