Where Readers & Writers Connect
I love it. That’s my primary form of leisure. I’ve recently expanded the genres I enjoy to include some westerns and contemporary fiction, in addition to my already considerable collection of sci-fi – which is by far my favorite.
· Who are your favorite authors, and what makes them special to you?
My favorites are C.J. Cherryh, Chris Walley, Timothy Zahn, and David Drake, to name a few. There’s quite a few more I consider influential, but these are tops because of the breathtaking adventures they’ve written. Their characters are diverse and fun, their worlds are meticulously created, and their stories fast-paced. Everything I want to have in my own writing can be found in their books.
· How many books have you written, and how many of them have been published?
I’ve written four books: The Word Reclaimed, published by Marcher Lord Press in 2009; its sequel, The Word Unleashed, published by MLP in 2010; Broken Sight, published by MLP in 2011; and Crosswind. I’m also a chapter or two away from finishing the tentatively titled Scourge, the sequel to Crosswind.
· What genre do you usually write?
I gravitate toward science fiction, and always have. That’s probably because sci-fi – especially space opera tales – represent the final frontier, if you will, in exploring the unknown. The harsh environment of space also provides the perfect backdrop for human drama and intrigue.
My sci-fi is of the Christian variety, which means that I do my utmost to portray Christians as true to life as possible—with all their warts and wrinkles. It also means I talk freely about the faith that sustains my life and the lives of so many others. Too often I’ve read great sci-fi books that take a side trip into Bash-Religionville when they could have included people of faith alongside others for an interesting counterpoint.
· Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
Broken Sight tells of a rescue starship commander who is faced, along with everyone else in the galaxy, with the prospect of complete religious freedom. This comes in stark contrast to previous decades lived under the thumb of the kingdom’s secret police, who suppressed any and all religious activity. The commander must not only unite his diverse crew in the face of their own strife as their faiths clash but also face down an enemy who plans to push the galaxy back into a dark age.
· How do you get an idea for a book?
Many of my ideas come from history, or modern news, and just require a twist to make them into fantastical adventures. For example, my latest project, Crosswind, derived some of its plot from the very violent economic conflicts of the late 1800s in the American West, with one group of individuals within a state attacking another to eliminate an economic rival.
Other times ideas just kind of leap into my head, without any rational explanation/
· What is your writing schedule like? Do you write only when inspired?
I work at a library, and have the evening shift on Wednesdays. So on Wednesday morning I come in to work a half hour early – away from the home computer and TV and my books and all the other distractions – and squirrel myself away in one of our public use rooms. There I fire up my laptop and write for a half hour straight, no interruptions. Sometimes I can manage 45 minutes. I also write on my lunch breaks, or try to—some days I don’t feel up to it. Other than that I write whenever the mood strikes. There’s always a small notebook in my pocket or a large one in my backpack for those times when I don’t have a computer handy and need to scribble something down.
How do you prepare to write a book? Did you do any special research?
I do a lot of research. For my sci-fi, I spend a lot of time poring over the Popular Science, Popular Mechanics and Discover magazines we get at our library. I also read up on historical articles to give background flavor to the worlds I create. Then there’s language books, books about codes, some about trade and spying—the list goes on and on. My reference shelf at home is a very eclectic collection of volumes.
For my latest project, Crosswind, I did a lot of research into World War I airplanes and technology of the late 1880s-1890s, plus conflicts and politics from that period. Why? Well, that will become a lot clearer when you read the book. (Click on the image below to purchase.)
Oh—I also clipped articles about prehistoric/Ice Age mammals.
· Are you a plotter or a pantser? Explain your writing process.
I’m definitely a pantser—as in, flying by the seat of. Usually when I get a vague idea for a plot or character, I scribble it down in my notebook. It’s not till days or weeks or maybe even months later that I go back and start fleshing things out. I tend to dive into writing once I have the main character figured out and most of the story world designed. It’s far easier for me to make up characters on the fly than it is to design a new world—I have to know the rules, as it were, ahead of time. This usually involves maps and sketches. I have a barebones outline of the beginning, the rough body, and the ending for each book. Everything else I fill in as I go.
· Why do you write?
I write because it brings me immense satisfaction to tell a story from beginning to end. I write because there are ideas and characters and new worlds springing into my mind all the time. It’s getting crowded, and setting them down on paper (or on computer screen) helps free up memory.
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Steve Rzasa was born and raised in South Jersey, and fell in love with books—especially science fiction novels and historical volumes—at an early age. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University’s College of Communications in 2000, and then spent seven years as a reporter and assistant editor at weekly newspapers in Maine. Steve moved to Wyoming in 2007 to become the editor of a weekly newspaper there, and now works at the local library. He and his wife Carrie have two boys and live in Buffalo, Wyoming.