1) Tell us about your current or last science fiction novel. What is it about and how did you come up with the concept?
My current WIP is an Epic Gothic Space Opera told from the perspective of an alien named Prince Ralyn of Marduk. The story (I haven’t revealed the title to the public yet) chronicles his turbulent coming-of-age, and follows his struggle to decide between serving as the Emperor’s bounty hunter or living a life of freedom as a space pirate.
The main character first came to me when I was in middle school. For some perspective, I’m 27 now. This story has been with me for a long, long time, but I was only able to articulate it in recent years. I always loved anime like Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop, and I found that most books could never compare. I wanted to write something that had that epic, star-crossed feel—but with no mention of humanity at all.
2) How did you get started writing science fiction?
When I was 12 years old, I got really into these online forums where I would role-play with other kids. We’d write stories back and forth with each other all day every day. My characters were aliens: all-powerful beings of darkness from other planets. I remember my parents scolding me constantly because all I wanted to do was sit indoors and write on the computer all summer long. They thought I was talking to weird old men or something, but really all I wanted to do was write. I swear I spent 12 hours a day sitting there role-playing sometimes. I was the nerdiest kid you could imagine.
I soon moved on to writing short stories, but I didn’t realize I could make a living writing Science Fiction until I became a freelance writer in my mid-twenties. I finally decided to write the novel when I realized my writing really was good enough for people to pay for.
3) What specific sub-genres within science fiction do you write in and why?
My novel is a Space Opera, because I’ve always been a sucker for that melodramatic, larger-than-life aura. My ultimate goal is for the reader to forget that the Earth exists at all, and there’s no better way to accomplish this than crafting a vast, all-encompassing system of galaxies for readers to get lost in.
Most of my short stories could be categorized as Sci-Fi Horror, or even Cosmic Horror. They always turn out very Lovecraftian.
4) Can you define Cosmic Horror?
In Cosmic Horror, the true “fear factor” of the story comes from the great unknown. It’s meant to fill readers with a sense of dread for the vastness of space and the cold, endless dark. With this subgenre, what you can’t see (and perhaps even what you could never conceive) is what keeps you up at night. Basically, it’s knowable only by the fact that the human brain isn’t equipped to understand its true depth.
5) What tropes do you think are important for that sub-genre?
For Space Opera: The melodrama, for sure—you can’t be afraid to twist the reader’s emotions.
For Sci-Fi Horror: The unreliable first-person narrator that pays homage to the early classics. For whatever reason, nearly all my short-stories have been falling into this pattern lately.
6) Do you prefer to write in first or third person and past or present tense?
My novel is in third person, but my short stories are often in unreliable first-person. Both have their place, but if you forced me to choose one and only one forever at gunpoint, I’d pick third person.
7) What is your favorite part about being a writer?
There’s something truly satisfying about being able to immortalize a moment and make people feel emotions they didn’t even know they had, all with the power of words. A good writer can take you by the hand and lead you into either a hall of nightmares, or a garden of infinite pleasures—and a really good writer can do this without letting you know where you’re going to end up until the last few paragraphs. I’ve always gotten a kick out of this.
Also, being able to work from home (or anywhere) is awesome. I can make a living from my couch, and I never have to worry about a commute or having a boss.
8) What is the hardest part about being a writer?
When you work on a major project like a novel, you have to lose all hope for instant gratification. Most people don’t realize how hard it is to have all your best work unpublished, hung up in some computer file that you can’t show anyone until it’s published. You’ll end up pouring weeks, months, and even years of your life into something that may never see the light of day.
From the beginning, you need to accept that all the work you do may be unappreciated and unremembered. It’s true when they say that you should never write for recognition or money: I think most successful writers only got where they are today because they had no choice but to pour their souls onto the page.
9) What stories or authors influence your writing?
The author that influenced me far beyond all others is H. P. Lovecraft. I truly believe that many of his short stories are unparalleled to this day, and no other author will ever come close to impressing me half as much as him. People have said my short stories remind them of him somewhat, and I’ve actually worked for some clients who specifically wanted a Lovecraftian style.
However, I drew a lot of inspiration from George R. R. Martin as well. He taught me how to plant a seed early on that eventually grows into a monster. I always deeply enjoyed little “mysteries” and hidden truths in stories, and Martin is a master at this.
10) Recommend a great science fiction book or movie that we might have missed you didn’t create?
The work of H. P. Lovecraft doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves in the modern age. I think people are worried that the stories are dated, or perhaps they think they can’t connect with them because they’re from a different time. Try reading “The Whisperer in Darkness,” “The Haunter of the Dark,” or “The Thing on the Doorstep.”
11) Anything else about you or your novel that you would like us to know?
I’m exactly a quarter of the way through the “exhaustive editing” stage of my novel, so it should still be a little while before it’s available to the public. It’s in pretty good shape (as in, I’d feel comfortable sending it to publishers as it stands right now) but I’m still rewording a few things here and there. It’s also going to be part of a series, and I’m in the very early stages of working on Book Two as well.
I plan on traditionally publishing the novel, and I’m currently seeking agent representation. If any agents out there are interested in an Epic Gothic Space Opera for the ages, contact me any time!
11) What’s the best way to find you online?