Science fiction author Xavier Leggett focuses his writing on the emotional trauma that his characters face as they grapple to comprehend sudden death at very high speeds in deep space, or on alien worlds. I am pleased to welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.
I started writing and drawing at a young age. Science fiction always intrigued me and I based a lot of my early writing on Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea; Isaac Asimov, Fantastic Voyage, I, Robot. I always craved adventure stories and that’s what I wrote.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Difficult question to answer, because I’ve always considered myself to be an artist of one sort or another, but I didn’t think I was a serious writer until I began working on The Blood of the Empire. When I had determined not to write the same three chapters over and over and decided to forge ahead and finish the book. I set up a schedule, daily and weekly goals, and just went for it, thinking more about writing than my current ‘day job.’ That’s when I knew I was a writer.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
The Blood of the Empire is my first novel and The Furies of the Empire is my second. Currently, I’m working on my third and fourth novels of the ‘Empire’ series. Novels three and four are tied closely together in much the same manner as novels one and two. At this stage I’m herding all of my characters, trying to get them to stay within the framework of the plot. Which is a challenge for any author because characters tend to want to run off and do their own thing.
What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for writing The Blood of the Empire was the desire to take the space opera just one step further. Key to this inspiration was Star Wars and Star Trek. I wanted to write about heroics of larger than life characters, maintain a the sense of wonder, but make my stories a little more violent, turn the sex appeal up a notch or two, make the combat scenes more frantic, chaotic—more realistic. That doesn’t necessarily mean making the scenes bloodier, it means putting the characters in the thick of highly stressful, life-and death situations, where everything is coming at them all at once . . . there’s noise, screaming, heat, sweat, debris flying through the air, acrid smoke stinging their eyes. That’s what I wanted, and that’s what I write.
Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing style can be quite poetic in some areas, quite descriptive at other points in the prose. I feel that you shouldn’t overdo it; you have to get your words on paper and get your characters from one scene to the next, and hopefully there’s something nasty there waiting for them, trying to kill them.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
For The Blood of the Empire I wanted something that sounded epic, something that would get a potential reader’s mind to race. But there is a danger. Gone with the Wind isn’t about bad southern weather or tales from tornado alley. The Catcher in the Rye, isn’t about mid-western flour mills or the life of a snarky baker. A few people even thought that The Blood of the Empire was about teen inner-city angst and vampires. But my story’s about three friends, struggling to trust each other and survive a brutal galactic war . . . if they don’t kill each other first.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Without being too obvious, I just want to let my readers know that there are alternatives to the typical heroes they may see on movie screens or read in novels. These heroes may be hidden at first, but they’re out there. They’re not sidekicks, they aren’t going to play second fiddle to anyone, they certainly don’t want to be your buddy. A quick look at my book covers should give you a good clue as to what I’m talking about—my heroes they are out there, saving the galaxy, dealing with their own demons, fighting the ‘good fight’ for those who can’t. . . or won’t.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
All experiences featured in my novels are fictional. Some of the characters may sound like people I’ve known during my life—it’s amazing what you pick up eavesdropping on conversations—but 99.9 percent of it is highly fictionalized. However, many of the battles have components based on actual historic battles, just to keep that sense of realism locked-in.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
When I was young it was Verne, Asimov, Bradbury, and Wells. As a teen, I read Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff about a dozen times. The way he described the rigors of astronaut training with a humorous, yet his commanding sense of detail was incredible. I wanted to emulate that. Later, as an adult, I began reading Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy thrillers. It was at this time that I began the first draft of The Blood of the Empire and found myself suddenly reading Elizabeth Moon, Robert Jordan, David Eddings and Terry Brooks. Discovering all these writers, writers from divergent genres . . . helped to strengthen my own writing. But I think there are two at the top of the list that I almost forgot. Frank Herbert and Robert Heinlein.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
Every book that I read is primarily for entertainment, secondarily to learn something new about the complex craft of writing, literally every author is my mentor. With each book I read, I can analyze the plot, dissect character development, and engage in my own bit of editing.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I illustrated the cover myself. I taught myself a few programs, DAZ Studio, Poser, and Photoshop. Currently, I’m sinking my teeth in Zbrush which will provide more 3D art for use in future cover and art projects.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Writing is tough art form to master, you could be a best-selling author for twenty years then discover a quick change of scene trick and think, ‘why haven’t I been using this before?’ It’s a pleasure to write, but you have to be disciplined, and you have to put in brutal hours to be good at it, and still there’ll always be new things to learn—and there always will be. So keep writing, make it more important than breathing.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you—thank you very much for you support and encouragement. Dannen, N’ckshell, and Rook are alive because you believe in them. And they will do everything in their power to make you cry, laugh, or pull your hair out when they do something stupid. I enjoy writing because I enjoy taking readers, like you, to places you’ve never been.
The Blood of the Empire