This year we here at BWGB will be interviewing the ten finalists of the fledgling Self Published Science Fiction Contest run by Hugh Howey. We will be asking each of the finalists the same series of questions to see how each of the authors approaches writing and their novel.
We hope you enjoy it! And possibly add a few new books to the TBR.
“It may have been the end, but at least it was a pretty badass way to go.”
BWG: What do you think makes a good story?
How it’s told. You can have a cliché plot, and lame characters, but if you craft it in such a way that the telling is riveting and compelling enough, baby, you’ve got yourself a stew going.
BWG: How did you get into writing? Were there any catalysts in your life that set you on your path to loving the written word?
When I was growing up, my grandfather lived with us and his hobby was writing poems. I’m not much of a poet, but when I showed a passion for writing stories (probably fueled by my exposure to Star Wars and The Hobbit), he always encouraged me, and that’s always proved a driving force behind me finishing my stories and getting them out there.
BWG: What comes first for you, the plot or the characters, and why?
The plot always comes first for me. I’m an engineer by trade and I love architecting elaborate, twisting plots to see how branches dovetail into each other, and making sure the entire thing stands as a stable structure on its own. Then I put in the characters and see how their personalities will react to the cage I’ve trapped them in.
BWG: How was your first SPSFC? If you have other books, Do you think you will submit them to future contests?
My first (and the first) SPSFC went far better than I could’ve ever imagined. I write a weird blend of sci-fi, mystery, and comedy, so my appeal is pretty niche to start out with. Adding to that the fact that comedy rarely wins any of these sorts of awards, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get past the first round. Comedy is extremely subjective and personal, and for me to land the right sequence of judges to get me to the finals felt like nothing short of a miracle.
BWG: What was the best part of the SPSFC experience?
The best part of the SPSFC was getting to interact with a bunch of other indie SF authors I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. Not to mention reading their awesome books.
BWG: For readers unfamiliar with your work, can you tell us about your SPSFC entry?
My entry was my 2019 debut novel DUCKETT & DYER: DICKS FOR HIRE. A bizarre mash-up of everything I love. It’s a sci-fi, mystery, comedy that takes its DNA from popular genre fiction and comic books, and adds a huge dash of sitcom-style humor. It follows two odd-couple-like roommates who uncover a multi-verse spanning mystery as they’re repeatedly told that they run a detective agency – which they don’t. It’s the first book in a series of ridiculous sci-fi mysteries. Book 2 – THE ONE-HUNDRED PERCENT SOLUTION was released in 2020, and Book 3 – THE MYSTERY OF THE MURDERED GUY was released this past April.
BWG: Where did you get the idea for your book?
Duckett & Dyer is basically a love letter to all the media I consumed growing up. The ideas come me mixing comic books, detective novels, 80s buddy comedies, and Douglas Adams (the person) all together in a big jug and then smashing the jug.. It started off as an idea for a webcomic about a singular incompetent detective titled ‘You’re A Mystery Michael Dyer’, before I quickly decided a double-act was better and added a sidekick by the alliterative name of Duckett. When I came up with the rhyming subtitle ‘Dicks For Hire’, I knew I had to see this amazing idea out to fruition quickly.
That was in 2008.
BWG: What was your most brutal scene to write, and why?
This is a comedy, so there weren’t any brutal scenes, but I’d probably say the part where Michael and Stephanie finally have a heart-to-heart. It’s a huge change of pace for the book and evens out their differences in a more personal way.
BWG: What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft?
It used to be purely time travel, but then I went for broke and decided to fold in alternate universes – which has added a nice bit of complexity to the overarching plot of the series.
BWG: There is usually research of some form when writing a Sci-fi novel. Were there any exciting bits of research or rabbit holes you went down writing the book?
Oh, I didn’t do any research. This is a comedy about time travel and alternate dimensions. I could do – and did – whatever the fuck I wanted.
BWG: What do you have coming up in the future?
I just released the third book in the series, but before I get to work on the fourth, I think I’m going to take a little break. That being said, I’ve got some fun little interim content up my sleeve. You’ll have to wait and see what it is…