Interview With Jay DiNitto, Author Of Pale Blue Scratch

First of all, Jay DiNitto, thank you for taking your time to do this interview with me!

 Jay DiNitto is the author of Pale Blue Scratch, a wonderful story about a nun and her apprentice, and how they try to make a time-travel machine work.

You can download and read Pale Blue Scracth for free here.

 

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Where do you get your ideas from?

Most of the time, I get ideas from other stories, either from books, movies, or games. I don’t do this in the sense of stealing ideas wholesale, but most story ideas come from exploring how I would write a story or character different after consuming other stories.

 

Where did you get your idea for Pale Blue Scratch?

I was toying with the premise of an odd couple-type pair of sleuths trying to track down a scientist in trouble, where one of the sleuths really believes the scientist’s work is legitimate but the other sleuth doesn’t. Some of that was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes stories.

I also wanted to incorporate the philosophical idea of our senses being almost-infallible sources of knowledge. What if it clashes with scientific or practical knowledge? How is that reconciled?

I liked the idea of using religious figures as central characters, where they aren’t the scheming Big Bad or the abusive authority figure that fired up the rebellious protagonist. I took cues from what Umberto Eco did in The Name of the Rose, and The Father Dowling Mysteries (yes, I watched those). The “two guys” motif was too close to Holmes, so I changed the sex of one of them. At first it was a monk and a teenage girl, but that pairing was too unrealistic for me, so I switched them to a nun and teenager on his way to manhood. Also, I switched their personalities: the religious/teacher figure is the wild risk-taker while the teenager is the bookish, play-by-the-rules type. Their personalities are unusual but they aren’t out of control; I think too many fiction writers are careless with human behaviour and really go crazy with basically rewriting the human psyche.

I was reading a lot of anarchist writings (and watching Firefly) and came up with the “contractual society” setting. How would it work if there were no nation-state? How would roads, law enforcement, or laws themselves, work? I have interests in alternate history and alternate technology settings, so that played into the plot.

 

How do you deal with a writer’s block?

I don’t, really. I normally don’t force myself to write; I do it when I’m ready. I work full time and have a wife and kids, so that’s enough of a “block” as it is. One trick I’ve learned, regarding books, is to stop a writing session in the middle of a scene I particularly enjoy, so I have some motivation to return to it soon.

 

What does your writing process look like?

I’m middle-aged, but a young writer, and I don’t have a professional schedule, but I can describe the process for my new project (we’ll call it Project X).

I played around with premises a lot. Since so much has been addressed before and I want to make sure I’m writing about something that hasn’t been overdone. Once the premise is there, I’ll have some scene ideas, bits of dialogue, or philosophies I want to represent that go along with the premise. I like Elisabeth’s character, so Project X is another book with her in it.

For Project X, I wanted to have a society that mirrored the kind of society the ancient Hebrews lived in, in Old Testament times, so there’s a lot that has to go along with accommodating that plot point. From all those ideas I form a coherent chain of events, which eventually become chapters. From there, I’ll write summaries for each chapter before I start the actual first draft.

The biggest hurdle, especially with Project X, is determining who knows what, and when they know it. There’s lots of secrets and manipulations, so keeping characters in the dark and slowly revealing things to them takes a lot of organising.

 

How do you select the names for your characters?

Honestly, I don’t spend a huge amount of time on character names or their significance. For Pale Blue Scratch, Elisabeth takes on her religious order’s name, so a great part of her character and profession reflects that. Other than that, I normally don’t attach too much significance to names unless the story demands it.

 

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

Not particularly, but in Pale Blue Scratch there are a few references to the game Chrono Trigger, which is also about time travel (though actual time travel isn’t a big part of the book). If you’re familiar with the game you’d be able to spot them.

 

You can find my review of Pale Blue Scratch HERE!

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Pale Blue Scratch – Jay DiNitto [BOOK REVIEW]

Pale Blue Scratch - Jay DiNitto book novel books review blog wordpress writer author diary of difference

I was lucky enough to be approached by Jay DiNitto himself, and he sent me a copy of his first novel – Pale Blue Scratch (you can read the e-book for free here) in exchange for an honest review. This is a book unlike anything else I have ever read, and it left me impressed. I dearly enjoyed it, and maybe you will too.

About the book:

“I would disassemble this body and cast it onto the coronal burn of the sun if it means I get answers.” Thus proclaims the determined Elisabeth Reese, journalist, professor, and joke-cracking nun working in alternate history San Francisco. She has one goal: to rebuild a failed time machine that caused a lethal explosion during its initial demonstration. With her reluctant protege, a young budding scientist, she searches for the machine’s plans left behind by its exiled inventor. But her pursuit is disrupted, threatened by area conflict. A faction of the deadly Al Sayf al Ahmar-the Red Sword-has been rising to power. Lead by the hulking Crazed Herald, Maalik du Mahdi, the Red Sword heed a prophecy that will culminate in a battle between two “one-armed wild men.” Du Mahdi is believed to be the first of the pair, while his counterpart could be anyone…even a small, peculiar nun from across the bay. All Elisabeth wants is to witness the impossibility of time travel, but first she must battle the odds and fulfill the present. Part steampunk and part mystery, Pale Blue Scratch explores the conflict between the senses and logic, and the lengths one may go to resolve it.

Pale Blue Scratch - Jay DiNitto book novel books review blog wordpress writer author diary of difference

My thoughts: 

As I mentioned above, this is a book unlike any other that I have read. It is a great mix of fiction / action / fast-paced scenes / philosophy / psychology and a little bit of time-travelling.

Even though we have two main characters – Elizabeth and Vincent, this book focused more on Elizabeth, for various reasons.

There were times when the scenes were slow, and somewhat a bit dull, but there were also times when there were fast-paced scenes that make me bite my nails. Though, as a whole, I found the story to not quite fit my taste. It felt like Elizabeth didn’t have a great or a strong enough reason to do this adventure.

Elizabeth’s character – now this is something quite amusing! I have never met a character like this – so twisted in a cute hypocritical way. A nun with an adorable sense of humor, that goes around on a mission to make a time-travel machine, and happens to hurt people on her way… I loved her character in a very weird way (don’t judge!)

Now Vincent didn’t quite hit the mark. He seemed more of a plain character, like a little copy of someone else, somewhere, once upon a time. He gave the impression of a person that, unlike Elizabeth, didn’t quite knew where he belonged and what he’s doing. It felt like it didn’t bother him at all. And that’s alright. The moment when this started to hurt me was at the end – when he didn’t change a bit.

Even though a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to read much about time-travelling as I would want to, this book was quite amusing and it covered various random topics that I quite liked. I loved that variety when one moment you talk about religion, the other moment a great action scene happens, and then here we are again, discussing life philosophy.

All in all, to sum it all up – I greatly enjoyed this book! It was definitely unusual read, and unique in every single way. And if you love fiction / action / a bit of time-travelling / humor and philosophy, this might be easily your new favorite book!

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