Monday, September 17, 2007

On Tour With Austin Boyd, Author of The Return!

This month, the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour is promoting Austin Boyd and his latest release, "The Return". Mr. Boyd was gracious in granting me an interview (and I think I'm getting better at these interviews:-) So, I present to you Austin Boyd!

1) Many have written books in the science fiction genre. What guided you to select Mars as your focus?

I spent my days as a boy, and as a Navy pilot, with an intense drive to be in the space program. As an aspiring astronaut, I had two goals: to spend as much time as possible in Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) and to go to Mars. Unfortunately, I got all the way to the interview and finalist for astronaut, but it was not in God’s plan that I get all the way to selection. Unable to go to space, I felt led to write about it. Mars holds a strong fascination for me… the closest planet, and not a hard one to reach or to colonize. I hope to see that happen in my lifetime.

2) So far we have three books in the Mars Hill Classified series. Any more titles to look forward to?

Yes. I have signed a contract with Oliver North and B&H Publishing Group. My editor at B&H is the amazing Karen Ball, a major novelist in her own right and one of the best editors in the business. Oliver North and I are co-writing about some very tough current issues in a fast-paced suspenseful thriller. That’s about all I can say at this point, but it’s a unique book. Beyond that, I have another series I am marketing that will be in the techno-thriller genre. That new series will scare the pants off you… radical advanced technologies that will change all our lives, not always for the better.

3) Who would you say were your influences in the field of Science Fiction?

Technically, what I write is not science fiction, per se. Every technology I write about exists today, and since I work in the technology business, I have lots of inspiration for new stuff that’s soon to come out. There are no laser guns and light speed travel in my books, or people beaming up from a planet. Just innovative pioneering people headed to Mars to do what we could have done 20 or 30 years ago… travel to Mars. Lots of people call my books ‘science fiction,’ but in the context of the true sci-fi writers like Ray Bradbury, they are not. A better term is probably ‘techno-thriller’ or ‘space suspense’.

My influences? #1 would be H.G. Wells (Journey to the Center of the Earth, Time Machine, Invisible Man, War of the Worlds, The First Men in the Moon). I like all the classics. A close second is Ray Bradbury in that genre, author of the Martian Chronicles. Also Edgar Rice Burroughs, known best for his Tarzan novels, but also some great sci-fi works (Chessmen of Mars, Gods of Mars, A Princess of Mars).

4) Star Trek or Star Wars fan?

Star Trek. For three reasons. One, I grew up with them since childhood. Two, because there is far better character development in those series than in the Lucas films. Think about the depth of characters in any of those series, compared to the little you know about one character in the film. Third, the technologies in Star Trek make more sense. I sometimes feel like I have to suspend disbelief too much for the Star Wars films.

5) What are you currently reading yourself, and what's playing on your iPod?

Don’t have an iPod. Sorry. But I love to read. I have Tosca Lee’s amazing novel Demon at the top of my pile. It was remarkable… an insight into the spiritual world at work around us, written in the most unique way. It grabs you deep, and changes your perspective on the way you live. I love to read non-fiction too. I devoured about 12 major works this summer on the issue of radical Islam, trying to understand that thorny problem a little better. It was incredible what I learned. I encourage all my fiction reading buddies to branch out into non-fiction, at least once in a while. I’m also reading Mary DeMuth’s latest non-fiction Parenting in a Post-Modern Culture. Incredible work.

6) Why do you think we have such a fascination with space travel in America?

Space travel is literally the next frontier. We are a people who rise to challenges, a nation that seeks to conquer tough problems. When some people get all “whiney” about the sad state of affairs in America on any given day, I remind them to look back at our country’s mettle in times of crisis. Look back to 9-11, or Pearl Harbor, or Hurricane Katrina. We take on tough challenges and rip ‘em to shreds. Space beckons us all… we know we’ve only scratched the surface of space exploration, so to speak, and we want to do more. We’re fascinated with the unknown, and want to know it and tame it.

7) Much has been said about life on other planets. What is your take on the topic?

I believe that God is much bigger and grander than we can ever imagine, and that it is arrogant for us to presume that we know the unknowable, that we would presume to say with absolute certainty that He could not have created life in other places beside Earth. I’ve been through the Bible many times on this subject, and I don’t think that there’s any firm statement that precludes the possibility of life on other planets. Now, that said, what might that life look like? I am confident we will find microbial life when we go to Mars. But as for walking talking beings who launch space ships to come find us? I’m still not sure that will come to pass in my lifetime…. But who knows? Many of the issues I’ve raised in my books have come true. Could happen… and wouldn’t that be fun? Such a development would challenge us in amazing ways.

8) Every writer has a dream about the impact of their writing. What do you want your readers to come away with after the last page is turned?

I want every reader to ask the question “what if?” I want them to wonder, “what if this happened today, how would I deal with it?” What if you were faced with credible indications of the existence of intelligent alien life on Mars? How would you deal with that? Would you freak out, or would it excite you? Would it affect your faith? As you read through my books, you’ll ask questions like “what if a preacher came to fame who predicted events over and over with perfect accuracy? If that preacher was also preaching immoral behavior, even if he got all his predictions right, would I follow him?” It’s important to understand why you believe what you believe. You can do that best when you ask “what if?”

9) Any new projects after Mars Hill Classified is done?

The book with Oliver North and B&H Publishing Group is in work now. I have the outline finished and I start writing next week. And I am inventing some radical new aircraft concepts at my job that will transform the way we fly airplanes and unmanned aerial systems in the military. So, I get to write about the future, and participate in shaping new technologies, all at the same time. It’s a blast!

10) If you could travel and explore anywhere in our galaxy, would it be Mars, or somewhere else?

Mars. No doubt about it. I’d go see the largest canyon in the solar system and the tallest mountain, both on Mars. I’d go there and try to eek out a living for a while. It’s the ultimate challenge in space travel. If you gave me an extra trip for a bonus, I’d go to the Moon. It would be so great to look back at Earth in wonder at God’s special creation. He’s done so much for us.

Thank you, Mr. Boyd!

To learn more about the Mars Hill Classified series, visit some of my blogger friends on this tour:

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Merrie Destefano or Alien Dream
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Rachel Marks
Karen McSpadden
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Cheryl Russel
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Happy Reading!



Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Love the interview, Deena! Great questions.

And here I've been touting the books as true science fiction from a Christian perspective, at last. Maybe I'm too ignorant of true sf to be a judge.


Valerie Comer said...

I really enjoyed the interview. Thanks!

Beth Goddard said...

Great Interview!

Chawna Schroeder said...

Good job, Deena. You thought up many of the questions I wanted to ask. I'm glad you took the time to put this together.

Grace Bridges said...

Good questions! And good answers, too.