Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’ve been a lifelong fan of hard science fiction. I am a software developer by trade, and spent five years teaching computer science to undergrads. I have blended interests in computing, artificial intelligence, singularity theory, physics, and speculation on the future of technology. I started by writing technical books on computer programming with 19 published, and that largely explains why it took so long to get my first novel finished.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The Mandate of Earth is my debut novel, which I started writing in 2003. I was inspired by reading rubbish from a well-known sci-fi author (in my opinion) and said to myself, “I can do better!” 12 years later, I’m not so sure. Wish I’d finished it sooner, but I began writing technical books instead. But the world was a different place back then for indie publishing too. I was very hesitant to go in this direction versus traditional publishing, but now I’m glad I did.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I occasionally get inspiration in spurts and fill in a couple pages in future chapters that I hadn’t thought about in much detail, then I tend to fill in up to that point. Also, I sit on my work for at least a year before releasing it, and review it from a fresh, objective point of view. I never rush anything out the door.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Greg Bear each influenced me in a big way.
What are you working on now?
I just released a novella-length standalone prequel to Mandate, for juvenile/YA readers, and it’s a lot less dense, more fun. I’m working on a short story at present, involving neuroscience and A.I.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’m not new to marketing after 15 years but still am not very good at it. So, the best I usually manage is a piece on my blog, a FB page, and Tweeting about sales.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Get beta readers to review and give you feedback! This can be extremely helpful if you find good readers willing to give you advice. I rewrote the entire beginning of my novel when readers said it was too slow. I believe a very strong opening is critical to making it into the top 100 of your genre.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Do not sacrifice future growth on the altar of short-term benefits.
What are you reading now?
Still reading Heinlein! But I read 2-3 novels at a time. I’m also sampling the Kindle best sellers to find out why they’re doing so well. That’s tough. I don’t want to influence my writing style. But I want to know what sells and consider it market research.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Mandate ended on a mild cliffhanger so I owe fans a sequel and expect it to evolve into a trilogy as is popular today. The idea of exploring the galaxy digitally is at the forefront of the story. There’s a lot of potential there. And, reviewers said that Mandate was too slow, so the sequel will be a lot more action-oriented.
What is your favorite book of all time?
I can’t choose just one, so here are three:
1. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
2. Blood Music
3. The Robots of Dawn