Thursday, October 13, 2011

Military Science Fiction Interview - Walter Knight (America's Galactic Foreign Legion's interview of Walter Knight, author of the popular humorous military science fiction series, AMERICA'S GALACTIC FOREIGN LEGION is reproduced below, with permission. To see the original posting at, CLICK HERE.

07Oct2010: 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."

Knight: "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" Is a 14 book military science fiction series about a compulsive gambler who joins future America's Foreign Legion to avoid debts, and ends up fighting aliens on a distant planet colony.  At least, that is how it started.

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?"

Knight: "The world of New Colorado I create evolves from small new colony where initial combat is with nukes and combatants are forced into underground tunnels, to a frontier with gold rushes and land grabs, to a divided planet with large cities and immigration problems. With 14 books I have plenty of room for world building and character development.

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?"

Knight: "I have a passion for science fiction, military history, and gambling.  "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" started out being a traditional military science fiction story based on those themes.  However, it soon changed.  I have a funny bone that won't stop, and so AGFL evolved in to a humorous parody.  I make fun of everyone I write about.  I can't help it.  The final result in quite unique.  There is not a lot of humorous military science fiction out there.

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?"

Knight: "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" is character driven, in the tradition of "Battle Star Galactica," except with less females.  Oops, sorry, slip was politically incorrect.

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?"

Knight: "America's Galactic Foreign Legion is a 14 book series, so far.  I may continue the series forever, or not.  The first 11 books are published, and I hope to get the rest edited before Christmas."

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?"

Knight: "When I get writer's block on my main story lines, I write short stories.  Sometimes I can incorporate a short story into the new plot, or sometimes it just gets added to the end as bonus humor.  To help other authors at Penumbra, I have even added their short stories or sample chapters to the end of my books (kindle; E-books).  We live in a funny world, so I have no problem finding something to write about."

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?"

Knight: "My science fiction heroes are Harry Turtledove and L. Ron Hubbard.    Turtledove's 'Colonization" series about aliens attacking Earth during WWII inspired me to write a long series military science fiction series that deals with human / alien culture clash issues.

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?"

Knight: "Space combat.  I avoided it as much as possible, and stick to the infantry.  If you want to read about space combat, go read Star Trek or Star Wars."

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?"

Knight: "Penumbra Publishing is new, about four years old.  Their catalog is growing.  I broke all the rules when I contacted Penumbra.  I attached 11 novels to my E-mail query letter, rather than the sample chapters most publishers request.  I figured Penumbra could press the delete button at any time.

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?"

Knight: "No.  I have done interviews for local newspapers, but promotion is most cost effective if done online.  Amazon does a great job of promoting one a novel has been noticed.  Fortunately, I see AGFL has been noticed a lot.  I am even selling well in the UK, and have a few German sales that I laugh at.

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 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."


  1. My "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" series is coming to its conclusion, with only two more AGFL books to go.

    However, Peunumbra Publishing, as you can see from their other new books posted recently on this blog, is hitting its stride. It has been an honor to work with such talent, and to have been there almost from the beginning.

    Its been quite an accomplishment and learning experience. Editor Patricia Morrison described her work as a "labor of love." Penumbra is proof some dreams really do come true (when mixed with hard work, persistence, and luck).

    Thank you.

  2. Walt, that sounds like your swan song. It's way too early for that. You got a lot of work still ahead. :-)


  3. LOL, if there is a AGFL-15, it will be about Christopher Columbus time traveling.


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