Newspaper Articles

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead
Published May 18, 2014, 03:34 PM

Making a Scene: Exploring other dimensions

Economics professor author of three sci-fi books FARGO – By day, Clark Jackson is a mild-mannered accountant in Des Moines, Iowa. By night, he’s a universe-traveling adventurer, encountering alien species and solving out-of-this-world problems after discovering a portal to other planets and dimensions.
By: Ryan Johnson, INFORUM
FARGO – By day, Clark Jackson is a mild-mannered accountant in Des Moines, Iowa.
By night, he’s a universe-traveling adventurer, encountering alien species and solving out-of-this-world problems after discovering a portal to other planets and dimensions.
Jackson is the star of two science-fiction novels available through “Upsetting the Tides,” released in 2011, and last year’s “Unseasonal War.” Jackson will come back with new exploits in a third book, “Camouflaged Encounters,” later this year.
But the premise that gave birth to this modern-day explorer was little more than a stress-relieving thought that crossed the mind of author David Englund a couple decades ago.
“I had this idea, just kind of a fantasy, of what if there was this other dimension where you’d go in this room and no time would pass on Earth?” he said. “You could just go in there and you could take a nap, or you could get some work done, but you’d just have extra hours in your day.”
The 47-year-old Minnesota native, who has taught economics at North Dakota State University for the past year, eventually shared that idea with students – and found a new way to explore this fantasy.
“This student says to me, ‘Where is this other dimension? Are there aliens there, or is this on another world?’ ” he said. “All of a sudden, my mind just exploded with all these ideas, and I started writing on a notepad.”
Englund didn’t realize it at the time, but he was a few chapters into his first book. He completed a first draft a few months later and has since continued to find new ways for Jackson to seek out adventure.
He has no training in this field, and had never written fiction before, but he learned along the way and self-published his work.
Englund’s says he’s not trying to write perfect prose. He simply wants to inspire imagination for his readers.
“I’m about creativity and imagination,” he said. “It’s not that I think I’m this brilliant person, ‘Here, read my story because I’ve got it all figured out.’ It’s more like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a story. I think this is a good story, and if you read it, it will let you escape and your own imagination will hopefully take over.’ ”

When you came up with Jackson, you decided he should be in his 40s because you’d know how to write that. Are you imagining yourself in these situations?
Sometimes I do. It’s easy to.
People will say that I have a heck of an imagination and “How can you think up all these things?” I think anybody could, really, if they just do what I do – close my eyes and picture where he is, what’s going on, and then I can see the scene develop.
One of the reasons I got into this, too, was that I was tired of especially TV shows. They’ll have a great premise; they’ll have a great concept. They even might have a great buildup and then a horrible ending. Or other ones will have a great premise, but they don’t do anything with it. Movies, shows, books, whatever.
I wanted to do a story the way I think a story should be told and make it realistic. The main character isn’t a guy that never misses with a gun and always wins and the usual things that we always see in the stories.

What’s surprised you about self-publishing?
There are probably a lot of surprises because I didn’t know anything about it.
I’ve had a lot of comments like, “Wow, good job. You wrote a book,” and people think that’s this wonderful thing. But I think that’s the easy part. Promoting it is really tough, especially if it’s self-published.
When I go to Wal-Mart or somewhere, and I walk by and there’s all these books on the shelf, I think, “How easy.” A person just has to walk up and look at it and know that this book is out. They can take it up to the cash register.
Nobody knows that I have a book unless they’re looking for it directly. I don’t have that same opportunity for people to stumble onto the book.

Has your economics background helped with your writing?
My first reaction to that would be no, because I don’t think that has anything to do with the other.
I kid that I use one side of my brain all day, and then I go home and use the other side.
In economics, to me, it’s all about deductive logic. That has to have shown up in the writing, because he’s always trying to figure things out. He’s always trying to use logic.
But not in the sense that people might think about dollars and cents or buyers and sellers – just the use of logic and problem solving because he’s got some whoppers of problems.

If your books were made into a movie, who would play Jackson?
He’d have to be a regular guy, not some handsome movie star. I would think maybe a younger Harrison Ford, where he’s supposed to represent just a normal, average guy, if Harrison Ford could put on a white shirt and tie and do accounting all day.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587

High Plains Reader 1/23/14

A new dimension: NDSU lecturer David Englund on story writing

By Jack Dura
For 20 years, David Englund wanted to write a story. Not just any story and not any specific story, but one with a certain framework: an escape from everyday living where time stands still. This idea finally came to fruition after a conversation with a student brought forth a rush of creativity for building onto his story idea.
“He said, ‘Well, what is this dimension like? Are there aliens there? Are there other worlds? What is this dimension?’” said Englund, a lecturer in the Agribusiness and Applied Economics Department at North Dakota State University. “That’s how I really got started on this storyline for ‘Upsetting the Tides,’ the first one.”
Following everyman accountant Clark Jackson, Englund’s stand-alone novels put his main character in another dimension with a phone that gives him different abilities such as flying or invisibility. In each novel, Jackson discovers a new ability from the device while encountering aliens and shapeshifters and being on the run from a government agency.
Out now is “Upsetting the Tides” and “Unseasonal War,” both available on in digital and physical formats. Released last September, “Unseasonal War” takes place after the first novel, but Englund has written his stories in such a way that readers need not read every book to understand the series.
“The first one is a lot about the wonder, the exploration … but it’s a little scattered. I meant it to be that way, but I also realize that readers maybe don’t like it because there’s isn’t like a concrete storyline,” Englund said. “The second one, there’s a definite story. There are good guys, there are bad guys and a twist on you. You’re not sure who’s good, who’s bad.”
Following “Unseasonal War” is “Camouflaged Encounters,” which will be released this year but is still in the “enhancing” process. Englund refuses to call it editing, as he prefers enhancing, putting the reader in the room so they can hear and feel all that is going on. This takes tweaking to a whole new level as he wants readers to be able to make their own meanings and metaphors from his stories.
Another important aspect of his novels is the believability of it all. Unrealistic plotlines and other elements can often hamper a story, which Englund admits he has often seen in movies. If readers cannot buy into a premise, it simply won’t be satisfying, so that is why he wrote his Clark Jackson novels with believability as a big priority.
“I wrote everything as I think it would go, as I think it should go with a reasonable, 40-something-year-old guy with an education, no science training, no military training, no diplomatic training, stumbling around meeting new species … but being a reasonable person.”
With “Camouflaged Encounters” about to be released, Englund is already into the fourth and fifth follow-ups in the series. He sees no end in sight as he believes there is always a story out there. His has few rules for writing but he sticks to one in particular: make time every day to either write or daydream. This stems from experiences he had during the year when he lived the life of an author and wrote the first two books.
“Every day I had to write at least two pages, every single day, otherwise I knew I’d be wasting my time and I should go back to work,” he said. “I’d wake up at 4 in the morning and I’d type for six hours and then I’d go to bed ‘til noon or two…whenever the inspiration hit me, I just went.”
Now at NDSU as a lecturer, Englund doesn’t worry about making a living off of his books as his writing is something he sees as a passion, not something to pay the rent. Making his stories accessible and enjoyable to all ages is what he aims to do.
“If people would read my stories and they say, ‘That was a good book. I’d like to see what he does next,’ that’s all I need, that’s all I want.”
David Englund’s Clark Jackson novels are available on in digital format for $2.99 and physical format for $9.99.

NDSU Lecturer Pens Science-Fiction Series

Staff Writer
Published: Monday, January 27, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 14:01
David Englund
Finding one’s passion in life is always important, no matter how long it takes or what it is. For David Englund, a lecturer in the Agribusiness and Applied Economics Department, tapping into his passion came 20 years after an idea that would later spark it.
With many people stuck in the ruts of the daily grind, feeling buried by all that must be done in a day, Englund’s idea was never initially meant for a story—rather, it was a pleasant thought about a pleasant place.
“I had this idea. I wish there was a di­mension where you could go to this room and no time passes on earth, and you basi­cally pick up an extra three hours,” Englund said, “and you can take naps, you can get work done, and then you come back.”
One day, a conversation with a student took Englund’s notion to another level. What was this other dimension? Are there aliens there? Other worlds? What is this other di­mension? This inquisitive student sparked Englund’s creative interest and set him on track to writing “Upsetting the Tides,” the first novel in his Clark Jackson series.
Putting an average, 40-something year old accountant in the dimension of En­glund’s design, his first book set the stage and tone for the novels that would succeed it in the series. Armed with a phone device that yields superhuman powers, Clark Jackson uncovers a new ability in each story while evading aliens, shapeshifters and a govern­ment agency on his tail.
To follow up on the first story, Englund lived the life of an author for a year and wrote the series’ second and third install­ments. During this time, Englund made a writing pact so he would not waver from his writing: Every day, he would write at least two pages.
“A lot of days I wrote six or eight pages, but no matter how many pages I wrote one day, when I got up the next day, I had to write two more pages,” he said.
Englund’s year off resulted in “Unsea­sonal War” and “Camouflaged Encounters,” the former of which was just released last September. Utilizing to sell his books, Englund’s stories were originally available in ebook format for $2.99, though now he has branched out to physical format., however, is the only dealer where his books are available.
“I have not put it on Barnes & Noble’s and other things because I kind of like hav­ing them all come together in one place,” he said. “What I like about pooling them all in one place [is that] you get the rankings.”
Categorized under “First Contact” in the science fiction ebooks on, Englund learned that one of his novels was ranked 17th out of the top 100. On a larger level, of all the ebooks on, he leveled off at 181,121 out of millions. Not groundbreaking, he admits, but a sure-fire way for people to notice his novels.
Having already sold several hundred digital copies of “Upsetting the Tides” and “Unseasonal War,” Englund knows that his stories have reached around the world, as his sales have indicated buyers in Norway, Britain, France and Canada. He has pro­moted his series through Valley Con, handed out his cards and met with a few leaders of books clubs and geek groups.
What his stories come down to, however, is not making enough to pay the rent or write the next great American novel. His writing is truly a passion, and creating a character and setting that readers want to return to with each successive story is all he has in mind. Having never been an English major or writer before his stories’ inspiration, En­glund attributes his passion in part to some­thing simple.
“I’ve always loved reading, my whole life,” Englund said. “I heard an author once say that if you don’t love reading, you won’t be an author. And I think that’s right.”
David Englund’s Clark Jackson novels are available from in digital format for $2.99 and physical format for $9.99.

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