Author spotlights are occasional Q&As with contributors. Anthony W. Eichenlaub is a Minnesotan science fiction writer whose stories walk the line between serious science and absurd fun. His fiction has appeared in several collections, including Little Blue Marble, Neo-opsis Magazine, and the anthologies A Punk Rock Future and The Community of Magic Pens. His books range from the sci-fi western Metal and Men novels to the rule-breaking adventures of unhindered biologists in the Colony of Edge novella series. He enjoys woodworking, video games, and long walks with his lazy dog.
Departure Mirror: Tell us a little about your Departure Mirror story.
Anthony W. Eichenlaub: “A Homecoming for Four Will Sunderlands” explores how our experiences change us and how those changes affect our eventual return home. When four duplicates of the same Will Sunderland return from war at the same time, their mother discovers that they’ve become four distinct people, and they need very different things from her and from the community. The inspiration came from two things. First, I’ve grown tomatoes for years. Every year I plant the same few varieties, but every year I get different results. Tomatoes are grown from seed, so they aren’t genetic clones, but they’re pretty darn close. It’s their environment that results in such drastic changes. The second bit of inspiration happened when I thought about the major decisions I’ve made throughout my life. Would I have been a different person if I had stayed with art instead of switching to computer science? How would I be different if I took the job in Chicago instead of Minnesota? I’ll never really know, but it’s always interesting to contemplate who we could have become.
DM: How did you become a writer?
AWE: I think I first became a writer when my high school English teacher, Mr. Leitz, said some magic words that somehow sunk into my impressionable young brain. Then I took fifteen years off. When my first son was born, I picked up blogging and absolutely loved it. It was so much fun that I quickly moved to writing for roleplaying games and short stories. That eventually moved into larger projects. Now, my eldest son is fifteen, and I really wish Mr. Leitz was still around so I could send him random copies of my published works.
DM: What else are you passionate about? Tell us about it.
AWE: I really love hobbies that channel my creative energies, whether it’s turning new fountain pens on my lathe, learning 3D modeling so that I can design and print my own miniatures (which I then paint), or plain old photography. There’s always something cool to create, and nothing is quite as exciting as trying something that I’ve never tried before.
DM: Do you have anything you’d like to promote?
AWE: My latest project is a novella series called Colony of Edge. The first book, Of a Strange World Made, is out already, and the rest are coming soon. The series is about Ash Morgan, a microbiologist working to make a planet more hospitable to human life. It’s full of adventure and intrigue, and, quite honestly, some fairly irresponsible science. Writing this has been so much fun because it blends serious issues with humor, then throws in a pile of action. It turns out that’s exactly what I enjoy reading.
Thank you, Anthony! “A Homecoming for Four Will Sunderlands” can be found in the Winter 2021 issue of Departure Mirror Quarterly. The issue is free to download and to read. If you love the story as much as we do, please tell your friends!