07Oct2010: MilSciFi.com interviews Walter Knight, author of the military science fiction novel, America's Galactic Foreign Legion.
MilSciFi: "Welcome. Please tell us a little something about your novel."
The future world I created is the terraformed planet of New Colorado, where after several wars, humanity and spider-like aliens are forced to live with each other across a DMZ. Although the tow species often fight it out in true military science fiction tradition, America's most potent weapon turns out to be our culture. The aliens have fits with the Americanization / contamination of their culture and hatchings.
The devious Americans bring in the heavy artillery: Satellite TV, casino gambling, drugs, alcohol, football, baseball, Nike sports products, Walmart, McDonald's, Taco Bell, KFC, money, democracy, freedom, poker, sports betting, the Mafia, and interspecies sex and porn (yuk).
Americanization progresses to the point where alien shoppers camping outside Walmart on Black Friday riot after human shoppers already inside taunt them by holding up discounted electronic items, and giving them the one fingered salute. The aliens try to pass laws against Nike sports products and baggy pants, scate boards, and even American cheese, but are already too hopelessly addicted to Starbucks coffee and American TV. Resistance is futile."
MilSciFi: "Is this part of a large series or universe?"
My main character, Joey R. Czerinski, starts out as a desperate compulsive gambler and small time thief who does not plan more than a few moments ahead. Czerinski changes as he acquires more responsibility and experience in the Legion, but still retains a lot of his bad straits. Readers either love or hate Czerinski."
MilSciFi: "What inspired you to write this story?"
There is also political humor. In a series about culture clash between humanity and aliens that cannot be avoided because the contemporary events unfolding now worldwide. Today you have China and Iran trying to outlaw or control TV and the internet, and push back American culture. They will fail, just as my aliens fail. Watch the news closely. Even rioters in Egypt professing to hate America often wear American T-shirts and tennis shoes. As I said before, resistance is futile.
I love that phrase, 'resistance is futile.' I also have a passion for movies and TV, and spoof both often. If you read AGFL closely, you will find much media, history, and humor snuck in.
Some, including my editor, call AGFL politically incorrect. I suppose a science fiction story about a future strong America flexing its muscles against E.T. Is considered politically incorrect, but it should not be. Stories about a failed America, or the Apocalypse, irritate me, as do stories about evil corporations and a united Earth effort to reach the stars. If humanity ever reaches out to conquer the galaxy, it will be on American starships. No one else can do it. If that is politically incorrect, so be it."
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?"
At one point my editor suggested more science and technology, as have some readers. However, my formula seems to be working. The series has sold over 20,000 books (mostly Kindle) and we are just starting. That is not bad for a new author. Kindle ownership is expected to increase to *20,000,000 this Christmas, and AGFL will ride that wave."
MilSciFi: "Do you have plans to expand upon, or write other works based on this novel?"
MilSciFi: "Most authors we encounter write novellas/novels, do you write short stories, and if so do you find it a challenge?"
Knight: "I love to write short stories. I add short stories to the end of most of my books. I call it 'bonus humor.' All of the short stories are based on AGFL themes, but are apart from the main story lines.
I have two favorites, one about an alien lawsuit accusing fat female human pestilence shoppers of running over and crushing alien shoppers during the Black Friday Walmart riot, and the other about a Legion swat team surrounding a literary critic. The critic dies slow and painful. It's funny stuff."
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?"
MilSciFi: "What advice would you give the aspiring military science fiction writer?"
Knight: "No matter what you write, it is the nature of military science fiction that you are going to upset someone. Even the word 'military' upsets some people. Me? I tend to piss off liberals. I do not intend to. I try to be fair and balanced. But to some, any voice that dares to joke at the establishment is not tolerated. Most science fiction writers and their books are liberal, so hopefully my books will be a breath of fresh air to the genre. "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" has certainly got some attention and ire.
So my advise? Write with no concern about what you think others want you to write. Dare to upset people because it will happen no matter what you write. The only restrictions I put on me writing is I keep swear words to a minimum, and do not use racist or anti-gay humor. I have no desire to be the Andrew Dice Clay of science fiction. I ask myself, would I be proud to show my book to my mother or neighbor?
I did upset a lady with my alien / human sex scene. I think she had a problem with my main character having commitment issues. Humor can be a difficult thing."
MilSciFi: "Who is your single-most influence in science fiction and what impact have they had on our own work?"
L. Ron Hubbard's "Battlefield Earth" and "Mission Earth" series are great. My favorite scene of "Battlefield Earth" is when the aliens observe starving humans eating rats and assume rats are a natural part of our diet. The alien does not understand why human prisoners are not more appreciative when he provides an ample supply of rats for dinner. L. Ron Hubbard has off the hook humor that I love.
World famous science fiction writer Piers Anthony wrote a nice book review of "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" saying, "It's wild, improbable, but great adventure."
MilSciFi: "What is the one thing you find the most difficult about writing military science fiction?"
MilSciFi: "Is military science fiction the only thing you write, or is there something else out there we should be looking for?"
Knight: "I also wrote "Vampire in the Outfield" about a minor league baseball player who discovers he can play baseball and hit better after being bitten by a Vampire. He still has a problem with day games. 'Johnny Black' tries to lead the Seattle Mariners against the Evil Empire (New York Yankees). It's a fun read, and humor abounds.
For now I am concentrating on finishing the "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" series. AGFL-12 is being edited now, and 13 and 14 will be out before Christmas."
MilSciFi: "Please tell us about your publisher, and how did you came to chose them?"
Penumbra sent me back a complementary cursory edit of my first book. That was quite a difference from the form responses I had been getting from publishers. Penumbra editor Patricia Morrison did not realize at first I wrote humor, and got a bit irritated at first. She did not like my alien lawyer wearing glasses and carrying a brief case. Pat thought that was not realistic. When Pat realized I was poking fun, she read my manuscript in a different light.
I insisted on AGFL being a package deal. Penumbra asked me about marketing. I am a new author, and knew marketing would be a tough sell. The best promotion for a book, is to write a 2nd book. The best promotion for the 2nd book is to write a 3rd, and so on. Pat liked my first book, so she read the others to make sure of their quality. My series passed muster, and Penumbra agreed to publish the entire series. I have continued to add to the series since 'first contact.'
MilSciFi: "Do you have any other projects in the works?"
Knight: "Just short stories with AGFL themes."
MilSciFi: "Do you have any upcoming author events?"
Sales of my paperbacks and E-books are all online. New authors published through a small press cannot get on bookshelves at traditional brick and mortar bookstores because we cannot afford to take back unsold books. That effectively locks out authors who do not publish through the Big 6 Eastern New York publishers. That's fine, I am still selling a lot of books, and the future looks great. Kindle sales are the savior of new authors, and the future of the publishing industry. Now is an exciting and historical time to be a new author, and I am fortunate to have written "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" at right place and at the right time.
I blog some, mostly at writer's blogs, but no longer have to promote much. AGFL mostly sells itself now. I enjoy doing this type of online interview. It is great to be able to give a shout out to my peers and readers."
MilSciFi: "Do you have a website?"
Knight: "I have a five page website at www.waltknight.yolasite.com where I post cover art and sample chapters for all my books, along with bio information and updates."
MilSciFi: "Thank you, for your time."
Knight: "Thank you for the interview. My dream is for "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" to be coming to a theater near you."