Tag Archives: science fiction

Author Interview: Ian Hugh McAllister

Author Ian McAllister is a careful and calculating writer, which is why it takes so long to complete a project. He is currently engaged in a campaign to bring back real science-fiction, the science-based non-fantasy genre of such writers as Hal Clement.  Please welcome my friend and up and coming author to No Wasted Ink.

author ian hugh mcallisterHi Wendy, I am Ian Hugh McAllister, the ‘Hugh’ is only included in my author name to distinguish from the other Ian McAllister (the wolf books etc). I am a 58-year old early retired English ATC controller, originally from the Liverpool area. I’m also a lifetime airliner nut, and a keen traveller. I have lived in Dorset, close to England’s Jurassic Coast for nearly 35 years with my wife Simone. We have a grown up son.

When and why did you begin writing?

I have always written for pleasure, but it got real when I was encouraged to write a biography of my grandmother in 2011. Hilda James was Britain’s first female swimming superstar in 1920. The resulting book, Lost Olympics, was successful in that it saw Hilda posthumously inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2016. As she was the first celebrity to be taken on by the Cunard Line, I also started receiving invitations to join the cruise ship entertainment speaker circuit, and talk about her life and times.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think that came with the publication of my first sci-fi novel To Visit Earth. The biography was an in-depth research project, and the book was pretty much an assembly job. Creating my own fiction is what I had always wanted to do.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

To Visit Earth centres around the closest Earth-approach by a comet in recorded history, some time in the not so distant future. The eventual result finds lunar geologist Lucy Grappelli injured and trapped in a crashed exploration vehicle, over 1000km from the established moon base and beyond all possible help. It’s a survival story with what I have been told is a worthy twist.

What inspired you to write this book?

I am a fan of the harder side of science fiction, having been brought up on it by my parents. I do read widely in all variations of sci-fi and fantasy, but hard sci-fi is very much my thing. 50 years on from reading my first science fiction, I have finally put my money where my mouth is and tried to prove I can publish something original.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I think I am developing one. I am an admin with a busy writers/authors group on Facebook (10 Minute Novelists), and I firmly believe we are told to follow far too many rules in our writing. This is leading to a loss of individuality in styles. A good example is the sweeping “show don’t tell”. Now with sci-fi of course, a certain amount of world-building, exposition, and even info-dumping is acceptable. I personally like a 50/50 approach to “show don’t tell.”

How did you come up with the title of this book?

This is another area that causes a lot of discussion in the writing group, and I have a stock answer. The expression “To Visit Earth” jumped out at me as I wrote the book. It is a short statement that is repeated in the text, but becomes a revelation, and pivotal to the story.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Now, I don’t want to drop a spoiler so I will have to be careful. I could say never discount the possibility of help from unexpected sources.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in
your own life?

This is a great question, and comes under another writing guide, “write what you know.” Suffice to say that I have had 35 years of experience of all points on the management spectrum. Several ex-colleagues and friends from ATC have named certain poor unfortunates, still desperately trying to manage sections of the business, as role-models for my management team in the book. If I was American I’d be taking the 5th, I believe you call it. However, I do retain that wonderful get-out clause, “No character in this work is intended to resemble any person, either living or dead… yada yada,” while making that evil Blofeld chuckle!

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you
find inspiring?

My first strong influences were the great pulp writers of the 1950s, I grew up with an entire bookcase of Galaxy and Astounding as my tool for visiting the universe. These had been amassed by the parents as they partied their way through Liverpool University in the early 1950s. Eventually, I settled on the Heinlein juvenile series (Have Spacesuit Will Travel retains a place in my all-time top 10 books). Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, James Blish, ah, many of the greats.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Definitely. I firmly believe that Hal Clement has shaped my aspirations. I have read and re-read all his books. The novel Mission Of Gravity and its associated works (later published as the collection “Heavy Planet“) is for me a seminal piece of hard sci-fi. Clement went as far as to publish a paper postulating the possibility of a planet such as his Mesklin. Would that I could produce something a quarter as good.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

A young 10 Minute Novelists member and friend, Jonas Meyes-Steger designed the cover, using a few written notes I sent him. Jonas is disabled, and currently finishing a self-financed university course. While many of us aspired to write and be published, Jonas dreamed of becoming a commissioning editor. I don’t think it’s a matter of record yet, but remember that name. That’s all I’m allowed to say.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Join a writing community. Read. Yes, in fact, read, read, read, and then read some more. Read in the genre you want to write, but extend your sphere of knowledge into all sorts of other places.

Then, when you are ready to write, learn the rules; Grammar, syntax, how to string a coherent sentence together. Recognise different styles, there are a lot.

Then, while knowing all that stuff, write. Remember, there are no hard and fast rules really. If there were, reading would be deadly dull. So break the rules if you want to, but break them well, and with reason.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I’m working on a sequel. I originally set out to write a heavyweight, stand-alone novel, but that’s what happens when you start to enjoy it. Don’t hold your breath, To Visit Earth took 20 years from original idea to published book! No, seriously, I have accountability partners nipping at my heels. I need to stick my neck out and say – 2021/Remnant Planet!

to visit earth book coverIan Hugh McAllister
Broadstone, Dorset, England

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To Visit Earth

Cover Artist: Jonas Mayes-Steger
Publisher: Cloaked Press

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Author Interview: Mary E Lowd

Author Mary E. Lowd is a science-fiction and furry writer in Oregon. She’s had five novels and more than one hundred short stories published, and her fiction has won an Ursa Major Award and two Cóyotl Awards. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Mary LowdMary E. Lowd grew up in Oregon, surrounded by gray skies, green trees, and imaginary animals of every kind. She went to an engineering college in Southern California (too sunny) and then spent six years living in Seattle (too gray) before returning to Oregon (just right!). She lives in a house hidden behind a rose garden with her husband, daughter, son, a bevy of cats and dogs, and the occasional fish. She spends her time in coffee shops, drinking chai and writing about all the imaginary animals.

When and why did you begin writing?

My mother wrote down stories I told her before I could even read. I remember her sitting at the computer and typing, while I played with tiny toys and told her stories about them. As I got older, I learned to write the stories down myself, and I remember filling sheet after sheet of paper — the kind with the giant lines on them in elementary school — with a loopily scrawled story about polar bears escaping from a zoo. By middle school, I was typing my stories, and the blank space of a Word document was my favorite place to be because I could fill it with talking animals, wonderful worlds, and anything else I wanted.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I wrote a poem about a bird soaring through the sky — only four lines long and nothing remarkable — in fourth or fifth grade. Somehow, that was the moment I decided, and bizarrely, I never changed my mind. I never even doubted that writing fiction was what I wanted to do with my life until nearly two decades later after I’d already self-published my first novel, “Otters In Space,” and was struggling to find readers for it. The doubt was short-lived — a couple of hours, but it was an intense and terrifying experience. I’d known who I was and what I wanted to do since I was ten. No matter what else has happened in my life, I’ve always had that commitment to anchor me.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest novel, “The Snake’s Song,” is a fantasy adventure story about a squirrel searching deep underground for the lost celestial treasures. She faces danger — including ghost moles, sorcerer crabs, and a mysterious leontaur — and finds new friends (and maybe herself!) along the way.

What inspired you to write this book?

A local writer I knew, Matthew Lowes, created a card game called Dungeon Solitaire. The game is a cross between a D&D campaign and solitaire, and it’s best played with a custom deck of tarot cards with art by Josephe Vandel. I had already been using tarot cards as writing prompts for my flash fiction stories. So when I learned about this game and learned that a local group of writers were writing related novels, it seemed like a perfect fit. The only rules for the tie-in novels were that they had to be inspired by the game and feature descent into a labyrinth. The result has been a wide variety of novels, in settings ranging from a post-apocalyptic future to the modern-day Congo to the afterlife itself.

Do you have a specific writing style?

It’s hard to see my own writing style because it’s the filter through which I look at the world. I like to think that I bring a mix of light, absurdist humor to straightforward, practical prose that’s not afraid to reflect reality, even when it gets a little dark. I rarely write poetry for poetry’s sake, because I’m more interested in conveying ideas and insight, telling the story, than building castles out of words. That said, some ideas are inherently lyrical and deserve to have their beauty conveyed.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

“The Snake’s Song” is about a squirrel getting drawn away from her day-to-day life in the trees and into a dangerous adventure underground by the song of a snake. Literally. So, the title felt right, and it sounded beautiful. That said, I’ve accidentally called it “The Squirrel’s Song” many, many times.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The main character Witch-Hazel faces hardships, events beyond her control, and terrifying trials — but she keeps going; she doesn’t give up hope; she keeps questing. I hope she can be a friend to people who need a tenacious squirrel adventurer in their lives to help them keep going.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

There are always pieces of myself and my life in the characters I write, even if they’re only pieces of speculation and imagination, daydreams that I’ve had. However, I think “The Snake’s Song” reflects my own life less than any of my other novels, because I specifically wrote it as an escape, a chance to try something different.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Ursula K. LeGuin for her depth of insight; Jane Austen for her cleverness; Connie Willis for her clear prose; and Douglas Adams for his humor.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

My friend Nina Kiriki Hoffman is a science-fiction, fantasy, and YA author. We met through our critique group, the Wordos, and over the last few years, I’ve spent countless hours at coffee shops with her, writing fiction. She has a way of treating writing like both a serious career and a fun pastime at once — or maybe just a way of life. I admire her greatly and have learned a great deal about how to be a writer just by spending time with her. Also, her fiction is amazing — it combines delightful magic and fantasy with personable, deeply believable characters.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Every novel in the Labyrinth of Souls series has cover art by Josephe Vandel, taken from one of the tarot cards in the Dungeon Solitaire deck. I chose the sun card for “The Snake’s Song,” because it was the brightest, happiest looking card in the whole deck, and I knew my novel — an adventure featuring a plucky squirrel — would likely be the lightest novel in the whole dark fantasy series. Also, the sunflower imagery in the sun card figures heavily in the story.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Find ways to enjoy what you do. Writing can be really hard, and the rewards can be far removed from the work that leads to them. So, if you can find ways to enjoy the process, find happiness in the work, then it will all be so much better. That sounds vague, so let me offer some concrete examples — my writing group gives chocolate for short story rejections; a friend and I reward each other with tiny toys for writing a thousand words in one sitting; when I did NaNoWriMo last year, I got myself an advent calendar and opened a door for every 2000 words, meaning I had to reach 50,000 — a full novel — to make my way through the whole calendar. All of that might seem silly, but it keeps writing fun and helps build up the habit of writing regularly and writing a lot. When I’m in the habit of writing, then it’s easier to write the stories I really care about.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Vote.

the snake song book coverMary E. Lowd
Eugene, Oregon

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Cover Artist: Josephe Vandel 
Publisher: ShadowSpinners Press

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Author Interview: Muriel Stockdale

Author Muriel Stockdale is an intrepid creative adventurer inviting everyone to appreciate diverse views and ideas in her art, theater, film, and writing. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Muriel StockdaleMy name is Muriel Stockdale, for over 40 years I was a costume designer for film, TV, theatre, opera and more for shows like Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, TV shows like Law and Order, Ghost Writer and Guiding Light. I also taught many designers some are now Emmy, Tony and Oscar winners at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate School for Design. I have worked with the Muppets designing and building costumes. Since 2003 I turned toward art and writing, made a short film about spirituality in New York and started a group to support artists looking to create works that uplift their audiences. Currently, I focus on writing and art. My work can be seen at http://www.murielstockdale.com.

When and why did you begin writing?

I have always been writing and collecting stories and ideas so in 2000 when I decided to change my career I took a screenwriting class and produced my second script. My first I wrote by myself; I should have gotten help first.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

For me, writing was always very difficult until I took that scriptwriting class and discovered that writing is very much like painting and it is something I can keep working on and improving as a process. Also using a computer makes the process so much easier than a typewriter or a pencil and paper. Writing was hard for me in the beginning; it didn’t come naturally like drawing, painting and understanding complex clothing. So, when I began to feel successful in my written expression I could really appreciate the work done. Now writing is a joy.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My debut novel is a science fiction called Gabriel Born; it is based on my award-winning script Gabriel’s Flight. The story is of a female geneticist, Sheila Jensen, who is desperate to invent a genetic cure so she defies rules against combining human and animal DNA. She stirs outrage, which leads her fiancé and boss, Philip Ohl, to blame her for the illegal and immoral work, destroying her career. Still, Sheila is motivated; her rare nerve disorder will kill her. She engineers her last ovum in the hopes of creating a transferrable cure. Risking her life, she bears the child, but when he grows he is not what she expected.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write a story that would allow the audience to feel like they were flying. Often, when I dream, I feel like I am flying and I love that feeling. Many times in that state I teach people how to fly. So that was my first compelling thought. I do not really know how the story grew from there it just kind of happened.

Although I did set some ground rules for myself. I wanted to write science fiction that did not assume we must get to our future by way of apocalypse or dystopia. I did not want any of my characters attempting to use weapons to solve problems. I did not want an over present oppressive governing body. I did not want the story to be dependent on spaceships and future tech, though I did imagine the future of medicine a bit. But most importantly, I wanted to imagine what might happen to us as humans consciously if we start changing our physical attributes and tinkering with our DNA. Is there an unseen aspect to our being that we might become more aware of?

Do you have a specific writing style?

For this story, I made a conscious choice to write the novel in a manner that would feel as though the reader is watching a film. I was criticized for this but I feel that in this fast-paced, entertainment flooded world there is room for written works that move through our awareness in a more visual and fast-paced manner.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The original title for the film script was Gabriel’s Flight, referring both to the wings the child develops and the escape that he and his mother attempt. When I completed the book I researched the title and discovered another science fiction novel with that title so to avoid confusion I changed it. Gabriel Born may imply that this is the first in a series and it may be.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The message that I try to suggest is that we are not just this physical form that we are far greater. I also suggest that we are in control of our destiny for better or worse we can change our form and our consciousness if we choose too.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

The experiences in the book are based on my dreams of flying.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Lately, I have delighted in Diana Gabaldon’s writing, I love her rich descriptive style.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I don’t really have a mentor or a style, I am too much of a rebel and a do it yourselfer. I prefer to muddle through new projects I tackle and find my own way in. Then I may take some lessons to discover industry standards. Although in the process of generating this first book I wish I had known a great many things about the business aspect of the process first.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The current updated cover was designed by Dart Frog Books.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just write. But also go to writing conferences, marketing conferences and learn about the business of your book at the same time before deciding to publish. I discovered after a wealth of resources that I wish I had known of first like the Writer’s Digest Pitching Conferences and courses. I regret that I didn’t know much more about editing and marketing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Please let me know what you think of the book, write a review or contact me through my website or Good Reads.

Gabriel Born Book CoverMuriel Stockdale
New York City

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Gabriel Born

Cover Artist: Dart Frog Books

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Author Interview: Tim Susman

I met Author Tim Susman at WorldCon in San Jose.  I think you’ll agree he is an interesting author with a good story to tell.  Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Tim SusmanHi! I’m Tim Susman, a gay male American writer (he/him) currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area with my two partners and our dog. I studied business and engineering in college before moving on to zoology in graduate school and then starting a career as a database systems consultant that led to jobs as a product manager and a project manager. After being laid off in 2010 I took up writing full time and have been doing that ever since.

When and why did you begin writing?

In college, a friend of mine asked me to come up with a story for a birthday present she wanted to give me. I think in retrospect she just wanted a couple of paragraphs because when I presented her with a full-blown story she didn’t know what to do with it. The college SF magazine did, and I joined the SF club that fall. I read voraciously as a child, and I think I started writing because I wanted to tell my own versions of the stories I’d loved best.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably when that first story was published in my college magazine. Seeing something in print with my name on it, hearing that other people liked the story and wanted me to write more, made me feel confident about calling myself a writer. It would be almost twenty more years before I’d call myself an author, though.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest book is “The Demon and the Fox,” the second book in the series “The Calatians.” Set in 1815 in an America with magic colleges that is still a British colony, the protagonist, Kip, is the first in a race of magically created animal-people (Calatians) to become a sorcerer himself. In “Demon,” he searches for the perpetrator of a mysterious attack that killed many of America’s best sorcerers. While on this task, revolutionary sentiment grows around him, but even though his people are subject to prejudice and abuse, he worries that he’ll lose his opportunities to become a sorcerer if he turns against the British Empire. If he can solve this mystery, though, he’ll be a hero and much more secure.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had been thinking about parental responsibility, and wanted to explore it through several lenses: first, through Kip’s relationship with his own father; second, through the relationship between the Calatians and the humans who created them; third, through the relationship between the colonies and the Empire that founded them. Each of these relationships in the books takes a different view of the responsibilities a creator or parent owes to their children.

From an aesthetic point of view, I love writing in historical eras, and I love writing about animal-people. I have wanted to write a magic book for a long time, but worried that my engineering background would make my magic too “science-y.” I worked for a while to come up with a magic system that felt magic to me.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I focus more on character interaction and dialogue than on lengthy descriptive passages, but I also like to play around with different styles.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Kip is an animal-person with the traits of a fox, and the first in the series is called “The Tower and the Fox,” so I wanted the rest of the series to be thematically linked. In this book, a demon is responsible for the attack, but Kip also summons a demon to help him in his search and begins to learn more about their world, so I wanted the title to focus on the demon as well as our protagonist.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Mostly what I discussed above: to think about our responsibilities to those who depend on us, or those over whom we have power.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Generally no, although everyone in my life creeps into my books in one way or another.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Ray Bradbury’s lyricism was an early influence. Madeleine L’Engle and Susan Cooper’s very personal stories of fantastic magic have stayed with me ever since I discovered them at an early age. Kij Johnson’s beautiful language and emotion were inspiring. David Mitchell’s imaginative and meaningful stories are some of my current favorites. Kazuo Ishiguro’s grasp of the human experience is something I strive to approach in my own work.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Laura Garabedian is a friend of mine and a fantastically talented artist. I’ve admired her fantasy illustrations for years and was delighted to have the chance to work professionally with her.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I have this paraphrased quotation on my desk from William Faulkner: “Don’t bother being better than others. Be better than yourself.”

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Just a very heartfelt thank you.

The Demon and the Fox Book CoverTim Susman
Mountain View, CA

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The Demon and the Fox

Cover Artist: Laura Garabedian
Publisher: Argyll Productions

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Author Interview: The Brothers Cheney

As I wandered through the small press area at WonderCon in March of 2018, I discovered a well-organized table for a group of science fiction authors. The intriguing detail I discovered was that they were three brothers who write military SF adventures, mysteries, and fantasy novels – often at the same time or as co-authors!  I felt compelled to invite them to No Wasted Ink.

Authors - Brothers Cheney

We are three of seven brothers who grew up on the north Oregon coast.

Jeff- I am living in Northern Oregon and working in the Computer Manufacturing industry. I have three grown children (one still living at home) and am living with my wife in a small town in the woods. I am brother number 2.

Craig- Though I’m an Oregon native, I’m currently living in Utah with my wife and children. I have a day job as an electrical engineer, which is constantly offering me new challenges. I am brother number 4.

Jared- I am also an Oregon native, and Oregon has been home for most of my life. I have had brief stints elsewhere, and have traveled extensively in my twenty plus year technology career. I have worked as a global technology executive and leader for more than a decade, which has provided some great vignettes for writing. I am brother number 7.

When and why did you begin writing?

Jeff- I had to write a short story for a junior English class in high school and the story never gave itself up inside my mind. I kept expanding it into a novel length story in my head, though I never finished writing it. I kept writing other stories and those I did finish. With that first story, I started to see stories everywhere and wanted to write them.

Craig- My first attempt at writing a novel was in 1992, though it’s always been an interest of mine. I was living in the same city as a different brother (#3), and we had a great idea for a Star Trek story based on Aleksander, Worf’s son, when he grew up. We had quite a bit done, but ST: The Next Generation was still airing episodes, and eventually, Aleksander’s history changed to the point that our story wouldn’t have worked, and we never finished it.

Jared- I actually began writing in high school, with three different stories that I am still working on.  I have always read extensively and have always enjoyed recounting stories. Writing has been a natural extension of that throughout my life.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Jeff- It wasn’t until I finished Dead Reckoning, our first book. Up until then, it had just been a hobby that kept me way too busy. When I was able to stick to the end and finished the project and get it all the way to publication, I truly felt like a writer.

Craig- Writing is still not my principal employment, though I’m trying to move that direction, so I don’t think of myself primarily as a writer, even now. The first time I felt confident in my ability to write was after I entered a writing competition and won the runner-up award. That was my first positive feedback from someone who was neither family nor friend.

Jared- In my college studies, I spent an entire year working on a thesis with a very well published thesis advisor. When I completed it, and he signed off on it as publish worthy work, I began to take confidence in my capability for technical writing as well as storytelling work.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Dead Reckoning is the first of four books in the Pathfinder Series. We have just finished the series and really enjoyed the process. Dead Reckoning starts the series as a loyal captain is thrown into the void of space with a few of his loyal crew. They are told they can survive by going to a nearby planet, but the captain is obsessed with regaining his ship and decides that he and his crew have the resources to take their small shuttle back to Earth and return with a crew to take back the ship.

The book tells the story of the captain and his small crew trying to survive, overcome immense obstacles and return home safely.

What inspired you to write this book?

Jeff- We had wanted to write a book together for some time and we got together and chose a theme that none of us had already written on. It was an adventure trying to figure out how to write a book with three separate authors, but it was great fun.

Craig- Honestly, it was a combination of lots of things. The main impetus was the desire to work together so we could hold each other accountable to finish what we start. Before this, I had probably started writing a dozen stories, at least. Then the question arose of what to write, and we decided it wasn’t fair to take a story that one of us had started, because that one would feel too possessive of it. So we decided to create a new story. Some of the elements of Dead Reckoning are loosely based on the book Men Against the Sea, which is the story of Captain Bligh and his loyal crew sailing a tiny boat 4,000 miles across the Pacific to reach civilization after The Mutiny on the Bounty.

Jared- Several of us brothers had wanted to write together for a long time before we decided to find a story that we could create together and tell in an interesting way. The opportunity to work with my brothers on something fun and creative was my motivation.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Jeff- I like to plan out the basic plot but write each chapter creatively. I usually have a list of things that need to happen in each chapter but not how they will happen.

Craig- I am mostly a planner, which is really a necessary thing when writing as a group. There are lots of instances of me sitting down to write according to plan and coming away with something very different, however.

Jared- In order to work closely with my brothers, it requires us to plan closely together. My style leans more towards creative flow, and I tend to see and hear the story playing out as I write in order to make sure it flows well.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Craig- Dead Reckoning refers to a means of navigating without having any landmarks to work with, where you keep track of your heading and speed to deduce where you are. It was used frequently in Men Against the Sea, and it seemed to fit our book as well.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Jeff- There wasn’t one when we started, but we wanted it to be a survival story, so the persistence and overcoming obstacles was a big part of the story.

Craig- I think the overall message is to keep moving forward. Bad things happen, but if you persevere, you can still find success.

Jared- For me, it also resonates that you can’t just allow things to happen to you, no matter the circumstances, you have choices and you have to take whatever opportunities you can.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Jeff- Not any of the stories, but some of the characters have a basis in some of the people that I know. Things that I like and things that I don’t like.

Craig- Not really, though one of the stories the crew tells to pass the time actually originated in that Aleksander story I wrote years before. (Never throw your writing away!)

Jared- Nothing specific, although one of the very frustrated engineers experiences a series of events that drive an outburst I have felt brewing in a few engineering situations before.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Jeff- Robert Heinlein is probably the biggest in my early life. Also, Anne McCaffrey. They turned me into a reader at an early age and turned me into a SciFi/Fantasy reader and into science as a profession.

Craig- Robert A. Heinlein’s juveniles were my favorites as a kid, especially The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Sixth Column. The most impactful books I have read are The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Pirsig. The former is not about revenge, as most people think, but about justice. The latter just has tons of little tidbits of wisdom about how to interact with the world. Also, Shakespeare’s plays are great reference material for studying how and why humans behave the way they do.

Jared- As a very young reader, J.R.R. Tolkien and some of the classic Sci-Fi authors, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Phillip K. Dick, Anne McCaffrey were what introduced me to untold worlds. McCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern brought me back around to a thirst for great stories that I found in fantasy fiction, including tragedy and heartbreak, along with the soaring human (and dragon) spirit. I continued to read Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Environmental Fiction, traditional western civ classics, along with a lot of business and engineering books over the years. I will forever be grateful to my college Honors professors for interweaving so many classic stories & novels into my education. I will have a bit of nostalgia for those early influential authors.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Jeff- There are a few that I would name. Michael Stackpole has taught a class at ASU for novelists that I have taken and he has been a great help, answering questions and making comments on my work. Robert Vardeman has also been a part of that program as has Joe Nassise. All three have been helpful in mentoring my writing. There have also been numerous critical readers along the way.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Craig- My brother-in-law, Mark McCormick, did a marvelous job on the original Dead Reckoning cover. When we decided to create a boxed set for the series, I created the covers to match each other. I think it’s a good design, but definitely more sterile than the original.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Jeff- Keep writing! Believe in yourself. Study what you are doing and keep working at it. If you don’t have success with your first effort, start again!

Craig- I’ve heard lots of good advice over the years, but the best was this: “Be married to your book while you’re writing it, but be divorced from it while editing.” You have to be emotionally invested for your writing to be any good, but when it comes time to trim and fix, if you’re too emotionally invested, it can blind you to its flaws and keep you from cutting out what really needs to go.

Jared- Plan your outline carefully to make sure you have all of the nuances the story will need. Then, as you write, don’t be afraid to change the plan when the story needs to evolve, but don’t lose your direction. Let the story come to life, and let inspiration come when it can, but don’t feel like it has to be there all the time. Keep writing no matter what.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Jared- We really appreciate our readers. I have actually been thrilled to find people we don’t know who have read our work and have great things to say about it. I actually appreciate those that buy it and have anything to say about it at all, but we like the positive ones better.

deadreckoning_lowresJeffery L., Craig J., and Jared L. Cheney
Portland, Oregon and Ogden, Utah

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Dead Reckoning

Cover Artists: Mark McCormick & Craig J. Cheney
Publisher: 7Cs Books, LLC

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