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INTJs in an extroverted society

INTJs in an extroverted society

INTJs in an extroverted society

Maria R. Riegger & J. C. Steel

Meet the introverts

J.C. Steel and Maria Riegger are introverts, but not just any introverts. We’re INTJs. INTJs are the second-rarest Myers-Briggs personality type, at just over 2.1% of the population, and INTJ women are the rarest of all the Myers-Briggs personality types, at only about .3% of the population.

We’ve also both lived  in cultures that were quite extroverted, namely Spain and North America. J.C. (a self-described “ex-boatbum”) is from Gibraltar and currently lives in Canada. Maria is a native of the Washington, DC area and has lived there most of her life, and  lived in Barcelona for several years.

In Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Cain discusses how the United States is one of the most extroverted cultures in the world. Spain also has a terribly extroverted culture, where people never seem to do anything alone. There is constant pressure to go out and be with other people. It’s exhausting.

So we got to thinking. What’s it like for introverts to live in predominantly extroverted cultures? How do they manage?

Below we share our experiences. Please let us know yours in the comments!

How do you experience introversion in daily life?

J.C.: Having to cope with constant noise, peoples’ expectations, and the pressure to make meaningless conversation drains my energy and piles on the stress. I’m frequently tired, impatient, and depressed, because a full-time job means I’m surrounded by people five days out of seven. For me, recharging means time alone with my cats, with a good book in one hand and a mug of tea in the other. I’m an introvert to my bones, and alone time is like a long, hot bubble bath and massage for the brain.

Maria: I love being alone, and I enjoy my own company. Almost any type of stimulation, whether noise, touch, etc., saps my energy. The more people and/or the more noise, the more quickly my energy is drained. I constantly live with a headache of varying degree, and I have tinnitus 100% of the time.

Do you consider your current place of residence more introverted or extroverted? Is it a good fit for you?

J.C.: I’ve lived in a lot of places, and while Western Canada isn’t as inescapably social as some cultures, there’s still an expectation that if you’re in an elevator with someone, you’re going to come up with something to say about the weather, or the headlines, or what a pretty top they’re wearing. Going into a shop here can be quite a challenge for an introvert, as a number of stores train the staff to get right in your face as soon as you enter, ask what you’re looking for, can they bring you anything, and start small talk. The upside for me is that Canada, while cherishing the North American extroverted ideal, is also largely pretty tolerant. Canada also benefits from huge amounts of wild space; hikers and skiers are lost and never found within half an hour of my front door, so if I really need to escape for an hour or so, it’s not that hard. It’s a pretty good fit.

Maria: The location where I currently live, in northern Virginia right outside of Washington, DC, is certainly more of an extroverted culture. There is definitely a social pressure to “see and be seen” and to attend events, and also a strong “fear of missing out” (as opposed to my fear of social gatherings and small talk). People here seem to feel more important the busier they are, and that kind of frenetic activity is anathema to me. The idea of a happy hour at a loud bar makes me want to run away. For me, the activities that I do must have meaning, and “busy” does not necessarily equate to “meaningful.”

That being said, there are plenty of opportunities where I live to visit museums, parks, and historical events, which is fantastic. I do, however, make sure to visit the art galleries when they are the least crowded. The DC area is also well-situated for travel.

I’d say that this area is generally a good fit for me because of the cultural and travel opportunities, although ideally I would live a little further from a big city and have more space and engage with less people and traffic.

Do you find some types of extrovert, or culture, are more accepting of introversion than others?

J.C.: Yes, absolutely. There are a few incredibly extroverted people I know who are nonetheless able to get outside their own heads and understand that making their weird-ass introvert friend happy actually doesn’t mean dragging them out to a party, but can mean simply standing between them and the rest of the group and doing all the talking for two. I really appreciate that kind of person. Often, people willing to make that kind of leap of understanding can also often have the kinds of conversations introverts do like: zero small talk, and frequent dives down conversational rabbit holes about nature versus nurture, what decision you made in a parallel universe, and why no one put the writers of ‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’ out of our collective misery before they could inflict a crappy plot on the world.

Maria: Of all the places I’ve lived, I think the U.K. seemed to be the most accepting of introversion, where the idea of going out by yourself or sitting alone to read a book was not seen as unusual. In Spain, you were branded as “weird” or “anti-social” if you did things by yourself. In fact, the only people I knew in Barcelona who went sightseeing or to the movies by themselves were American ex-pats.

What is your go-to coping technique that helps you function among extroverts?

J.C.: I spent several educational years in a boarding school in the UK, so along with excellent signature-forging skills, a 90% proof liver, and some light breaking and entering, I gained a lot of coping mechanisms. My most socially acceptable favourites are a book in the wrong language for whichever country I’m in, which lets me play the “I don’t speak…” card; permanent headphones; and keeping a set of mental flash cards current with some excuses I can pull out of my hip pocket on the fly to get myself out of encounters.

Maria: Hide in the bathroom! Just kidding (but not really). If I can’t get home right away and crawl under the covers with a book, I’ll seek out a quiet corner and tune out for a bit. At work sometimes I’ll wear my earbuds or ear plugs.

At what age did you realise that you were introverted, and what brought it home to you?

J.C.: I realised pretty early on that I wasn’t like most other kids. Their idea of fun was to swim and run all over the harbour making extraordinary amounts of noise; mine was to hang out (literally, if the bosun’s chair was rigged) and read a book. While I could enjoy noise and group activity for an hour or so, a full afternoon would leave me so exhausted I would sleep-walk – not a great idea on a yacht.

Understanding that introversion was actually a thing, rather than ‘shyness’ or ‘laziness’ took a lot more time, and a lot more self-awareness, than I had in my teens and early twenties. I drank far too much in school and university, which let me camouflage just how difficult being out and surrounded by people was for me. These days, I preserve my mental health and produce a lie that extroverts can accept to avoid most social events.

Maria: I didn’t understand the chemical component to introversion until I was in my 30s. From the time I was around ten I knew that I was different in that I didn’t enjoy social gatherings as much as others seemed to, and I preferred to read alone in my room much of the time. I would “melt down” after too much stimulation, when others didn’t seem to. I remember being called anti-social and selfish by others. I would disappear from social events without saying anything because I could no longer handle it (and hated it when others pressured me to stay), and people thus branded me as “odd”.

I had an a-ha moment when I learned to tell people “I have plans” to decline their invitations instead of “I want to be home alone”. If you say, “I have plans”, they don’t question you, but if you say you prefer to stay at home, somehow that appears unacceptable and others will often pressure you to go out, and I hate feeling pressured.

What is your least favourite extrovert reaction to an introvert?

J.C.: I absolutely have to agree with Maria on this one. People trying to pressure or guilt me into entertaining them at the expense of making myself miserable is right up there. I’d love it if trying to force conversation on someone who clearly isn’t interested one day ended up in the same category as groping someone without consent. Frankly, it’s about what it feels like on a bad day, with the caveat that I’ve got 15 years’ martial arts training, and I’m allowed to break a groper’s fingers and call it self-defence, whereas it’s ‘rude’ not to submit to forced small talk.

Maria: When people try to pressure me into attending social gatherings or pressure me in general. Please accept my first response and leave me alone. Also, when I don’t respond to texts right away, some people appear to get antsy. I always have the volume on my phone off because receiving calls and texts (especially texts) invades my private space, and I will deal with them when I am ready. I’m not going to respond to calls and texts immediately. I absolutely hate that about texting, the idea that people expect immediate responses. If it’s not urgent, I may take days to respond because I need alone time.

What do you most wish society in general understood about introverts?

J.C.: I’m not shy. I don’t necessarily dislike you. I’m not afraid of you. I simply don’t have the need to make pointless noise with other people in order to be happy. My brain is wired differently to an extrovert’s, and it’s not something that being forced to spend more time being noisily sociable will ‘cure’. If you want to spend time with me, be intelligent, be interesting, give me civilised warning, bring pizza and beer, and my couch and movie collection are your couch and movie collection. Come riding with me. Come to open mat night at my dojo and spend an hour sparring if you have the cojones for it. If I find you interesting, I’ll happily spend time with you. It just won’t be noisy time spent talking about nothing important for the sheer sake of making noise.

Maria: I wish more people understood that introversion is not something that can be changed. Introverts are more sensitive to stimulation and, as such, require solitude and quiet to recharge. Our brains are built this way. It’s like having blue eyes or being six feet tall. You can’t change it!

Reading timeDo you feel there’s usually a direct correlation between introversion and the size of the book collection?

J.C.: *Cough* Over two thousand books in my house *cough* Um… I’m going with ‘very probably’ on that one. If I like a book, it stays with me and gets read and re-read, but I’m incapable of literary fidelity and tend to have two or three books open at once. Having a bookshop near enough to take my lunch break browsing for new bookshelf-fodder gives me spasms of glee.

Maria: Oh yes. I can’t speak for others, but I find myself rereading books out of familiarity. And I don’t like letting go of books; it makes me feel bad!

As an introvert, do you find the company of animals soothing?

J.C.: Very much so. I’ve had Siamese cats all my life, and while they aren’t most people’s definition of restful, I find that they’re actually a perfect offset for me; they’re perfectly happy to roost on top of me while I read, but if they want attention, or food, they’re loud, persistent, and irrepressible, which gets me off my rear to throw glittery balls for them and ensures they’re fed on time. I also love riding – horseback is my absolute favourite way to explore countryside, because horses, for the most part, are big, friendly, warm creatures that smell good and provide company without needing endless validation.

Maria: Mostly. I grew up with dogs, and I envy their carefree, seize-the-day attitude. Also, whatever horrible day you’ve had, they’re always happy to see you. And their goofiness is therapeutic. One of mine chased a leaf this morning!

Do you feel there’s any truth to the perception that INTJs simply don’t like people?

J.C.: Point of order: we don’t like dumbasses. We don’t like the helpless types that start the kettle and then come running in in a panic to tell you the water boiled and expect you to tell them what they should do next. Intelligent, non-needy people we can tolerate just fine (in limited amounts).

I’ve heard INTJs called the Sherlock Holmes personality type, and having watched the BBC remake, I can’t really argue. According to studies, there’s a strong correlation between INTJ and high IQ, where ‘high’ is defined as the 130 and over zone. Mind you, most of the population would say there’s also strong correlation between ‘INTJ’ and ‘asshole’, so there’s that. Since we’re a pretty rare type, it’s not usually a big problem.

Maria: Ooooo, maaayybe. INTJs like doing things our own way and we can’t stand incompetence or indecision. We also need a TON of alone time. When we don’t get to work on our own projects and be in “flow” state, we get very cranky. We also don’t see the point of “hanging out.” For us everything, even social activities, must have a purpose, such as seeing an interesting movie.

We also can’t stand wasting our time. It galls me when someone takes fifteen minutes to say something they could have said in thirty seconds (that’s why I can’t stand most work meetings). I’ve been told that extroverts need to voice a thought out loud in order to process it, so I try to be more understanding, but I can’t stand it when people waste my time.

What do you find the primary difference to be between someone who’s shy and an introvert?

J.C.: Tricky. In some ways an introvert and a shy person will present in a very similar way in a social setting. They’ll both tend to avoid big gatherings. In addition, there’s no restriction not on being a shy introvert; because you’re one doesn’t mean you aren’t the other. However, primarily I’d say it would probably present differently if there was some stress present in the setting: push an introvert far enough, and you may well get an earful. A shy person might have a greater tendency to stay quiet.

Maria: I’d say that a shy person may be afraid to speak up and may be cautious about meeting new people. An introvert will usually speak up only if he/she has something worthwhile to say (they typically won’t talk just to fill space), but they’re not necessarily afraid to speak up. Likewise, an introvert typically enjoys meaningful one-on-one conversations and, as such, would enjoy meeting new like-minded people.

Introversion is not something you can change. It has to do with your sensitivity to chemicals such as dopamine produced by the human body. This is something that Susan Cain really hits home in her  book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. When we’re overstimulated, and the body produces too much of these chemicals, we become irritable and start to melt down. What does an introvert meltdown look like for you?

J.C.: I get cranky as hell. Usually, if I’m forced to deal with groups of people when sober (work being the most common example) I pull up a fake personality and compartmentalise. If I run into someone who just is that irritating, or if the requirement to be sociable goes on too long, there’s a (very) short progression from exhausted to irritable, and shortly after that I start losing control of my reactions. That’s when my alone time gets crucially important for everyone’s safety.

Maria: When I’m overstimulated, I start to get frontal lobe pressure, then ear pain. If the overstimulation continues, I have trouble concentrating and become fatigued, jittery, and short of breath. My head feels heavy and, at that point, I need to lie down and have absolute quiet. If I don’t get to recharge at that point, then after a while my digestion shuts down. If I’m at that final point, then it takes about two to three days of alone, quiet time to calm the jitteriness, and it takes a few more days after that to recharge my batteries/catch up on sleep. That is why I plan my activities carefully. I have a difficult time doing back-to-back social activities.

Care and feeding of the INTJ in the wild

So, you think you might know someone who might be an INTJ, and for some masochistic reason, you want to make it onto their ‘tolerate’ list, or maybe even into their little black book? Interesting.

Introverts, and INTJs in particular, don’t have casual friends. You’re either in the acquaintance zone, or you’re competing for a spot on a very, very short list – usually two to five people – of those the introvert really trusts and likes.

Go slowly. An INTJ will push your buttons without even meaning to. Take a deep breath and apply logic before you assume the worst. INTJs are rational to a fault and make shitty ‘there, there’ types. They’ll problem-solve and state what they see as the obvious solution. It’s how they help, and it can be a bit Old Testament-style.

 If they’re being deliberately obscure, take the compliment; it means they assume you’re capable of keeping up.

If they don’t give you an opinion, take the hint; that’s the limit of INTJ social skills, in that they’ve realised you won’t want to hear what they have to say. Look on the bright side; they’re bothering to exercise them on you.

If you want to find out what your Myers-Briggs type is, there’s a free evaluation you can take here.

Character interview: Cristina Batista

Character interview: Cristina Batista

Interview with Cristina Batista

Sitting on a nice secluded end of a breakwater with a good view of the harbour

J C Steel: There are times I miss sunshine, wind, and palm trees.

Cristina Batista: I didn’t want to move to Europe in my teens, and having seen it, I still don’t want to move there.

JCS: Your family was originally from Spain. Which area?

CB: My father was from Cáceres, in Extremadura. I have no idea where my mother was from, she left after I was born.

JCS: And your father moved you all onto a yacht and sailed for the Caribbean. What was growing up on a yacht like?

CB: …when it’s how you grow up, and you have known nothing different, growing up on a yacht is very normal. I played in the harbour with the children from other boats, when there were any; I learnt to row and sail; I learnt to shop in the open markets, and how to tie up a dinghy so I didn’t end up swimming after it. I explored around the anchorages, I snorkelled. You must have been asked this one often enough.

JCS: Very, very often. Now I’m asking you. How about schooling?

CB: We had a basic set of material from a correspondence course. It wasn’t designed for complex thinkers, but it provided the basics.

JCS: Yeah, amen on the last part. Where did you spend most of your time?

CB: Mostly between Grenada and Martinique. We visited St. Eustatius once.

JCS: Do they still keep an elephant at Pitons?

CB: I think so. I haven’t been there in a few years. Papá liked the less touristy areas. Union Island was one of his favourites.

JCS: Least favourite aspect of living on a yacht?

CB: Water runs. For something that empties so quickly, it takes an amazing number of jerry-cans to fill a water tank.

JCS: Any opinions of living in a house?

CB: I have hardly lived in a house. Let’s say…they don’t move, and if you open the windows there are bugs everywhere.

JCS: You have Spanish citizenship. How do you respond if someone asks you where you come from?

CB: I tell them I spent most of my life in the Caribbean. My nationality is never very relevant to my life until I need to pass Customs.

JCS: Most people don’t believe in vampires. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing, from your perspective?

CB: I find that the facts remain the facts no matter your beliefs. It makes my job a little easier, in some ways. Vampires have a vested interest in human ignorance, so populated areas can provide good cover under the right circumstances.

JCS: Is it true that vampires can be driven away with a cross?

CB: No. Or any other type of religious symbol, either, unless you sharpen it.

JCS: Where do you think that belief originated from?

CB: I’ve noticed that people believe a lot of strange things when it comes to religion. Personally I prefer stakes and fighting knives if I need to kill a vampire.

Character interview: Jean Vignaud

Character interview: Jean Vignaud

Interview with Jean Vignaud

At a table in a hole-in-the-wall pub with a good view of the exits

J C Steel: I like the location.

Jean Vignaud: Try not to describe it too well, I would like to come back. My partner tells me you have some questions.

JCS: I heard you like Chinese take-out. How did you come across that?

JV: Take-out is one of my favourite things of this century. When I was born one had to travel to eat differently, and the experience was not always…positive. If you are trying to put the Frenchman at his ease by asking about food, be assured: I am quite relaxed.

JCS: In fact, you’re rolling a cigarette. You only do that when you think I’m going to ask questions you don’t want to answer, but I notice you never smoke them.

JV: Science has discovered many miracles. Among them, unfortunately, that smoking is not good for you. Not something for vampires to be concerned with, but for me, yes.

JCS: So there are some things that you miss about being a vampire?

JV: Ah. The end of the small talk. As the junkie misses his high, there are things I miss, having left the night. Cristina tells me you are fortunate, and have never encountered a vampire. Do you think, once this book publishes, that that happy state will continue?

JCS: I will quote you a great British author, Terry Pratchett: ‘…no practical definition of freedom would be complete without the freedom to take the consequences.’

JV: A wise man.

JCS: I think so. Not a very popular definition of freedom in this day and age, as it happens. What’s your take on consequences and personal responsibility?

JV: I believe that my actions are my own. Who else should I blame? God?

JCS: You’re religious?

JV: I was raised a good Catholic, but according to that religion, vampires have no soul. Therefore, the only judge I need to satisfy is my own conscience.

JCS: Renouncing the chance to live forever sounds like a penance.

JV: …I fear I have not had enough rum to have that talk.

JCS: The first Pirates of the Caribbean. I understand you were an actual pirate in the Caribbean for a time.

JV: Pirates is such a generic term. In this day and age I would wear an expensive suit and gamble with other peoples’ money.

JCS: So you would equate stock-brokers with piracy?

JV: Let us say…in my day, if a man stole your money, the expectation was that you would try to kill him. Today, the expectation is that you elect him.

Character Interview: Captain Jannat Slainer, FPA Exploration Arm

Character Interview: Captain Jannat Slainer, FPA Exploration Arm

Debriefing / *Classified 1Nebula*: Captain Jannat Slainer, Exploration and Development branch

Officer in Charge: Captain, state your identification and rank for the record, please.

Captain Slainer: Jannat Slainer, ID FPA-ExDev 2380567, Scout Captain second class.

OIC: You understand and accept that this briefing, due to the nature of the information, will be classified to Nebula level, and discussion of any facts concerning your latest mission would constitute a level one breach of security resulting in loss of rank and privileges?

Capt. S: I do.

OIC: You and your crew were the initial contact with the humanoid population of Intelligent Life Found, 276/5346, Satellite IV. Per your report, your crew identified widespread biological and sociological anomalies resulting in a temporary withdrawal from the planet surface. Please elaborate in your own words.

Capt. S: There were no Abilities at large on the planet. No latent telepaths, none of the usual borderline empaths working with animals, no reports of people who see the dead or start fires. Given that the incidence of mental Abilities in standard deviations of humanoid is over 30%, we were concerned.

OIC: You also noted widespread presence of personal weaponry on the planet. Your report didn’t indicate that this was a primary concern.

Capt. S: It’s extremely common, in primitive cultures. Often seen as a symbol of sexual prowess.

OIC: Indeed. In any case, you and your crew briefed the contractor hired to…

Capt. S: Get shot at, sir?

OIC: …establish initial tolerance in the population. Yes. What were your impressions of this contractor?

Capt. S: …competent, sir.

OIC: I understand, Captain, that the Cortii are a sensitive subject. However, this briefing is not optional. Your full report, please.

Capt. S: *sighs* They sent a commander. Cortiora Khyria Ilan, of Wildcat Cortia, out of Corina Base. Black hair, green eyes, some scarring visible left cheek, both hands. A palm-width taller than I am, looked as if she weighed a little less. Intelligent, excellent memory, extremely high tolerance for stimulants. A very strong Ability. I’ve never met an IESRO-reg before, but quite possibly she would qualify. They put a double-squad of Interstellar Close Combat Specialists around her, and she looked…amused. She spent most of four days taunting them when she got bored.

OIC: And her interactions with your crew?

Capt. S: Professional. Clearly had to translate some of the questions she needed answering into terms we understood, but did it politely enough. Even though getting her full attention could be…powerful.

OIC: Elaborate.

Capt. S: Every so often, it felt as if she forgot to…hide what she was. Meeting her stare or drawing her attention could freeze any of us in our tracks. I put it down to her Abilities.

OIC: You think she was exerting Ability on you without your consent?

Capt. S: No.

OIC: Very well, Captain. You also attended her debriefing at the end of her mission on the surface. Your impressions of the Cortiora at that point, please.

Capt. S: She’d been severely injured, mentally and physically. She declined medical assistance, but permitted a medical scan as part of the debriefing. Beyond that, she presented as suffering from a severe level of Ability over-exertion.

OIC: You went on record earlier as stating that you believed her to be an Ability of unusual strength. What, in your estimation, would cause that level of injury?

Capt. S: Nothing I would survive meeting, sir. I have no idea. She implied that it had been caused during a meeting with the heads of the religious organisation of the planet. As I reported, this planet apparently has an Ability-backed religion based on Elemental symbolism. They had previously declined to meet with any of our people. The Cortiora reported that she was…invited to participate in a religious ritual that included the use of drugs.

OIC: You hesitated, Captain. Please clarify.

Capt. S: *pause* Bluntly, sir, I believe that they broke her. Somehow.

OIC: And yet you failed to put this observation on-record, Captain.

Capt. S: It has no basis in verifiable fact, sir. Instinct, if you like.

OIC: So your professional opinion is that the Cortiora lied to us during her debriefing.

Capt. S: No, sir. While I don’t doubt, given our relative rankings, that she could lie to me and hide it from me, I had no impression that anything she actually said was in any way untruthful.

OIC: So you were unaware of her official recommendation that the Interspecies Extra-Sensory Regulatory Organisation should be involved in the planet’s entry negotiations at the earliest opportunity?

Capt. S: I was not aware, sir.

OIC: What are you impressions of that recommendation?

Capt. S: That the Cortiora very likely is IESRO-level, and that she believes that the Abilities she encountered are a serious threat.

OIC: Indeed. Thank you, Captain.

*Notes on file indicate follow-up/urgent, regarding the psychological stability of Captain Jannat Slainer, Interviewing officer believed that at some level he felt obligation to the Cortiian operative.

Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi, Galaxy of Authors

Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi, Galaxy of Authors

Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi

‘If you can’t provoke any emotion, there’s little point in writing.’

Buy the books!

Coming soon!

In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I started writing in August 2016, because I love the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genre and I wanted to share my stories with people. My goal is to become a professional writer and my dream is to have one of my books turned into a movie.

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

I will pick only a couple of authors, like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Arkadi and Boris Strugatsky, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Joe Haldeman,  Norman Spinrad, John Scalzi, Paolo Bacigalupi, J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, Clayton Emery,  Joe Abercrombie.

Tell me a bit about your books.

The Restoration: A reptilian species uses time travel as a weapon to enslave other civilizations.

I published a revised edition of The Restoration in the summer of 2018. This book is available on all Amazon websites.

SS Vagabond: In a distant dystopian future, Captain Edward Turner is struggling to survive, transporting goods and passengers with his freighter, SS Vagabond. Eileen, the second in command and Edward’s lover, urges him to accept a risky yet lucrative mission to Mars.

I am only a couple of chapters away, and I will release SS Vagabond in the autumn of 2018.

Starship “Apple of Discord”: The Galaxy would not be the same, after the kidnapping of an alien crown princess.

I finished the first three volumes of Starship “Apple of Discord” on November 11, 2017. Between the three they cover more than 1300 pages and 350k words. Now I am waiting for an answer from several publishing houses from the US, UK, Canada and European Union. It will take a while and I am not sure that those publishers will agree to publish my space opera, since I am a debutant author.  So, if you know any literary agents or publishers send them my way.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I will continue to write more volumes on Starship “Apple of Discord”, because this saga isn’t finished yet. However, I plan to write other Sci-Fi and Fantasy books. I started already to write a Fantasy novel, and I hope to publish it by Christmas 2018.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

I believe that a person is defined by their actions. The same applies to a book character. I tried to create realistic characters, regardless they are humans, aliens or from folklore (elves, dwarves, pirates etc.) Also my characters are evolving during the story and they are inviting the readers to care about them.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I don’t have the support of a publishing house therefore I am an independent author now.  Yet marketing is my kryptonite so I am looking for a serious publisher that will take care of this.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

That’s true. People can’t live only with the daily bread. Reading enriches your knowledge and this helps you evolve as a human being.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

I will start with the infamous writer’s block – I experienced this too but I learned how to deal with this issue. When I am exhausted or I have no inspiration, I leave my writing desk for a while and I try to recharge my batteries by traveling, reading, swimming etc. As I wrote before, marketing is my nemesis. Although I don’t care too much about money, I consider that a book without readers is like a flower without pollinators. According to my beta readers, my books are good and I enjoy every time when they tell me this. Actually, I’m embarrassed and my face turns red like a lobster when I hear that.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I always start with the title. Then I create a short plot that would become the backbone of my story. I add characters and details on the fly.  I like to be creative and to write genuine books. My beta readers can confirm this. I used knowledge of physics, mathematics, biology, psychology, genetics, history, geography, computer science, chemistry, astronomy and xenology to create my books. Also, I invented genuine names for everything: planets, animals, plants, items, ships, characters etc. I made a database with all this information in order to keep track of them. The readers will not be bored with science facts and this huge dictionary, because the story line will flow easy and naturally. Also, I created some bits of alien languages for my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes, I love to plant Easter eggs in my books and in my book covers too. For example I know about the unlucky numbers from different cultures around the world and I use them to warn the readers that something terrible would happen in my book. Friday the 13th is the most common example.

Also I love to design my book covers. I don’t like to buy pre-made covers. There are high chances that these wouldn’t fit with my story line. I love designing my covers. Sometimes I paid artists to bring to life my vision – this is the case of the famous redheaded android of my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”I am aware that I am only an amateur designer, a newbie, a rookie etc., but this doesn’t stop me to try. I am an indie author with a limited budget and I am not ashamed for I tried GIMP and many other freebies. I am grateful because they exist.

For the cover of my book The Restoration I chose a reptilian alien eye that dwarfs a city in flames. Also this city is mirrored upside down accordingly with the title.

The cover of my Sci-Fi novel SS Vagabond raised a tsunami of opposite opinions when I presented it in public. The cover depicts a woman and a cat having in background the highest volcano in our solar system, Olympus Mons. I was accused that I use a cliché – beautiful women who are selling wellness products and the cats that are damn popular on Internet. In my defence, I can tell you that the science fiction novel SS Vagabond is really about a woman and her cat that are doing a voyage to Mars. Most critiques I received from established cover designers who were upset because I didn’t ask for their services. They accused me of being stubborn too, although I didn’t disregard their advice and I fixed some minor artistically issues that had my cover. I want to thank Keith Draws (https://keithdraws.wordpress.com/) and author &  cover designer Louise Blackwick for their invaluable help.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

My hobbies are Science fiction and Fantasy genre, movies, gaming, traveling, cooking, nature, wildlife, geography, history, astronomy, science, space exploration and weird phenomena as  UFO and USO (unidentified submerged objects – possible alien vehicles or living fossils like Megalodon).

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

Yes, I would love to live in the universe of my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”. I did what George Lucas did it for Star Wars, minus the movies and the lightsabers. Although George Lucas was my model, Starship “Apple of Discord” is not a clone of Star Wars and I have introduced in my space opera cool features too.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

Write earlier and publish more books.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

Sometimes I listen to epic music when I write. I like Two Steps From Hell, Audiomachine, Lindsey Stirling & Peter Hollens, Hans Zimmer and Jan Chmelar.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Ignorance is bliss.

Tell me three unique things about you.

#1: The Restoration is my first published book.  Although I was working on Starship “Apple of Discord”, in the spring of 2017 I decided to take a break and learn more about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Therefore, I created this Sci-Fi story. The initial impression was favorable and The Restoration received 4.5 stars. Unfortunately, later, Amazon decided to change the rules in the middle of the game and removed all reviews posted by people who received free books on promotions. This happened to The Restoration. Now it has 3.5 stars, because the person who posted this review said that this is a great book but complained about my English skills. My English was rough when I started writing, but the more I write, the more my writing style has evolved.

#2: As I wrote above, I started working on my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord” long before The Restoration. Actually, I had the idea for this book from when I was a student. One day I had a stomachache and I decided to skip class. It was a cloudy day and nobody was walking down the street. There were no cars either. I remember the appeasing silence and the dim light – the same happened during a solar eclipse that I observed long before that. An idea crossed my mind, “What if…”

When I got home, I started writing in my notebook the story that later became Starship “Apple of Discord”. Unfortunately, I was busy with my studies, then I needed to search for a job, and then I started a family. I kept postponing the writing of this book. In the spring of 2016, I went to the hospital, because I had peritonitis. After the intervention, I was in coma because of the anesthetist. When I woke up, it was the middle of August. I was thinking a lot of what happened to me and I decided to write again. Of course, technology has evolved a lot therefore I adapted the original story to accommodate these advancements. Also I expanded it.

#3: I was inspired by Greek Mythology to choose this title. I like the ancient legends of the golden apple. Eris, the goddess of discord, was not invited to a party. So, she threw a golden apple into the ceremony. Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera (the symbol of power and influence), Athena (the symbol of glory and wisdom), and Aphrodite (the symbol of beauty and desire).They brought the matter before Zeus, but he was cunning and declined this responsibility. Zeus assigned a man named Paris to solve this conflict. He made his choice and the aftermath was that the Trojan War started. You will find an unusual interpretation of this legend in my space opera.

Thanks for having me. Friends call me Andrew. I was born in August ’77 therefore I chose my nickname ACE977. I do NOT use a pen name.

I live in the European Union, Romania – you know, the country of Dracula and the World Tennis Associations number 1 ranked, Simona Halep. I work as an IT Engineer and I write in my spare time.

Andrew, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

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