2009-05-18: MilSciFi.com interviews James Daniel Ross,
contributor to the military science fiction anthology, So It Begins, book two
in the Defending the Future series.
MilSciFi: "Welcome back.
Please tell us a little something about your story, The Nature of Mercy."
Ross: "Of course! The
Nature of Mercy was a difficult story to write. Itís much quieter, more
cerebral story than people may be used to from me. Most of my stories kind of
have a major explosion that starts them off. This story revolves around a man
and his son in a winter landscape. They are discussing the nature of mercy, of
faith, and of life. As it progresses, the discussion becomes more and more
intense, more serious, and the reader begins to realize more is going on than
MilSciFi: "Is this part of a
large series or universe?"
Ross: "Yes, this is one
of many stories available for the Radiation Angels universe. In chronological
order (and where they can be found): First Drop (www.mundania.com Eshort
story), Not One Word (Breach the Hull, short story), The
Nature of Mercy (So It Begins, short story), A Different Kind of Courage
(Barbarians at the Jumpgates, Short story), The Chimerium Gambit (novel,
www.Mundania.com), and The Key to Damocles (novel, www.Mundania.com)."
MilSciFi: "What inspired you
to write this story?"
Ross: "Wow, something
different. Many of the above stories begin with a BAM! and yes, that is
exciting, but just once I wanted something that started out beautiful and pure,
and became dark and menacing the longer the reader kept on. I wanted them to
identify and connect with the characters, so that when night fell they would
feel the same pain."
MilSciFi: "Does science and
technology play an important role in this story (or in your work in general),
or is it secondary to the story telling and characterization?"
Ross: "It is definitely
MilSciFi: "Do you have plans
to expanded upon, or write other works based on this story?"
Ross: "On this story? I
believe I will write about the antagonists in this story again. They are too
good to just let lie."
MilSciFi: "Most authors we
encounter write novellas/novels, do you find it a challenge to write short
Ross: "I want to say I
do, but really I want the challenge. I need to be pushed a bit to provide my
best work. I need a crippling deadline, an insurmountable challenge, or a
difficult concept to pull the best work from inside myself."
MilSciFi: "Since time is of
the essence for getting a reader up to speed in a short story, do you have a
strategy, or preferred method for doing this?"
Ross: "For me short
stories are always character-driven. That allows me to treat everything else as
furniture, and because it is unimportant, I donít need to explain it. It just
is, and exists only to provide space for the character to perform. It saves on
lots of time and effort.
Also, I am fond of an introduction for the main
character. It is bold, it is blunt, and welcomes the reader into the world as
fast as possible: I am Blank. I do Blank. My situation is Blank. Begin first
MilSciFi: "Do you have any
other projects in the works?"
Ross: "Actually I do. As
well as being welcomed into the (now Eppie award winning series) Bad Ass
Faeries, I hope to continue to put out material good enough for Defending the
Future. I just finished working on Snow and Steel (www.theRedSoldier.com), and
Iím shopping around a few more shorts. My first Fantasy novel is almost
MilSciFi: "Do you have any
upcoming author events?"
Ross: "I will be appearing
at Balticon, I have a signing the very next weekend at the CVG airport Borders
Books. I will be signing at SciFi City in June."
MilSciFi: "Thank you."
Ross: "And thank you!"