Guest Author Interview with Daniel Peyton

Thank you so much to author, Daniel Peyton for his thoughtful responses. We appreciate the time you put into answering our interview questions! We know that our/your readers will love it as much as we do! 1. What inspired you to write this book? Answer: My book, Earth's Last Starship, was inspired by a couple friends of mine. They are blogtalk radio hosts of the Brian and Sherri Show. There was a contest on their program to write a book with them as main characters. I know that Brian loves Sci-Fi, especially Star Trek. So, I set out to write a science fiction book that had the feel of a Star Trek story, with Brian and Sherri as the central characters. 2. Can you tell me about the book? Answer: Twenty years ago the Soreth came to Earth as refugees running from the Tol'Kon Empire. Earth took them in and helped them. Ten years later the Tol'Kon invaded Earth Space and destroyed our only fleet. There were three other fleets of ally ships, but they vanished in the wormhole carrying them to save the earth. The last resort was to establish a forcefield around the planet. Tol'kon was held back by the barrier, but the barrier was slowly killing the Earth. One ship survived the invasion, the USS Orlando. For the past ten years the Orlando and her crew have worked to find a solution to save Earth. There is one hope; find those three missing fleets. After a decade of evading the Tol'Kon, the Orlando finds evidence that should lead them to the solution they have been after. But, it might be too late. 3. What is your writing process like? Answer: I am a hybrid pantser and plotter. I create a general outline of the story, basically how I want it to start and the ultimate goal. I create a general idea of the world the characters are in. Finally, I develop at least one main character and a few supporting characters he/she will meet. Then I let the story go on it's own. I learn about the world as the reader learns. As the MC meets new people they either become part of the central core of the group or remain as side characters who might see more than one scene. I often let the story tell itself to me, and that generates a lot more character development that is natural. 4. What did you learn when writing the book? Answer: This would be my 12th published novel. So, a lot of the basics of novel writing and the process of publishing have already been learned. However, with this one I had to step outside my normal comfort zone. I tend to write fantasy, and most of my work is YA. I wanted this to feel like a 90s era sci-fi story. Futuristic science with as little fantasy elements to it as possible. I guess it taught me how to write with an eye for science and not magic, which proved to be interesting. 5. What surprised you the most? Answer: The response. This book did great from day one. I have several bestsellers and have had a lot of great response to most of my work. This one, however, launched out of the gate with momentum. I unwittingly tapped a market that I hadn't been part of and they are hungry readers. 6. What does the title mean? Answer: I guess the book description sort of answers this. There is only one known Starship left of Earth's Space Navy. Thus, Earth's Last Starship. 7. Was the character inspired by a real person? If so, who? Answer: Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, and No. Okay, I'll explain that answer. As I mentioned before, this book was inspired by the radio hosts, Brian and Sherri. So, along with their names, I adopted elements of their personalities and looks into the characters. However, since I was having so much fun with that, I also named my chief engineer after a fellow author, Cris Pasqueralle. I named the doctor Barbara after Brians' Grandmother, who is an avid follower of the show and I knew she would get a kick out of that. Heather, the navigator, is named for another fan of the Brian and Sherri Show. Finally, a person mentioned, but not encountered, in the story is named after yet another author friend and also fan of the Brian and Sherri show, Richard Fisher. However, one of the core characters, Fang, is truly not based on anyone in any remote way. Oh, and the villain is actually based on someone famous...but I'm not spilling that secret. 8. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended? Answer: Oh, I don't want to spoil the story. What I will say, those that survive will finally live as they have wanted, doing the job they truly signed up for. 9. What advice do you have for writers? Answer: The best advice I can give that might not be the common advice given is, be careful. Once you are ready to find an agent, editor, or publisher, be cautious. There are loads of wolves out there they are phony as a 3 dollar bill. They look for new, naive authors to prey on. Be sure to get with groups of authors who have some experience in the field. That way if you do find a potential agent, editor, or publisher, you can ask others about them. We love to help weed out the bad from good for new authors, we were there once ourselves. 10. Does writing energize or exhaust you? Answer: Yes. It can do both. I can be exhausted and ready to give my tired fingers a rest, but another part of me is eager to keep going. 11. What are common traps for aspiring writers? Answer: Editing is a big one. Now, don't get me wrong. Please edit your manuscript. Some say that authors should never edit their own work, I find that foolish. When you finish the manuscript, you should be the first to edit it. However, wait until you have put the last period on the last sentence before you go and edit the book. I have met many aspiring authors who have yet to finish their own book because they go back and edit what they've written and get lost in that part of it. 12. What is your writing Kryptonite? Answer: The internet. I will end up stopping myself in the middle of a writing session to check my email...which ends up on facebook or twitter or instagram. Not only does this waste my time, it will break the flow of the story as I am writing it. (If you'll excuse me, I need to check my twitter....) 13. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Answer: Yes. I have a series of fantasy books that are about stitching witches. They are romantic books as well. The target audience would be embroiderers who like to read fantasy. There is a huge, sub-genre of books that are themed to embroidery or knitting or crochet, or just about any other craft. They often are cozy mystery books set in a crafting shop. They have a bit of the ole Hallmark romance movie-of-the-week feel. My book isn't so smarmy and is fantasy, which is a stretch from the standard offerings in this world of cozy literature. My book also has one other problem, it's written by a guy. Most of these books are written by women and it's mostly women who read them. So, I have considered republishing those books under a pen-name that is a woman, to make the target audience feel more comfortable in picking it up. 14. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? Answer: I have gone both directions. My books have many recognizable elements of the genres they are written in. I enjoy those elements so I include them. However, I strive to give each story a heavy dose of originality. I have had many compliments and comments by people about the fact that my books don't feel like a copy/paste of the popular fiction they are next to on the shelf. So I believe I have been successful. At the same time, I do have a few books that are strikingly different than anything you've read before. I have one coming out this July that was so different that I had publishers across the planet saying in their rejection letters, "We don't know how to place this book, it's so different, but we love it and want you to find a home for it." It took me two years just to find a publisher willing to take it on. In the words of the publishers own editor "This will probably be the biggest book this publishing house has ever produced." 15. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? Answer: Most of my fiction has been series. I have the Dragonwand Trilogy, which I have already written the next 4 books for it, which will bring it up to 7. I have a superhero trilogy. I have my fantasy stitching trilogy. So, yes I do like a series. With my Dragonwand series, it was written as a full book, but was so long that the publisher broke it into three. My Superhero trilogy contains three separate books that tell the continuing adventures of my heroes. The same goes for my Crystal Needle series, three books with three stories. On the other hand, I do have a few stand-alone books. Earth's Last Starship is a single book. The book coming out this July is a single book, and is written to have a complete ending that leaves no openness for future books. 16. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Answer: Between my two publishers I have six unpublished books that are in the process of being prepared for publication. In my computer I can think of eight completed manuscripts ready for the full editing process, but there may be more that I'm currently forgetting. I have some that I'm not counting because they are just fanfics I wrote just for fun, and I doubt the owners of the original canon would appreciate me publishing them. 17. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? Answer: Depends of the book. Working in fantasy tends to mean less research than, say, a general fiction book. I am creating a world of my own with its own history, culture, customs, everything. Thus, I don't need to look up when someone was president or when the process to ferment beer was first recorded. While I am writing I will research basic things so that the story feels real. To give an example. In a book I worked on for NaNoWriMo this past year, a character has to jump down from a rather tall place. In the book he has been taught how to fall down a decent distance and be virtually unharmed. So, I went to Google and looked up a site that taught people how to fall from high places. I learned about the techniques and picked the one that seemed logical for a person to do from wall, and that would be easily taught to a fourteen year old boy. This way the reader accepts he can do this and in fact can see that it is a legitimate method. That kind of research pops up as the story progresses, so that I can feed some reality into my fantasy. 18. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one? Answer: I started writing full length novels when I was in the ninth grade. They were mostly fanfics of Star Trek as I was a massive 90s era Star Trek fanatic. But, from that moment on I wrote non-stop. It wasn't until 2008 that I first was published. In 2009 I left my last job. I can be called a full-time author, but I am a poor one at this moment. 19. How many hours a day do you write? Answer: One hour, every day. If I am in the middle of a book and am ready to get writing, I will add to that. But, I sit down and work on my books for one hour, regardless of how I feel. (Except when I am really sick...then my brain is too ill to think about writing.) 20. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult) Answer: Teen, I guess. Considering the majority of my work has been YA. But, that is hard to say for me. I don't write about my own life. I write about other people. My characters range from 8 year old children to 4,000 year old wizards. 21. What did you edit out of this book? Answer: One bucket of commas, a kilo of spelling mistakes, and a few pounds grammar errors. Outside of that, I really didn't have a lot of content that was chopped out for pacing or anything like that. I tend to write rather tight and keep a story moving. That's not bragging, it's just how I think. I did cut out a bit of the techno-babble in a few scenes. The Captain of the Orlando is a scientist and is working on the wormhole problem. He has a few scenes in an astrophysics lab on the ship. I originally wrote the scenes with a lot more explanation of what he was looking at. In the end I realized it was dull, and not necessary for the reader to know about. That he was working in the lab was important, getting lost in the minutia of techno-babble wasn't. 22. How do you select the names of your characters? Answer: In this book, I named most of the people after real people. Often, in my books, the names flow with the story. I have never really struggled with naming people. Even fantasy, made-up names seem to be easy for me. I like a name that is easy to pronounce and spell. I am often writing for children so that is important. Good guy names need to either be recognizable like, James, or they need to be melodious like Othano. Bad guy names need to be harsh and ugly, like Uxi or Amab Obakar. Finally, my names sound exactly as they look. No inferred sounds, no weird ways of saying those letters, say the name phonetically and you have it right. 23. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? Answer: Dream Job (other than being an author): acting. I have always loved the stage and spent many years on it as a performer. Reality says that I would probably be a cook. I like to cook and could, possibly, do it professionally. 24. What was your hardest scene to write? Answer: In an upcoming Dragonwand book the main character is accused of attacking a city. During the attack a dear friend of his is killed. When confronted in the courtroom of the governor, he is dealing with the terrible feeling of being accused of mass murder, and then is presented with the wand of a fallen friend. The pain in him is so great at that moment that I had a hard to writing it. I am throwing him two incredibly hard moments at the same time. 25. What is your favorite childhood book? Answer: How Much for Just the Planet. It is a Star Trek novel from back in the 80's. It is hilarious and I have read it probably two dozen times. 26. How long on average does it take you to write a book? Answer: between 30 and 90 days. I have never failed at NaNoWriMo, which tasks a writer with completing a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. However, I have books that are 120k-140k, so those took me longer. 27. Do you believe in writer’s block? Answer: YES! I have dealt with it. It's the most irritating feeling in the world. 28. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand? Answer: Computer. I can average over 100 words per minute typing. I write fast, especially when I am working on a book. Using a pencil or pen and I get hand cramp quickly. I have used a typewriter, but prefer computer. I haven't tried dictation. 29. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer? Answer: The ninth grade is when I really began to desire this as a career. 30. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something? Answer: Not hard in the least. I started writing in the fourth grade and simply loved it. 31. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day? Answer: During NaNo, yes. Other times, never. I never put walls in my routine of writing. I want to write until I am done for the day. If that is a small number of words or large number, it doesn't matter. 32. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you? Answer: Oh, I have a plot. I let the story tell itself to me, but there is an obvious plot written in for the characters to follow. It can change if the characters take me on a wild adventure that I love and feel is better than my original plan. But, more often than not, I keep the plot in mind. 33. Any tips you would like to share to overcome it? Answer: Overcome...what? If this is referencing writers block, I have some suggestions. Ask yourself where the block started. Sometimes we get so caught up in the storytelling that we don't realize that we have created a problem that has no solution. To give an example: In a one of my stories, my group of heroes are on their quest to find a legendary wand. The enemy has a small army with him. In the story I wrote that the team camped in a cave on a mountainside. The next morning they find the army of enemies all over the mountains, they couldn't move without being found. I was stuck, they were stuck, the story was stuck, I fretted and got angry about that for days. Then I realized I didn't need to have the enemy showing up that early. All I had to do was let the enemy arrive when the characters are leaving the cave. It turned the next scene into a chase scene, which wasn't where I planned on taking the story. Yet, it came out just right. I was so worried about how to get out of the situation that I didn't think about just changing it so that the story could move forward. I hope that makes sense. 34. Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors? Answer: Yes. I like Brandon Mull, Judith and Garfield Reeves, Ken Ham, Bodie Hodge, Cris Pasqueralle, to name a few. 35. What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion? Answer: Relateable characters. The main characters need to feel real, like they are someone you could know. I don't care if they are 4,000 years old and can use magic, they can feel real to the reader. They need flaws, have a sense of humor, be curious, not know everything, rely on others for help at times, be hungry, be tired, be confused. If a character is too pristine and perfect, they become so unreal they are uninteresting. 36. How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing? Answer: Been there already. I had my first real book signing at a Panera Bread in Knoxville Tennessee. No one came. I felt like a failure. I did learn a bit more about what to do next and have done better each time. 37. Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read? Answer: Not really. I can recall some I read in elementary school, but I don't know if they were the first. I can recall a book I read in school that was a sci-fi book. However, I do not remember the title or author. It inspired me to write sci-fi as a kid. 38. How much of yourself do you put into your books? Answer: A bit here and there. I want to feel that I am getting to know the characters with the reader, so often the characters are not based on me, but are either based on other people or, more often, are entirely original. Though, in my book coming out in July, I put a bit more of myself into the robot character of Z. His sense of humor is mine, his attitude is a lot like me, so there is one who is truly based on me...well at least part of him is, I don't have interchangeable appendages. 39. Who are your books mostly dedicated to? Answer: Jesus, My family, and special people who helped in each individual books production. I do have a unique dedication in the Dragonwand series, as one of the characters is based on a friend of mine who passed away before the books were first published. 40. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family? Answer: My mother is the most supportive. My whole family is very encouraging and supportive. 41. Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that? Answer: Not something I have ever thought about. I am a Christian, I feel that my writing is a gift that God put in me. My heart has always been in art and creating, and writing has been a focus of my creativity since elementary school. Thus, this is what I have in place of what might be called a muse for others. 42. Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that? Answer: Excuse me while I catch my breath from the laughter. I have met many authors, some published with big houses, many published either through small publishers or self publishing. I have met a rare few who make a living off their books, and so far have met none who would be classified as 'wealthy'. I know they exist, sort of like the rare albino lion. If you spot one, tag them and let them go so that they can be studied by the rest of us in their natural habitats. 43. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts? Answer: Maybe, I don't know. I've never done it. I haven't met anyone who has done it. There are millions of people writing out there, so the chance that someone has done it. Do not expect it. Rough drafts are rough for a reason. A diamond is rough before it is cut and polished. 44. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers? Answer: I could shred the paper from all the rejection letters I got, mix it with some flour and make enough pinata's to satisfy every kids birthday part for the city of Detroit. That is to say, yes. All my books have faced rejection. It is the nature of the beast for publishing. Harry Potter was rejected by publishers who are now crying into their coffee every morning for penning that rejection letter. (I doubt anyone is crying of rejecting me, but one day.) 45. What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any? Answer: I have not. But, I think it would be interesting. One of my favorite series, the Ashes of Eden series was co-authored by Willian Shatner, Judith Reeves, and Garfield Reeves. It is a fantastic series that is one of the best Star Trek novelizations out there. So, I believe it can produce great works. 46. Is writing book series more challenging? Answer: Yes. One of the biggest complaints that TV shows receive is about errors in continuity. Working on a series, especially if you make it extra long, you have to keep even the small details in line. This can be a problem in a stand-alone book, but when writing the fourth book in a series, you have to remember all the right details from three former books. Readers will notice them. 47. Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier? Answer: Yes. This is why I have taken to keep notes. I think most authors keep notes all the time. 48. Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts? Answer: Two have been destroyed by my computer giving me problems. I lost a book that I was over halfway through when my computer updated and erased it. To this day I have no idea how that happened, but it was never found again. I have only ever destroyed one on purpose. It was a full length novel that I even spent several hundred dollars editing. It was rejected time after time. I finally got a small publisher who showed interest, but when their editor worked on it, he told me that basically I needed to write a whole new book, mine was terrible. I finally threw in the towel, destroyed the manuscript, and they graciously ended my contract with them. 49. Can you tell us about your current projects? Answer: No. If I did, I would have to kill you. Okay, maybe that was too dramatic. Of course I can talk about them. I have a book coming out in July that is called Remnant. It is a Christian Sci-Fi book. I just handed my publisher 4 more books in my Dragonwand series, to be published starting this Fall. I am currently working on a second edit of a YA fantasy book called The Owl Headed Wand. And I just finished a short story about one of the MC's of my Dragonwand series, to be published in an anthology by the publisher. 50. Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day? Answer: Yes. But, it came about under unique circumstances. In my 9th grade year my English teacher gave us all time each day to write. We were to turn in the work at the end of the day. I started writing my first novel then. My teacher saw me working on it and said I could turn it in when I was finished. I spent three months on that book. It was a Star Trek fan fiction. She took it home over the Christmas holiday to grade it. When she got back to school she apologize profusely, she had lost it. I was devastated, I wrote that one with a typewriter and didn't have any kind of back up. Several months later, the book turned up. My teachers mother was an English professor at OSU. They were both grading papers over the holiday and my book got mixed into her mothers Creative Writing Class papers. The story came back with a note on it that said she loved the story. All through it she left notes about what she liked, such as the descriptions, character developments, the imagery and other stuff. She gave it a C, for grammar and spell mistakes. But that would be if the paper came from one of her college students. She had been searching for who wrote the book. When she found out it was a ninth grader, she wrote on that note that I should keep doing this. My teacher agreed and told me that I had a talent for this. It was then that I truly felt that I could be an author. 51. Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid? Answer: Yes. I grew up with a mother who read all the time. We had a bookcase full of fantasy and sci-fi books. I read Dune in the fifth grade. We read the Hobbit together as a family. We spent time in all the book stores and the library. Books were a heavy part of my childhood. 52. Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs? Answer: I don't have a significant other of any nature...never have. I do discuss ideas with my family at times, and they help if they can. I will bounce ideas off of my mother especially, since she is such a big reader of fantasy and sci-fi. 53. Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece? Answer: No. I have had a few that could have inspired me. But I haven't actually done that yet. Links: - -

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