Science fiction thriller writer, Dr. Chris Hejmanowski, takes you on an extraordinary journey that will forever change your views of science and religion.
Particle physicist Fin Canty stakes his reputation on the safety of the CERN SuperCollider. After the death of his wife, however, his quest to find proof of the “god particle” collides with another’s quest to find proof of God. Across continents and planes of existence he fights to reunite his family, and give the world proof of the afterlife.
Stacey Chillemi: What was unique about the setting of the book? How did it enhance or take away from the story?
Dr. Chris Hejmanowski: There are essentially three unique settings throughout the story-line: an inner-city environment, the main character’s eutopic Heaven, and Hell. Each sets a mood for the portion of the book it’s unique to. Early on in the story, the settings are painted on a very myopic scale. This is purposely done to create a feeling of confinement and tension. The main character, Fin, finds himself in Heaven, a setting familiar to him from early boyhood. Here I was careful to use much softer tones in my descriptors, intentionally immersing the reader in sounds, textures, and smells when possible. The harshest of the three sets the backdrop for Fin’s descent into Hell to rescue his daughter. Here the landscape, the colors, the creatures all very nearly serve to create a character in and of itself.
Stacey Chillemi: What specific themes did you emphasize throughout the novel?
Dr. Chris Hejmanowski: This is a story about redemption and courage, but most significantly one about the strength of human will. It spans continents and planes of existence, following our main characters showing their unwillingness to give up in the face of adversity. This drive not only determines their fate, but even serves to create the reality in which they exist.
Stacey Chillemi: Do the characters seem real and believable? Can you relate to their predicaments? To what extent do they remind you of yourself or someone you know?
Dr. Chris Hejmanowski: Certainly there’s some fantasy aspect to much of this book, but I was determined to leave these aspects to seep between the cracks of the real science on which the story is bolstered. The characters therefore seem more believable as they come from the same reality we do. Their struggles for what they believe in, right or wrong, and for the love of another is what drives them forward. The broader story fleshed itself out as I wrote, however the initial idea was based on emotions I was overwhelmed with after my daughter was born. Feelings certainly of love, but also ones of desperation to make sure she was safe. You don’t think of others outside yourself in this way until you have children of your own, then suddenly this limitless world once waiting for discovery can feel far too unbounded and ominous.
Stacey Chillemi: How do characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes?
Dr. Chris Hejmanowski: Ironically the main character, though he does change, does not reflect the greatest amount of grown, at least not in ways that are most obvious. It’s the antagonist turned ally who truly grows. It’s the addition of a child in his life whose well being he feels is paramount to his own. This greater love for another is what drives him to risk change.
Stacey Chillemi: How did your background (your style, stature and focus) play a part in this book?
Dr. Chris Hejmanowski: I enjoy writing very descriptively, painting a picture for the reader which gradually immerses them into an environment. This fits my personality as an emergency medicine physician. I enjoy analytical situations, taking pieces of a puzzle which may seem unrelated and trying to find a unifying diagnosis.
Stacey Chillemi: Was Science Fiction always your chosen genre?
Dr. Chris Hejmanowski: Yes, plain and simple. I don’t think I could muster the attention to pen an entire novel if I couldn’t make it up as I went along and include things that catch my imagination.
Stacey Chillemi: In a movie version, who would play Fin Canty, the main character?
Dr. Chris Hejmanowski: Looking at trends in movies, action and sci-fi movies in particular, I noticed that extremely dynamic main characters often sit better with an audience if the actor or actress filling the role is a relative unknown. Think of the more successful super hero movies as of late. If you take a very well known Gotham hero, his story was tried time and again on the big screen. It’s the most recent attempt that resonated most with fans, and for two reasons: first, the main character was played by an actor whose own fame did not supersede that of the character he was playing. It was the supporting roles surrounding this individual who were all big names. Secondly, though this story of was pure fantasy, it has its roots in a reality we all recognize, which made it all the more personal. I’m not sure who would play Fin Canty, but I think it would have to be someone yet to make his mark.
Stacey Chillemi: Do you develop the world of a novel fully in your mind before beginning to write?
Dr. Chris Hejmanowski: No, not fully. I certainly have the general settings roughed out, but not to the level of detail I end up with. These defining characteristics, the smells of a parking garage or the texture of the rocks, sort of tumble out depending on the mood I think a certain paragraph or chapter is setting.
Stacey Chillemi: Do you have any advice for up and coming writers?
Dr. Chris Hejmanowski: Write what interests you, not what you think readers will be interested in. If you don’t enjoy the telling of the story it’s going to be obvious to your readers.
Stacey Chillemi: What is next for you?
Dr. Chris Hejmanowski: More writing. I’m halfway done with my next novel, one whose title is still up for debate in my house. It’s about a Naval Flight Surgeon deployed to the Middle East and kidnapped by a Christian sect from Iraq’s Sinjar Mountains. The main character, Dr. David Hines, uncovers the real reason for the Gulf Wars and his own role in the origins of Christianity as outlined two thousand years ago. Betrayed by a White House under Vatican direction, he’s pursued into this hostile land by a spec war team chosen to hunt him down.
Stacey Chillemi: Where can people find more information on you and your book Collider?
Dr. Chris Hejmanowski: On my website, www.ColliderBook.com, or at any of the three large digital book distributors: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Apple.
About the author
CHRISTOPHER JOHN HEJMANOWSKI was born in 1971 in Buffalo, NY. He attended Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY, where he completed his bachelor’s degree in biology. While there, he met the woman who would become his wife, his best friend. The United States Navy provided Hejmanowski a tremendous opportunity in offering him a full academic scholarship to attend medical school at Midwestern University, in Chicago. Upon graduation, Hejmanowski was accepted into a surgical internship at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, followed by Flight Surgery School in Pensacola, Florida.
He and his wife lived in Okinawa, Japan for a year while stationed with a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter squadron. From there, he was given orders to Rota, Spain and served as the sole flight surgeon for the Navy’s largest reconnaissance squadron. Medicine and helping others has always been a true calling for him, and Hejmanowski and his family returned to the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia where he completed an additional three year residency in Emergency Medicine. After becoming board certified, Hejmanowski was stationed at the Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida.
As an ER physician, Hejmanowski deployed with the United States Marines to Al Taqqadum, Iraq from the summer of 2008 to the spring of 2009. For several months, within a mobile surgical unit, he lead a Shock Trauma Platoon, moving with the Marines along the Syrian border. It was here, during quieter moments in a tent, that he began to write his first full-length novel, “Collider.”
Dr. Hejmanowski is currently an emergency room physician in the Southeastern United States. When not working or writing, he enjoys spending time with his family, as well as woodworking and restoring classic cars.