Several years ago I had the good fortune of meeting Marie D. Jones on line and interviewing her for my blog talk radio show Authors Unplugged. Over the years I’ve read her non-fiction and heard her speak on a variety of paranormal and unusual topics. Every time I’ve been fascinated by the new things I’ve learned. Today I’m welcoming Marie to my blog to talk about her non-fiction book Supervolcano. Marie has just released an updated version of this fascinating book. Welcome Marie!
When I decided to ask my father, a geophysicist, to write a book with me, I had no idea how the process would work. My father, Dr. John M. Savino, was a brilliant scientist and author of dozens of published scientific articles. Technical writing was one thing, but could he actually write a mainstream non-fiction book with me? I was a pro at it, having already written a few books, even one in collaboration with another author. I knew the ups and the downs of trying to format and structure a book with another person, a task hard enough with someone who is not a “technical writer.”
But I knew my dad had always dreamed of writing a book, and I wanted to be able to offer him that gift, that opportunity, because I had it to offer. So we talked about it and decided to write about a new theory making its way through the earth science world involving the supervolcanic eruption of Toba in Sumatra over 75,000 years ago that literally altered our human genetic history. The theory was not my father’s, but he was a supporter and had his own years of related research to discuss. We talked about how we would work together, with him providing most of the hard science research, and me writing on less technical subjects. I’d put it all together in a cohesive format, and we’d both edit the hell out of it to make sure the science and theories were sound.
Thus, Supervolcano: The Catastrophic Event That Changed the Course of Human History was born. My agent, Lisa Hagan, immediately secured us a book deal with my current publisher, New Page Books. They were excited about the fun collaboration of father and daughter, as well as the intriguing subject matter. We began the process of outlining and researching, and as my father turned in his scientific “stuff,” I began to put it into shape as our manuscript. Our biggest problem was finding a way to streamline the writing styles so that it didn’t look or read choppy, and somehow we succeeded in combining two very distinct styles of writing into one. Because my father lived in Las Vegas, and I lived in San Diego, we exchanged tons of phone calls and even more emails between us, putting everything together and double-checking our work as our deadline crept closer. My dad was adamant that the book not be sensationalistic, although we did have a blast including a fictional scenario of how a supereruption at Long Valley Caldera in California might play out. Yet, even for that fictional scenario, we interviewed scientists and government officials to make sure we presented a realistic portrayal.
My dad and I had never been that close. Growing up, he wasn’t super emotional or accessible, although he loved his kids. We talked few and far between as I got older, especially after he and my mom divorced and he moved away and remarried. Writing the book together was a way for us to reconnect and rediscover shared interests and passions. We had always shared interests over the years…science, horseracing, books, sports… But this book gave us the chance to come back into each other’s lives in a way nothing else could, and lessen some of the distance between us.
The book took us about eight months to write, and was officially released in 2007. My father was nervous and excited, having to do radio shows and media interviews. The most he had experienced were lectures before hundreds of geophysicists and seismologists. We even went on Coast-To-Coast AM together and were a huge hit. It was so amazing to see how excited my dad was to talk about his work, ideas, theories and the book itself.
Immediately, we began discussing a second book, one perhaps on my dad’s own micro quake theory he was developing…or perhaps a book about the feasible ways the world might end from natural disasters, or at least be irrevocably changed by them. But then my dad got sick. For about three years, he grew more ill and weaker and no one could properly diagnose what was wrong. Then he got the awful news. He had ALS, a terrible degenerative disease that steals away the muscles and organs, and yet leaves the brain intact. For my father, it was a slow and brutal death, made even more brutal by the fact that his brain was still fully functioning. He WANTED to continue to read, research, learn and even write. But his body failed him. He could no longer use his hands to type or hold a book. He lost his voice and ability to swallow. It was horrifying to watch, as my dad became a lifeless ghost.
He passed away the day after Christmas of 2011. We never did write that second book. Just this year, I decided to buy back the rights to “Supervolcano” and update it with some new research I knew my dad would be excited about. I decided to publish it on my own, in eBook and print, in honor of the man who gave me my own rabid passion for science.
I miss my dad. But in a way, I decided to bookend the experience of writing with my father by writing with my son. In 2014, my son, Max, and I began a middle grade science fiction series called EKHO: EVIL KID HUNTING ORGANIZATION, based on the real life spy group he formed in grade school when he was being bullied…with a little extra sci fi magic thrown in. Listening to my son recount his EKHO days and activities and getting it all down on paper reminded me of working with my dad, and the fun and excitement of sharing interests and creating a book together. The second book in the EKHO series is coming out in 2016, with four more to follow.
I am not sure how many other writers out there have had the distinct pleasure of writing a book with a parent, or a child. It’s a bonding experience like no other, and one that I will take with me all my life. Every time I hold “Supervolcano” in my hand, or discuss it with someone, I know my dad is right there looking over my shoulder, smiling proudly at our combined creation!
Thank you Marie. You can find Marie and information on her books at:
Marie D. Jones
Co-Founder – ParaExplorers