Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing today? I’m doing amazing, yesterday I had to rewrite some chapters in Operation Breakout because the developmental editor caught a glaring error. Yeah, I had one character in two places at once! Oops!! But, I think the resulting chapter was even better than it was before which is always the goal. I’m 1k words into the “Luck of the Draw” short story for the Four Horsemen Anthology which has been fun to play with. It’s a tale of a bounty hunter, think Judge Dredd meets Barney Fife with a touch of Don Quixote mixed in for good measure and you’ll get a hint of the shenanigans to come!
Now, let’s get right to the point of my latest blog posting! Yes, I’ve gotten bit by the interview bug! I’ve started the Warrior Weekend Series, the Family Friday Series, and now the ‘SciFy Shenanigans’ series that only serves to talk with other authors of science fiction! If they write in any of the science fiction subgenres, then I’ll interview them, so here goes nothing!
The plan here is to create a template to talk to authors about their latest books and their process. They’ll be able to pitch the other stuff too, of course, but when authors have deep back catalogues it’s hard to get into the weeds with them. Those weeds have grown too high, so I took a weed whacker to the mess. Here’s the final results! Now grab your popcorn and enjoy the ride! Today, we have science fiction author Felix R. Savage under the big top!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages,……
First, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Hello JR, it’s great to be here! I cannot reveal too much about myself as it might compromise my operational security. See here. However, my fiction is more of a reaction to my background than a reflection of it. Example, I majored in history and now I write about the future! Go figure.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I enjoy roller-skating.
I’ll go out on a limb and assume that if you write books you also enjoy reading them. What other genres do you enjoy reading, and how have they affected your writing?
Everything I read feeds into my writing and I’m omnibibliovoracious. I made that word up just now. I read every genre under the sun with the exception of romance (sorry). In the last week I have read two thrillers (by Gregg Hurwitz and Cate Holahan), a new economics book (Tyler Cowen’s The Complacent Class), and a time travel sci-fi book (Extracted, which was a Kindle First selection and one of the only GOOD Kindle Firsts I’ve found yet).
Who are your biggest writing influences?
Other authors. I read something great and think “I want MORE of this,” but there isn’t more to be had, so I have to write it myself, and in the process it turns into something completely different. But still moreish, one hopes.
Who are your favorite authors and books?
How long can this blog post be? Kidding. Some of my all-time favorite authors are Iain M. Banks, Tolkien (of course), C.S. Lewis (of course), Peter F. Hamilton, Robert Harris, George Macdonald Fraser, Douglas Adams, Evelyn Waugh … Hmm there is a pattern here. All Brits and nearly all dead. Peter, stay healthy and keep writing!! Oh and my favorite NEW author is Gavin G. Smith (another Brit), whose space opera series you should go and pick up RIGHT NOW.
What is your preferred writing style?
All day every day. Sadly I have a 9 to 5 job so this is a dream rather than the reality at present.
How did that lead you deep into the weeds of the writing life?
You mean there’s any other way to live? *tries to see out of weeds* Nah. I’m happy right here!
When did you get serious about your writing?
At the age of 11.
What is your current novel? Tell us a little bit about the premise?
I just wrapped Shiplord, Book 3 in the Earth’s Last Gambit Quartet. This series starts out in the present day and involves a first contact scenario like nothing you’ve ever read before. I call it “techno-realistic science fiction.” Nearly all the technology in the series either really exists, or could be developed based on stuff we have. There are a few bits of armwavium here and there. See if you can spot them!
Shiplord is obviously a series, where can we expect it to go?
Book 4 will be entitled Killshot. It will involve a stupendously thrilling battle for the future of Earth!!!
Where did you find the inspiration for Shiplord?
As I mentioned above, I often get inspired by other authors. In this case it was John Sandford. He co-wrote a sci-fi book called Saturn Run. I really liked the concept, but I thought the execution left something to be desired, and the less said about the ending the better. So I decided to do the same sort of thing but do it right. You judge whether I succeeded or not!
Your characters from Shiplord are sent into a gladiatorial death match. Who wins?
My money’s on Jack. There is a reason his nickname is Killer, and it isn’t entirely ironic!
What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer silence?
Unfortunately I have no choice in the matter. I either write to a soundtrack of my co-workers nattering, or (on weekends) kiddie shows on the iPad or noisy children’s let’s-pretend games.
What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think the government has maybe flagged you for?
You’re trying to catch me out here, aren’t you? *adjusts tinfoil hat*
What was your favorite part of writing Shiplord?
I enjoy ALL of it except research. Thankfully I have help with that? Bill Patterson, my science consultant, is a paragon of patience and answers all my scientific questions without laughing in my face. You’re a rock star, Bill.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from Shiplord?
If I ever got a film deal, I wouldn’t mind if they were played by clay animation models.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Since I have a day job, every bit of free time is writing time.
Do you aim for a set number of words/pages per day?
As many as possible.
When you develop your characters, do you already have an idea of who they are before you write or do you let them develop as you go?
I start out with a clear idea of them which always turns out to be wrong.
How did writing your current novel differ from your writing your previous novels?
This one was tough. It is the story of a space voyage. The voyage takes two years. How do you write an interesting story about people cooped up aboard a spaceship for two years? It’s kind of like a country house mystery except the country house is a bunch of tin cans attached to a nuclear reactor.
If Shiplord had a theme song what would it be?
Something by the Red Army Choir.
Shiplord is full of many amazingly talented characters and I imagine it was really fun to create some of them, but which one was your favorite and why?
I try not to play favorites. It’s not fair to the others.
What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?
Put your head down and write as much as you humanly can, because you will probably need to write a LOT before you start to get the hang of it. Improvement is a never-ending journey. And read a LOT, too. That is just as important as writing.
I hope you enjoy this little conversation, and if you want to find out more about Felix R. Savage then follow the rabbit trail to their warren in the internet! If they don’t like it, beat ‘em with a carrot and keep on truckin’! And watch out for those lizard people, I hear they bite!
Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!
–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen shots taken by JR Handley and used under the Fair Use Doctrine.
–> Some of these interview questions were inspired by my good friend TeacherofYA, and are used with her permission. If you have kids who love to read, she’s the girl who’ll make the literary introductions! You should check her out, after a lifetime of reading, your kids will thank you.