In Asking the Prophet, we use our alien probes to pick the brains of sci-fi and speculative fiction writers. This week, we talked to author Deek Rhew about speculation, conspiracy, and transporters.

How do you formulate your ideas into speculative fiction that feels plausible?

I have a folder full of story ideas. A lot of them come from questions I come up with. What if someone were to be sent back in time? Or whatever their power or the situation is — I ask myself a question and then think about it. So for 122 Rules I thought, what if someone was trained to control everybody around them? How would they be able to manipulate people? How would they control that power? Who were they trained by? Maybe it was the government or a private enterprise. You run down all these bunny trails, and eventually it led me to start writing.

Cover image of Rhew's '122 Rules' 

What’s a piece of current technology or a recent discovery that gets your brain spinning for speculative fiction possibilities?

I read about real-life transporters, where they take one atom and they do something to it and there’s a corresponding atom somewhere else: Whatever they do to one, it happens to the other. I was just thinking about this the other day. What if you could transport yourself or use that technology to somehow merge yourself into someone else?

So if you took that technology and you’re taking your soul, if you will — this energy that is you — and you take it out of your body and put it in someone else’s body and ride along with them and maybe even control them. Almost like Stephenie Meyer’s The Host but you jump into them and come back out. It’s a little different, because that was actually dealing with aliens. But that atom moving technology they’re working on is really intriguing. I’ve tried to come up with several different way to use that.

And who are some of your literary influences?

My wife is one of my favorite authors of all time. My favorite author other than her is Stephen King.

He’s easily one of the best writers I’ve ever read. His storytelling is elegant, his characters are real, he’s got these multilayer stories that you don’t get lost in. His bad guys are just awesome. I love a good bad guy. They make everything else more colorful and more interesting. I like Christopher Moore, too. He tells these outlandish hilarious stories. Those are my big ones.

My name is a pen name — Deek is actually a character from one of Stephen King’s books. It’s one of my ways of bowing to the man.