Feb 8, 2012

{Author Interview} with Paul Byers Act of God Science Fiction Short Stories

Today on Seeing Night Reviews author Paul Byers is here to talk about his latest book of science fiction short stories. As a fan of Twilight Zone type stories, I was happy to talk more with the author about his work

SNR: Can you tell us a little bit in your own words about Act of God?
PB: Thanks, Kristen for having me here on Seeing Night Reviews. Act of God is a collection of seven sci-fi shorts. The stories span from present day to the not too distant future to several hundred years from now and range in location from the depths of the ocean to the vastness of outer space.

Each tale is reminiscent of the Twilight Zone. Placing ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances filled with unexpected twists leaving the reader asking the question, “What would I have in that situation?”

SNR: What type of research did you have to do for this type of storyline/short stories or what inspired you? 
PB: Research, even for a short story is important. While you may not need a lot of it, again, depending on the tale you are telling, what you do have had better be relevant and add to the story. One nice thing about writing sci-fi is that a lot of it is so mainstream nowadays you can take a lot for granted. If you say, warp drive, hyperspace, beaming, most people know what that is and no explanation is needed.

Most of my research for these stories was pretty straight forward book facts. For instance, did you know that the Saturn V rocket used for the Apollo moon missions and for Shooting Star is 363 feet tall and weighs between 5-6 million pounds?

However, for Annihilation, which is about a nuclear powered submarine, I was able to go beyond the book knowledge and talk to a sailor who severed 20 years aboard several different types of subs. His insights gave me a feel into what it was really like living aboard a nuclear powered submarine and helped me give the story extra flavor that I just can’t get from straight book research.

SNR: Do you have any interesting quirks when writing? Ex. Listening to certain music for inspiration, watching television, writing outside, etc. 
PB: Each morning I circle my desk three times then put on my favorite t-shirt that I’ve had for 20 years. Just KIDDING! No, in this aspect I’m pretty boring. Sometime I listen to music but rarely. I usually just grab a cup of coffee and sit down and write.

SNR: What was your favorite experience in writing this book?
PB: I enjoyed doing the research for the book, looking up facts and learning things along the way but what I enjoyed the most was writing the stories themselves. What I mean by that is that with short stories, as I writer, I can take greater risks with the stories. I can do things with the plots, creating sharper twists and turns that would either get lost in the shuffle or would lose their impact in a full length novel.

SNR: Do you have a favorite story out of those in Act of God?
PB: Two actually, and for two totally different reasons. In Shooting Star, some of the scenes with Grant’s child are taken from experiences with my own son, Adam, so I have a personal connection to it. With Annihilation, the more I was writing it the more I could see the possibility of turning it into a full length novel; so I have a professional connection with that story.

SNR: Who are some of your favorite writers?
PB: There are a lot of good writers out there and it’s hard to pick just a few. I fell like one of those actors receiving some kind of reward but hesitate thanking everyone because I know I will inevitable leave someone out. However, having said that, I do like Jeremy Robinson, not only because his reads just plain fun and fast paced but because he is a genius in marketing his books. Jeffery Deaver is another who comes to mind with his crime thrillers. Not only does he spin a good tale but he educates you about the subject along the way, and you don’t even realize it!

SNR: If you could be any one of your characters in any of the stories who would it be and why?
PB: For me, I think it would be Evan Grant from Shooting Star. How cool would it be to be an astronaut? I grew up on Star Trek, Star Wars, Battle Star Galactica and Babylon 5. I spent my entire life “in Space” so to speak so I think it would be great to really be out there. Looking at pictures is not the same thing as actually being there.

We’ve all watched professional sports on television and it’s a great way to see the game but there is no substitute for actually being there. The smell of the concession food, the roar of the crowd and the excitement you can literally feel in the air. So it would be to really go into space. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be weightless and float in the air like superman?

SNR: Can you tell us what you’re working on next?
PB: Right now I’m finishing up a thriller that’s set in the South Pacific and hope to have it ready to go by July or August. It follows the crew of an oil exploration ship that comes across an unchartered island inhabited by natives who have never seen outsiders before. What could possibly go wrong?

After that’s out, I plan on either starting a sequel to my action thriller, Arctic Fire or looking seriously into making a full length novel out of Annihilation.

Paul grew up in Oregon on the shores of the mighty and mysterious Columbia River, and spent endless hours daydreaming on the beach in front of his house, making up stories about the ships from exotic ports all over the world that steamed up the river – what secret cargo might they be carrying; did they harbor spies who were on dark and exciting missions?

Later in adult life, he moved to another mysterious and provocative city – Las Vegas, just outside the famous Nellis Air Force base.  After work he would sit on his porch and watch the fighters take off and land, igniting his imagination with visions of secret missions and rich speculation about what could possibly be hidden at Area 51.

After moving back to his native Pacific Northwest, Paul worked for the Navy and took every opportunity he could to speak with veterans from WWII to the Gulf War, listening to them swap stories and relate the experiences of a lifetime.

So it is this combination of a passionate love of history, a vivid “what if” imagination, and a philosophy of life that boils down to the belief that – there are few things in life that a bigger hammer won’t fix – that led Paul to become a writer of exciting, fact-based action-thrillers.  His greatest joy is leaving his readers wondering where the facts end and the fiction begins.

LINKS: Web Site | Amazon | B&N

No comments:

Post a Comment