Today, Excalibur Books is proud to have an interview with the author who contributed the introduction to “The Phantom Games”. That introduction set the scene for the whole anthology, and recent events have proven it to be scarily accurate.
Please welcome … Regina Glei.
As a general introduction, could you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Thanks for the interview first of all!
I was born in a small town in Germany, studied Japanese Studies in Munich and had a great year in Fukuoka as a scholarship student at Kyushu University. After returning to Germany and graduating from university, I worked in Germany for a short time, very much wanting to return to Japan. I managed to get a job in Tokyo in the year 2000. I thought I’d stay in Japan for four, five years, but I never left again and am now in Japan for a staggering 21 years, 22 counting in that year as a student.
Could you tell us about the “Dome of Souls” and “Hagen Patterson” series?
The “Dome of Souls” series is my “special baby”. I came up with the idea in 1997 or 1998 or so and the “Dome universe” got bigger and bigger over the many years in between. At first I wrote some of it in screenplay format, but then switched to novels. The centerpiece is the third “Dome of Souls” novel called “Jeronimo”. That’s where it all started with the idea of the protagonist “Jiro” having to become a ruler of his world in order to bring it down. On the “Dome timeline” the first book is “Dome Child”, followed by “The Anatomy of Anarchy”, and then “Jeronimo”. “Red Angel 42” and “The Holy Void” happen after “Jeronimo”.
The “Hagen Patterson” series has a funny origin. I’m a big fan of heavy metal music and one of the many bands I like is an old-school German metal band called Gravedigger. They have an album called Rheingold, which deals with the Ring of the Nibelungen legend. Listening to that album, I got the idea for my own version of the legend centered around the “bad guy”, Hagen. Originally only one book was planned, the first one: “She Should Have Called Him Siegfried”, but then the thing turned into a trilogy.
I’m also publishing novels under a pseudonym, by the way, Julius R. Jones, but more about that later.
What genres do you work in, and why do they appeal to you?
Science Fiction and Fantasy, though it’s more Science Fantasy than Science Fiction, I suppose. I love these genres because they give “ultimate freedom” to the author. Reality is boring! I love inventing my own universes with whatever magical or fantastic elements inside them.
What are you working on at the moment? Do you have any future projects you’d like to talk about?
Last year I wrote what I thought would be the 6th and final “Dome of Souls” novel (it’s currently with my editor and not published yet). But it ends with a cliffhanger and I have now started with novel number 7. That was not planned! I’m already 30,000 words in, so it looks like it will grow into another novel.
Which writers inspire you?
I read Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick as a young adult back to back. Tolkien is also one of my author heroes. I dug through a lot of Shakespeare and other classics as well back in the day, good drama never gets old.
Do you have a special time to write? How is your day structured?
I have a quite demanding full-time manager job to pay the bills and my writing time is in the evening and on weekends. I am not a morning person at all, sleep until the last possible moment and go to work, the fun of writing comes after that.
Do you work to a plot outline, or do you prefer to just start writing and just see where an idea takes you?
I have done both, though I tend to be more of a gardener than an architect. I’ve had rough outlines for several of my novels, but some were / are pure gardening, like now “Dome of Souls” number 7. I have no idea yet how it will end and am making things up as I go along, which is sometimes stressful but most the time a lot of fun.
What does your research process look like?
There is Wikipedia of course 😉 But I have also read non-fiction books in preparation for some “pseudo-science” aspects. For the “Hagen” series, I read a lot about the Ring of the Nibelungen from various sources.
Which book or books are you reading at the moment?
I unfortunately don’t have so much time to read anymore between the full-time job and my own writing. At the moment I’m (slowly) reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day”, being completely awed by his command of the English language, something that will be beyond my grasp forever.
What book would you like to see turned into a movie, and who should play the leading roles?
Oh, that’s a tough question. I’m surprised that nobody made Naomi Novik’s Temeraire books into movies or TV yet. I heard Peter Jackson even optioned the rights for a while, but then nothing happened. As for casting – I’ll leave that up to the pros 😉
Going to the office in the morning – with a metal band t-shirt under the office shirt to go to a concert in the evening – happy times in 2018!
Before the pandemic I was frequently found traveling or at heavy metal concerts. Both are on hold, unfortunately, so now I am baking cakes and bread and doing yoga. What a contrast! I can’t wait to get to a decent metal gig or festival again!
You wrote a very fitting introduction to “The Phantom Games”, deconstructing the concept of competitive sports and the Olympics. One year on, on the eve of a Pandemic Olympics about to take place behind closed doors, what are your thoughts now?
When I heard about the Olympics happening behind closed doors I dropped off a tweet calling the Olympics the Ghostympics. It’s almost scary that the “Phantom Games” will now really become phantom games. I feel so sorry for the athletes who are more or less prisoners, being brought from their hotels to training venues by buses and back again. While I think that the decision to hold the Olympics behind closed doors is the right one, (I was getting dizzy seeing pictures of 60,000 people in Wembley stadium for the football Euro Cup), these Olympics will be one weird affair. I can only wish the athletes good luck and hope that they won’t catch Covid…
Where is the first place you want to go to after the COVID-19 travel restrictions are fully lifted?
I’m already scheduled to go to Germany in summer 2022 to see my family again for the first time in three years and also to visit the world’s biggest heavy metal festival in the northern town of Wacken. Let’s see if I manage to travel somewhere outside of Japan before that.
What tasty dish have you cooked recently?
Chocolate cake with Bailey’s!
Tell us a strange, random fact.
Most heavy metal fans may look scary, but they are usually super nice and friendly people!
That’s me at the most incredible cruise of all times – the 70,000 tons of metal cruise. The cruise ship in the background holds 3000 fans and 60 heavy metal bands having the time of their lives for 4 days in the Caribbean. We made a stop at Grand Turk island of the Turks and Caicos in 2018.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
For the books that I published under my name please check out the following website:
I also published two SciFi trilogies under my pseudonym Julius R. Jones. The “Voice of the Universe” series and the “Rogue Star” Series. The last installment of the “Rogue Star” series is called “Our Bodies” and it was published just recently at the end of May 2021.
Please check it out and thanks a lot for the opportunity of this interview!
For an Excerpt from Our Bodies – keep on reading!
EVERYONE ON DECK 5 knew the picture. It wandered from hut to hut and was their most treasured possession. Every hut was allowed to keep it for a hundred days. Jolan and Liria had it for ninety-eight days now. In another two days the picture would go to their neighbor Anwa Moriens. The faded picture showed what Deck 5 had once looked like: a curved meadow with cows grazing on it.
Jolan didn’t want to give the picture away, but he had to, it was tradition. He had no clue why or how this photo of green grass with five black and white cows on it had survived for thousands of years. Of course, the print wasn’t that old. Maybe it was sixty or seventy, or even a hundred years old. Nobody knew where it came from, who had made this and past prints, or why. Legend said that they had bred cows on the Gen for twenty-five hundred years. The last cow had died five thousand years ago. The last mammal, a cat, died five hundred years ago. Now there were only a few fish left.
Jolan lay in his bed, arm in arm with a sleeping Liria, caressing her hair, and waited for the alarm to ring. He hardly ever woke up before the alarm rang, but the past few nights he had woken up half an hour earlier, today even an hour earlier. It had to be the anxiousness about losing the picture. There was not a single reason why else he should be awake to worry about things. He frowned at his cynicism.
Liria stirred, sighed and woke up.
“Morning,” he said.
“There ain’t no mornings around here,” she said as she always did and kissed his cheek. She groaned and stretched. Jolan yawned.
Liria sat up and looked at him. “You’ve been lying awake again?”
“Yes, honey, don’t worry.”
Liria looked at the picture at the wall next to their bed and sighed. “Two more days. It’s not gone yet and I miss it already.”
“We can still see it at Anwa’s place.”
Jolan had always liked Anwa, but their friendship had become so much deeper since Jolan had the picture, because it had given Anwa a reason to visit him.
The wake-up alarm bellowed through the entirety of Deck 5.
“So fucking loud!” Liria shouted, as every morning.
Anwa lined up in front of Liria and Jolan at the dispenser station of their section. Jolan smirked at his broad grin of happiness.
“You’re welcome to visit me as often as you want, you know that, right? Every day, twice a day, any time,” Anwa said in his pleasant bass.
“Thanks, Anwa, we’ll take you up on that offer,” Liria said and cuffed his arm.
Anwa made a mock bow, then it was his turn and he took his damp, hot towel out of the dispenser, next his water bottle and his breakfast pack. He waved at them as he entered the men’s privacy unit.
“Were we that annoyingly happy when it was our turn to get the picture?” Liria asked, keeping her voice low to prevent the dispenser from hearing her.
“Probably,” Jolan said. He kissed Liria’s neck while she got her breakfast ration and hot towel.
“Aren’t you overdue?” Jolan whispered into her neck.
“Maybe,” she answered, then grinned at him as she headed for the women’s privacy unit.
Jolan’s pulse rate increased as he waited for his towel and breakfast pack. They had tried hard to get pregnant the past one hundred days under the good omen of the picture in their hut. The increased amount of sex, despite losing some sleep, had actually been very good for their relationship. Love was rare on Deck 5. Couples were brought together to keep the genetic mix as broad and healthy as possible. Nobody expected to find true love on Deck 5. Jolan had been quite neutral about Liria in the beginning and she had been neutral as well. Both had been pleased that the other had decent looks, decent bodies and decent characters. They had gotten along well in the three years since they were declared a couple, but the past three months, man, he had enjoyed them and she had as well and now, maybe they had managed to get pregnant? That would be great, because it would save them both from the threat of depersonalization.
Jolan entered the men’s privacy unit after he got his hot towel, expecting Anwa in the small antechamber where you undressed and redressed, but it was empty. There were no clothes on the gray bench, the only furniture in the room, either. Jolan opened the door to the cleaning room.
There was no sign of Anwa.
A wave of fear hit him, but despite it, he undressed because that was what he always did and because there’d be trouble if he didn’t and he most certainly did not want trouble now. When he was naked, he took the hot damp towel, which had already cooled considerably, and quickly wiped his body in long practiced swipes, starting with his face, head, arms, upper body, legs, genitals and finally the feet. Then he threw the used towel into a chute and hastily redressed.
Anwa. Deck 1 had taken Anwa, two days before the planned handover of the picture. What a blessing that they hadn’t taken Anwa after the handover of the picture. Anwa. Jolan would never see him again. He was on the way to Deck 1 now. He’d live in luxury at Deck 1, but not as himself. Anwa would be depersonalized …