Hello Space Cadets! Today, I wanted to introduce you to another author from my Warrior Weekend Interview Series. Drew Avera is an active duty Navy veteran and science fiction writer. Originally from Mississippi, he enlisted in the Navy at seventeen and has spent the last seventeen years working as an aviation electrician in Virginia. He has deployed four times and has accrued more than two and a half years at sea.
Without further ado, let’s get this interview cranking!
Tell me a little about your military service?
I’m an Aviation Electricians Mate First Class Petty Officer in the US Navy and I’ve been on the payroll for a little over seventeen years, which means half my life has been under military service. I had to get a waiver to join as a minor which did not bode well with my dad, but it’s been a great thing for me.
How do you feel that your military service has influenced your writing?
I think it has inspired the profanity-ridden nature of my novels lol. Seriously, though, I refused to write space opera early on because I didn’t want my escape from reality to be so closely entwined with my reality. But, fortunately, I grew up and saw I was making a mistake by ignoring the fact I could use deployment on an aircraft carrier as a basis for describing life in space on a ship millions of miles from civilization. Once I got with the program, I’ve never been happier.
Do you think your military service, and more specifically your training, adds to the realism in your books? If so, how?
Purely from a descriptive point of view in terms of interactions between service members and what it’s like to be deployed for what feels like an eternity. We spend a lot of time in our heads when we’re away from home and I think that is evident in my books as well. Maybe a tad too much at times.
When did you start pursuing your writing more seriously?
In 2012 I turned thirty and wanted to achieve my dream of writing a book. I tried, failed, and discovered NaNoWriMo and tried again. I wrote my first book during NaNo and the rest is history. I was bit by the bug pretty hard and I can’t imagine how dull my life would be if I had not taken those first steps.
Of all your work, which was your favorite to write?
That’s a hard one. Broken Worlds is the first book in The Alorian Wars, which is the first true space opera I wrote. I wrote it during the last couple of months of my last deployment in 2016 on the USS Harry S Truman. I enjoyed writing it immensely and it also marks an end to several months of writer’s block Thankfully, those characters spoke to me in a way that broke down a lot of walls for me.
How many of your characters were inspired by your military service?
Most of them have been inspired by co-workers in some fashion. You might be surprised how many people ask me to kill them in a book. I should start charging for it lol. But on a serious note, the interactions between characters in uniform is consistent with what is generally accepted in the military. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but I try to stay consistent, only deviating when customs and courtesies would be too cumbersome to be believable in a given situation.
How many of the specific scenes you wrote were inspired from your service?
I recall basing the Captain’s Mast scene in Broken Worlds off what I have seen in my career. I’ve never been on the receiving end, but I’ve witness plenty of NJPs in seventeen years.
Do you feel like your writing has served any therapeutic value for you?
Has it helped you process your military experiences? I would like to think so, but sometimes the looming deadline is more of a stressor than the military is. It is incredibly hard to juggle both. It’s nice to have the outlet, though.
If you could serve with any of your characters, who would it be and why?
Anki because she’s compassionate, but also fierce. I would pick Brendle as a close second because he’s ballsy and wants to do what is the right thing morally.
If you would want to avoid serving with any of your characters, who would it be and why?
Illium Gyl. That dude is a prick and a half. I totally modeled his two-faced demeanor off a chief I worked for.
If you could serve in any of the worlds you created, which one would it be, and why?
Greshia seems like the only safe place, but it’s tyrannical. I could e risky and live on Farax, but someone would probably kidnap me and cell my kidneys on the black market. So, tyranny or human trafficking? It’s anyone’s game I guess.
Can you tell us how all of that has lent itself to your most recent release?
My recent releases were an all ages space opera that some reviewers feel would fit in the Star Wars universe and another is the darkest dystopian novel I’ve written to date. Both are different, but have military elements. In both cases, the military is oppressive and tyrannical, so I’m not sure what my subliminal mind was trying to say lol.
And since you’ve finished that novel, what are you currently working on and when do you expect it to be ready for publication?
I mean, you don’t need sleep right? I’ve been battling writer’s block again for a while, but I just opened a document to write a prequel story based in The Alorian Wars universe. The document is called “Escape” but that’s a working title. I would like to publish it before Thanksgiving, but I’m trying to ease back into production mode. Time is the biggest factor, followed by stress induced writer’s block. If I can stamp out the roadblocks, then I should be good to go.
How can people find you?
If this convinced you to find out more, look up Drew Avera. I hope you all had a great time getting to know about Drew. Don’t be afraid to say hello here or on his website. If he doesn’t respond quick enough, glitter bomb them! Mwahahaha!!
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 grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.