Who are some of your favorite authors?
Orson Scott Card, Octavia E. Butler, Stephen King, Robert Silverberg, Lee Child
What motivated you to become a writer and at what age?
I grew up when there was no TV and listened to The Shadow and similar programs on the radio in the dark. They fired my imagination. Then came books like Men of Iron and SF magazines. I can recall scribbling cartoon panels when I was really small, five or six or so. I liked to make up stories. Oh, yes – my father used to tell me bedtime stories in the dark about a boy and his adventures.
What 3 words describe you as a person?
Neurotic, impractical, visionary
What 3 words describe you as a writer?
Imaginative, spontaneous, painstaking
When not writing, how do you spend your time? Hobbies?
Tennis, reading, and watching movies, serials, and CNN
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Perhaps it was Men of Iron, which my father gave me. All those brave, heroic knights. Now I write about brave, heroic knights in space.
Describe your desk.
It’s kind of messy and cluttered. Plus, I’ve got a lot on my desk. To my right, a black tower of the PC; a 24-inch monitor in the center; to my left, a wireless modem and an ancient Samsung printer which I bought for $45. I’ll keep it at least until I use both my toners, which I bought on the cheap. Hey, I recently bought an HP OfficeJet Pro 6978 so I can scan, copy, and fax. It’s a black beauty, but I still keep my old Samsung behind it. For that matter, I still keep an ancient 16 inch Dell monitor in the well under the desk. That way, I’ll always have a replacement. Waste not, want not.
Who is the main character?
What is his story?
He’s an elite agent or Inspector of the Cross who tries to save humanity from the aliens. He’s lived 4000 years because he’s travelled in suspended animation between the stars searching for a device which can defeat the Cen.
Where/when does the story take place?
Nearly 7,000 years in the future.
How did the story come to you?
I wrote the first novel in the series over thirty years ago. The story just came, but also it was partly inspired by Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, which is also about a hero/soldier who has fought to save humanity from aliens and lived over a thousand years. Why did I write this? It was natural, what was in me, and what I wanted to write. But I write other things, too.
Who is your target audience?
Science fiction and science-fantasy readers. Much of my fiction has a traditional, Golden Age of SF feel and flavor. Star Wars, etc. Mind-blowing concepts that make your imagination stretch. I hope readers who like such things will be drawn to my writing.
What makes your book different from other similar ones?
My hero has lived over four thousand years and has sacrificed everything to save the human race. He has had many lovers and mates, and he has outlived his great, great, great, etc. grandchildren. Also, the mind-blowing concepts, which I introduce to challenge the reader and myself. Such as travelling down a black hole and what it’s like.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. Recently two readers asked me online when and if my next book in the series was coming out. I live for that.
Where do you get the inspirations for your book(s)?
Sometimes it’s from almost nothing. I used to go to a local Barnes & Noble and walk about, letting my eyes roam. I’ve had stories leap almost whole into my mind in an instant from something I glimpsed. In other cases, my inspirations are more structured and I can identify a specific cause. Recently, for example, I was asked to contribute a story to an anthology of “strangely different” western stories. That inspired me to write a story, “State of the Art” in which I combined a traditional western with science fiction.
Any advice for new writers just beginning this trek down the wonderful world of publishing?
Read, read, read as much as you can. Read widely. Do it both within and outside the genres and types of books you prefer. Also, never give up. Keep writing, keep revising, keep improving, and keep submitting your work to markets, revising when you think it necessary.
Thank you, John, for another amazing interview.
In Defender of the Flame, Turtan arrived on First Station and organized a plan to defeat the aliens and save humanity. Skyburst looks at many of the same events from the standpoint of Sky, Turtan’s young protégé. In just a few years she grows into womanhood and meets momentous challenges which shape her character and test her courage and abilities. As the great mission to attack the enemy approaches, she constantly asks herself one question: Will she be ready to face the alien threat that threatens to destroy mankind?