We are happy to announce that Richard Hacker, a long time Algonkian Author Salon member, has been signed by AEI Films and Books/Story Merchant in October 2014 for representation to major publishers and possible film production. This was made possible through diligent work with AAS editors and peers. Congrats to all involved!

Eighteen year old Ethan Adlar inherits a fountain pen and a destiny from his father, Thomas. Unknown to Ethan, Thomas led a secret alchemist league fighting an ancient war across the centuries to protect history from the future.

   - THE FIVE PENS OF JOHANNES by Richard Hacker

A Dialogue With Fantasy Writer Richard Hacker

Richard holds an MA and a Certificate in Genre Fiction from the University of Washington. His novel won top awards in the Science Fiction category at the 2011 Writer’s League of Texas (WLT) literary contest, and he is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association.

1. What inspired you to write your story? What do you love about the genre?

I woke up at three in the morning thinking about a pen that enables you to write down the name of someone from the past, and by doing so, enter into that person’s consciousness. What inspired the idea? I’m not altogether sure. I do love fountain pens. In our high tech world a fountain pen offers a visceral connection to the written word. The ritual of pulling ink into a chamber, stains on the fingers, the flow of fluid onto a page feel elemental to me. Not that I’d write a novel with a fountain pen. I’m definitely a digital guy, but fountain pens do have a romance about them. With a pen as a core idea, I did some research in alchemy, fabricating a believable fantasy of an ink, when matched to a specific alloy nib, moves a user’s consciousness into the name being written. I love the notion that an Inker uses a person’s name to enter their consciousness. Names have always been very powerful. In some religions, believers may not say the name of their god because the very act of naming assumes a power over that which has been named.

My love of the fantasy genre informs how I have conceived THE FIVE PENS OF JOHANNES. I tend to gravitate toward a form of fantasy that holds reality very close. For example, In ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE, Gabriel Garcia Marquez weaves in the dead as if they are living in the story’s present, creating a magical context to his storytelling. I love stories like THE SIXTH SENSE, JACOB’S LADDER, INCEPTION, because they play with our sense of what is real and what is imagined, what is conscious awareness and what is a dream state. My characters shift from present to past, but also from one time matrix reality to another in a mix of past oriented historical fiction and future focused speculative fiction. Where those worlds intersect and collide provide fertile ground for conflict.

2. Prior to being included in the Author Salon Literary Showcase, how did your project and your writing evolve here at Author Salon? What did you learn?

I came to Author Salon with a completed first draft of my novel and a sense that I had a solid concept providing a foundation for my storytelling. At first, I admit to some apprehension about getting online with a group of strangers and entrusting my work with them. To my great delight, I found a group of skilled, professional writers as committed to their art as I am to mine. We initially had to work through “being nice” which didn’t get us anywhere. I think we all recognize the power of colleagues speaking their truth and the professionalism of opening ourselves up to hear that truth. Now I’m confident my peers tell it like it is and I know I do the same for them. We are committed to the success of each other and not willing to let anything slide.

So what did I learn? Compliments are nice, but truth challenges you to reach beyond yourself. Before I joined Author Salon I wanted to write novels and be read. Now I want to write best best damn novel on the planet and be read by everyone. I feel the challenge to push myself beyond average, beyond good, reaching for a level of excellence in what I’m creating. The critique process provides huge amounts of valuable, usable feedback to refine the manuscript. And I’ve found critiquing the work of others has heightened my own ability to evaluate plot, characters, structure and all of the many components making up a work of fiction. Finally, I have found some kindred spirits in my peer group. People whose opinions I highly value and who I sense want as much success for me as I do for them.




  • Posted 3 years ago
Congrats again, Richard. What a great story you have here. Your patience to keep improving on what was already something special really helped slow me down with my own work and realize the intensity needed for each and every scene, paragraph, sentence, word, etc.