1. Tell us about yourself and when you started writing.
I was born in Ogden, Utah and lived there until I was five. My father later took a job in Denver, Colorado and moved our little family to what is known as the, “Mile High City,” where we lived until I finished the fourth grade. That summer we moved back to Ogden, Utah where I lived until 1984.
In 1984 I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I had the opportunity of serving the gracious people of Pusan, South Korea. Upon my return home I married a beautiful woman and moved to Seattle, Washington where we lived for twelve years. In 2000 I relocated my family to Boise, Idaho. Then after the tragic events of 911 and the severe economic stress that followed, I decided to finish my education and pursue a Masters Degree in Architecture at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. Since graduating with a Masters degree in 2006, in an effort to remain employed my family and I have lived in Orlando, Florida, St. George, Utah, New Orleans, Louisiana, and presently, we reside in Casper, Wyoming. If you hadn’t figured out by the vagabond nature of our living habits mentioned above. I am married to the most kind and patient woman ever placed upon the Earth.
I started writing in grade school after learning to read. I constantly made little books by taking a small stack of paper and folding it multiple times, stapling it in the center and then I would write and draw various stories that, at least to me, were interesting. I had two passions, one was sketching/drawing and the other was writing. Both competed for my time until the art of drawing won out. Throughout my teenage years I continued to polish my artistic skills and I could always be found drawing sword and sorcery themed images. During this period of my life I read ravenously all sorts of books but my mainstays were fantasy and science fiction. It wasn’t until years later when I wrote a paper in college that I realized I really enjoyed writing. Then when I lived in Louisiana after starting to read a critically acclaimed sci-fi novel and finding it filled with four-letter words and graphic sex, I said to myself, I can write exciting sci-fi better than this and feel comfortable recommending it to my children. So I began writing in hopes of helping to take back the sci-fi culture that has become filled with offensive and politically correct garbage.
2. Tell us about your book.
Since 1992, I became politically engaged. Freedom, and the fact that this precious gift from God is slowly being taken from us, has been in the forefront of my mind. Exodus: Leaving Home is book one in the epic Exodus series of a near-futuristic Earth where people have allowed their freedoms to be stripped from them and now they find themselves living under a tyrannical hyper-restrictive world government. (Sound familiar?) In the series a group of freedom fighters, in the spirit of our forefathers, seek to find freedom from tyranny by setting out on a quest to recapture their lost liberty. Morstyn, a psychotic villain, and Miah, his Biowired juggernaut spy, do all they can to stop the freedom fighters from succeeding. I suppose the story is a combination of all my favorite epic literature and movies, including religious texts. In a way it is written for my children because I not only want to entertain but I want them to understand how precious freedom is and what could happen if it continues to erode.
3. What authors inspired you to write science fiction?
I was probably about six or seven when I read my first sci-fi book. The Golden Apples of the Sun, a short story compilation by the late great Ray Bradbury. I remember having a hard time at my young age grasping the stories and the mature prose but the final tale, The Golden Apples of the Sun, fascinated me. I’ve been a fan of sci-fi ever since. Star Wars came out when I was about twelve and the sci-fi/fantasy genre just got into my blood. In high school Tolkien was a major influence along with Terry Brooks. Stephen King helped me with understanding suspense and how interesting characters are written. Tom Clancy’s fast-paced military action kept me entertained on long plane flights when I traveled for business. More recently authors that influence and inspire me are Frank Herbert and his rich epic series Dune, David Brin’s delightfully weird Startide Rising, Alistair Reynold’s mind-blowing Revelation Space Trilogy, Robert Jordan’s seemingly never-ending Wheel of Time Series, David Weber’s Honor Harrington Series, and Vince Flynn and Brad Thor’s political thrillers. There are probably others but these I remember most.
4. How much time do you spend on research for your books?
It seemed like all I did for Exodus: Leaving Home was research. I started to write and soon found out there were a lot of things I didn’t fully understand. I used to hate math and I’ve never been very proficient but I found myself solving all types of complex math formulas for the story. There were all kinds of questions that I needed to understand. Here are just a few. At eighty degrees below zero how soon will frostbite occur? What are the long term effects of zero gravity on human physiology? What are the various ranks in the military? What jargon does the military use in combat? When does the sun rise in the month of May in the Arctic Circle? What are the ranges of current radar technology? How long would it take to travel to a distant star at a certain speed? How do you figure out population growth over a period of time? What would it be like to live on the moon? These and many other questions needed researched and I found myself at times enjoying the learning so much that I had to force myself to get back to writing the story.
5. What are your writing habits?
I work full time in architecture so I have to organize my time effectively. I usually wake up early and get to work an hour or two before working hours and find a quiet spot to write. At lunch I wolf down some food so I can spend most of the time writing. As I said above I have a very patient loving wife and she allows me to spend a few hours on weeknights and write while she goes to bed. On Saturday I wake up around 5:30 and write until everyone gets up. Sunday I rest. The technique I use is antiquated but it works for me. I start my initial draft the old fashioned way by writing with a pen in long hand in a composition notebook. Once that’s finished then I transfer the story to the computer.
6. What snacks/drinks give your super writing powers?
My sweet wife has gotten me addicted to this wonderful blended fruit shake in the morning. At first I was reluctant…very reluctant. But I tried it one day and soon found my mental clarity and focus enhanced. It consists of a banana and a half and usually some other fruit like strawberries or peaches, a little water, nuts if we have some, and maybe a carrot or apple with half a lemon, peel and all. It’s really quite good. The other snack I really enjoy is pizza, although I’m not really sure it enhances my writing ability I couldn’t live very long without it.
7. How many times do you edit your books?
I find that editing or re-writing a story is actually where the writing really begins. Once I slog through the arduous task of just getting my ideas down on paper then I can really begin to make sense of the mess; working out the continuity and contradictions, develop the characters, and check story details. I re-write until I can read the story and it makes sense to me, usually about ten to twelve times. Then I spend a lot of time checking for typo and punctuation errors. It’s amazing to me no matter how thorough you think you are and how many times you check there always seems to be a typo that shows up.
8. Why did you choose self-publishing over traditional publishing?
I haven’t entirely given up on traditional publishing…yet. I initially sent my book to a publisher and when I found out how long it was going to take for me to even hear back from them I said to myself, I can’t wait that long! So I decided to go indie while waiting for publishers to respond. I have an extensive background in graphic design and art, so for me it was a fun project to design the cover and the layout of the book. The big downside to independent publishing is the lack of marketing resources. Although listening to authors from both sides of publishing I’m not so sure that even with a traditional publisher all writers’ books are marketed equally.
9- What type of music if any do you listen to while writing?
It depends on what part of the story. Most of the time I have movie soundtracks playing in the background to help inspire me. But sometimes I find that type of music distracting and have to listen to ambient type music, usually its real strange atmospheric stuff that prods me into thinking about space travel, planets, stars, and things of that nature. While other times I need complete quiet to work out complex scenes and situations.
10- What are you working on now?
I’m right in the middle of re-writing book two in the Exodus series, Reprisal. I hope to have it available sometime in November 2012. In this book a bunch of new and exciting characters will debut along with the lovable and despised characters from the first. Questions posed in the first book will be answered and new questions will be asked. In this part of the story I’ve tried to weave into the story, in an entertaining way, some of the world issues that have been happening in the past few years against an epic backdrop of moon bases, space travel, and military action. If you enjoyed the first book this promises to be a great ride.
Thank you for joining us, Orson! Everyone be sure to check out his book. If you or someone you know loves science fiction, they will love this book!