Q. How did you get the idea for Star Trails Tetralogy books?
A. I suspect that a lot of science fiction stories which have come out in the past few decades were inspired in some way by the original Star Wars. My original story was inspired by the escape pod sequence and I know of at least one other sci-fi author who likewise used that for at least part of their story. The first thing that popped into my mind was "What if a rebellious teenage girl accidentally got fired off in one?" That got the story started but of course her family, specifically her father, would have to go looking for her. As the characters developed the story became much more complicated to the point it expanded into four books instead of one while originally I thought it would be no more than a short story or novella. That's what happens when you characters take over.
Q. If you could spend a week in your book's world would you? Why or why not?
A. Yes, I would love to. The weather extremes on my planet play key roles and I have lived in places that have extreme cold (Utah) and extreme heat (Texas). What I would like to visit would be the domed and underground cities developed to withstand the elements and personally observe the dynamics of the paths of the two suns, especially when the planet passes between them in its lemniscate-shaped (figure-8) orbit. I had all sorts of fun figuring out how that would look using a globe and two flashlights, especially since the planet also has a nearly horizontal axis of rotation.
Q. How did your cover for Refractions of Frozen Time come about?
A. I had a great cover designer who did the covers for all four books. I wanted to capture the environments as well as the characters. In "Refractions of Frozen Time" the crystals play such an important role that we decided to include them as well. It took a bit of tweaking to figure out where to place it when we already had three of the characters on the cover. It finally became obvious to have it reflect its role in the story of being the means for bringing back their father who was onboard a spacecraft headed for permanent exile.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing Refractions of Frozen Time?
A. The hardest part was tying everything together and making sure there were no conflicts with the previous books. Things got pretty complicated and I had to make sure everything was consistent, which meant rereading the previous books. While doing so I was able not only to find areas I needed to match but also a few things I'd forgotten that tied in beautifully with the story and its conclusion.
Q. Who is the hardest character for you to write for?
A. I can't think of any. I didn't create them, per se, they revealed themselves to me through their actions and dialog. I just let them go and recorded what they said and did. Often I was surprised myself.
Q. If you could co-write with any author who would you want to write with?
A. I would love to co-write with Ceri London. We did a beta exchange for this book and her latest, "Destiny Nexus." We have similar ideas and I had a lot of fun working with her.
Q. What is it about SciFi that draws you into writing about it?
A. I have loved sci-fi since I discovered the genre when I was in grade school. When I was in 6th grade I was writing science fiction stories about where the teachers we didn't like originated. My affinity with it was such that being a writer drove my decision to pursue a physics degree more than anything else. I knew that authors should write what they know so I obtained the education and then pursued a career in aerospace so that I would have the tools to be a science fiction writer.
Q. What do you do to get over writes block?
A. I usually discuss it with my characters and ask them what they're going to do. I may set it aside for a few days or even ask the Universe to give me the inspiration I need when I go to bed at night. I often get ideas with or without writer's block while doing mindless chores like vacuuming, washing dishes, weeding or mowing the lawn. I have more writer's block when it's time to write book blurbs or query letters, actually. LOL.
Q. What is your favorite book?
A. That's a tough one because I love so many. There are a few nonfiction books that changed my life and would be at the top of the list. There are others about physics, astrology or other esoteric subjects that I likewise loved. I've read so many wonderful novels I don't think I can name only one there, either. I know that's a bit of a cop out but the list would be horrifically long.
Q. Do you have any odd writing habits?
A. I think all authors have their own way of doing things. One thing I do which may be unique is when I get an idea for a scene, whether or not it's planned or in sequence, I go ahead and write it. These usually flow and often bring in new characters and plot twists. These are the ones that my muse, Kalliope, dictates and often contain my best writing which requires little if any editing later. In other words, I don't start writing at the beginning and go chapter by chapter until I reach the end. It's more like putting a puzzle together which even keeps me guessing sometimes regarding how situations will work out.
Q. Have you always been good at English?
A. Reasonably good. My mother corrected my grammar from when I was a little child so I was always aware of it. I hated diagramming sentences and quite honestly never entirely understood the concept. I do have a minor in English which provided some useful background but I think I learned the most about writing when I was a technical writer at NASA. Up until then I'd written for newspapers and various newsletters where I received essentially no editorial guidance. When I started recording the minutes of technical meetings which had to be signed by the engineers as well as myself was my first experience with true editing. At first it was annoying but when I got past all the red ink I would realize that the product was better for it. It helped me to get past my pride and realize that others can often improve your work which was a good thing. I have several blogs in a four-part series entitled "Confessions of a Reviewer from Hell" which chronicles my journey as a writer. You can find the first entry here: https://marcha2014.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/confessions-of-a-self-admitted-reviewer-from-hell/.
Q. What is the hardest part of publishing a book?
A. For me it has been the marketing side. I've been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil, but I'm also relatively shy and was raised that it was impolite to brag or promote yourself. Obviously that doesn't work very well if you want to sell books. I live in the country where the nearest town, which is small, is 15 miles away. It's at least 50 miles to any actual cities where I could probably hawk my books, have book signings, etc. So between being fairly introverted and the physical distance, this part is difficult for me.
Q. What is it about space that interests you?
A. Any subject, earthbound or otherwise, for which we don't have all the answers, interests me. It's great fodder for the imagination and a lot of fun to learn about and put your own spin on what information is available. The peace and isolation has a philosophical appeal as well as the science.
Q. Do you know how Star Trails Tetralogy will end?
A. Definitely! "Refractions of Frozen Time" is the conclusion for the four-part series and it does indeed end. That is not to say there won't be subsequent spin-offs or prequels but this particular saga which largely entails getting the Brightstar family back together does at last conclude.
Q. Is it hard writing a book series?
A.It's harder for me to write something short. When I try to write a short story it tends to become a novel and when I try to write a novel it becomes a series. I get into the characters too much and all the other plot details. I figure if I wonder what or why something occurs in a story then my readers will, too! I never intended for Star Trails to become four books but that is what it took to wind things up and cover the story.
Q. What is your favorite site to talk to your readers?
A. I like Goodreads or my blog site. They're all set up for comments which work great.
Social Media Links
Other Books in Star Trails Tetralogy Series
Amazon Link to Entire Series
Nook Link to Entire Series
Smashwords Link to Entire Series
Volume I: Beyond the Hidden Sky
Volume II: A Dark of Endless Days
Volume III: A Psilent Place Below
The Star Trails Compendium