10-28-2014: MilSciFi.com interviews Simon Kewin, contributor to the
anthology Dark Expanse: Surviving The Collapse, author of the short story
MilSciFi: Welcome. Please tell us a little
something about your story.
Kewin: Hellfire Unleashed was the third story I wrote for the Dark
Expanse universe. I'd previously written another Chitter tale but I wanted to
return to the insectoid species as I think they might be my favourite. The
story plays with notions of appearance and prejudice, but if that sounds dull
don't worry. There's a space battle with explosions too…
MilSciFi: Since this was a shared universe project,
just how much freedom did you have in your story concept and/or character
Kewin: A lot. I've never written in a shared universe setting
before, but I felt I had a lot of freedom to work on the themes and plots I was
drawn to, obviously with a guiding editorial hand to make sure everything
stayed consistent. It was a fun process.
MilSciFi: What inspired you to write this story?
Kewin: The story arose from hearing the phrase "One man's
heaven is another man's hell". It seemed like there was a lot of scope to
play with the notion within the Dark Expanse universe, given its wide variety
of alien species.
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?
Kewin: Secondary, I'd say. I have spaceships and stardrives and
beam weaponry and so forth – because they're all obviously fun to play with –
but I think characters are what really make a story.
MilSciFi: Most authors we encounter write
novellas/novels, do you write short stories, and if so do you find it a
Kewin: I write short stories, novellas and novels. They each have
their challenges and joys. But the immediacy of the short story form is hard to
beat. To be able to go from idea to done in a day or two is very appealing. It
can be a welcome respite from a 100,000 word novel…
MilSciFi: Since time is of the essence for getting
a read up to speed in a short story, do you have a strategy, or preferred
method for doing this?
Kewin: I think, just the usual things. Jump straight into the
action and dripfeed in any required backstory so subtly that the reader never
notices (I hope). I like an nice, intriguing opening sentence, too.
MilSciFi: What advice would you give the aspiring
military science fiction writer?
Kewin: They say you should write what you know. But given that it's
currently quite tricky to gain direct experience of space combat, I'd recommend
reading widely in the genre instead…
MilSciFi: Do you think there is any advantage to having
your work in an anthology?
Kewin: Absolutely. I got to share a book with some great writers.
MilSciFi: Who is your single-most influential
author in science fiction, and what impact did that have on our own work?
Kewin: This is tough. Can I say I don't know? I grew up reading a
lot of Asimov and Clarke and Le Guin and many, many others. I mean, where do
MilSciFi: What is the one thing you find the most
difficult about writing military science fiction?
Kewin:I don't actually know much about how guns
and spaceships work. But extensive research watching Star Trek as a boy has
MilSciFi: Is military science fiction the only
thing you write, or is there something else out there we should be looking for?
Kewin: I write in lots of different genres. To be honest, I don't
even think about "genre" much. I write fantasy stories, ghost
stories, realist stories, science fiction stories (obviously) – and anything
else that takes my fancy.
MilSciFi: Do you have any other projects in the
Kewin: Always! I'm currently working on my fourth and fifth novels
as well as some short stories here and there, just to make things interesting…
MilSciFi: Thank you, for your time.