1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?
I've always been an avid reader since I was a child. I think the writing bug really took hold when my dad brought home our first PC (Apple II+ if memory serves) and I was able to type up and see the stories in my head printed out. At that point I took a writing course through the mail (these were the ancient times prior to the internet) and gained the confidence I needed to keep going. In high school I received a writing scholarship to college which really cemented the fact that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?
Terry Brooks 'The Sword of Shannara' was the first book that kicked off a long obsession with fantasy novels. Stephen R. Donaldson, Anne McCaffrey, Larry Niven, and Raymond Feist were early influences. In my twenties Clive Barker's Weaveworld and Imajica as well as Harlow Ellison's short stories and Neil Gaiman's early work really broadened my horizons.
These days I'm much more into science fiction. Peter F. Hamilton, Vernor Vinge, and Stephen Baxter are all amazing authors.
3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Universe Ocean?
I wrote the bulk of the outline while on vacation in the Florida Keys; the ocean and nature has always been a huge influence on my writing. Being entirely immersed in that environment opened my mind up to many of the ideas in this novel. Then while researching some of the science that would become the backbone of this universe, I came across a novel called "The Hole in the Universe" by K.C. Cole. If there was a companion novel to Universe Ocean, this would be it. In fact, I would recommend anyone interested in space and physics read her book whether or not they find my novel appealing to them.
4. Will we ever see these characters again?
I've got some ideas for a stand-alone sequel planned, which will take place in the same universe. There are many ideas for these alien species that I would like to continue exploring. Though if any of the characters from the first novel will make a reappearance remains to be seen.
5. How did you decide to create what is, essentially, your own version of the universe?
It started with the basic premise of wanting to take people on an adventure while at the same time expanding their paradigm of the universe.
6. Were any of the characters personalities or emotions taken from real life?
I think everything a writer experiences comes out in their writing in one form or another. If I had to point to one specific thing I would say there were some experiences I was going through with my ex-wife at the time that got woven into the conflict between Pedn and Toak.
7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?
For now I'd like to continue exploring science fiction. The genre provides a good canvas for me to explore the ideas currently bouncing around in my head. If anything, I'd like to branch out into writing for video games some day. I've seen a lot of great writing emerging from the video game industry in the last couple of years.
8. What would you do if you were Harlow?
"Just keep swimming."
9. Do you, personally, think that there might be life on other planets?
I think the universe is such a large place that to say there positively isn't would be narrow-minded. However, for personal religious reasons I don't believe there is, at least not anything that is self-conscious.
10. Would you like to see Universe Ocean as a film? If yes, who do you want to see play your characters?
I think the novel is too long and covers too many ideas to be encapsulated into a film. A five year television series might work. There are so many aliens involved that any qualified actor could play them. Ben Browder as Harlow would be amazing.
11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
I was diagnosed with Cervical Dystonia in 2007 so the speed at which I am able to write is limited. I usually become so immersed in the project I am currently working on that I don't look much beyond that. Right now that is the sequel to Universe Ocean.
12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?
Most likely something to do with computer programming or drumming. My passion for music has at times overtaken my love for writing.
13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?
A stand-alone sequel to Universe Ocean, tentatively titled Clear Darkness.
14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?
Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Joyce. Vernor Vinge. I would give my left cheekbark to sit down for five minutes with K.C. Cole.
15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
I play the drums. I have Cervical Dystonia (https://www.dystonia-foundation.org/what-is-dystonia). I spend way too much time playing video games.
Thank you so much for your time. Interested readers can find my book at most online retailers, visit me at www.universeocean.com or follow me on twitter @universeocean.