by Loren W Cooper
Date of Publication: November 14th 2017
Publisher: Red Hen Books
Cover Artist: Red Hen Staff Artist
Tagline: CrossTown is the crossroads of possibility.
Zethus is a sorcerer―a self-described spiritual thug for hire. He makes his living in CrossTown, a place where the manyworld hypothesis of modern physics manifests itself, where possibilities and probabilities overlap.
Caught up in a web of intrigue as he investigates the death of his master, Corvinus, and pursued by agents that want to erase all knowledge of Corvinus’ work, Zethus discovers that the key to his master’s murder lies in the last project he had pursued before his death. The roots of this project lie deep in the past, at the origin of CrossTown’s fractured reality.
Once he understands the stakes, Zethus must make the dangerous journey to the cradle of history. The price he must pay to find the answers he seeks will threaten everything he holds dear―including his own humanity.
“Beware the road outside your front door, for it is all at once old friend and passing stranger.” –CrossTown
“A sorcerer explores the frontier of theoretical physics.” Publisher’s Weekly
Roads and streets run like veins and arteries through the beating heart of CrossTown. Each runs through all manner of distant and not-so-distant possibilities.
There's a theory in modern physics that posits a universe for every decision we make. Each time we choose, right or left, high or low, vanilla or chocolate, we split into separate universes. A vanilla me here, a chocolate me there, a rocky road with pistachio me somewhere else, and some poor lactose intolerant me further down the line. The dominant me is my subjective reality. In CrossTown, the probable mes collapse into the dominant wave, but all those wandering Ways continually wash other alternate lives, lives meant to be lived in CrossTown, up on its jagged shores.
The names of roads are choices; the turning and branching of roads are choices; roads are physical manifestations of their builders’ decisions…
Everywhere, every place and every time where man or something like him has lived, roads run into one another, branch, disappear here and reappear over there as if they were quantum tunneling. They run, meet, part, cross again, and form a bewildering Mandelbrot set of linked probabilities.
Beware the road outside your front door, for it is both old friend and passing stranger.
All those choices, all hooked together, comprise a vast sea of possibility. A knowledgeable traveler can ride the currents in that sea to unimagined destinations…
CrossTown is the crossroads of probability.
How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work? Hardboiled myth meets science fiction.
What mindset or routine do you feel the need to set when preparing to write (in general whether you are working on a project or just free writing)? I don't set much in routine, other than to clear some time. The primary thing is to capture and collect the ideas as they hit, then get some time to execute and put flesh on the bones. To that end, I'll jot on anything at any time, then put it aside and come back to it later for inspiration.
Do you take your character prep to heart? Do you nurture the growth of each character all the way through to the page? Do you people watch to help with development? Or do you build upon your character during story creation? My thesis advisor had a few questions to ask about your character. Like what's in their cupboard? Their closet? Their trashcan? Roger Zelazny used to write throwaway short stories about the main character to get a feel for them beyond the initial work. I don't go quite as far as Zelazny, but I do like to have a character's habits in mind. I people watch as a part of life. You build a library of observations and experiences to draw on for the writing over time. Drawing on history and mythic archetypes helps as well (though here the storyteller has to be careful to avoid stereotype and cliche). All of those elements go into the mix of the character, who the character is, where they came from, where they're going, what they want, what they need, and most crucially, how those differ.
Have you found yourself bonding with any particular character? If so which one(s)?In CrossTown, the White Wolf is a key character: a nature spirit in the main character's Legion of bound spirits. He has an acerbic, sarcastic voice that appeals to me on a deep level.
Do you have a character that you have been working on that you can't wait to put to paper? Usually, my characters are on paper, even as sketches, long before the book comes out. Since I'm working a couple of different things right at the moment, that's where any interesting characters are going to begin to flex their muscles, prance on the stage, and start clearing their throats.
Have you ever felt that there was something inside of you that you couldn't control? If so what? If no what spurs you to reach for the unexperienced? A lot of personality is about reining in our impulses. Some of that is keeping the most powerful forces (rage, fear, desire) in check and below the surface, and on occasion those things burst out of their bonds like a river in flood. Storytelling is a way of relieving pressures and keeping those forces in check. Creativity is the unexpected connection between unrelated things, or as Marvin Bell puts it, the surprising but inevitable turn. Those two things come together in a rising emotion that must be checked, and art is a way of both absorbing the force and uncovering new connections. That's what makes art that touches us powerful to experience, whether in creation or consumption.
Loren W Cooper is the author of four novels, one short story collection and one nonfiction work. He has won the NESFA in 1998 and the EPPIE for Best Anthology in 2001. He is married with two daughters. He currently lives in Cedar Rapids Iowa. Favorite authors include Zelazny, Hammet, Steakley, and Catton. Loren Currently works for Hewlett-Packard.