11-24-08: MilSciFi.com interviews author John B. Rosenman, author of the military science fiction novel Beyond Those Distant Stars.
MilSciFi: "Welcome. What was your inspiration
for the story?"
Rosenman: "I owe Beyond Those Distant Stars
largely to Lois McMaster Bujold's space opera novels about Miles
Vorkosigan. They fired my imagination,
and in homage, I named my cyborg heroine Stella McMasters. Also, I love to write cosmic,
action-adventure science fiction. It's
just the way my muse or mind works.
Stella McMasters is the first of my heroes in this sub-genre."
MilSciFi: "Do you have any future plans for
stories set in the same universe?"
Rosenman: "I've tried twice with mixed
success to write a sequel to Beyond Those Distant Stars. Maybe I'll be successful the third time."
MilSciFi: "What other upcoming works are on
the horizon for you?"
Rosenman: "I'm currently writing a novel,
Dark Wizard, that takes place largely in San Luis Obispo, California.
A man named Kan finds himself in this quirky and scenic city with no memory of
his past or who he is. But he possesses
mysterious, transcendent powers, such as the ability to bring the dead back to
MilSciFi: "How would you describe your
experience working on the book?"
Rosenman: "Writing Beyond Those Distant
Stars was difficult and challenging, but being a member of a critique writers'
group helped a great deal. I took my chapters
to them, and they critiqued and in some cases line-edited them, sometimes
making brilliant and helpful suggestions as to plot and other matters. I'd take those chapters home and revise,
with other novels is similar. Every two
weeks I take chapters to the group, and they give me their reactions. Then I hone and polish, revise and . . . you
get the idea. After the novels are
accepted by publishers, I use Track Changes to go through them chapter by
chapter, line by line, trying to make them better and better, just as good as I
MilSciFi: "If you had a chance to write one
story just because you wanted to, and didn't have to worry about if it would
sell or not, what would it be about?"
Rosenman: "I don't worry about it, and I
write whatever I want, whether it's a novel or a short story. Maybe this
is a dumb attitude to have, especially if you want to become both critically
and commercially successful. Although
I've written – and published in some themed magazines and anthologies – I write
basically to please myself. What
interests me, in other words. So I've
written a story (unsold so far) about a man with bladder trouble who can't urinate,
a humorous story of metafiction that pokes fun at the whole concept of short
stories (recently published), and an experimental, African-American
science-fiction adventure novel, A Senseless Act of Beauty, recently accepted
by Blade Publishing. The key again is
what I want to do. For me, life's too
short to march to someone else's drumbeat."
is your favorite story you have ever written and why?"
Rosenman: "When it comes to novels, that
would be Dax Rigby, War Correspondent, due out in December 2008 from Lyrical
Press. Now when I say it's my favorite,
I'm not saying it's my best. Beyond
Those Distant Stars may be my best; Alien Dreams is my most cosmic; Speaker of
the Shakk contains my best and most diverse aliens; and A Senseless Act of
Beauty, with stand-alone stories inside the larger narrative framework, is my
most ambitious. But Dax Rigby is my
favorite largely because I think I'm very successful in creating a cosmic
savior and redeemer, a neo-Christ-like hero who can save billions of lives. And it doesn't hurt either that there's a lot
of great action and some fascinating aliens (at least in my humble opinion).
As for short
stories, I've published over 300. It's
hard to pick a favorite, but one close to the top would be “The Blue of Her
Hair, The Gold of Her Eyes,” because it embodies the theme of transformation,
something I've always been fascinated by. Rachel contracts a terrible, deadly
disease that makes her a feared and despised pariah. She changes and changes, and eventually
changes into . . . something quite unexpected."
MilSciFi: "Give us the details on your
upcoming author appearances."
Rosenman: I'm scheduled for a two-hour chat on Savannah Chase's Author Corner on December 15, from 7 to 9 pm. That's at http://savannahchase.com/. I'll be talking about my fiction and perhaps
running a contest.
MilSciFi: "What advice would you give the
aspiring military science fiction writer?"
Rosenman: "Study and Prepare. Having a background in science and astronomy
be a bad thing. Study American space
exploration. Also, read the masters and
classics of military science fiction. Go
to Borders or Barnes & Noble and buy the large anthology there of classic
military science-fiction stories. If you
do all that, you may avoid certain blunders, such as having bombs explode with
a big bang in space. Since space is a
vacuum, that just wouldn't happen, no matter how often you see it in
detail, for that is where the Devil truly resides. If you have a military warship, what will it
be like? Long and cigar-shaped, or
resembling a saucer? Remember that
interstellar distances are vast, so it might take decades or centuries to get
to your target, unless you use wormholes, which probably aren't plausible if
you write hard, science-based science fiction.
Finally, avoid clichés like the plague – well, just avoid them. Eschew Warp Drive and don't slip your ships into
MilSciFi: "What is the one thing you find the
most difficult about writing military science fiction?"
Rosenman: "Getting military details
right. I didn't serve in the military,
so matters of protocol and procedure come to me second-hand. Again, research helps, as well as reading
novels of military science fiction. In
Dax Rigby, two officers have the same rank.
Which one should be in charge?
The answer is the person with more seniority.
science-fiction part is difficult too.
One scientific slip or error and the reader will lose confidence. Above all, military events and actions have
to take place within a scientifically realistic universe."
MilSciFi: "Do you have any awards you would
like to share with us?"
Rosenman: "My first novel, The Best Laugh
Last, won Treacle Press's First Novel Award in 1982. It's mainstream, not genre,
and came from my college teaching experience."
MilSciFi: "Do you have a website where our
readers can go to find more information about your work?"
Rosenman: "Yes, I do. Please drop by http://johnrosenman.com
and check me out. Leave a message or
comment – I'd like to hear from you. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
in case you'd care to write me directly."
MilSciFi: "Is military science fiction the
only thing you write, or is there something else out there we should be looking
Rosenman: "Ever since my first novel, which
is mainstream, my novels have been science fiction. Most have a military
component. My short stories and
novelettes are more varied. Some are science
fiction; others are humorous science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy, horror,
erotic horror, you name it."