An Interview with John Hopkins

Exploring The Powers That Be Universe

John Hopkins discusses inspirations from Michael Crichton, character complexities, cosmic themes, and upcoming trilogy developments with rigorous research and artistic involvement.

Renowned author and artist, John Hopkins, invites readers into the intricate universe of The Powers That Be trilogy, a saga brimming with curiosity, mystery, and the eternal quest for understanding. Inspired by literary giants like Michael Crichton, Hopkins crafts a narrative that transcends common boundaries, weaving together elements of science fiction, historical mystery, and the paranormal into a tapestry of captivating storytelling.

At the heart of Hopkins’ creative journey lies a profound fascination with the unknown, spurred on by his childhood admiration for the ground-breaking work of authors like Crichton and the seminal masterpiece, Jurassic Park. From this wellspring of inspiration emerged Lost Cactus, a vibrant comic strip featuring a motley crew of genetically-engineered characters, which laid the groundwork for the expansive world-building of The Powers That Be trilogy.

In The Golden Ellipse, the first instalment of the trilogy, Hopkins ventures into the realms of space tourism, artificial intelligence, and enigmatic encounters that challenge the very fabric of human existence. Through meticulous research and a keen eye for detail, Hopkins infuses his narrative with historical mysteries and scientific theories, grounding fantastical elements in a semblance of reality.

Central to Hopkins’ storytelling are the diverse cast of characters, each meticulously crafted to embody the complexities of the human condition. Among them, protagonist Rachel Alexander Haig stands out as a compelling embodiment of vulnerability and resilience, navigating a world teetering on the brink of cosmic revelation.

As readers delve deeper into The Powers That Be trilogy, they are invited to ponder timeless themes of good versus evil, the vastness of the universe, and humanity’s place within it. With each turn of the page, Hopkins unveils new layers of intrigue and suspense, tantalizing readers with glimpses of what lies beyond the horizon.

With The Powers That Be trilogy, John Hopkins invites readers on an exhilarating journey through the depths of imagination and beyond. As the saga unfolds, readers are sure to find themselves enthralled by the rich tapestry of storytelling, eagerly anticipating the next chapter in this epic adventure. Stay tuned and keep an eye on the sky. 

What inspired you to write The Golden Ellipse, and how did you develop the concept for the story? 

The Golden Ellipse evolved from The Stowaway, a short story about a honeymooning couple— Rachel and Owen Haig, the main protagonists—on a routine space tourism flight in a near-future world of humanlike robots, artificial intelligence, and reverse-engineered alien tech. The complexities of their interpersonal relationship provide contrasting perspectives on the breath-taking experience, while Rachel’s paranormal encounter orbiting high above Earth at the short story’s climax is the crux of the good vs. evil, family, fate, and human destiny themes explored throughout The Golden Ellipse and its sequels: The Lost Ship and The Blue Spark, Books Two and Three in the trilogy. 

Can you tell us more about your research process for incorporating historical mysteries and paranormal elements into the narrative? 

I am curious by nature and an avid reader with a healthy skepticism regarding the world around us. I subscribe to multiple academic sites and research fascinating white papers to ground historical and scientific elements in my novels with authenticity. For all of its faults, the internet and Wikipedia provide a font of information a keystroke away. Taking a page from Michael Crichton, one of my favorite authors of any genre, I include a bibliography at the back of each novel for anyone interested in learning more from the books, articles, papers, and videos I researched while writing each novel. 

The novel features a diverse cast of characters. Which character was the most challenging to write, and why? 

Rachel Alexander Haig posed an immense challenge as the star protagonist and lynchpin of the entire narrative. Envisioning her character as the antithesis of an archetypical feminine superhero, I delved deep into her psyche, portraying a vulnerable young woman rife with insecurities and plagued by tragic life-altering events in her checkered 24 years thrust into an unfathomable situation with humanity’s fate hanging in the balance (no pressure). To accomplish this without veering into comic book clichés required deep reflection and nuanced writing—not to mention lots of editing—to portray her as fearful yet brave, scarred yet beautiful, skeptical yet trusting, and aloof and mysterious yet accessible to the reader. Did I succeed? People will have to read the book and decide for themselves. 

What themes or messages do you hope readers will take away from reading The Golden Ellipse? 

Good vs. evil. First, the good. We are not alone. And I mean that not only in a mainstream secular sense of little green men and UFOs but also a benevolent and omniscient cosmic presence fostering our species toward transcendence in a crowded universe. As for the evil flip 

side, the universe is also replete with bad actors, and humankind’s violent and self-destructive tendencies cause catastrophic consequences that metastasize ever darker and more dystopian in the sequels to The Golden Ellipse. 

Are there any specific real-world events or scientific theories that influenced the creation of the futuristic world depicted in the novel? 

The burgeoning acceptance of UFOs and extra-terrestrials in the public and private sectors, an accelerating proliferation of paradigm-shifting AI and robotics into our everyday lives, and candid conversations on life’s enduring mysteries influence my storytelling. 

Without giving away spoilers, can you tease any upcoming developments or surprises that readers can expect in the next instalments of The Powers That Be trilogy? 

Book Two, The Lost Ship, picks up the action on a devastating day after, delving deeper into the diverse cast of human and non-human characters and complicated inner workings of The Powers That Be before culminating on a fateful trek into the untamed Amazon wilderness. Book Three, The Blue Spark, explores the interwoven relationships of the multi-generational cast seeking purpose and redemption in a corrupt, dystopian world struggling to rekindle former glories before cosmic events unfold to a gripping conclusion that will leave readers beyond curious to see what happens “next.” 

Are there any signature literary devices within all three novels? 

All three novels include allusions to some of my favourite literary classics and a famous rock star’s fascination with outer space and science fiction. Also, the chapters begin with epigraphs featuring the wit and wisdom of an eclectic assemblage of real-life and fictional characters. Prologues provide essential background information and foreshadowing. While I maintain a chronological timeline and include places, times, and dates throughout all three novels, a flashback chapter adds critical backstory context to The Golden Ellipse. 

What else would you like readers to know about The Powers That Be trilogy? 

Leveraging my artistic abilities (such as they are), I conceptualized and created the covers, designed and typeset the interior pages, and prepared the books for output to various formats. The first two books in the trilogy also feature a section of illustrated maps and diagrams I used to visualize complicated settings and abstract concepts. 

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