Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Gregg Macklin, I am 64 and retired.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I grew up in Simi Valley, California, in the 1960s. Simi Valley was where a lot of the employees of North American/Rocketdyne lived, my dad, being one.
North American/Rocketdyne, built the engines used on the Saturn V Moon Rockets. The engine test facility was in the hills on the south side of Simi Valley. We could see the glow of the tests at night and always feel and hear them. It made me wonder about our future and how far we could reach.
After 11 years in the Air Force, and remarrying, I moved back to Simi Valley for ten years. We moved to Indiana in 1994 were I took a job with the Department of Defense and a Federal retirement after 30 years.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
My wife and I, as I said, live in Indiana, where my wife is from originally. We find the country life on ten acres relaxing and enjoy the four seasons.
I have some collage credits earned while in the Air Force, along with some formal classes. None of the credits are of help to a writer.
I had one tour overseas, in Thailand. I learned to speak two dialects of the language and am using an ungrammatical Thai term for a race of aliens in Beneath the New Moon.
My last assignment was on nuclear missile sites in Montana, and I put that knowledge to work in White Hot Skies.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I am editing a short story, I hope to sell to one of the Science Fiction magazines. Side Effect Not Listed.
The Voyage of the Jules Verne, has been stalled for a while, as is Beneath the New Moon and The Land Under the Rim. The first two started out as short stories, but, the editors I sent them to felt they were better as full-length books.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I thought I started writing in my late 50s and early 60s. But, a friend from my senior year in high school, has informed me I have always been a writer, and still has some of the letters I wrote to her while I was the Air Force to prove it. She should know, she was an English teacher for a long time.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I published Time’s Crossroads
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Time’s Crossroads, was born out of another time travel story by another writer. An online friend who interviewed the author put me in contact with him. The other author was helpful more than he knows.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
From a lot of sleepless nights. My wife, Sandi is my sounding board for titles. I must have bounced two dozen or more titles off her, before that one struck a chord.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My writing style? Just sit in front of my computer and let the story reveal itself to me.
Science Fiction is one of those genres that seems easy, as it boils down to taking something of science and saying what if…? But, the details of the what if…has driven me nuts. Science Fiction is one of those genres which must be based on what we know already is. In a book I am working on, I describe a scene used to lay out the workings of a generational ship and entering decks that spin at different speeds in order to maintain 1g on each deck. I was called out about it by several people I showed it to, because of the differential speeds stepping on the moving decks was dangerous.
I spent a week researching the speeds needed for each deck to maintain 1g and the change in Delta V between decks. It works, but I had to add more detail so the reader knows it works.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
With Science Fiction, the science has to be real to a great degree. One has to be careful though, in how far real is stretched.
In The Land Under the Rim, I created a planet that is sheared off so it appears to be flat, and surrounded by a high rim. In the real universe, the planet’s spin and molten core would make it round again.
Some of my characters are based on bits and pieces of people I know. Caden, in Time’s Crossroads, is my grandson, though he was a new born when I started it. fFour months later, a rough first draft of the book on CD was buried with him. In a way, Caden is now a real time traveler.
Larry in White Hot Skies, is a composite of several of the people, including me, with whom I served with in the Air Force.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No, but I should. The cave in Time’s Crossroads was a plot idea that came from a tour of Blue Springs Cave here in Indiana, and sinkholes that indicate a cave running under our land.
At least two other stories came about because of backpacking trips out west.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I do. My wife and I are retired, which means limited funds.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That is a loaded question. I have had one person decline to review White Hot Skies because of the political tone of the story in places.
My characters are, I hope, independent thinkers, doing for themselves and others. I hope readers see parts of themselves in them and learn things about themselves they didn’t know before. I know I learned a lot about myself those same characters.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
My two favorite writers are Robert Heinlein and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Heinlein was great at his craft. His science was spot on for the time period he was writing, and the concepts of his stories hold up, even those where he got the science, (Blowups Happen,) wrong. His characters were so well written, that part of the science being wrong was not a problem.
Tolkien, is one of a kind. The details of Middle Earth and peoples that live there are unbelievably real. Each detail builds the next. I think J. K. Rowling attempted to emulate his style with her Harry Potter series.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My friends who insisted I write my first two books and The Bartholomew County Writers Group.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Not at this time.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. Another writer, Ron Collins, told meto spend my time on the next story. He was not alone in that advise. But, it doesn’t rule out a sequel.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes. I learned to listen to the characters. I re-wrote the end of one chapter at least three times. Though the method of the killing changed, the character kept killing the person he needed to have answers from. I finally gave in and let the death happen, though I was sure it was not in him to kill like that. Then in the next chapter, I finally understood why it happened, and that it made the book better.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
For White Hot Skies, either Scott Bakula or Mark Harmon.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Understand that you are a writer, even if it is only writing in a note book. Find a local writers group and attend all the meetings, and never give up.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Review the books you read, not just mine but all books. Writers live by reviews as much as by word of mouth recommendations.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just started an anthology editedby Asimov, The Seven Deadly Sins and Cardinal Virtues of Science Fiction
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The How and Wonder Book of Planets and Interplanetary Travel. For some reason I didn’t want to read anything, even in school. Then my parents figured out I loved science and space flight, so, they gave me this book. I asked them to read it to me. “No, if you want to know what is in it, learn to read it.” I was hooked and have not stopped reading since.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Family. They can cause so much pain you think you’ll die, and make you laugh so hard you forget the pain.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Tough question really. Jesus is the obvious answer, but someday that will happen. So, Robert Heinlein. Why? To pick his brains of course. He is the father of modern science fiction, and though I would find the meeting intimidating, I know I would learn a lot. about writing from him.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Learning to use a smoker. I don’t think there is a food that can’t be improved by first smoking it for a few hours.
I used to fly, but unless I write a best seller…
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Good science fiction. Getting harder to find these days.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Home grown tomatoes, beans, ‘cukes and melons. I am learning to cook meats and some vegetables on a smoker/grill and having a ball doing it. I like the colorblue, but it might have to do with the11 years I spent in the Air Force. I love red hair and blue eyes.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
More reading and more fishing.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
With my wife.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
This is Gregg, he was crazy, but it was okay, he was a writer.
The first time a group of us attempted to hike up Mt Whitey, we were at the Visitor’s Center, picking up our permits. A man that used to work for me, Ken, met us there, and I was talking to Ken, when I heard Fred, our group leadersay to the Ranger, “That’s Gregg over there. He’s crazy, but it’s okay, he’s a writer.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?