Episode 3: Damien Hanson & Nolan Locke

Authors of Glitch World and Moya Moya

Bobbi: Do you think Elon Musk is correct in his observations?  Do you think there is a chance we are a simulation?  I’m just wondering because if we are a simulation… I feel like the person or thing in charge of my character has lost interest in the game or maybe I’m in a game inside of a simulation? How far would you go with that?

Damien Hanson: Well it is a heck of an idea, isn’t it? I think that in all honesty we’re not in a simulation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that I was incorrect. It seems to me that in order for us all to actually be “in-the-game” we would have to be simple enough to not entertain ideas of being in one. What sort of programmer would create sentient AIs so complex and understanding of their world? If we are in a simulation, then I suppose we have glitched from our original programming.

If we are game characters and your player lost interest, then I’d suggest good riddance because she was probably a total noob anyways! It’s better to be in charge of your own destiny, right? Ha ha, the idea of being a character inside a game that is itself inside a game is a fun one though. Very much like Inception – all I can say about that is each simulation, each level down, would be less complex than the first. So If we are in a simulation within a simulation, it might be a blessing in disguise. Out of simulation might be a world so wholly complex as to shatter one’s mind. Being within another simulation within our simulation that is itself in another simulation might reduce us to a two-dimensional universe in which we squawk mindlessly like Sims and only really have 8 needs and 16 desires. I guess we wouldn’t realize our limitations if we had been born there, but if we went there from here we’d find the place extremely lacking!

Nolan Locke: Nolan here. I may not have been invited but here I am anyway.

We’re definitely living in a simulation. 2020 is proof that there’s a fundamentally messed up line of code or two… thousand. The engineer who thought it’d be funny to roll a catastrophic virus, a wave of infernos, murder hornets and a presidential election into the same patch needs to be fired, posthaste. I’d like a hard reset on 2020, pretty please, robot masters. I promise not to make fun of that hitchhiker bot that got killed in Pennsylvania this time around. 

Bobbi: I love to keep track of tech and I do follow Elon and Bill Gates. The whole field of A.I. is completely fascinating to me.  I’m more into nanites for medical purposes though, but I love how you put them to work in Glitchworld.  You obviously have a strong background in tech.  How did that translate into writing these books?  Has writing always been in your tool kit as well?

Damien: Everything that Nolan and I write in we try to first ensure that it is something that could be feasibly done with the technological concepts that we’ve used. So it has definitely helped a lot – I am one of those people who hates to use deus ex machina unless it is for comedic purposes haha. I love to read trade magazines about nanobots, nanoblocks and the possible utopias (and dystopias) that could arise from them, and I try to insert elements of all of them into the novels as well. It is a fun undertaking.

As to writing I have been writing for myself and my friends for decades and it definitely helped when I finally decided to publish. There were some hiccups with my debut novel – so much of writing is not just writing for yourself and your friends but also understanding what it is that others would want to get out of it. But after starting with Glitchworld everything has fallen into a smooth and steady stride. I’m happy with the books and happy with the feedback they are garnering.

Nolan: More feedback. I promise Damien will give you eight hours of cosplay maid service if you write us a review. An honest review. (he has a feather duster and everything) We’re not into that gushing over garbage phenomenon that definitely doesn’t happen between desperate authors <wink wink>.

PS- Nanites are awesome and definitely won’t eat people alive in swarms of mindless self-replicating micro-bots. 

Kasey: So, you’re currently living in South Korea. How did you end up living there? Do you need gas money? If you need help, type “Containment Unit for Neutralizing Trauma.”

Damien: Haha I think we all need a warm Containment Unit for Neutralizing Trauma sometimes, but I’m in no trouble! I came to South Korea after I left my job with Dell Computers. I was looking to do something different and I had put my resume up on Monster Jobs. I got a lot of offers from other computer companies and one strange and intriguing one from a school in Korea. I clicked it, I read it, and I asked for more information. The next thing you know I was waiting at the airport in a suit and tie, surrounded by foreign people muttering a foreign language, and eighteen hours after that I was here. It has been an adventure, for sure. I met my wife, started an academy, and had my bouncing bundle of joy in the fourteen years since then. I don’t think a year has gone by without me really appreciating that random magical e-mail that started it all.

Nolan: South Korea welcomed me with open arms, after I’d failed to be a productive member of American society, which I’m sure wasn’t Damien’s situation at all. He’s a fine upstanding citizen of another country. Realistically South Korea is awesome: everything you need is like 2 minutes’ walk away, the booze is a dollar, and I’m 5000% less ugly (in the eyes of the Koreans), and 10000% more likely to be compared to Brad Pitt. I could use less August, though. August is a glimpse of the insanity of living in the American south. 

Kasey: I’d like to jump over to Moya Moya and get a little bit of its origin from you. What/who was your inspiration for Dean? 

Damien: Dean is my son. In 2018 we went to an Easter Egg Hunt and he fell over while playing. There weren’t any marks and everything seemed fine. So we went ahead with the event and came home and everything was great. But then things started to get strange. After playing at the playground he came home and fell asleep at seven. I thought it was cute at the time. I had been reading him Narnia and he just couldn’t keep his eyes open. On Monday he kept falling asleep in class and they sent him home. We went to the little local clinic and nobody was sure what was wrong. Then on Tuesday he lost control of his right hand. Then his right arm. That night, in the hospital, he kept lapsing in and out of consciousness, asking my wife what was wrong. And she broke down, telling him he was dying and nobody knew why. And then he was in a coma.

It was a very hard time for all of us. It turned out that he had suffered a stroke and that he had a genetic disease called Moya Moya. It had made his brain’s circulatory system form differently than normal, and leaving it very vulnerable to injury. His fall at the park had exploded arteries throughout his brain, causing traumatic brain injury, and leaving him almost dead.

As I understand it, statistically he should have died.

But he came out of it. He survived. He came out of the coma the next week, and by the end of the month he had overcome his paralysis as well. Something that, again, he shouldn’t have been able to do. He’d lost so much – my wife looked at the images and said it looked like about a quarter of his brain. But he came out of it almost completely unscathed. After five months of living in the hospital, and after three brain surgeries (two done in the same day even!) Dean Kim Hanson came home from the hospital, scarred but not defeated, a champion over reality.

Only one thing in this world makes me think we might be living in a simulation, and it’s him. Because at the end of the day all I can honestly say is that my son, trapped within his coma and perhaps wandering the code of our simulated world, found a way to break the rules and come back to us with arms wide open. 

He’s the reason I finally published. If he could bend the rules of reality to his will, maybe I could do the same? And he never let me stop– back at home with us, slowly getting back into shape and relearning some lost information, he was proud to call me a writer. And with a gleam in my eye, I was proud to prove him right.

Nolan: He’s a cool kid and a hell of a survivor. Plus he helped write a book with Damien, apparently going to be released with illustrations in the near future. He’s got a proto website up for future Dean books and litrpg “in-the-game” kids books at https://litrpgkids.mailchimpsites.com/. Oh and I hang out on Damien’s grown-up website at https://damienhansonbooks.com/

Kasey: Wow! It sounds like Dean is an incredible kid! Going into Moya Moya without knowing what the theme would be, the first few sentences had me pretty confused, but it didn’t take long at all to catch on to what Dean was experiencing. It all played out like a movie in my head as I continued reading, which is one of the factors, for me, in deciding if a book or short story is worth the read. After I was finished reading, I found myself hoping this would be adapted into a short film, but I doubt an on-screen adaptation would do this justice or be remotely close to how I have it pictured in my mind. If given the opportunity of an on-screen adaptation for any of your work, would you bite? If so, what would be your first choice out of all your work? 

Damien: For myself I would definitely want to go with MoyaMoya. I enjoy the books, absolutely, but I think MoyaMoya could do a lot to raise awareness of a very unknown problem that resides unknown in a number of children today. Plus the story came out as a way for me to give purpose to what seemed like a purposeless tragedy. I wanted to heroize his problem and change those five months into something heroic. I’d watch such a film with tears in my eyes and pride in my heart.

Nolan: Glitchworld is a fun Ready Player One romp through a physical AR world, none of this virtual nonsense with no real life stakes, except for a bad car chase at the end. Plus it has a bunch of sequels, like the whole Marvel Universe.

Bobbi:  Peter Jackson/ JJ Abrams /Tarantino? Pick one.

Damien: Peter Jackson. He’ll somehow turn MoyaMoya into a nine hours of trilogy.

Nolan: Abrams screwed up Star Wars so bad I want him to do Glitchworld. Dear God, who was piloting all the star destroyers out of the glaciers? That’s the kind of over-the-top awful I want for my series of films. Big bad moneymakers.

Bobbi: Hey Nolan… I was given the impression that you were a psychosis vs author.  But apparently you’re really here? Or there I guess? How do each of you contribute to Glitchworld.? What does a typical writing session look like for you guys? If we had A.N.A.L (Access Network Administrative Lookup) we would have known how to find Nolan.

Damien: You’d be surprised at how real a second author can become in an interview conducted over the internet. I know I was. I’m the face of the operation and he’s the brawn. That powerhouse can put up three-thousand words a day given the chance. I put in more irregularly and focus on the advertising, publication, and promotion aspects of the books, and then write second. As for writing sessions – I find that when we get together in person my mind gets inspired and I can motormouth a chapter or scene just like that. It’s a bit slower though when I’m by myself. I don’t have that ability to bounce things off of him and hear it to see if it really works, or if it instead falls flat.

Nolan: I don’t know who gave you the impression I wasn’t real; it says I’m real right in the author bio. Nothing screams real like saying ‘hey, I’m 100% Grade A certified actual human being’. We write off and on: I’m the morning owl and Damien’s a night owl. I write a whole lot more, given that Damien agreed to be the public face (and I’m Jigsaw-level ugly). Since I, Nolan Locke, actual human, created the Access Network Administrative Lookup, I’ve conveniently left myself out. No more deep state wiretapping nonsense… that’s how they sank Trump in 2016!

Bobbi: I’m really happy to know things worked out for your family.  I did put up a link to a little education on moyamoya disease on our Facebook site following the article.  I had no idea this was a disease until your story.  I had never heard of it. Thank you for sharing that with us.  

Would you be willing to go with a major publishing house at this time for Glitchworld if you were approached, or are you firm in wanting to be self published?

Damien: Thank you for putting up the link. I often wish that I had run into something like that before the stroke because there are quite noticeable indicators of the disease after you know what it is. Strange things like an inability to blow one’s nose. Or nausea on the morning of an exciting event.

The best reason to go with a major publishing house is to get that exposure. So heck yeah I would! I want as many people as possible to read our stories. But they would have to promise to promote it. A lot of signed authors are expected to promote their own books even when signed up with a big-time publisher. And that makes things just slightly different from where we are now.

Nolan: Publishing houses are for suckers. Suckers who like MONEY, so absolutely we’d go tradpub. We’d like Tor and Random House to have a fight in the Octagon over who has the right to take Glitchworld off Amazon’s shelves and put it into all those thriving brick and mortar stores across the USA.

Bobbi: Do you feel the Indie author culture that has taken hold due to Platforms such as KDP and Ingram have made it easier or harder on writers that want to publish and gain notoriety?

Damien: Harder. But more enjoyable. The web is now filled with aspiring authors and writers who love to talk about their craft and strategize for success. It is a lively and heady time, harder to succeed but also more of a community. It is the sort of time in which longtime readers get to aspire to writing in their preferred genre and don’t have to wait months to get accepted or rejected by publishing firms.

Nolan: There are something like a million books published online every day. Every hack seems to think they can make six figures in the publishing world, which is nonsense. My three pseudonyms couldn’t find two pennies to rub together and birth a third through Kindle or Audible. The market is heavily oversaturated, and you can take that as fact from someone with an art degree and no sense of business or economics.

Bobbi: We really appreciate you guys taking the time to do this.  I’m enjoying using our platform to hopefully bring attention to Indie authors.  I’m a little disturbed about the award system that is set up to get attention for aspiring authors..  You are basically buying awards.  I’m hoping to gather a group together to read Indie books and develop our own award system that doesn’t involve people sending us all kinds of money they already don’t have.  Hopefully we can build a brand and the award will mean something some day.

Until then we’ll just surf on your coat tails. Don’t forget us little people when Peter Jackson comes knocking! It wouldn’t surprise me a bit.  Thanks guys!

Damien: Thank you. We (or I) appreciate the opportunity to talk about our books. We’re nerds like that.

Nolan: Now go buy our books, or I’ll use ANAL on you. That’s directed at the readers, not the interviewers.

Head on over to Damien’s Blog for more content from these two!


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