Tell us something about yourself
I'm an ex-Navy nuke, with a beautiful wife and two great daughters. I'm a beginner triathlete who swims just well enough to watch the other athletes pass me for the rest of the race. I love science and space and can watch documentaries for hours on end.
What prompted you to write your book?
I loved reading science fiction as a kid. I spent three years as a kid living on a U.S. Navy base in Japan. The only English television was one hour of Sesame Street every Sunday at 6pm. So, I read a lot of books. I wore out the collection of Tom Swift books at the base library and most of the non-fiction science books as well.
This particular book starts with a childhood fantasy. I always thought it would be so cool to find an alien spacecraft hidden somewhere. I would find it, learn how to operate it and travel to other worlds.
This is where Ambassador from Earth begins.
What kind of world building did you do for your novel?
The book begins in present day so world building was a lot of childhood memories of middle school brought forward to early 21st century.
Once the main characters leave Earth, the fun began. I tried to imagine how advanced alien cultures would interact with less advanced civilizations they encountered as they traveled beyond their native world. I tried to draw from examples of Earth history. The story usually ends badly for the less technologically advanced society but it isn't always a straightforward military conquest either. I also had to think about how each alien's environment and evolution would affect their culture. I didn't want a bunch of humanoids who simply mimed Earth cultures past or present, I wanted them to be truly alien.
I then tried to throw in as much real science as I could. For instance when the children travel at close to light speed in their ship, time is compressed and what seems like hours to them is days to others.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
A few laughs. My main characters are middle school aged and sarcasm needs to flow like an old episode of MASH. On the philosophical side some thoughtful questions. Like a lot of science fiction I get into some big ideas and concepts. I don't want anyone to get the impression that I think I know any of the answers.
Do you have any themes that recur in your books?
Sometimes kids are a lot smarter than adults, and braver, better people. Life hasn't had a chance to bruise their humanity as much.
Every intelligence usually acts in its own self interest. Our inability to define what one's self is and what its best interests are leads to delightful confusion and interesting stories.
Good and evil make more sense as directional arrows on a continuous moral scale than definitions of people or their actions. Sometimes a thing can be right and wrong at the same time.
What are you working on now?
A steam punk (I guess) story about a sixteen year-old in the early 1920s. In brief: Mars actually is as Percival Lowell described it, Germany wins the Franco-German War of 1914 in forty days, Martians appear on Earth shortly after and begin causing mayhem, nuclear fission and rocketry are mastered by 1919 putting Britain and Germany in a space race and our hero and his father are sent to Mars on a British rocket to stop the invasion. Oh, and there's some stuff about spies, traitors, psychic girls, and of course a lot of alien monsters to be fought.
How did you get started writing?
I started trying to write sci-fi novels in the sixth grade. Every story I ever read or watched and everything about science and the universe I eve learned wants to come out into a story.
Where can readers find you on the web?
Ambassador from Earth will be published on MusItUp.com in August. My previous e-book Akiesha: Princess of Mars was published on Storyplus.com but that website is currently inactive.
I can also be found on Facebook.
“Now do you believe me?” Ellen asked.
“Never doubted you,” I lied.
Suddenly, the spaceship changed. In the blink of an eye, it became the battered old van. In seconds, it changed again to the same van, but brand spanking new. Then it became a medium-sized helicopter, then a small private jet. Ellen let out a gasp as she found herself standing inside the wing of the jet.
“James, what are you doing?” Ellen shouted.
“This thing has a whole library of different things it can appear to be,” James called out.
The craft changed again: a fighter jet, an ice cream truck, a mail truck, and then it disappeared altogether.
“James, where’d you go?” I shouted.
“Right here, Brother Matt. This one’s called Cloak Mode Middle Band.” I heard James’ now disembodied voice.
“Now you’re invisible,” said Ellen.
“Right,” said James. “You can even change the outside without changing the inside. Now watch this.”
The van reappeared ten meters away, then farther off, in a different direction.
“I can make it appear anywhere I want,” said James, the sound of his voice coming from the same place.
The van had not moved, only the image. The craft then reappeared in its true location and quickly became a series of what appeared to be other spacecraft, some strangely shaped, but all close to the same size. None looked like anything on Earth.
“What are these things we’re seeing?” I asked.
“A…Sklethos DR7 cargo pod, a…Pruscharri TL12 fighter, and…a…Veechi S18G sub-sentient expendable probe.” James described each of the vehicles.
“James, I think that’s enough, we get the idea. Better turn it back into the van before someone comes along and sees,” said Ellen.
“Wait, I want to try one more thing,” said James.
“You’d better not be doing what I think you are,” I said.
“I want to see if I can download images from the Internet and feed it into this thing’s database…there!”
Ellen and I now beheld a large white SUV, complete with twenty-two inch, chrome-plated spinners and purple chassis underlighting. Inside the cab, James touched a control and “Wooly Bully”, by the Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, boomed through what sounded like a 600-watt base tube at over 80 decibels. I signaled to James to reduce the volume.
“James, you pimped the spaceship,” I groaned.
“Just giving it a little style, Brother Matt.” He smiled, and with the click of a mouse on his laptop, the spaceship was again a beat-up old van.