Diving into the Pages of ‘A World Without Men’: An Interview with Randall Moore”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Randall Moore hails from Boise, Idaho after living most of his life in Southern California. After a decades-long hiatus, he returned to fiction in 2013, and to date has completed 31 novels. He’s a rabid reader and lover of history, and peppers his tales with historical references, and strives to make the details as historically accurate and pertinent as possible.

While he has extensive writing experience, from poetry, personal journals, newspaper articles, songwriting, and advertising copywriting, fiction has become his mainstay. He’s self-published 15 novels, just published another with Atmosphere Press, and is working on his 32nd and 33rd.

He published a weekly column on wine for a daily newspaper in the 1990s, and was a contributing editor for The Underground Wine Journal. 

For more information please visit his website at randallmoorefiction.com

1 If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Passionate. Inquisitive. Empathetic.

2. In your book titled “A World Without Men,” you talk about a dystopian society where not just dysfunctionality but also the omnipresent nature of power. What excites you about writing about a dystopian society instead of a utopian one?

I don’t think one precludes the other. Both exist at the same time. A utopia for some creates a dystopia for others. This is part of the power dynamic explored in “A World Without Men.” Society is necessarily stratified. Some will always have more than others. This is the nature of human society and will always be so, despite the efforts of those who wish to perfect humanity. I conceived of a utopia that would satisfy the needs of some, while recognizing that it didn’t serve all equally well, in particular, men and the women that love them, and those that were deemed of a lesser class. That’s why I think of my novel as a utopian/dystopian novel, the yin and yang, two sides of the same coin, Janus be damned.

3. This book “A World Without Men” is more than a fictional work and has contributed more to the ideas of social construction and values. Do you think your work reveals global politics?

The themes I explore draw on historical examples and makes assumptions about human society that have been with us always. While we have advanced from cave dweller days, we are essentially the same species. There have always been people who crave control and those who resist, wishing instead that it was they who had the power, ruling over those who currently control them. No matter how far you go back in history and archaeology, with few exceptions, the human race remains essentially the same.

4. The story is also interesting and multifaceted, with diverse interests and classes. What motivates you to write such an extensive piece exposing the hypocrisy of the elitist class?

Elites throughout history, with few exceptions, are convinced of their rightness. Very few leaders will confess to making mistakes. If a politician admits to too many mistakes, regular folk will conclude that they don’t deserve to rule, and rivals will make sure of that going forward. Commonplace accepted norms have always existed in human society and always will. Orthodoxies rise and fall. What is agreed upon today will one day be viewed as foolish and misguided. The Ptolemaic understanding of the solar system worked in its day but was undone by the more accurate Copernican. I’m not going to make any predictions but of this I’m certain. Mankind is finite in an infinite Universe. We will never have full knowledge. Predictions of artificial intelligence gaining full knowledge will be revealed as wanting, no matter what its accomplishments. Our data capacity is limited. The data our machines control is limited by what we feed into them. Once they begin compiling their own data, that will also fail to be complete. To gain Universal knowledge, one must have a Universal perspective, and that is something that can never be obtained in this world, even in an imaginary one.

5. You mentioned that “Heaven’s Pavement” by Juarez Roberts inspired you to write better. Are there any other authors or books that have had a significant impact on your writing?

A tremendous number. One of the things that must inform authors is the work of other admired authors. Pick a genre and find your favorites. Meeting Ray Bradbury while in high school was a wonderful inspiration. Did you know he failed English in high school? He did, and it didn’t hold him back. I devoured his works when I was a boy. I also loved Robert Bloch, the author of Psycho, and a myriad of short horror stories that usually featured a twist ending. Failing English myself in the tenth grade didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the work of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, nor my later admiration for the works of Alexandre Dumas. When younger, I found Dickens too long and difficult. While touring Europe in 1977, I lost my aversion for longer works and devoured multiple Dickens novels as well as many works of Dostoevsky. Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammet’s works thrill to this day. Elmore Leonard is another all time favorite. I have learned from consuming the novels of Daniel Silva and Michael Connelly. C.J. Box is another favorite, as is Robert Crais. A great inspiration is Edgar Rice Burroughs who had the audacity to create Tarzan and John Carter of Mars while selling pencils in the pulp western periodicals of his day. There are so many good books it’s hard to keep up with them. There’s always something good to read.

6. There are several works that have portrayed the commodification of women, but you have taken a step further by writing about the commodification of men. Why did you choose low-class women as saleswomen for baby boys?

One of the things I’ve learned in my life is that many people are underestimated by their supposed betters. I really enjoyed giving sanitation engineers a hand in the clandestine business of incubating and selling men. While these women created and sustained a business in bootleg boys, there were specific super elites that could obtain them through normal channels, the birth factories, only was never fully explained in the novel. I wanted to demonstrate that the elite’s planned stratification of society, was essentially flawed, and illustrated this by having the supposedly inferior women, who were employed as sanitation engineers, capitalize on the failure of the elites to fully comprehend the people they believed they were better than. It was the sanitation engineers that used supposedly obsolete incubators to establish the business that profited by selling incubated men and boys to the elites that disdained them.

7. The character Eleanora Duncan is becoming the voice for the voiceless and hidden men. Is Eleanora based on personal incidents or your creativity?

While Eleanora is a character of my imagination, she’s also an amalgamation of women I’ve known throughout my life. My first answer included the word Empathy. Empathy is one of the most important things I employ in writing. Putting yourself in the shoes of another is important in any fictional endeavor. If one has to be what they’re writing about, it isn’t fiction anymore. It’s memoir with a lot of B.S. mixed in. Writing a novel where the overwhelming majority of characters are women required discipline of mind. Those who would dismiss my efforts because I’m a man? I would ask them who they’re qualified to write about. Just because I’m now living in the twenty-first century, why shouldn’t I be able to imagine what it was like living in the sixteenth, or the twenty-sixth? Empathy and imagination are my vessels to places unknown, that, and a hefty dose of research.

8. The practice of incubation, which has been banned for the last 150 years, is not challenged for so long. According to you, what are the reasons women did not challenge such practices?

The incubation of men is what was banned, not incubation per se. Incubation was meant to eliminate menstruation, the curse, from the lives of women. The side effect was that the elites could decide how society would be repopulated, how intelligent, how nurturing, and how physically competent the new population would be. As for the average woman? Once things are established as norms, it’s the unusual person that questions the new orthodoxy, seeking another older way. Conformity is the engine of social cohesion. And any threat to social cohesion is punished by whatever orthodoxy has the power.

9. According to you, the society in the book is held together due to fear and corruption. Are there any other sources of such society functioning?

Conformity and indoctrination are the primary engines of the society I envisioned. Fear and corruption follow those who wish to maintain the current structure. For the most part, the women that established the norms had gotten it done pretty well. Life was organized so each citizen had their role to play, as long as they obeyed and found a way to fit in, at least until the age of five. Those that didn’t? They would be removed as unproductive noncomformists.

10. The state authority has made surveillance, control by Federal Police, and the arrest of journalists acceptable measures of security. Why do you think power hegemony can corrupt any gender?

One doesn’t have to look too far into the politicians of our day, whether male or female, as to how they behave when it comes to power. Whichever party you belong to, examples can be found of men and women you’d rather not see in power. Power to the powerful is a drug that must be ingested regularly to maintain the illusion that they’re in control of all they survey. I see little difference between the feminine and the masculine when it comes to desiring dominance over others. Just because a sex or race isn’t currently in charge doesn’t mean they’ve never been in that position. While the overwhelming majority of societies have been ruled by men, historical examples of female rulers include: Hapshetsut, Cleopatra, Boudica, Catherine the Great, and Elizabeth I. More recently there has been Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher. All these women led their armies in war. There are plenty of examples of feminine depravity. One need look no further than Elizabeth Bathóry, the blood countess who killed hundreds of girls and women so she could bathe in their blood, expecting to maintain her youth and vitality. While female serial killers are rare, there are numerous examples in both recent and long ago history.

People like to romanticize the notion of the noble savage. They imagine that men once lived in harmony with nature, discounting the fact that stone-age societies were constantly at war with each other for resources, whether they be hunting grounds, access to water, fertile soils, gold and jewels, access to women, etc. Power and authority are goals of those at the top of human societies, as is the suppression of dissidents. We trade one tyranny for another, until a more shining tyranny beckons us into future slavery.

11. It is very fascinating and powerful to see a male author writing tremendously about a book titled and imagining a world without men. What were the initial thoughts that shaped such an artistic book?

Language I’ve heard much of my life. I remember attending a screening of the great Alfred Hitchcock movie “North by Northwest” in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1978, and the scene on the train where Cary Grant seduces Eva Marie Saint (she seduced him as well) was accompanied by a chorus of hisses and boos from some of the women in the audience. I’ve heard women declare conspicuous displays of female beauty as disgusting. Terms like toxic masculinity, rape culture, and now incel appear with an agenda assigned by their adherents. The Me Too and Time’s up movements. The constant changing landscape of the feminine in society where there are no secretaries, but admin; no actresses, but actors; no stewardesses, but stewards; no waitresses, but servers. It seems as though every effort is being made to erase the feminine from the language in an attempt to gain equal footing with men, which strikes me as doomed to failure. In further thinking about it, I believe people are making a fundamental mistake about humanity. Humanity consists of both the feminine and the masculine. Remove one and humanity ceases to exist. The feminine and the masculine perform particular tasks that can only be properly accomplished by one sex or the other. While jobs can be done by either, some jobs are better suited to one over the other. I wanted to make the argument for the return of men displayed by the actions of my primary male character by doing what’s best done by men.

12. Hope and faith become a torchlight for our leading characters when they hold onto the values of truth and revolution. How important was it to have a revolution in your book?

My characters didn’t set out to start a revolution. What they did was spark an evolution, or a return to the natural order. Resistance to that evolution came from entrenched forces in society that were determined to keep things as they were, with them as the leaders and rulers. The fact they were corrupt, and in many cases cheated to gain their positions made things just that more delicious.

13. The most common perspective among women teenagers tends to imagine the world without men in power, but you showed us how important it is to have inclusion of diversity of races, cultures, sexes, and especially voices. Do you think diversity is the second name of humanity?

While it’s important to reflect reality by showing a multiplicity of races, cultures, sexes, and voices, I believe it’s a mistake to focus on our differences. Humanity can only thrive if we focus on and celebrate what we have in common. Otherwise, we face a headlong rush into tribalism and a return to the primitive. It’s what we have in common that makes us human, and gives us rooting stakes for those who are different from us. Turn your mind from the superficial, and deep down, in our souls, we’re all the same.

14. The book “A World Without Men” is also exploring gender roles and performance and what happens if roles are exchanged or one gender is made invisible. Have you ever changed your gender roles with your wife?

Division of labor between couples can lead to strife early in the relationship. We used to fight over household chores. I suffered an abdominal hernia moving into our house years ago and could only work in the yard five minutes at a time before I needed to rest. She continued working. I’d write the bills and we both worked, and that always left me in a foul mood after seeing our money disappear. She took over that chore, freeing me from it. Later on, after my wife started her own business and quit her job, I took over the major load of breadwinning. It was amazing how much peace became a part of our lives when we settled into traditional roles like our parents had done. She eventually banned me from doing laundry, which I would do when she was visiting her sisters. We now choose how each of us helps with our household, and it’s fairly obvious to me what needs to be done. Earlier today we both pitched in on pulling a bumper crop of weeds from our front yard.

15. Another character in the story named Peter is also immensely represented with exposing the inhuman nature of privileged classes and the sufferings of slavery. According to you, was Peter more deprived of self-consciousness or collective solidarity?]

As far as the broader society was concerned, Peter was a non-entity, an illegal person relegated to service the whims of his masters. He correctly surmised that the only act of autonomy left him was suicide. He could adapt whatever self-consciousness he chose as long as he continued to fulfill his role as a plaything to his wealthy owner. In that sense he is denied entry to the collective. That’s what Eleanora does for him by seeking to validate his personhood.

16. “A World Without Men” also has an amazing cover page. Would you like to share what your cover page symbolizes?

Matthew Fielder, one of the artists at Atmosphere Press did an awesome job with it. I had a good cover ready to go, since I have extensive experience in graphic arts. and have done the covers for all of my self-published works. Matthew came up with the logo that graces the front and back covers, and the spine. It’s the symbol for male with a line through it. I also wanted a lot of action on the cover since the story is filled with action. The graphic rendition of the logo floating over a bustling cityscape captured what I wanted. I shared several sections from the novel with the artists as well as my own cover. They did a wonderful job with it.

17. What role does science play in the story, and how does it shape the characters’ understanding of gender and biology?

Science is central to my primary protagonist’s identity. When we meet her, she completely accepts what she’s learned about society and her place in it, only to have her eyes opened to the truth by a lowly janitor. Science has replaced a woman’s womb with the incubators. Contraceptive chemicals have been added to the water supply, so women’s periods are eliminated. Then there is the energy project Eleanora and her team of scientists are working on, which not only solves the energy problem but brings her into the Premier’s orbit where she experiences the corruption of the ruling class first hand.

18. The most important aspect of the book is to not just fight for the truth but the identity of the invisible people around us. Why did you choose identity above existence?

Mere existence isn’t enough. Humans need purpose in their lives that elevates them above microbes. It’s not only identity that counts, it’s what you do with your existence once you know who and what you are.

19. How does the book’s ending leave room for interpretation and further exploration of the themes presented in the story?

I purposely left things open at the end. And this ending is more extended than its original ending. The themes are ongoing and developing. I don’t wrap things up in a pretty bow, nor am I interested in a sequel. I leave my characters to make their own way, hinting at how things have changed for the better for them. Society is still struggling but I leave it in a healthier place than it was at the beginning, even if things are more complex for the average woman now that the officially sanctioned production of men has begun again.

20. You have written across multiple genres, from crime to science fiction to fantasy. Is there a particular genre that you enjoy writing the most, and if so, why?

I enjoy whatever I’m working on which is now several things. I’m in the throes of a dystopian trilogy, which I regard as utopian/dystopian as I explained before. I’m also working on several crime dramas as well as several short stories. As long as I feel the arc of the story as it builds to its inevitable climax and conclusion, I’m happy.

21. Your crime novel set in 1930s San Francisco features a hard-boiled detective who is Chinese. Can you tell us more about how you developed this character, and the challenges and opportunities you encountered while writing from the perspective of a non-white protagonist?

This novel came about after I learned about the nineteenth century Chinese Exclusion Act while visiting Napa Valley for the first time in 1989. After most of the Chinese labor was expelled from the country in the 1880s, Mexican workers replaced them. After living through the second of two devastating earthquakes in early 1990s Southern California, I was fascinated that the only route that remained open between the south and the north was the tunnel that had been excavated by Chinese laborers in the nineteenth century, many of the same laborers that had worked on the Transcontinental Railroad connecting the east coast of the United States with the west completed in 1869. I wanted to learn about the Chinese that worked on this monumental engineering project and decided to have an elderly woman hire a detective to find out what happened to her brother who disappeared in 1869 just before the railroad was finished.

The last thing I wanted to do was to make the detective Caucasian, as that would invite comparisons to Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe. I also didn’t want him compared to Charlie Chan or Mr. Moto, two famous characters from the 1930s. In thinking about Nick Wong, I thought of the many people from other countries I’ve met and known in my life. My parents wanted to expose us to people from other cultures, so they opened up their home to Japanese students, as well as a pair of Iranian students, who during their time living with us, taught me that they thought of themselves as Persians first, and spoke glowingly of Darius the Great, and regarded attending USC as a great honor. In the course of my career, I have worked and gotten to know people of Japanese, Vietnamese Chinese, Chinese, Arabic, Indian, African, Mexican, and Filipino origins, among many others. One of the things I noticed is that wherever people come from, once they come to America, they become American and behave as if they’d been born here. And when they are born here, they are as fully American as any other person who lives in this country, despite whatever traits they’ve kept alive from the places their ancestors came from. I based Nick Wong on people I worked and did business with. He was fully American and fully Chinese, just like many I’ve known.

22. Your novel, “The Grand Master,” is based on the history of the Knights of Saint John. What drew you to this subject matter, and how did you approach researching and writing about it?

I relied on much of the research I’d done for a previous novel, “The Merchant, the Janissary, and the Corsair,” a novel about the struggle for control of the Mediterranean Sea that reaches its climax at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. I read many books about the Venetian Empire that informed my understanding of the era. One of the books was “The Knights of Saint John” by Augusta Drane, a Catholic nun who wrote her history in 1848. I became captivated with the Knights through her work. The Knights also feature prominently in “Empires of the Sea” by Roger Crowley and learned in both books that the Knights of Saint John once ruled the island of Rhodes before they were expelled by Ottoman ruler, Suleiman the Magnificent in 1522. The order surrendered their empire to the Ottoman Turks and moved to Malta where they became the Knights of Malta, finally defeating Suleiman the Magnificent and his massive army at unbelievable cost defending their island home in 1565.

I was watching a television series about the Knights Templar that reveled in their corruption and ultimate destruction. I knew from my research that the Knights of Saint John, the Hospitallers, were still an active order, took vows of chastity, and were dedicated to protecting Christian pilgrims on their way to and from the Holy Land. What began as an order dedicated to providing care for the afflicted, morphed into a military force that was a response to the constant attacks on pilgrims during that era. They were men of honor and self-sacrifice, dedicated to serving Christ and man. Antoninus Mavros, my protagonist, is a flawed but fearsome warrior who finds his vow of chastity challenged by the woman from his youth who chose another, causing him to give up on a normal life, choosing a life of service; and a beautiful Ottoman courtesan who’s been ordered to seduce him, as he leads his fellow Knights in battle with the Ottoman foe. While my characters move around the Anatolian peninsula, with side trips to Jerusalem, Rhodes, and Venice, I have them take over the Castle of Saint Peter in Petronius, now Castle Bodrum in Bodrum, Turkey. I chose Castle Bodrum because it’s the location of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum of Hallicarnasus, whose ruins were used to buttress the construction of the castle, which began in Roman times, and was a base of operation for the Knights before they surrendered it to the Ottoman Empire. It was never defeated while the Knights of Saint John occupied it.

23. In “Falco the Dark Angel,” you created a unique take on the vampire genre. What inspired you to write this story, and how did you approach putting your own spin on the mythology of vampires?

This began as a dream I had decades ago where I was out on the town in Hollywood only to end up in an abandoned building left for dead by the vampires that turned me and kidnapped my girlfriend for a ritual sacrifice. I was turning into a vampire and only had a few short hours to rescue her before I became a vampire myself.

What began as a short story turned into my first novel with five self-published sequels, with a seventh waiting in the wings. I saw early on that my character, while a monster, chose to channel his cravings exclusively onto evil men and women, disciplining himself to feed on only the worst of the worst in society. After being unmasked by a police lieutenant, he teams up with him to solve previously unsolvable crimes, while meting out justice in the process.

I kept many conventions of vampire fiction alive, while changing others. While transforming, a fortune teller reveals to him that he has psychic powers that he needs to develop. While he’s sensitive to sunlight, it’s not fatal, causing him to adopt sunscreen while covering as much of his skin as possible. His teeth sharpen but he doesn’t have fangs, and his fingernails lengthen and sharpen allowing him to slash the throats of criminals and killers so he can consume their lives and blood. When a fresh kill isn’t available, he’s able to tide himself over by ingesting blood from bags of blood. His psychic business brings him opportunities to rescue crime victims from serial killers and other miscreants while bringing him worthy victims. At the climax of each novel, he must face down and defeat a more powerful vampire demon than he is.

After reading all the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan books, I was delighted to discover several short stories he’d written covering gaps between and within the Tarzan novels. I’ve written a number of short stories in Falco’s saga, covering similar gaps in my series.

24. Can you tell us more about your writing process? How do you typically approach writing a novel, and has your process changed over time? And Your novels span a variety of genres, from crime and noir to speculative fiction and fantasy. How do you navigate writing in different genres, and do you have a favorite genre to write in?

My process has changed over time. When I began to write, I made up the narrative as I went, letting the previous day’s work dictate its next direction. After writing a great many novels that way, I began to pre-plot my stories. This gave me a way to think about the arc of the story outside of the actual writing of the novel. It’s like a road map, and when it comes time to write, I do so while fleshing it out, sometimes discarding my plans for a better solution that presents itself in the process.

As for writing in different genres, it’s not all that different from writing in one. In my first noir, “Faithless Heart,” it wasn’t much different from writing a Falco novel. What you’ve got are characters, situations, dialogue, and locations. The main difference was while Falco lives in a supernatural world and can fly, and is a master swordsman, Mark McMichaels is earthbound, confined by the limits of physical reality

25. You have both self-published and queried literary agents for traditional publishing. How have your experiences differed between the two, and which do you prefer?

Well, the goal is to find readers, and since I haven’t found an ally in traditional publishing yet, I’m finding readers in self-publishing.

The independent author has a tough road to finding readers. The vast majority of independent bookstores prefer to deal with the big corporate publishing houses, even though they, themselves, rail against the monster Amazon for stealing business from them, putting most of them out of business. Ditto Barnes & Noble.

The marketing expertise a big publishing house offers is something I still crave. I’m getting a little better at marketing but I have thousands of miles to go before I can even attempt to claim to have done something that’s truly effective.

I’ve been querying for years now, and I’ve noticed that even getting rejections is becoming rarer of late. Traveling to a convention and pitching agents in person, even getting manuscript requests doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a response. It’s kind of like a job interview you felt great about at the time but never hear back from them.

For now, I will continue advertising for clicks on Amazon, getting sales and pages read on KENP.

26. Can you share any upcoming projects or works in progress that you’re excited about?

Since I have a fairly extensive backlog of novels in various stages of completion, I’m able to pick and choose what I want to work on. My current focus is on a crime thriller called “Sky Angel.” It’s about an air ambulance crew that’s seduced into transporting packages for a mysterious former customer that leads them into a vortex of crime and danger. I also have another utopian/dystopian novel called “Anarchia Wars.” It’s going to be a trilogy. Then there’s my brain transplant sci-fi thriller “The Fissure of Rolando” that’s been pitched to agents.

27. Do you have other writers in the family?

None I’m aware of.

28. What advice would you give to aspiring writers, particularly those who may be struggling to find their own voice or develop their own unique style?

The first thing aspiring writers should do is to write daily. Whether it’s fifteen minutes, an hour, or five, you must do it daily. Start with words on a page, then sentences, and after that, paragraphs. Then as the paragraphs mount up, mold the results into a story that resonates with you. The other essential thing both established and aspiring writers must do is read. Discover the works of great masters, even if it’s the master of an out of fashion genre. You’ll learn about pacing, plot, dialogue, and problem solving. Because, if I’ve learned one thing over the years of effort, writing is about problem solving. If you’re writing about a horse master, you must learn how to bridle and saddle a horse, and convey that knowledge through the written word. And if your story has a woman giving birth, you must learn as much as you can to convey that experience to the reader. And while you won’t always achieve that goal, the effort must convince you that you know exactly what you’re writing about, and that will be enough to convince most readers to suspend disbelief and let your story take them away.

In many ways, my goal is to animate emotion in my own soul, mind, and spirit. When the words I’ve molded on the page coax tears from my eyes, I feel I’ve revealed something true, something that moves me, and in so doing, I hope it will move whoever reads it. If, however, a reader is not so moved, don’t let that get you down. Keep writing. The more you write, the more distinct your voice becomes and the more you know what you’re doing. You’ll develop a second sight about it. It’s volume over perfection, yet perfecting what you’ve written is also part of the task before you. I knew one writer who wrote and revised the same story over much of his life, even winning a prize for one of the efforts. But even that wasn’t enough for him. He continued with the story until the day he died. I tend to learn from repetition, not of the same story, but the next, and the one after that, over and over, until I’m writing my latest.

“A World Without Men” by Randall Moore is a must-read for fans of dystopian fiction and social commentary. This gripping tale explores a future where men are forbidden and owned as status symbols by the wealthy. With its themes of inequality, oppression, and justice, this book is both thought-provoking and entertaining. You can buy “A World Without Men” by Randall Moore on Amazon and immerse yourself in this captivating story today.

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