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Paul B. Spence
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message 1: by Anna (last edited Jul 03, 2014 06:22PM) (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) Greetings Space Opera Fans!

One of the fun parts of being a MOD is to approach authors and bug the crap out of them ask if they'd like to answer questions about what inspired them to write the books we're reading for our group reads. This month our INDIE PICK is The Remnant by Paul B. Spence, a book about a soldier who finds a little something extra while accompanying an archeological expedition.

So what was going through the author's mind when he wrote this book? Inquiring Space Opera Fans want to know...

Without further ado ... Paul B. Spence.


1. What books have most influenced your life?

My life or my writing? The first book I ever read was the fantastic science fiction world of The Dragonriders of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey. I had bad dyslexia as a child, this was the book I cut my teeth on, so to speak. Since then: Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon's Sassinak, Andre Norton's Breed to Come and The Beastmaster, E.E. "Doc" Smith's Galactic Patrol, H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, C.S. Friedman's This Alien Shore (If I ever write a book this good, I'll be content in life), Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light and Chronicles of Amber, Joe Haldeman's The Forever War, John Steakley's Armor, and David Weber's Off Armageddon Reef. There are probably more.

2. How do you develop your plots and characters?

Organically. In vats. In all seriousness, I tend to let the story evolve as I write it. I often have key points in the plot that I know happen at some time in the future of the book but getting there is half the fun. Key characters develop out of the need to satisfy something in the story. Sometimes a character will surprise me and demand more time on the page, then I have to go back and weave them into the story. I begin each day at the computer by reading through and rewriting what I wrote before. Then I let the story unfold until I don't have any more. I wish there was a formula I could give out, but honestly, I think each writer has his/her own way of approaching storytelling. What works for one, may not work for another.

3. Tell us about your Space Opera Fans book?

The Remnant has been a long time coming to fruition. The core of the story is about survival and personal development. I have degrees in geology, cultural anthropology, and archaeology. I have a background in the other sciences. I drew some things from my experiences as a scientist, digs I've been on, etc. I wanted my story to be commentary on the human condition, and also a hope for the future. Tebrey's world has its problems, but most of the problems we face today have been eliminated. Sadly, war isn't one of the problems I think will ever go away.

4. We all need a hero! Tell us about your protagonist(s)? Was there a real-life inspiration behind him or her?

Hrothgar Tebrey is a study in contradictions, like most people. He is a soldier, but anti-war. At the beginning of the story he feels very lost and hopeless. He's lost several people recently that he was very close to. He has also just survived extreme torture. He is a survivor. He doesn't give up. There is a point in the story where he comes close, but he rallies and gets back on track. Real-life inspiration? There is probably some Audie Murphy in Hrothgar Tebrey, and maybe a bit of my grandfather, who served with Patton in the Second World War.

5. A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

Hmm. Villains come in all sizes and flavors from vile to horrific. The lesser villains in the story are just people. People do bad things. Some times for good reasons, sometimes for bad. The greater villains, well, you'll have to read the other books to know more about them. As for real life inspiration, I'm an anthropologist, I've studied the best and worst aspects of humanity. I think about the horror of genocide, torture, and mass-murder, and I then I think about what kind of people could such a thing.

6. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?

Vijayanagar ruins in India were a big inspiration, as well as Machu Picchu in Peru, Baalbek in Lebanon, and Karnak in Egypt. The people of the Lyonan Empire are culturally a blend of French Canadian and Hindi Indians. There is a touch of Middle Eastern from the culture across the ocean, but only a little.

7. Sci-fi fans love techno-porn! What real-life science (or pseudo-science) did you research for your book?

I researched just about everything. Here is a cool one: negative energy (being researched) bends spacetime in opposite manner to that of positive energy and matter. This effectively can negate inertia. The Alcubierre Drive is currently being worked on. My starships use a form of this to curve space away from them, so they move using less fuel. When used at full power, it (theoretically) could tear a hole into hyperspace. I use hyperspace for faster travel. Travel between stars takes weeks or months in my stories.

8. What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Cutting out parts of the story. To make everything work together, I had to remove scenes that had been a part of the story in my head for decades. That's hard. I think the book is better for it though.

9. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I would have to say chapters thirty-five and thirty-six, because I always wanted to write an homage to Lovecraft. "Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!"

10. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

Sure. I learned how to write better. Seriously, there is no substitute just doing it when it comes to learning a skill. Writing is no different.

11. Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?

Don't give up. I've always been a big fan of the optimism in Star Trek. I honestly believe that one day bigotry, racism, and sexism will be the distant memories of a misguided youth. I also think that you can have religion, and still have science. One is about faith, the other about facts. Don't confuse the two.

12. What are your future project(s)?

I'm currently working with my editor on finalizing the next book in the series, The Fallen. I'm also working on the book after that.

13. If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?

Um. Archaeologist? Is that too easy, since I am one? How about astronaut?

14. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?

Readers are free to get in touch with me in just about any means that doesn't actually involve touching.

Twitter: paulbspence
Goodreads PM or Ask an Author.
Say hi in a thread. I'm all over the forums.

15. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to the Space Opera Fans community members?

It's good to be home amongst friends with similar tastes. Thanks for welcoming me into the family. I promise not to drink all the booze.

If you are ever in New Mexico, come to Bubonicon. You'll get to hang out with authors like Jane Lindskold, George R.R. Matrin, Connie Willis, S.M. Sterling, Steven Gould, and more!

Interview granted 7/3/2014

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