SF I Benjamin Douglas Interview

Editor’s Foreword

Special thanks to author Benjamin Douglas for doing this interview with us. You can find the first book in his Starship Fairfax series, The Lunar Gambit, on Amazon by clicking here.

Thank you for finding the time to do this interview with us.

No, thank YOU. It’s my pleasure. Who says no to free promotional appearances? Only, like, super spies, right? I’m not one of those. Dang it.

In your first in series novel, The Lunar Gambit, your protagonist is certainly not your typical First Officer who’s almost anxiously counting down the days when he can assume the captain’s chair. What was the inspiration for the character and your decision to make him the main character?

I’ve always found geeky characters resonate with me. I’m a bit put off by the hyper-masculine uberman archetype most of the time. To put it another way, I didn’t play football in high school; I played trumpet. I’ve always always enjoyed characters who have to deal with a flaw I can relate to, so confidence in a leadership position = a match made in heaven! I may have made him a bit *too* atypical, though. Readers seem to prefer Lieutenant Caspar over Lucas!

What was your inspiration for your Starship Fairfax series?

I think it’s been a lot of things. Going back, my dad is a huge sci-fi nerd, so there were Issac Asimov novels littered throughout the house growing up, and there were always episodes of the original Star Trek or Twilight Zone or something on TV. My older brother is a Gen-X’er, right in the middle of the Bladerunner-and-Star-Wars generation, so that was in the air, too. I think, like a lot of indie authors writing military scifi in the past couple of years, I was inspired to explore it now by Chris Fox’s 21 day novel challenge. But I also enjoy reading a lot of scifi indies—Mark E. Cooper, Lindsay Buroker. Edward Robertson’s Rebel Stars series is one of my all-time favorites, and in some ways I modeled my universe after his. But different, of course.

In what ways is your protagonist, Lucas Odin, similar to yourself? Did you give him any skills or characteristics that you wished you possessed?

Lucas is, I hope, a dynamic character who grows and becomes more confident and comfortable with command over time. I admire that, I aspire to that. But yes, we are similar in that we both tend to crumble under pressure when placed in positions of leadership within a group. I also gave him a really tech-inclined intelligence, another thing I’ve always envied in my friends. I’m more of a sit-on-the-couch-and-memorize-every-word-of-these-murder-mysteries-on-Netflix kind of guy.

It seems to be a relatively common trope in science fiction to have Earth and Mars in conflict. You chose a different dynamic in your series. What motivated your decision to choose the power structure you developed in your series?

Yeah—so I mentioned Edward Roberton’s sci-fi. Something I think that’s really cool about his books is that the world (so far, anyway) is contained within our solar system; humanity hasn’t broken out past the Kuiper belt just yet. So that idea, and that border location, were in my mind maybe from him a bit. The Kuiper belt has also loomed in my imagination ever since I heard about it in a documentary or something a few years ago. It was one of those “wait, there’s more?” moments—you think you learn all about the solar system when you make that diarama in fourth grade, but it turns out there’s a lot they didn’t tell you, like how Pluto isn’t a planet anymore, or how now it sort of is again, or how Thomas Jefferson had slaves. For me, that was the Kuiper belt. Once I had the location, I knew I needed at least a binary power conflict, so. . . colonies/rebels v. Empire, a tried and true troptastic combination, seemed a good place to start. :)

Outside of the Starship Fairfax series, do you have any other books planned?

OHHhhhhh yes. If everything goes well, I’ll be writing a complimentary serial called Fleet Wars. I’m toying with the idea of trying my hand at LitRPG in time for Ready, Player One to hit the big screen, but I know the readers have very specific expectations, so one should tread carefully. I also have two co-authoring collaborative sci-fi projects in the works, and lots of potential plans for steampunk and fantasy-type stuff down the road. There are a lot of books I want to write!

What first motivated you to become an author?

Like a lot of us, I’ve always enjoyed writing. I wrote my first superhero story in fourth grade, my first science fiction story (a time-travel adventure that went on for a whopping five pages!) the year after that. In my other life, I’m a classical singer and college professor / voice teacher—I definitely feel the daily need to be creative. But right now I think what has lit a fire under my butt to actually write some books and put stories out there in this format is the whole indie/self-published author revolution. It’s a really, really interesting phenomenon to me, and something that’s really exciting to be a part of, even on days when nobody reads my books. :P

With which non-author celebrity would you most like to co-author a novel?

Oof. Do I pick someone awesome and profound who would write a really great story, or someone popular and well-connected who would sell a million copies, or someone who would just made me look great by comparison? That’s really, really tough. If I had to pick, I think maybe either an iconic actor, like Meryl Streep, or a mainstream comedian like Colbert. In any case, I get super starstruck, so any project with a celebrity would likely just end up as me going fanboy all over them and asking them silly questions.

What day from high school would you most like to relive?

I had to think about this one. I’m sort of a late-bloomer, and I don’t think I was really myself yet at all in high school, but there were definitely some glory days. Maybe I’d pick the day a friend of mine had me act in a few scenes for a student film he was shooting, just because it really puffed up my ego and felt awesome.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Reading! Ha! In all seriousness, though, I’m a daytime daddy 8-5, and a professor most evenings, so I’m pretty busy most of the time. I do spend time interacting with the author community in places like KBoards (*waves* hi Dan!). One of things I do when I arguably should be writing is host a podcast, The Book Speaks Podcast. Episodes go up every Friday. You should check it out. ;)

If advanced beings came to Earth and let you choose to have superpowers, an intergalactic spaceship or a TARDIS, which one would you choose and why?

Do I get to choose the superpowers? If so, powers, hands down. The intergalactic spaceship doesn’t really interest me. The TARDIS is VERY tempting because of time travel, but without superpowers, I don’t think I’d survive very long, or be brave enough to go anywhere interesting. But, man, give me the power to fly, and invincibility? I’m set for life.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know?

Inner peace, brotherhood for all humankind, and the redemptive power of love. And also that the Starship Fairfax series is available to read in KU. And that I fully intend to finish the series and write more books, so check it out!

What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

Get out alive.

In a potato sack race between Usain Bolt and Lance Armstrong, who wins and why?

I think we all know that really depends on a few key issues, most of which I’m not comfortable commenting on, because even though he was a cheater, Lance still waged war with a disease not to be taken lightly.

Did I do it? Did I ruin the joke?

I’m a ruiner.

Thank you very much for taking the time to share with us!


About the Interviewer

Dan C. Rinnert is the publisher of ScienceFictionFantasyHorror.com.


About the Author

Benjamin Douglas writes action/adventure science fiction with a quick pace, memorable characters, and twisting plots to keep you reading into the wee hours. Visit his website to opt in to receive his monthly/bimonthly newsletter and get an exclusive free short story, “The Trials of Io,” a prequel to his ongoing Starship Fairfax series.


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