EFM Ahem over the age of consent in a youth-obsessed culture
Where are you from-
EFM originally from NYC the Big Apple.
A little about your self `ie your education Family
EFM A fascinating subject indeed ;-) I’m a writer living in Charlotte, NC
USA. I have a wide varierty of interests: I’m a black belt/sash with the Lai Tai Pung Style, a ballroom dancer (ok I am better at the kicking and punching) I’ve had a life-long love of SF and
Fantasy. I have been married to the talented artist, Schelly Keefer for the best (in every sense) part of my life.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
EFM The big news for me is the publication of my first novel Was Once A
Hero through Hellfire Publishing.
http://www.amazon.com/Was-Once-A-Hero-ebook/dp/B006UMTBY8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1326144528&sr=1-1 Kindle and Trade Paperback
Fiona: When and why did you begin
EFM I took it up seriously about ten years ago when I was inspired by
my good friend Tim McLoughlin, who wrote a book called “Heart of the Old
Country” which was made into the movie the “The Narrows.”
Knowing someone who had “made the grade” inspired me to
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a
EFM I would say when I got into the hardcover anthology Lowport by
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller for my campy SF noir story, “Lair of the Lesbian
Love Goddess,” which later grew into my most popular series.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first
EFM I love what I call the “Planet” story where a crew of diverse
people of wildly different talents and motivations are cast into the crucible of
a totally new environment. I want starships, alien cultures and worlds, and adventure but I always leaven it with a strong romantic element. It seemed that sort of book was growing uncommon. So while in my short fiction I tended toward urban fantasy or humorous SF shorts (doesn’t that sound like a form of kinky underwear?) at novel length I wanted to deal seriously with questions of
love and courage.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
EFM No, not that I am aware of. The Robert Fenaday/Shasti Rainhell books (Was Once A Hero being the first in a trilogy) are in third person past tense. The current books I am working on with
an ancient alien android named Maauro and her newfound friend, the disgraced military pilot Wrik Trigardt, are in first person past tense for Wrik and first person present for Maauro to highlight the fact that she as an essentially deathless AI does not experience time the same way.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
EFM I wanted to touch on the fact that a man or being can be a Hero in one instance
and something very different in another. Courage is a mutable quality
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
EFM Too many characters in science-fiction are too heroic, too unafraid, and too matter-of-fact about danger. Those of us who have faced danger and triumphed over it usually did it either with our hearts in our mouths, fighting to overcome fear, or it was over so fast that we didn’t have time for panic. There are surely people of steely nerves and endless reserves of courage (check your local Seal Team) but they are not common. Most of us struggle to find courage and apply it.
So I decided that my character would be a man, drawn from a more ordinary life, no Captain Kirk, no Captain Sheridan, but someone more like one of us.
Another them was the potential for violence in the best of men. This came out of knowing some World War II vets, genial men, all heroes in my eyes, many who seemed like they would not harm a fly. Yet these were the amtrac gunners at Tarawa, the crew in the B-17 from the mighty Eighth, the marine crouching in the darkness at the edge of Henderson Field when the banzai charges came in. That geniality masked the fact that we ordinary men are capable of deeds that scar the soul. However gentle and kind we are to friends and family, in the right situation we can be the
instruments of immense destruction. So this would be a theme that I would explore in my book.
There times in the trilogy that you will feel very ambivalent about Robert and or Shasti. You should, they themselves do.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
EFM I try to have an underlying verity in all that I do. Obviously not being a combat veteran or an astronaut, there is a limit to that. But as a martial artist, I worked out most of the fights that in my books by having my class attack me in the same manner.
Fear on the other hand is as well known to me as to any man. I have had a gun pulled on me and been shot at in that disinterested fashion people are shot at in NYC (i.e crazy person shooting at something else in the area.) I captured a mugger, ok it was a small one, and the police threw it back a few days later but heck I pinned him in a doorway until the cops came. I’ve lost friends and acquaintances to violence.
In the second Fenaday book he is parajumping. I used my own parajumps for the sensations; the watery feeling in the gut before, the snapping of the chute and the sudden jerk of the harness. How it felt to jump into the dark. Ditto for flying belted onto the floor of a helicopter at treetop height or in a hang-glider.
In the love story, well I have both won and lost in love, been elated and uncertain and all that is used.
Regarding the science: I am not a scientist though I know several. I take the minimum liberties with science that I must. My starships have hyperdrive and AG, but once they get from star to star, they drive around a solar system by throwing reaction mass out the rear of their atomic engines in Einsteinien space. Weapons similarly are extrapolations of current ones but with less emphasis on energy weapons. It will always be cheaper to accelerate a piece of something whether by expanding gas or or electromagnetism, through an enemy than to disintergate
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
EFM Only in as much as loneliness, loss, love, fear and triumph are part of all of our lives.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
EFM Wow hard one. The works of Andre Norton started me on this path and I retain my love of these tales of otherworld. The characters are usually the loner, the uncertain young person facing a hostile world, these spoke to me clearly in my childhood.
I would cite Star Gate, The Stars our Ours and the Zero Stone as big influences. C J Cherryh with her Morgaine series introduced me to a serious minded and strong heroine who did not
have to outmuscle the boys to outplay them. No one does aliens better than Niven in
his Known Space Work. In Fantasy the Lord of the Rings vied with the Robert Howard Conan works for supremacy. I have a copy of Jack Sutton’s the Beyond that was one of the first books I felt a powerful connection to.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
EFM I have been helped a great deal by a number of people:
Orson Scott Card with his bootcamp class, Mike Resnick as generous a
grandmaster as lives, Catherine Asaro who is proof brains and beauty can travel
together and C J Cherryh an occasional correspondent who has offered
encouragement at opportune times and Janet Morris who wrote an introduction for
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
EFM Actually for a break I am reading one of Kathy Reichs, “Bones”
series I try to very my reading out of the genre but rarely read other
fiction. I am a history buff because the weird stuff that real people do is more interesting. Ins’t that true, General Custer?
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
EFM This is something I am kind of grappling with, most of the authors I know or read are older and I am looking for some new ones to follow, yet
Steampunk does not appeal to me and it seems like there are about 300
leather-clad, bare-midriffed hot girls boffing vampires while dating werewolves
or vice-versa. I even satirized that trend in the second Sha’daa anthology Last Call that I wrote in the piece “I Kill Zombies” with the character of Raven Blackstone. http://www.amazon.com/Shadaa-Last-Call-Michael-Hanson/dp/1936021307/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_10
I would love some recommendations to keep me in touch with the current
New Wave. I am finding a lot of
the game tie in SF and Fantasy just… without flavor.
So who do YOU like?
Fiona: What are your current
EFM I am writing the second Maauro novel, looking at a Shasti Rainhell
novel (she’s the gorgeous girl with the muscles on the cover of Was Once a Hero)
and some more short stories based on my recent trip to Europe.
The first one of these“Death in Venice” is being offered for sale
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
EFM The Brinkers Writing Group: Laura Jean Stroupe, Kim
Wright (Love in Mid- Air) Paul Barrett (my own discovery who I have put in two
anthologies) Leigh Jenkins, Alan Jenkins, Mark Kust, Shontelle MaQueen all fine
writers in their own rights who make me a hell of a lot better than I would ever
have been on my own
Otherise it has to be
Hellfire Publishing, Keira Kroft aka Dawn Binkley who is running with the
Fenaday Trilogy, a wonderful and encouraging lady with a boundless source of
energy and enthusiasm.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I do but as a means of making a living it is like acting, for every one
person making a living at it, 100 have day jobs and write on the weekend or
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
EFM Like every writer you always want to improve something but as with cooking, you have to stop before you ruin the dish by destroying its spontanaeity or you never get to the next
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
EFM I think like many it was a moment of ego reading a book, putting it down and saying, “Heck , I can write better than that!” You mercifully don’t find out right away that you were wrong by then you may have developed some skills.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
EFM How about an excerpt from Was Once A Hero to whet your appetite?
“There’s Gigor,” Fenaday said. The sun cleared the horizon and its rays lit the tops of trees and buildings, leaving the field still cloaked in purple shadow. He heard Shasti’s seat creak as she leaned forward to look beyond the backrest of his seat. Fenaday put the Wildcat in a slow circle at a height of four hundred meters.
Shasti and he looked out at the devastated base. Gigor base extended for tens of kilometers.
The beige and yellow Enshari buildings in the distance had the squat and unlovely utilitarian look favored by governments. Beyond them, toward the city proper lay the domes and half-domes
preferred by the Enshari. Shattered glass in those buildings splintered and threw back the
“Looks worse than it did from orbit,” she said.
“Yeah,” Fenaday said.
“No question that the base was attacked. By what I can’t imagine, the pattern of destruction doesn’t resemble that from an airburst nuclear weapon. Nothing else I know of—not even a mass driver—creates destruction like this.”
“Only a few military spaceships were based at Gigor,” Shasti said. “Most Navy traffic used the port at the capital city of Barjan.”
Fenaday pointed. “There’s the Navy area. It’s completely destroyed.” They had seen all this from orbit, but it lacked the effect of viewing it with their own eyes.
“Notice something?” asked Shasti.
“Yeah,” Fenaday replied. “Those shuttles on the apron look like they were cut down by a laser fired from ground level. See that neat slice on the metal of that green and white hospital
shuttle? It’s cut almost in half. Whatever it was started striking the ground at a low angle, bubbling the apron.”
“Energy weapons don’t work that way,” Shasti said. “Why use massive quantities of power to cut metal when a kinetic weapon does it cheaper and faster? Lasers are for burning flesh, starting fires and damaging sensitive
“These are a few of your favorite things,” Fenaday murmured.
Shasti ignored the comment, “Well, this isn’t Conchirri work. If they had energy weapons like this, we would all be dinner.”
Fenaday brought the Wildcat to a hover near the edge of the apron close to the barracks. The sun had risen enough to light the field. A brilliant, dark-blue ground cover, reminiscent of pansies, dotted some of the nearby tarmac.
“Let’s get this over with,” he said tightly. “Are you ready, Shasti?”
“Locked and loaded,” she said, putting her tri-auto in her lap.
“Telisan, this is Fenaday. I’m going in. Keep circling. If anything happens, run for it. That is an
“Of course,” replied Telisan. The Denlenn’s easy answer made Fenaday suspect Telisan was simply humoring him.
Sidhe, we are landing.”
The fighter landed smoothly, blowing dust and debris away from the Wildcat. Fenaday throttled back the engines, but didn’t cut them off. He kept the HOTAS stick, which controlled thrust and weapons, in his right hand. Fenaday looked to starboard, Shasti to port. The fighter’s swivel-mounted guns followed the motion of his eyes. The Confed shuttles from the first expedition landed only sixty-three seconds before being overwhelmed by whatever killed their crews.
Fenaday didn’t look at the clock. He scanned every shadow, dreading the sight of a dust cloud similar to the one that enveloped the Confederate shuttles three years ago.
Telisan circled above, equally vigilant.
From Perez’ station aboard Sidhe, the engineer announced, “Thirty seconds.”
Fenaday kept his eyes on the ground. His heart pounded and his mouth felt dry. “Nothing in
sight,” he reported. To his own surprise, his voice sounded calm.
“All clear here,” Shasti said. She didn’t even have the grace to sound concerned.
“Same,” Telisan reported. “Nothing on motion sensors.”
For an instant, Fenaday thought about saying something to Shasti, something about the night before. He snapped a quick glance into the one of the mirrors. She stared out the canopy, catlike, intent, totally focused on here and now.
He returned his attention to the field.
Fenaday held his breath, his finger on
“Seventy seconds, Captain. Congratulations on a new world record.”
The breath left his body in a whoosh.
“Okay,” he said, voice shaking slightly. “I’m heading into overheat, initiating engine shutdown.
“Telisan, keep circling. Perez, start the shuttles down. Tell Karass he is to abort if at any
time we lose contact before landing.”
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
EFM Plot. I can find characters to fill an auditorium and can write reams of dialogue.
Finding a strong and viable plot for them to inhabit is where the heavy lifting comes in.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your
EFM Not so far but it is early days yet. I plan to do Concarolinas
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
EFM I have a friend who is a glamor photographer, Michael Church, occasionally I tear him away from photographing beautiful women and he does a cover for me. I will include a
couple below. Michael can find a good angle on anyone and is interested in doing more covers and I cannot recommend him highly enough. http://www.michaelchurch.com
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
None of writing the book was hard, critiquing is slightly more difficult, marketing it is where suffering comes in.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
EFM I learned that when you really love doing something, it’s not work. I actually do not feel well
if I go for too long without writing. I hope it always stays that way.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
The difference between the pro and the amateur is that amateur gave up. You have
to have the hide of a rhino to do this and you have to write. Don’t try to
produce perfect work or you will never produce anything. Line up words and get
moving. But the best advice I got was from Orson Scott Card and it’s a mistake a
lot of us make early on. We go for the action, the big bang. It’s more important
to make us CARE about people and what is happening. Otherwise the big bang means
little if all it is doing is taking out faceless stormtroopers or other “red
shirts” (Star Trek geek reference). If I care what is going on and to whom it is
happening, a paper cut can have the significance of an atom bomb
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
EFM Yes, thanks. It is an astonishing experience to become part of other people’s lives in this
way. If anything I write ever encourages you, eases a heartache, or makes you feel less alone, well then it was all worth it.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ?
EFM A full time martial arts instructor, I discovered the art as an adult.
Had I found it as a child I think it would have made a huge difference to
my life not that I am unhappy at all about how it has gone.
Roads not travelled always beckon but who knows where they
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it?
See you around
Author Edward McKeown is a writer and editor