Author Interview: Richard H. Hardy, author of The Infinity Program

Publisher:  Camel Press

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

Synopsis:  Jon Graeme and Harry Sale are unlikely friends. Harry is a world-class programmer, but his abrasive personality alienates co-workers. In contrast, Jon is a handsome and easy-going technical writer, the low man on the IT totem pole.

Sharing a love of nature, the men set out together, planning to go their separate ways--Jon on a hike and Harry, fly fishing. Three days later, Jon arrives at the rendezvous point, but his friend is nowhere in sight. When Jon finds Harry unconscious on the floor of a cave, Harry claims to have been lying there the entire time. But he is neither cold nor hungry. What Jon doesn't know is that Harry fell into an underground cavern, where he came into contact with an alien quantum computer.

Back at work, Harry jettisons his regular tasks and concentrates exclusively on inventing new operating language to access the alien system. In the process he crashes his office's Super Computer and is fired. Jon convinces the company to give Harry a second chance, arguing that the system he has invented will make them millions.

Jon has no idea what havoc Harry is about to unleash.

Interview: Q. How did writing this book affect you?

I wrote most of The Infinity Program after I retired and found it an extremely liberating experience. Basically I am more of a book person than a techie. But the necessity of earning a living led me to the software industry. I had to re-tool my entire thinking process. Writing The Infinity Program got me back to being a writer of fiction.

Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

I find the middle section of a book very hard. It’s like the top of an arch. The beginning of a book and the ending require imagination and creativity, but the middle requires a high level of craftsmanship.

Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?

I am already at work on a new novel, tentatively titled The Omega Rapture. It is the story of a particle physicist and the strange events that follow his discovery of the Omega particle.

Q. What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Black Hole Wars by Leonard Susskind. I really enjoy reading books about physics and Leonard Susskind is one of the very best writers on the subject.

Q. Please tell us your latest news (book-related or not!).

After many years of being a self-taught saxophone player, I am finally taking some lessons. Already my instructor has pointed out areas where I need to improve my sight-reading and my technique. The great thing about a good teacher is that she can show you the connections between theory and application.

Q. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I like to take long walks just before my writing sessions. I let my mind roam and often ideas and scenes come to me as I walk along. Sometimes I even hear dialogue in my head, and when I do I say it aloud so that I will remember it. Sometimes people have walked by me when I’ve done this—they must have thought that I was completely nuts!

Q. Please tell us a fun-fact about yourself!

I sometimes laugh during the most inappropriate moments in a movie. I laugh because a screenwriter’s imagination and writing skills have tickled me. The script has veered in an unexpected and thrilling direction. My first response is to laugh, even though it might be a sad scene, a frightening scene, or a tense scene.

Q. Is there anything you haven’t written about that you would like to in the future?

I would like to write a mainstream novel about life in a small town in upstate New York and tell the story of average, everyday people. So far in my writing I have indulged my interest in science and technology, but I have an ambition to write about everyday life in a small town.

Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

I would love to learn calculus. What holds me back is that I am just too busy writing and playing the saxophone to take on any additional challenges. Maybe in my next life!

Q. What gives you the most joy in life?

My wife has given me the greatest joy in my life. I do not know where I would be without her—I would simply be lost.

Q. Which of your characters would you want to be and why?

The only character in my book that I really resemble is Jon Graeme, so I would have to choose him. My football coach used to yell at me, “Your trouble, Hardy, is that you’re too nice a guy!” Jon Graeme is that way too. He’s just too damn agreeable! The cantankerous, curmudgeon, Harry Sale, makes a nice contrast to him!

Q. How do you like to spend your spare time?

I love to read. It is a sad day indeed when I don’t have a book on hand that I’m excited about. I’m also a very enthusiastic amateur musician. These days I mostly play the tenor and alto sax as well as the bass clarinet. In former times I’ve played keyboard, soprano sax, and baritone sax. I love jazz and classical.

Q. How did you come up with the title?

The title of The Infinity Program came to me out of thin air. Toward the end of the book Harry Sale, the master programmer, refers to the operating system of the alien computer as ‘the infinity program’. The moment I wrote that I realized I had my title.

Q. When did you know you would be a writer?

When I was very young I thought I wanted to be a scientist. I’ve always had a big interest in theoretical physics. But when I hit adolescence, I guess all those raging hormones changed me. Suddenly the secret motivations and private lives of people became much more interesting than the collisions of atomic particles. I thought fiction was a great way to explore the mysteries of the human soul.

Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I think readers are America’s most precious resource. Readers have more empathy, more understanding, and more insight into life than non-readers. Without the reader, a writer would be nothing.

Richard H. Hardy's Bio:  Richard H. Hardy was born in Glasgow, Scotland, during a week of relentless bombing raids just before the close of World War II. The day he was born an incendiary bomb fell on the church across the street from where he lived, so he is fond of saying that he entered the world with a big adrenaline rush.

His family later moved to England and then on to America.

After college Richard bounced through a series of temporary jobs as he traveled around the country, wanting nothing more than to write fiction. A job driving a library van allowed him free time to write several short stories and work on a novel.

He and his wife moved to New Hampshire, where he took an entry level job at a software company. He was soon promoted to the technical writing department and ended up producing over 500,000 words of online documentation. After a few years he was promoted to the programming department and ended up as the Senior EDI Programmer, creating EDI maps and writing UNIX scripts and troubleshooting on AIX systems throughout the U.S. and Canada. 

After he retired, he started writing fiction again. The Infinity Program is his first published novel.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the intriguing conversation, Star and Richard!

    I love these lines in particular: "I think readers are America’s most precious resource. Readers have more empathy, more understanding, and more insight into life than non-readers."


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