Monday, November 8, 2010

This Week At The TIki Hut - Duane Simolke

This week we welcome author Duane Simolke to the Tiki Hut to talk about his science fiction novel DEGRANON: A Science Fiction Adventure.

Majoring in English, Duane Simolke received degrees from Belmont University (B.A., 1989), Hardin-Simmons University (M.A., 1991), and Texas Tech University (Ph.D., 1996). His doctoral dissertation was on Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio.

StoneWall Society gave Pride in the Arts literary awards to The Acorn Stories, Degranon, and Holding Me Together. AllBooks Reviews gave The Return of Innocence a Reviewers Choice Award.

Simolke also edited and co-wrote a fundraiser, The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer.


Revisiting Diversity in Science Fiction
By Duane Simolke

Now that I’ve completed a draft to the sequel of Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure, I still find myself surprised by the slow but steadily growing audience Degranon finds. It’s been almost ten years since the first edition appeared. I rewrote the book two years after its publication, following an earlier idea of making some of the major characters gay.

Those changes, and some others, made the novel even more memorable to me, and it remains my favorite out of everything I’ve written. Dealing with themes of discrimination, religious turmoil, and oppression added emotional layers, but I mostly wanted to create interesting characters and exciting scenes of adventure. That revised, second edition immediately gained attention.

In Worried, the upcoming sequel to Degranon, the characters still wrestle with some of the same problems, though they have overcome weight discrimination, censorship, and some of the other specific issues they struggled with before. However, some past failings haunt the citizens of Valchondria, the human home world. Dark secrets haunt the Valchondrians even more.

Also, the first book spanned generations on two planets. Worried takes place over five weeks. Most of the action happens on the capital city of the home world, except for a few scenes set in outer space. Still, the epic scope of the first book gave me a universe, and that entire universe still affects the characters and events of the second book. I think Degranon’s new and old readers will enjoy the journey back; I’m certainly enjoying it and look forward to the next few months of revision.

Warning, mild spoilers lurk ahead. Some hints about what to expect in Worried follow.

The wedding of two male characters from the first book.

The rumors of a dangerous alien race weren’t exaggerated.

The balance of power on Valchondria remains in question.

The effects of past addiction linger.

Enemies might need each other.

(Read reviews of Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure at Rainbow Reviews and I Must Be Dreaming.)

WIN - Leave Duane a comment or question this week, here at the Tiki Hut and your name goes in the hat for a free ebook of DEGRANON. Please leave your email address, so we can contact you if you are this week's winner - Good Luck!


  1. Hello Duane and welcome to the Tiki Hut!!

    I'm so happy to have you here this week to talk about DEGRANON and your work in progress WORRIED.

    Your book tackles some very current issues and I encourage everyone to head over to your website to read the excerps for this book and your others.

    Congrats on the building interest in the book and the progress on the sequel - can't wait for it to be released! Any idea when we'll see it?
    And should DEGRANON be read first or are they both stand-alone books?

    Best of luck with your final edits and on the continued success with DEGRANON.

  2. Hi Duane,

    Very interesting twist to a science fiction story and with what was just posted on that beauty magazine blog about overweight people and gays, your book is really current!

    Did anyone read that post? I can't remember the name of the magazine, but it was all the talk a few weeks ago.

    Bravo and you can bet I'll be checking out Degranon.

  3. Degranon sounds like a great read. I love science fiction. I enjoy reading about characters that are more complex and interesting and not the cliche type.


  4. Sounds like a great book. Will the books be able to be read as stand alones? Or do you have to read the whole series?
    greenduckie13 at gmail dot com

  5. Thanks, everyone for the comments and questions! Both books are stand alones, but many of the characters from the first book appear in the second. I hope to see Worried in print by late 2011.

  6. Hi Duane,

    You're a new author for me and I love discovering new authors!

    I see you have quite a few other works, congratulations on the awards they've won, can you tell us alittle bit about them? Do you write full time?

  7. Hi, Sharon! I don’t write full-time, but I certainly love it.

    I wrote about West Texas (where I live) in the story collection The Acorn Stories. It's mostly light-hearted, but not always. I edited and co-wrote the spin-off, The Acorn Gathering, which is a fundraiser for cancer research.

    My essays and poems appear in Holding Me Together. I haven't written any new poems in several years, though. The Return of Innocence is a tongue-in-cheek fantasy novel. New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio is literary criticism.

  8. Oh I love the different twist you've put on this sci fi. Showing other some acceptance of the differences in others seems to be pretty important these days with all the stories we're hearing about bullies and kids killing themselves because they can't handle the taunting from the other kids. Gays, as well as overweight, different religions and mentally challanged. It's time society accepted and appreciated all people no matter what.

    I hope you're books will help to bring about some changes.