Below, J.M. talks about his recent release, T.I.T.O.R.
AN INTERVIEW WITH J.M. SURRA ABOUT T.I.T.O.R.
Q: So, tell us about your newest book, T.I.T.O.R. A: T.I.T.O.R. is about the future, and the past, and the cataclysmic place in time where the two meet. There was a nuclear war that occurred way back in 2015, and that's why in 2098, their dystopian, post-apocalyptic planet is gasping its last few breaths. T.I.T.O.R. is a para-military project, designed to utilize the Earth's few remaining resources to go back in time and change history. They're operating under the understanding that there was some sort of incident involving the wreckage from the July, 1947 Roswell UFO incident, and somehow - nobody is exactly sure how - it escalated into a nuclear war in 2015, leaving the Earth slowly dying around them. Eighty-three years later, in 2098, the Earth can barely support life.
Q: So, they're all dying? A: Very nearly. Pockets of food and water still remain, but not many. The entire populace carries a level of radioactivity within their bodies that we would find alarming. The air is foul, and there's precious little plant life to regenerate the oxygen. The skies are much darker, with obscured sunlight, and that, combined with the constant radiation and decimation of the plant life, has affected the oxygen, the food sources, and brought everything that's toxic to critical levels. Through successive generations, the surviving humans have developed some immunity to the radiation, but like every life form on Earth, they still need oxygen.
Q: Sounds desperate. How do they go back in time? A: They've built hop machines, which can travel through time, and just like with vampire stories, time travel comes with its own set of rules, which are obeyed, or sometimes disobeyed, with the consequences that will accompany those actions, or lack of actions. But that's later. The story starts during a routine mission, when one of the hop machines goes off the screen. That's when all hell breaks loose.
Q: Hop 206? A: Ahh, you did your homework! Yes, Hop 206 goes off the screen, and all the indicators point to one conclusion; that it crashed in the year 1947, around July first, somewhere in the vicinity of Roswell, New Mexico.
Q: Whoa. You mean- A: Yes. After going through all that trouble to try and stop the war, they've gone and provided history with what it needs to start the nuclear war. As the book cover says, in early July of 1947, something crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. At this point in our story, the reader realizes that was no UFO!
Q: Is the entire story about what they do? A: Excellent question. The answer is no; what they're doing doesn't fill the whole book. It's about cause and effect. In T.I.T.O.R., we visit three points in time, and survey what effect it has on each period. As you can probably imagine, what happened back in July, 1947 affects them in the far future of 2098, but that's just the distant end-game. People are going to want to read about what already happened locally, right there in Roswell in 1947. That's real history, and it's a stimulating story, with amazing dynamics. And you know me, I love my history. Whenever I can, I have to weave real history in there, especially when that story grabs my heart. I take the reader to Roswell, New Mexico, in July of 1947, and there we ride alongside Mack Brazel when he discovers some sort of wreckage, and bodies. After that, Mack is inextricably involved, and so we follow him to see what happens to him. Fair warning; Mack Brazel was a real person, and he did find the wreckage. And his story will break your heart. But I needed a real good guy, and a real bad guy, or in this case, a group of them, to tell the story, and Mack's story was ready-made to provide me with all I needed. Better yet, 95% of Mack's story as I've written it is the truth. Of course, it's a given that writing about legends usually requires some leaps to be made, because there are always gaps in the story. When it came to Mack Brazel and the Roswell incident, there were a few assumptions to be made, but I can honestly say that very little embellishment was needed.
Q: You always give me a stern look when I ask this, but, is there more? A: I took three stories from the pages of actual history to create this one, by tying them all together as only my mad, mad mind can. Can you say, "Conspiracy Theorist?" (J.M. chuckles) Two were legends, and one is about basic military troop and equipment movements after the second World War. You already know a lot about Roswell. What few people are aware of is that, three weeks after Roswell occurred, the US military suddenly went into a sort of massive flux, an upheaval, and that was the result of President Truman signing a document, creating a new and autonomous branch of the US military, which we all know today as the Air Force. What wasn't broadcast far and wide was that the US Air Force was given full purview and complete authority over all things UFO, and with that came a MASSIVE budget with which to carry out their duties. Immediately after that, like clockwork, not just AREA 51, but a number of other relatively clandestine entities appeared, and I dare say, it was the birth of our apple-pie American Conspiracy Theorist, and his ilk. I visited upon that in the book as well, with a little twist to it.
Q: You said three stories... A: Yes, indeed, there was another. This one was another cult legend, though it never approached the magnitude of Roswell's legend. This is the legend that completed T.I.T.O.R., that tied everything together. With it, I answered a great number of unanswered questions about Roswell. In 2000 through 2001, a chat room frequenter who went by the name of John Titor appeared in some untraceable chat rooms, and claimed to be a time traveler from the year 2036. He talked about what we faced, briefly mentioned a nuclear war would be fought in 2015, and in a 6-month period, he garnered quite a cult following, divided between doubters and believers. Lots of questions were asked, some questions were answered. Some predictions were made, and he established deniability - and I guess you'd say with it some level of credibility - using terms such as "divergence," wherein he pointed out that, due to alternative timelines, things might not happen as he described, and it could be the result of nothing more than his presence here. The paths would diverge, and off we'd go on a new timeline. He said he wouldn't even be going back to exactly the same world he left, even if it seemed exactly the same. He said that would be impossible, just because he traveled here in the first place. And when March 21st came, the day he said he would depart (from the date given, ostensibly the vernal equinox played some part in it), nobody ever heard from John Titor again. Did I write John Titor into the story? Yes, I certainly did. I saw the storyline, painted my own picture, developed my own interpretation of his actions. I explained what he was up to while he was frequenting and posting in those chat rooms.
Q: So, this isn't really fiction. You're presenting your beliefs, telling what you think really happened in Roswell, and who John Titor really was. It's something of an exposé. A: I'd never presume to say that my version of events is exactly what happened. It’s the proper thing to do, calling T.I.T.O.R. a work of fiction. That being said, I believe I've left fewer unanswered questions in T.I.T.O.R. than in most of the accounts that are marketed as non-fiction. The ONLY difference between them and T.I.T.O.R. is that, when it comes to my theories and fabrications - the same types of theories and fabrications and suppositions that the "non-fiction" writers employ to fill in the inevitable gaps in the story - I refuse to take the leap of referring to them as “non-fiction." So, my work is officially fiction.
Q: I don't know. It smells like there's a conspiracy theorist in this room. A: Is there? I can neither confirm nor deny that statement.
Q: And all of these legends and stories are in this book? A: To be more accurate, all of these legends ARE the story, all woven intricately together to create a single, deep, far-ranging story. The secret of any good story is that it enables the reader to suspend disbelief, to allow them to picture it as real, to imagine all of it in their head, to be enthralled by it.
Q: Well, it certainly doesn't sound boring. A: There's not too much chance of falling asleep while reading it, especially if you were ever interested in the Roswell crash, or UFOs, or conspiracy theories.
Q: A-HAH! Once again, the conspiracy theories! A: Roswell, UFOs, conspiracy theories; if you like that stuff, you'll love T.I.T.O.R. I think you'll find my explanation for the sudden surge in the numbers of outspoken conspiracy theorists that appeared immediately after Roswell to be . . . stimulating. It’ll certainly make more sense than any explanation offered before.
Q: Would you describe T.I.T.O.R. as cerebral, or ...(?) A: I've said this before. My stories are crafted to capture the imaginations of the more intelligent readers, and I believe that serious readers are just that. We read to stimulate our minds. So, yes, T.I.T.O.R. is most definitely cerebral. History buffs will love it, too.
Q: When will it be released? A: It was released in Kindle and other ebook forms on January 31st. The paperback came out on March 21st, 2013. The big, official book launch for T.I.T.O.R. will be at the Roswell UFO Festival in the first week of July. That's a shameless plug, by the way. Come see me there!
Q: Will the book be available in other formats? A: I have some great news about that. We've released the Audio book version as well, and that will also be launched at the Roswell UFO Festival. If you use an MP3 player, or anything that plays MP3s, like the newer phones and pads, and even the newer cars, then you'll be able to enjoy T.I.T.O.R. on audio book. Exciting, eh? It'll be released through Amazon, iTunes, and Audible.com, the three largest distributors of audio books in the world.
Q: Will you be narrating the book? A: Many people think my voice would be perfect for that, but I'm not professionally trained for narrating audio books. I think it would be counterproductive for me to try that when I have Chris Roman already narrating them. He's amazing. The audio book creation company gave me my choice of narrators to choose from, and many of the best auditioned for it. I agonized, but two amazing voices consistently rose to the top, and I thought that the choice was made. But the chaos factor intervened, which resulted in a fortuitous change in narrators. These are the punches that an author often has to roll with, but things always seem to work out, and in this case, better than I might have imagined. Due to a scheduling conflict with the former narrator, we turned to the other top voice talent I referred to here, and when the dust settled, we dove into this project with the amazing voice talent Chris Roman, and just wait until you hear him. As things stand now, Chris has already narrated T.I.T.O.R., and will soon be narrating AERODYNAMIC. All I can say is, you're in for a treat. The man does character voices that will amaze you. Even with quite a number of characters, he makes each one stand out. I'm tickled to death that Chris is narrating my books. I’m amazed at the finished product.
Q: You're really riding the techno-train these days, with the eBooks and the audio books and such. A: It would seem! Don't forget Amazon's Print-On-Demand. The world turns much more quickly these days. Hang on tight, or you'll be hurled into space! (Laughing) Me, I'm still trying to figure out how to stop my VCR from blinking 12:00, 12:00, 12:00. . . (grins)
Q: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, J.M. A: It's my pleasure. In fact, it's always a pleasure to talk about my stories. I think that's when I'm most invigorated.