I supposed, with the release of “The Chronicles of Henry Harper” just a few days away, I ought to talk about myself, or the book, or myself and the book. I admit, however, that I don’t really like talking about myself. I find it more than a bit awkward, and it always ends up feeling a bit narcissistic. As such I kinda floundered around a bit for what to actually talk about in this case, and ultimately settled on cheating by using a few of those standard questions about yourself and your books that author interviews always seem to ask. Doing a full interview of myself seemed silly, and honestly a lot of the questions seemed a bit cliché and/or redundant. But there were a couple that make a good focus for talking about myself or the novel. Mostly the novel. Unless you want me to tell you how I’m sure I’m the only sane person on the planet. I’ve come up with some really convincing arguments for that.
Q: How did I come up with the idea for, “The Chronicles of Henry Harper?”
A: Now see, this is a question I can totally answer. “The Chronicles of Henry Harper” is the result of looking at the science fiction I owned, and realizing there was an unfulfilled perspective. As many or most of you either already knew or have realized, I can be said to specialize in that area. That is to say, in the writing of the unusual or unrepresented perspectives. Every single short story here on JacenAster.com falls into that sort of (often mildly twisted) mental landscape, and thus it shouldn’t be a surprise that my novel does as well. In this particular case, the perspective was one that boggled my mind a bit, once I realized it was missing.
For you see, there were no books about engineers. Not in sci-fi, at any rate.
How that came to be I can only guess, I ran into a number of major problems I had to solve in order to make the perspective work, so I can assume that some of those issues account for the reason the perspective is nonexistent or rare. However, at the time, I couldn’t even point to those as a cause, and it totally flummoxed me that one of the most important types of people in all of science fiction could be missing representation. At least as protagonists. There are, of course, any number of secondary character who are engineers.
When I did a little digging, and still couldn’t find such works, I wrote a short story called, “The Machinist.” It was quite well received by the writer’s group I was working with at the time, and so when I decided to write a full-length novel it wasn’t that big a leap to consider expanding on the idea. While very little of the original short-story text survived eighteen months of writing and rewriting, many of the basic details from that short story now make up the first chapter of “The Chronicles of Henry Harper.”
There, you see, a nice little chain of events I can tell you about for that question.
Q: What is the book about?
A: “The Chronicles of Henry Harper” is a novel detailing the entire career of a brilliant, veteran starship engineer, Henry Harper. Henry is a gifted engineer lucky enough to be serving during the period where humanity is finally exploring outside its home solar system. He begins his career as the lowest man in the totem pole aboard humanity’s very first experiment in FTL travel, and goes on to be present for first contact, the birth of A.I., and any number of other major galactic events.
In order to save the reader from massive walls of technical details, I chose to tell the story with each chapter detailing a single adventure in a career that lasted decades. Each builds on the last, until the final climax of the novel details the events of Henry’s final adventure.
Q: Why a science fiction novel, is there any particular reason?
A: Science Fiction and Fantasy are by far my favorite genres. I was introduced to Star Wars when I was six, back when there were only just the three movies and no special editions. As I was already reading at that age, it’s not really any surprise that I went looking for more material, and expanding from those Sci-Fi roots into Fantasy wasn’t a big jump. This means that, simply put, Sci-fi is one of the genre I both love the most and know the best. It was mere chance that the most workable novel-length idea I had at the time I decided to write something a bit more ambitious was a sci-fi story instead of a fantasy piece. In fact, the new novel I’m working on now is fantasy. Though I’m also outlining some possible standalone follow ups for CoHH.
Q: What is the book you’re working on?
A: I won’t give a ton of details at this stage. It is tentatively titled “Patchwork Magic,” and it is a fantasy piece with a rather rare setting. Namely, it is set in a world where they developed magic as technology. In example, their equivalent to TVs are actually scrying devices, their flying cars run on levitation spells, and so on. There’s a lot of other bits I’m excited about with both the world and characters, but I’ve written a bit less than 30,000 words so far, and as such everything is still too subject to change to reveal very much.