Name Edward McKeown
Age Old enough
Where are you from Originally from NYC
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am awaiting publication of the second of my Maauro and Wrik series. This is my favorite of my own work, the story of an ancient war android over 50,000 years old, discovered on an asteroid by a disgraced military pilot fleeing his past. The friendship between them becomes their best weapon in their struggle to remain free of governments and the Thieves Guild.
Maauro the android has been the easiest thing that I have ever written, it’s more like taking dictation from her then imagining a series. And yes, Maauro is female, in her case, it is a choice. She chooses a female identity and grow into it.
I’ve written six novels with this character with more to come. It is set in the same “universe” as the prior Shasti Rainhell/Robert Fenaday adventures and, hint, there are even some crossovers.
Here’s a picture of Maauro from my cover artist Pat Venture
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
About fifteen years ago and inspired by by friend Tim McLoughline success with his book Heart of the Old Country (which became the movie- The Narrows) I decided to try my hand at it. I started writing short stories and appearing in anthologies and magazines.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think that was when I made publication in the hard cover anthology Low Port which was available in Barnes and Noble and other bookstores.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
One day an image flashed into my mind. It was of a blood red ship ghosting over world that I someohow knew was dead. And I wanted to know why that world was dead. So I began to write, this turned into Was Once a Hero and after that there was more story to tell and next thing I knew there was a trilogy.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
In short stories I go for humor. In longer and more serious work I imagine issues of love, life, death and existence. I tend to 3rd person close perspective except for the Maauro books. There something happened.
I realized that Maauro spoke and thought in first person present tense, while her friend Wrik Trigardt spoke and thought in first person past tense. I wrote two books before I realized why that was. Maauro lives a machine existence with perfect recall of her past. Unlike we biologicals she does not look forward to maturing, to changing, to children and retirement. So her existence is always NOW.
Wrik is a human and must experience the passage of time the way we do and hence he tells his story with a past that it like ours.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles usually have dual meanings for me or at least a bit of indirection. I often find inspiration in bits of poetry linking the classic past and the future. My Outcast State was one such, a piece of William Shakespeare describing a condition of isolation of difference and what friendship can mean to it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think of our place in the universe where we came from and where we are going, it’s worth spending some time considering. Other than that no. I just want to tell a rousing good SF story.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
In my books it is the emotional relationships of the characters that are most important thing to me and are I hope completely realtistic and authentic. In terms of the science fiction I take minimal liberties with modern physics that I can. FTL is probably the biggest exception, there I must break with physics or not have a story.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I will use things from my own life to add verity to what I write. When Robert Fenaday stands in the door prepared to jump into the night air, parachute on his back, I have done that. When Wrik struggles to summon his courage I have had to struggle to find my own. When either of them loves or doubts or wonders what their life means, these are my own questions.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Andre Norton with her clear and emotive storytelling was always the greatest influence on my writing. I drew a higher degree of sophistication from what I learned of reading CJ Cherryh, Jeff Sutton and Larry Niven.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
While I still read some S&F I find most of my time is spent reading history and learning how and why the world came to be as it is.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
This actually concerns me some but I have not found many new or young authors that I have lost my heart to. I find myself editing the work as I am reading it. Maybe this is why I have fallen into reading so much history. I wish I could find some new writers that would draw me under their spell. Any recommendations?
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I hope for it to be though like almost all other writers I know, a day job is required. With the publishing world in so much flux, no one really seems to know how to play this game.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
From the upcoming Against that Time
The spider robot cut off the airlock controls using a barrier loop program. With luck it would loop the video signal continuously so no one would spot me slipping out. I slid into one of the armored pressure suits lining the airlock. Even in the reduced gravity of the station, the suit was bulky and difficult to don by myself. I sweated, cursed and struggled with the seals in gloves that were even thicker than the usual spacesuit gloves.
I’d gotten too complacent– not keeping up my EVA training, always leaving the outside work to Maauro. Now that complacency might end us both.
Finally I had the suit sealed and ready. I punched in the code and the airlock began to cycle, scrubbing potentially explosive oxygen.
“Open, God damn it,” I swore.
The lights from my helmet lanced out into the maelstrom of blue sky outside and fell on Maauro. She lay frozen, only meters away, one arm outstretched in desperation toward the airlock. Her beautiful eyes were mere panels of onyx … dead.
“No,” I screamed and ran toward her, violating the first law of high gravity; never take an unbalanced step.
Cimer’s inexorable 1.8Gs waited for me on the other side of the door beyond the floating city’s AG field. The universe blurred and I fell across the city surface until I slammed into an antenna stand, disoriented by the speed of my fall.
I don’t know how long I lay there, stunned, but when I regained consciousness it was to the flat taste of blood in my mouth and strange smells in my suit. Awareness crashed back, strange smells in suits meant system malfunction and death. I struggled to focus my blurred vision on my helmet readouts, which showed a chilling amount of red lights. Servos whined as I struggled to my knees, the smells grew worse.
Where was Maauro? I realized that I’d fallen more than five meters across the gentle slope of the drift station. Had it been more of a slope I’d surely be dead. I began to crawl, my armored gloves grasped any projection and I set each limb before I moved. There was no way the suit would survive another mistake. Slowly I struggled upwards as the howling wind of the gas giant sounded in my ears. Lightning flashed in impossible blues among the chlorine clouds. But the universe narrowed for me until it was only the pitted surface of Tir-a-Mar. Every atom of my body protested its extra weight and my face felt like it was pulling free of my skull. Time lost meaning for me. I was Sisyphus sentenced to push a boulder uphill for all eternity.
I bumped into something. With an effort that strained my neck muscles, I brought up my head to see Maauro and beyond her, the hatch to the station, with its blessed lower gravity.
I tapped on her carefully, placing my helmet against her, hoping that conduction would carry my voice to her. She didn’t respond.
“No,” I said, gritting my teeth, “not after 50,000 years. Not after Kandalor. Not after the Artifact. You are not going to die here!”
Think, dammit. She’s frozen to the deck, means she’s not generating any power. I’ve got to cut her free. I triggered the cutting torch in the suit arm and prayed to the God I wasn’t sure I believed in, that I wasn’t hurting her. The torch cut through the methane ice quickly. I got to my knees and tried to move her. She barely shifted. I groaned; I’d forgotten how much heavier Maauro was then she appeared to be. Lifting her was impossible in 1.8Gs.
I put my shoulder to her and pushed carefully. If she toppled down the slope…
We gained a foot. Servos whined and I caught the whiff of burning electrical systems. More lights on my helmet panel went yellow or red.
Push, recover, push, scream when the pain became too great. Cough as the air in my suit became toxic as leakage defeated the scrubbers. My suit was failing. If we didn’t make the hatch soon, we would refreeze here, perhaps to be found by some maintenance crew, or perhaps to be swept off in an endless fall.
Would Jaelle ever learn how we had died? Would she think of us? Would she think of me? I coughed and tasted more blood, then shoved again. With a thunk we struck the edge of the airlock.
I looked at the edge of the airlock in despair; the lip of metal was only three inches high but it seemed a wall. I knew I couldn’t rest, couldn’t regather my strength. God only knew how much longer my suit would hold death at bay.
“Don’t shatter,” I demanded. With a final effort, I toppled Maauro over the lip and into the airlock. My suit pinged and snapped as servos blew, but she went in. With my last rags of strength, I crawled in after her.
The horrible smothering weight vanished as we crossed the gradient back into artificial gravity. Relief gave me the will to hit “close” on the hatch before I fell into blackness.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Finding the time and energy out of life that includes a day job, martial arts and dancing.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My current cover artist is Pat Ventura who has captured the anime look that s part of Maauro’s look and appeal. The Fenaday work was done by Michael Church a glamour photographer who dabbled in cover art for a while.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Tell your story as clearly and as straight from the heart as you can. Also a writing group is in my view essential. You need to expose your work to the refiner’s fire of criticism.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not the first but among them was the Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek, The Medicine Man’s son and many other scholastic books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I treach martial arts in the form of Kung Fu and I my wife got me interested in ballroom dancing and I am learning from Karolina Szpiech
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I have been a long time Star Trek and Bab5 fan. Right now enjoying IZombie, War and Peace and a wide variety of anime works
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Pizza, Sphagetti, and anything French. Chrome Yellow/ Moody atmospheric music, Japanese Anime soundtracks, Heart and Great Big Sea,
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?