Today I am hosting a guest post by my friend and colleague Keven Ikenberry. I met Kevin at the Superstars Writing Seminar in Colorado Springs this year. He is a serving Army Officer (Major) in Space Command, and a very interesting guy. Above is a link to his book on Amazon.
Why did you decide to write science fiction?
When I started writing for publication in 2009, I gravitated to science fiction for two reasons. First, it’s what I read the most of growing up. I grew up with Star Wars. I think I saw it in the theater six or seven times. From there came The Black Hole, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Battlestar Galactica, and the Star Trek movies. It was a good time to be a kid! I also remember that my dad had Asimov and Clarke on the shelves in his office. Science fiction was all around, and being an impressionable kid, it had long reaching effects that dovetail into the second reason. Before I returned to active duty, I worked in aerospace science education for more than a decade. I was fortunate enough to work with the U. S. Space Camp program in Huntsville, Alabama as a variety of positions before working with the Challenge Center for Space Science Education at two of their Challenger Learning Centers. Using simulation to educate campers and participants at all levels was something that came naturally.
In 2009, I reached a point with my job where I was comfortable asking my commander if I could take a course in creative writing. To be fair, I have a minor in English from my college days and with a Master’s degree it wasn’t something I needed to do. But, something was nagging at me and I took the course. The very first assignment came back with a note from the instructor – “Why aren’t you published?” I did not have an answer, so I began writing, in earnest, for publication at that point. I’ve written some romance and horror, but I tend to gravitate to science fiction because of all those reasons and the simple fact that I love it.
Who are your influences within the field?
I’ve already mentioned Asimov and Clarke, but of the two I found Clarke’s softer, human take on science fiction both easier to read and more enjoyable. I read most all of Clarke’s work through the 80s and 90s, and had the opportunity to read Orson Scott Card, Kevin J. Anderson, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Ben Bova. David Brin, Gregory Benford, Jack McDevitt, John Scalzi, John Ringo, David Farland, Eric Flint and a host of others fill my shelves. I recently met Hugh Howey as well, and his influence as a self-publisher is really pushing me along.
My biggest influence in the field is Robert Heinlein. I read Starship Troopers in college, and I maintain a dog-eared and worn out copy on my shelf. When I taught ROTC, I recommended it to every single cadet. As a young officer, there were many things that I learned from that book (and others that followed) that I did not learn as a cadet. To me, Heinlein’s work is timeless in that he faithfully wrote his characters into their worlds. Sometimes I struggle with how a person would react in the future. Reading the works of those who have mastered that is as much a learning experience as it is a good read.
I get a lot of influence from outside of the traditional science fiction field as well. Stephen King’s Dark Tower series remains one of my favorites. I am a huge fan of Elmore Leonard, too. I’m drawn to stories, not so much the characters or the settings. Both King and Leonard are masters of pulling a reader into a story without a lot of fanfare or fuss. I enjoy that.
I understand you are a serving officer in the United States Army. How has this helped your development as a writer in science fiction?
Great stories come from great experiences. The military has been a major part of my life for the last twenty-plus years. I have had many opportunities and done a lot of things that find their way into my writing. Being able to take those experiences and tell a good story from them have really helped my writing. It’s one thing to be able to tell a story to a group of peers who understand all of the subtle nuances and acronyms without explanation. it’s something totally different to try and tell that same story (or the relevant pieces of it that work with the overall plot) in a matter that a reader without any military experience will understand without having to stop and Google something. Doing so has had a huge impact on my writing, and with all of the experiences I’ve had, it’s something I can hopefully deliver to a reader.
Tell us a little bit about your current book, Runs In The Family.
Runs In The Family is the story of Mairin Shields, an outcast at the prestigious Eden Academy. Without a civil service assignment and physically unfit for military service, Mairin is going nowhere fast. When a convincing recruiter offers her genetic perfection for participation in a classified experiment, she goes to war, or so she thinks.
Without transport to the fight, Mairin meets and falls in love with Tallenaara, a beautiful Styrahi architect whose mission and past will come to haunt both of them. When the enemy mounts a massive attack that threatens Earth’s allies, Mairin finds herself leading inexperienced troops under an incompetent commander against a shadowy enemy whose tactics are hauntingly familiar. Winning the war could cost her more than her life. Faced with the most difficult choice of her young life, Mairin can only watch as her world spins out of control.
There’s something for everyone in this book, romance, intrigue, and a lot of combat action. The book is available on Amazon, iTunes, Nook, and Kobo for ebook options, and paperback is through Amazon only.
My Amazon page is at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ASFBXT4
What are your plans for future books?
I am waiting to hear from a potential publisher for my next book, Walkabout which follows in the same universe as Runs In The Family, but about one hundred years in the future. The genetic process that Mairin underwent has become a full-fledged cloning process, but there are issues. A test subject will not have any idea about their identity and must recover that over the course of a year. If they fail to, they are euthanized. Walkabout follows one such subject and his journey across the Earth to remember who he was and determine if the future he awoke to is worth saving.
I’m also editing two books I wrote after recovering from surgery last year. One is a story of a salvage gone wrong and the other is a science fiction romance. I hope to have both edited this year as well as another collection of short stories. So far, 2014 has been a busy year. I hope to keep that string of releases going.
Kevin’s Book can be found at Amazon: Runs in the Family