Q&A: P. A. Baines
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE ALPHA REDEMPTION?
A few years back I was heavily involved in discussing Christianity on various forums. I spent over a year locked in debates with all sorts of people, including devout atheists, some of whom had never considered Christianity and others who had abandoned their faith for various reasons. During one debate, an atheist boldly declared that belief in God is illogical. It was his opinion that no rational person would ever come to a belief in God if presented with all the facts. This statement was the seed that would lead me to write Alpha Redemption.
I was busy with another novel at the time, but I kept mulling over what that atheist had said. I wondered what a purely logical creature would do if presented with "all the facts". I pondered a scenario in which a sentient computer was presented with the Bible. I saw a man deep in discussion with a computer, but instead of the man trying to convince the machine, it was the computer that was doing its best to persuade the man that God is real.
All I needed then was a scenario in which a man and a computer could be alone together for an extended period of time. I saw a man, broken and lost, travelling deep into outer space, with only a computer for company. I chose the Alpha Centauri system simply because it is the closest. The word "Alpha" clicked in my mind and gave me the common thread for the story.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
I was born into a non-religious home, and so I came to Christianity fairly late in life. When I was a young teen I started reading the books my older brother left lying around the house, which meant I read a fair bit of Stephen King. I think Firestarter was the first novel that I remember really enjoying. King has a way of drawing characters that are utterly believable. His endings can be disappointing at times (at least for me), but his writing more than makes up for that.
Another early and surprising inspiration was George Eliot and Mill on the Floss. We read it in class at school, and I was captured by the ability of the writer to pull me into a living, breathing world. Leo Tolstoy also was also an early inspiration. I love his dry humour.
A big inspiration for me as a Christian writer is Frank Piretti. I loved Piercing the Darkness. Of course, the biggest inspiration for me as a story-teller is Jesus. To reveal the mysteries of God's Kingdom He did not just tell people about it, He showed them using parables. My favourite parable is the story of the Prodigal Son. The image of the father running to greet his wayward son is so powerful to me. It really shows God's love for His children.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
I have always enjoyed science-fiction stories because they allow you to ask really big questions. As a Christian I feel compelled to write sci-fi from a Christian world-view. So many writers in the genre ignore, insult, or ridicule God. I wanted to help redress this balance by writing stories that Christians can enjoy without feeling offended. God created the universe and the aim of science should be to discover how His universe works. At some point in the past, it was decided that God should be left out of science simply because people could invoke Him as a quick answer. To avoid this “cheat” it was agreed that God should be removed from scientific debate. Over time, this principle shifted subtly, to the point where the aim of science now seems to be to prove that God does not exist.
My aim is to write speculative fiction in which God is kept in His rightful place as creator and ruler of His universe.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
I first discovered the joy of writing fiction in high school. The teacher would give us writing assignments, but instead of writing the required essay I would often write a humorous piece instead. Of course, later I would have to do the actual work, but I had fun. That was probably my first experience of writing for pleasure.
I can trace the time I wanted to be an author back fourteen years to the time I prayed and asked God for something I could do for Him. Within a short period of time I discovered I had a story rattling around in my head that would not go away until I had written it down. That story was accepted by a well-known New York agent. From that moment, I was hooked and knew that I wanted to be an author more than anything else in the world.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
I see my writing as a ministry of sorts. Mt faith is at the very core of my writing. With Alpha Redemption, I want to show that God will not desert you, no matter how far you try to run or how much you try to ignore Him. If you call on Him, He will answer. If you return home, He will come running to welcome you back.