Doug Dandridge is the author of the science fiction novel The Deep Dark Well. He was born in Venice, Florida in 1957. An avid reader, Doug has read most of the classic novels and shorts of science fiction and fantasy. Doug has military experience including Marine Corps JROTC, Active Duty Army, and the National Guard. He attended Florida State University and the University of Alabama, completing a Masters in Psychology. He has worked in psychiatric hospitals, mental health centers, a prison, and juvenile residential facilities. Doug has been writing for over sixteen years. He concentrates on intelligent science fiction and fantasy in which there is always hope, no matter how hard the situation.
What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?
Of course there is the entertainment aspect. Growing up I remember reading Conan or Heinlein's Starship Troopers and getting away from the teasers and the bullies that populated my school. It was pure escapism. Of course there was Star Trek, and watching them as an adult I can see how Gene Roddenberry was tackling some of the social problems of the day. And Rod Serling, using The Twilight Zone to make commentary that made it by the censors, when he couldn't do that with a more mainstream series he had done previously. So I think that is one of the big roles of speculative fiction, to show people some of the absurdities of our society by exaggerating it in another context. There was also the teacher factor in old scifi. A lot of times there was a lesson in underlying science in those stories, and fantasy had lessons in history and mythology. I believe good speculative fiction gets people to think about things they normally wouldn't think about without them realizing it. And some works can be a warning, like post apocalyptic fiction. Keep doing this and this is where we might end up. Or Star Trek's message of keep doing good and good things are coming.
Why do you write in this genre?
I really couldn’t imagine writing anything else; though I may eventually try my hand at an idea I have for a historical novel. But I truly have a passion for what I call the fantastic, science fiction, fantasy, even some horror (not slasher type though). I was looking at Fantastic Four comics before I could read, and read Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy when I was six. Found a copy of Howard’s Bran Mac Morn that my brother left around the house when I was seven. I have a love for all of these genres, and a passion to tell stories within them. I have been told I could make more money writing romance novels, or even erotica, but I could never put the time and effort into those genres. I have read all these books, watched all these movies and TV shows, and studied enough science and mythology that I’m not a complete idiot in any of those subjects. And my imagination comes up with ideas for stories, which sometimes I must pursue. Maybe someday I will get them all out, thought I doubt it.
How did you come up with the idea for The Deep Dark Well?
I wanted something really big, set in the far future. I was a big fan of Larry Niven, especially his Ringworld series, and also read a book by physicist Kip Thorne which diagrammed how a rotating charged black hole could be used to generate enormous power. And I also read something about wormholes, and the possibility of opening them at will, which of course required that enormous power. So I came up with the idea of the Donut, the space station that had been the center of a galactic empire, a true megastructure. I had just moved back to Florida from Alabama after a divorce from someone I loved deeply, who became the inspiration for Pandora Latham. As I did more research the ideas kept piling up. NASA supplied the various forms of possible hyperlight travel, my own study of psychology, especially neuropsychology, gave me the idea of using multiple personalities in my antagonist, making him both good guy and villain. I plotted everything out on 3X5 cards and then started into it. I actually got very good rejection letters from two publishers telling me how good they thought this book was, with the caveat that they didn’t think it would sell in today’s market. So when I decided to self-publish, this was the first one I went with.
What was your biggest challenge in writing it?
Actually changing the way I wrote. I liked to use what I called realism, in which people only encountered things they could actually control, otherwise they died. Then, while studying how to plot a book, I found the most successful writers put their characters in situations that really had no practical way out, and then wrote them out of it. So I started writing this way, trying to make it a page turner. I was also still very down from my divorce, and that was probably making my mind wander down some very dark channels. I wanted this to be a book about hope, so I sometimes had to fight what I wanted to put down on the hard drive with what should be put there. I think it turned out pretty good.
What are you working on now?
I am actually working on several things right now. The primary is book 3 of my Exodus: Empires at War series, which is selling really well on Amazon, with almost a hundred reviews between the two books. That is the priority. I also have a fantasy series out called Refuge which, while not doing as well as Exodus, is picking up in sales. It's kind of a genre crosser at first, though it will migrate more into the high fantasy sphere as it moves along, and I am hoping to attract more of the high fantasy fans to it. And I just put out a sequel to The Deep Dark Well called To Well and Back, in which Pandi and Watcher fight against the xenophobes of The Nation of Humanity. I will also try to come out with a third book called Deeper and Darker which hopefully will be both, and will explore a new civilization, very fascist in nature, that wants to become the ruling power of the Galaxy. I am planning on quitting my job either at the end of March or of April, and writing full time, which has always been the dream. I seem to be doing well enough as a self-published author to make that dream a reality, and the risk seems worth it.
About The Deep Dark Well
Thrown through a wormhole forty thousand years into the future, Kuiper Belt Miner Pandora Latham finds herself on an enormous space station in orbit around a black hole. Once the center of Galactic Civilization, the station is now deserted, except for an immortal being called Watcher, the last survivor of that now ancient time. Watcher defends the station against all intruders, those who covet the technology of the station that would allow them to conquer and control the Galaxy. But he befriends the woman out of time because of the aching loneliness in his heart, the result of thousands of years of solitude. Pandi must discover the secret behind Watcher. What was his part in the fall? What happened to the rest of civilization across the Galaxy? And what can Pandi do to save the superman from himself, and restore the balance to the Galaxy that allows civilization to return? To fail is to die, as trillions have died before her. Pandora Latham is not used to failure, and she’s not about to give in easily this time.