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Doing well, thanks. I'm happy that you are interested in interviewing me.
Can you give the fandom an idea of what being an Aerospace Engineer for XCOR is like and how it has impacted your life?
Well, it's a great experience for sure. I've always loved space and science fiction growing up, so it's a very special feeling to be able to work on actual spacecraft and rockets as a career. I'm very lucky to work with a team of great people and mentors that have taught me so much over the past few years.
What new and exciting moderate-long term goals is XCOR working on that anybody interested in space travel should be intrigued by that you can share at this moment in time?
Our current project is a vehicle called the “Lynx”. It's a fully re-useable, two-person, horizontal takeoff, horizontal landing, suborbital spacecraft. In layman terms, it's a spaceplane that can bring people to the edge of space and back for a lot less cost than the other options that are available.
XCOR has plans to develop a re-useable orbital system after the Lynx, but I don't have any details I can publicly share about that system. Anyone who's interested in learning more about XCOR's history and current projects is welcome to visit www.xcor.com for more information!
You yourself have become a writer and now that you are among that panoply when you are reading stories what captures your imagination and what really makes your eyes rolls respectively?
I think the core always just comes down to having “real” characters. People who behave like people, and who have their own personalities, strengths and flaws. If you have that core in place, then it's probably not going to be a bad story, regardless of what the setting or plot is. For me, a dash of humor is important too, even in serious stories, because it's hard not to enjoy yourself when you laugh in between the more serious moments.
I haven't read a lot of “bad” work, but I guess I get a little frustrated when a book is “overcome with itself”; when it tries so desperately to be a really deep story with all the right ingredients, that it misses the mark, and becomes a caricature of what it should be. You don't need to have a cast of 20 nobles with deep histories and lineages and a world map with 200 landmarks and 1000's of pages of lore. All I need is a small handful of believable characters and an adventure that draws us all in.
I'm going to veer away from asking about broad inspirations in general this time, but it's no secret that you've always found the Persona series from Atlus/SEGA to be incredibly inspirational. Can you articulate what makes this great series about the importance of relationships tick with you and who are your fave characters? (I'm tied between Yosuke and Aigis).
Great question! The Persona series of games are very unique, and they have a depth of character to them that really stands out. The characters in the game are “real”. Seemingly ordinary people who are struggling with not just the whole “we need to save the world” quest that RPG's tend to have, but more importantly they struggle with more ordinary and relatable challenges that each one of us faces in our daily lives. Confronting your fears and your flaws. Finding acceptance. Finding a purpose. Being true to yourself and to others. It resonates very strongly, and I can honestly say that when I beat Persona 4, I felt that I had grown as a person, just a little bit, alongside the characters. If anyone reading this interview hasn't played the games, I can't recommend them highly enough.
Building relationships is a key part of the premise and the gameplay, even. Just like in real life, where you could say that our lives are built around relationships. The relationships we have with our family, our friends, and even the casual acquaintances that become the foundation of nearly every moment we experience. From the great moments in our lives to the mundane ones, we are rarely alone. In the game, you grow more powerful by nurturing those relationships, and I think the same holds true in reality.
As far as a favorite character, that is very hard to choose. But since I have to pick someone, I'd say Naoto Shirogane from Persona 4.
Why write in the Dreamkeepers universe? What has made it so endearing to you and how did you come across it?
It's kind of a funny story, actually. I was reading a webcomic called Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and there were two ad banners on the side of the screen with no border between them. One was for some sci-fi video game, and the other was for Dreamkeepers. I didn't really understand that it was two different ads separated with no border, so I was pretty confused what the spaceship and a cat-girl with supernatural powers actually had to do with one another. I clicked on the Dreamkeepers ad, which ended up being a pretty fateful moment of chance.
At the time, none of the volumes were available for free to read online, but there were about a dozen sample pages from Volume 1 and 2. David's art style is really what drew me in. The color, the depth, the detail, but most importantly, just the life that every page seemed to exude. It captured my imagination instantly. I bought the first two volumes as e-books for $2 apeice, and the rest is history I guess. It's a great setting, and my story started by wanting to place my own characters into his world.
Now on to questions pertinent with TWA. Be warned that there are major spoilers as noted in the title that will completely ruin his heartfelt story so turn back now if you haven't read it all!
The whole story in it's more raw, unedited, public version can be read on here, if you don't want to get spoiled first: www.fanfiction.net/s/8628419/1…
Firstly, what was it like dividing your persona between two different characters? How would you sum up their mentalities on life and how did it feel giving them conflicting interests that both were clearly very passionate about to the degree that one of them had to die?
Well, I guess I'll start out by saying that I never really consciously wrote the characters by thinking “Hal is this part of me so he should do this”. But I think every writer puts a part of themselves into the characters they write, and the main characters of my story just so turned out to be big aspects of my personality. In fact, they taught me an awful lot about who I am through the course of writing this book. It might sound strange, but while I may have been the one typing the words of the book, it was really my characters that wrote the story.
Hal encompasses a portion of me that is curious about the world and filled with wonder. He is the spark of imagination and the thirst for knowledge that draws me into new experiences and new adventures. He wants to see the world, but he has little interest in actually changing the world. He's a little selfish, perhaps a little lazy, and would like to ignore some of the uncomfortable challenges of life that force us to make difficult decisions. Hal also picked up my real life mannerisms and sense of wit, so how he talks and interacts with others more closely matches myself in real life any other character.
Marcus, on the other hand, is my willful, decisive, and aggressive side. He sees all the things that aren't right in his life and the world at large, and he seeks to be an agent of forceful change. He doesn't want to observe the world, he wants to shape it. He's not content to settle for an ordinary existence, so he rages against the injustice of a world that at best, ignores his ambition, or at worst, actively seeks to destroy it. Marcus has a boldness and a fire that Hal doesn't, but his courage makes him arrogant, and instead of nurturing a sense of wonder in his heart, he builds a core of contempt as life time and time again fails to meet his expectations.
They are both very passionate about the things the believe, and I personally think that they are both absolutely right in their own ways. While Marcus might be deemed the “bad guy” or the character that “lost” in the end, I don't think those descriptions are 100% true. Everyone “died” in a sense, and that in turn provided the opportunity for a new life, a more complete life, to be reborn, ready to face the world anew. Marcus' body may not have survived the whole story, but his courage becomes a part of Hal, and it allows him to face his brave new existence without fear or hesitation.
How did you come up with the character of Miri and what does she mean to you? Which tender moment between Hal and her do you like the most in retrospect?
Miri is Hal's love interest in the story, of course, and a big motivation that draws him onward into events he would otherwise have no part in. However, she's not just a “love interest”. She is in a sense, a symbol of love itself. She represents love, empathy, compassion, and the beauty that those qualities bring into our lives. She also carries with her all at once a feminine intuition and a rational intelligent focus. She's the voice of reason when other characters let their emotions get the best of them, but she has a deep reservoir of feeling in her heart. While she sometimes finds herself a victim of circumstances, she fiercely defends the lives of people she loves. In fact, she defends life itself. Her power allows her to share her feelings with others, which is the sort of bond you can only develop by having an intimate sense of compassion and empathy.
My favorite moment is of course, Chapter 21. Hal has been brought face to face with his mistakes and his weaknesses. He's lost in the dark, and she helps him realize important truths: Life isn't perfect. You aren't perfect. But you can live without walls around your heart, and while that can be painful at times, it also allows joy to find its way into your soul. Suddenly, you discover that you are far braver than you ever knew, that life is much larger than you ever dreamed, and that love was always there, waiting for you to discover it.
Deus Ex Machina is a somewhat trite tradition that oftentimes has to be used in many cases with some of the overwhelming situations characters face and Dave himself is not at all fond of it,but poor Hal had a dramatic "death" earlier on in the story and though the consequences and impact were well-handled and fit much better than other cases how did it feel to initially consider using it on one of your own characters?
To me, a “Deus Ex Machina” is when suddenly, without warning or reason, something comes out of nowhere to save the day. I don't consider what happens to Hal early on to be a Deus Ex Machina. It's the first time in the story that you understand the power of the meteor, that is to me, the power of the soul, and how it both sustains us and drives us forward towards a more complete existence, even if that journey is painful. Hal's “death” early in the story is more of a symbolic death. His old life, a self-imposed, sheltered, comfortable but isolated existence, is destroyed. When that happens he is forced to confront the demons of his past, and begin the hero's journey that he is destined for.
I take a fair amount of pride in believing that nothing in my story happens without a reason and that there is a very strong cause-and-effect chain of all events, so I wouldn't consider that event to be a Deus Ex Machina, or any event that happens during the course of the story.
Looking back on Chapter 6 Illyana already was a very warm and sympathetic care-taker for Hal, but seeing as her condition and the way she copes with it put Hal's state in the end into perspective how much did that impact you and did you know you were going to deprive Hal of his vision by the end back then? She was a very sweet character in any case alongside the rest of her family.
Yeah, at that point in the writing process, I knew where Hal was going to end up, and Illyana's condition is not an accident. She is old and wise, and has already suffered and blossomed through life's journey. To Hal, ignorant at the time, her blindness is seen as a bad thing, but in the end he discovers the same things she discovered: That no matter the hardship, life is beautiful, especially when in the end, you finally learn how to see your world through the eyes of love.
As befitting the perilous universe it is steeped in the TWA has a fair bit of peril,but which tear-inducing or tense moment for the characters gave you pause particularly? Vanir and Prof. Kincaid's deaths come to mind for me personally, but I'm interested in what you think! After all writers and artists have a knack for doling out misery I suppose,haha!
Haha, yeah. I guess I'm a little bit of a sadist, putting a good handful of characters through some really tough moments.
Vanir's death was the hardest for me. She was finally starting to become a full fledged character of her own and then she was taken away. Kincaid was hard too but he's more of a minor character. Vanir was going to be Marcus' queen, and Hal shot her in vengeance. It hurt Marcus and it hurt me too. I didn't want to do it... but it's what Hal would have done, so it had to happen.
What was it like writing Marcus after the pretense of civility was wiped away by Vanir's death? For the longest time there he reminded me of Sherlock Holme's famous adversary, Dr. Moriarty if anything and he's such a tragic character!
Marcus was one of the best characters to write because I could feel all of his emotions, his passion and his rage, so clearly and so completely. He's a really tragic character, and to me, he's more of a tragic hero than a villain. He didn't kill people or use violence because he was a sadist who enjoyed harming people for fun. He believed what he was doing was necessary, and no one else in the world had the courage to break free from the shackles of mediocrity and a careless society.
Marcus' tragedy is the ultimate end of anyone who seeks to impose total control over their world. Life isn't neat, tidy and controllable. It's chaotic. Events happen outside of your ability to control. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and vice versa. It cannot be subdued. The Fool must learn to surrender to his experiences, and allow them to change him, before he can grow into a more enlightened existence.
His love for Vanir is similar to Hal's love of Miri, but Vanir symbolizes a different kind of love. She is the seductive lust of power and authority. She is appealing to many, but in the end, her path does not lead to glory, but instead to ruin.
Throughout the story you've always made an effort to humanize your cast and that particularly shined through when Hal persuaded that one sentry to leave his post although the one considerably more affable trooper in the ending helped make it less dour and resonated fairly well too. It says something of his character that he would try to save one life if he could from the senseless struggle he got swept in and it really shows a sense of empathy on your part. Did that moment stand out to you while writing?
Absolutely. In fact, when I started writing the chapter, I fully intended for Hal to be all badass and hardcore and shoot his way in like a hardboiled action hero. But that wasn't who Hal was, and it certainly isn't who he became after the events of Chapter 21.
You see, Hal had discovered that love, not pain, and forgiveness, not rage, were at the center of his existence. The journey was difficult, yes, but in the end it led him to discover that simple truth. Hal showed me what he was going to do as I wrote it, and as it turned out, there was no way he could be the first one to pull the trigger. Everyone struggles through their lives trying to find answers, and the sentry was no different from Hal. In fact, that is the “Golden Theme” that Brian McDonald writes about. In the end, we are all the same, trying to do the best we can. I never intended to write a book about that theme, or any theme really. There was no overt plan. I just wrote what came to me; what the characters would do. All the symbolism and meaning I discovered and learned happened after the fact, after the words were already written.
Lastly, now that their story's over and they've reconciled over their exile so as to make the most of their life what message were you primarily aiming to tell with this amazing story and what have Hal and Miri done for you?
What I learned at the end was the same thing countless heroes have shown us in so many other stories and myths: Answer the call to adventure. It will lead you into some dark places. It will be painful. You will be changed... and you will never be able to go back. But if you accept your life and your journey for everything it is you will come to discover your world in an entirely new light. You will be able to embrace a sense of endless curiosity and a thirst for life, but you will see the world not just through the eyes of wonder, but the eyes of love. And you will have within your heart a courage to carry you forward into the next unknown sunrise. Life may not be what you expect, or even what you thought you wanted it to be, but it is undeniably beautiful... and filled with endless possibilities.
I could probably go on and on for hours about the things I've learned and the symbolism I discovered, but I will just leave things at that. I think my story can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and there is no “right” answer other than what you discover for yourself.
Any final words on the story as a whole now that it's been concluded in earnest? It's been a wild ride in any case and your characters have touched me quite a bit in their own ways.
It certainly has been a heck of a ride. Never in my wildest dreams did I have any idea what this story would become, or what it would mean to me. It was such a pleasant surprise, much like life, that by stumbling my way through I was able to learn so much, teach myself so many lessons that I thought I didn't know until the answers came up from somewhere deep in my heart.
Storytelling is something that humans have been doing since before the start of recorded history. There's something universal and pure there that connects all people, across borders, boundaries and time. We've been teaching ourselves the same lessons and discovering the same truths since the first days of our existence, and as a writer I feel privileged to have unwittingly played some part in that great stream. Perhaps, because I didn't know what I was doing, I proved how we all know these things deep down inside. I think that all art, whether it's writing, or music, or poetry or painting, opens a window and helps us discover another piece of what it means to be alive.
You have mentioned a Kickstarter campaign in the works for your book and can you tell everybody what the general goal of it is and why they should be pumped for it?
Haha, that's right! I intend to launch a crowdfunding campaign in early 2016 to publish The Wayward Astronomer and get it onto shelves worldwide. I want to share my story with the world, and I want other people to experience this journey alongside me, so I've actually formed my own publishing company to make it happen.
I have pretty ambitious goals; Full retail-level distribution; not just a prnti-on-demand or e-book scenario. So that's why I need the support of backers on Kickstarter to make these goals a reality, because printing thousands of books costs many thousands of dollars. There should be some pretty awesome rewards for backers, from signed hardcover copies, to fantastic artwork, and even getting your name in the book! So I really hope that I'm able to get enough support. Stay tuned early next year!
Thank you so much my friend! It has been an honor interviewing you and I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors!
Thank you! It's my pleasure. I couldn't have gotten this far without support from people like you.
David and Liz Lillie interview!
Evan Stanley interview
Tracy Butler interview
Geo interview (TWA spoilers)
I am a gamer artist dude in Oklahoma!<A 3F"><img border="0" |
Links to a few comics I really like and heartily endorse!
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Just most of my friends on here in a random order:
to name just about all of the of the people I consider to be considered my friends on here.
Starcraft 2 profile:us.battle.net/sc2/en/profile/4…
One of my favorite commission sets I've ever done with two spunky characters as though they were in a good old fighting game from the talented STJ.If I ever make one of them into my own avatars don't be surprised!Be sure to check out her art and Dreamkeepers in general if you haven't!