1. Tell us about your latest published book and your current writing project.
My first book, MOLLY FYDE AND THE PARSONA RESCUE came out in September. Reviewers and readers have been very kind, with lots of people extremely eager to get their mitts on the second book, which came out in February. Entitled MOLLY FYDE AND THE LAND OF LIGHT, it picks up right where PARSONA RESCUE left off, and I think fans of the first are going to be absolutely blown away with where Molly’s adventures take her next.
2. Why do you write Science Fiction?
Two reasons: One, no other genre combines the exhilarating freedom of imagination, tempered by the limits of the scientifically plausible. The challenge is to create wild and fascinating worlds, but make them believable. I am addicted to doing this as well as possible. The second reason is science fiction’s unique powers of satire. No other genre gives the author such complete control to mock and inspect the human condition. In most aliens, we get to analyze some facet of human behavior by changing all but a few traits, leaving those in stark relief.
3. What books, other than yours, do you recommend for the S/F novice to read?
Most of my reading is done outside my own genre. History, philosophy, psychology, current events. For someone looking to ease into the genre, I recommend books by Neil Gaiman, Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, Orson Scott Card’s ENDER’S GAME, and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.
4. How did your character, Molly Fyde, come to you?
At sea. I was a different sort of captain once, driving boats for a living. When I was at the helm for long stretches, it was unsafe to read, so I started crafting my own stories. I went over them in my head so often, but the time I sat down to pen them, almost no detail was missing from my mental narrative. It was like describing a favorite movie to a blind audience, something I had seen over and over again.
5. What’s ahead in the Bern Saga?
The characters are going to continue to grow, as is the scale and scope of their story. The first book does a great job of easing readers into Molly’s universe, dealing primarily with her and her relationships with her various crew members. There’s a ton of action, adventure, and romance, but it’s all contained to keep the reader from feeling lost or confused. As the saga progresses, I want to keep pulling back on the zoom, revealing more and more of the universe swirling around the characters. I want to show the reader how their actions are having a much wider impact than they would have ever dreamed. Most importantly, I want to keep telling a huge, amazing, overall story, rather than rehash the same one over and over again. I think readers are thirsting for this sort of storytelling, and I’m struggling to provide it.
6. Describe your writing work space and habits.
I do all my writing on a little HP laptop. I’m always in the middle of two projects: editing one book while I write the draft of the next one. I have page requirements for both projects, and work as late and hard as I have to in order to meet them. I save often and everywhere, scattering my manuscripts across multiple computers, hard-drives, thumb-drives and email accounts. It’s overdone, but I’m paranoid I’ll lose a good sentence, something I’ll never be able to reconstruct. It only becomes a detriment when I can’t figure out which version is my most recent, leading to file-naming conventions like: Molly_Fyde_Book_2_Final_FINAL_Draft_I_Really_Mean_IT.doc
7. What type of research do you do for a setting in space and the future?
It might seem paradoxical, but I study history. Looking at the transition from the past to the present is the best way to see where we are heading. It’s like determining the landing spot of a ball in flight. You can look at where the ball is, but that will tell you nothing. Now, trace the arc of where it came from, and you’ll know where to place your hand in order to catch it. Also, studying history really shows you how much science fiction we live with today and are comfortable with. It amazes me how much of a stigma the genre has, when contemporary literature is full of cell-phones, jet airplanes, the Internet, and other gizmos that would have seemed bizarre a single lifetime ago.
8. How do you handle technology not yet invented?
VERY carefully! Okay, bad joke. To be honest, I try and keep the technical wizardry to a minimum. I find science fiction to be best when it focuses on the people, the emotions, the interactions, etc. If I use a hyperdrive, I let the reader know it moves a ship from one place to the next. I don’t try and give them instructions for building one in their garage. Going back to the last question, it would be like a mystery novel explaining cell phone towers right as a call is being made. Not only is that boring, it takes the reader out of the story. Keep it plausible, and only reveal as much as you need to for the plot. I think if more science fiction writers did this, the genre would be as popular in written form as it is on the big screen.
9. How did you meet your wife? — we love a romance.
We met on a boat. After only a few weeks of dating (and a few months of long-distance correspondence that followed) she helped me deliver a yacht from Antigua back to Florida. For two weeks, we had a 74′ luxury yacht to ourselves. We snorkeled in the Bahamas, explored waterfalls in The Dominican Republic, walked beaches in Puerto Rico, and even swam with a pod of wild whales in several thousand feet of water, out in the middle of nowhere. It was an amazing adventure, far zanier than anything I could write up, but a lot of my inspiration comes from those shared experiences (and the ones we continue to pile on the heap).
10. Where else have you lived and how did you end up in Boone, NC?
I’ve lived all over. Charleston, SC; Ft. Lauderdale, FL, New York, NY; the Bahamas. I was once stranded on a desolate island in the Caribbean for several months, spent a Christmas in Cuba, and have been up and down every inch of the East coast, from Key West all the way inland to Chicago. I ended up in Boone when my wife took a job at ASU (Go Mountaineers!)
11. Chat about your pets – we love those, too.
I happen to own the most outstanding canine in the history of planet Earth. No lie. Even other dog owners, madly in love with theirs, eventually agree once they’ve spent time around her. Sixty-five pounds of snuggly lap-dog. I love few humans as much.
12. What is your favorite southern food?
Only one? That’s not fair. I would probably have to go with sweetened iced tea, since the dietary staple is absolutely necessary at every Southern meal. (Which, ideally, would include corn bread, grits, collards, fried chicken, pecan pie, mac’n’cheese, and fried okra).