Thanks for being here, Charles!
It is my pleasure. This will actually be my first interview. Ever.
No worries, it will be painless, I promise.
What type of research do you do for your novels?
To be honest, I don't spend a lot of time doing research right up front. Typically, I hammer out a first draft, then I usually go exploring for information to either ensure the accuracy of what I've written, or if I need deeper details. That's one part of sci-fi that I like- I can make stuff up, go back and give it something of a solid foundation, and wing the rest (but in a serious way, of course).
I've traveled the world quite a bit in my life already, having grown up an Army brat, then joining the US Navy out of high school. I've been immersed in a variety of cultures, and some of that has stayed with me through the years. So that's a bit of helpful knowledge when it comes to settings. I even played a small part in the first Gulf War (remember that one?) way back in the early 1990s. So I've been around, and experienced life. That's good research right there.
When I do have questions about one subject or another, or one thing in particular, like what it's like just carrying a sword around, there's Google and Wikipedia. I know Wikipedia's not an accepted source for material, but the entries there usually have a plethora of links to sites that are deemed more legit. Of course, YouTube is a great help as well. I think it's utterly fantastic to be writing in a world where just about any bit of information is a few keystrokes and mouse clicks away.
In addition, I've been in the medical field practically all my adult life. As a radiologic technologist with specialties in CT and MRI, I've had to learn a lot regarding physics and anatomy, among other sciences. That's given me a tremendous foundation of knowledge for my writing.
And over the decades I've been honing my skills, I've read a lot of books about the craft of writing. That kind of research has been immeasurably helpful. If I feel confident about the mechanics of my writing, I don't have to worry much about getting what I want to say down in a legible fashion and can let my imagination run unfettered where the material is concerned.
Is there a character in one of your books that you relate to? How so?
The main character in my novella Closure, Whicker Campbell, had his sights set on being a meteorologist when he was in high school. But the course of his life changed drastically when he was found to have the skills of a necroti, which meant he became a necroti. Coming out of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, other than I knew I wanted to be in the medical field, and have an outlet for my creativity. When I joined the Navy, I had no idea there was a position in a hospital called radiologic technologist. But through happenstance I became an x-ray tech for the US Navy and on into the civilian world, and that's been a rather fortuitous and satisfying career for me. As a necroti, Whicker has his good and bad days, and I assure you there can be some bad days working as an x-ray tech, especially in a large trauma hospital. But there are more good days than bad, I think.
At the end of Closure, Whicker comes to accept the fact his dreams of being a meteorologist are just that- dreams. He then begins to embrace his future as a necroti, which, now that the problems that plague him during the course of the novella are resolved, has much to offer. While my early days as an x-ray tech did have some rough moments (several months' worth, in fact), and I questioned whether this was a job I could really last in, I've since embraced the work. It's given me stability in my life, and allowed me to pursue other interests, like writing. I like to think some of that experience made its way into helping Whicker deal with the unexpected course his young life has taken.
Why do you write in this genre?
I enjoy the freedom it provides. I've worked within the constraints of our time and place only for one story- Nit. While I found the end result to be quite satisfying, I do remember constantly watching myself to make sure I kept the plot elements based on our time and place. I have a vivid imagination, and it would have been quite easy for me to slip in some new technology, something that hasn't been fully developed just yet, over the course of the story. So writing material without some fancy gizmo or bit of magic can feel limiting. Take 3D printing, for instance. Ten, or even five years ago, having something like that in your home would have seemed rather far-fetched. But now? I expect to see such printers available at my local big box store within a couple of years- if they're not there already. I could have easily slipped a 3D printer in Nit if i wanted to, but that wouldn't have maintained the realism.
I like writing stories that takes an average Joe (or Joette) and puts him in a very unexpected and trying situation. When I come up with my various ideas, almost always they're set in some future time or fantastical place, because one of the elements that makes life suddenly difficult for Joe is something that hasn't been invented yet or grounded in magic or has some other supernatural aspect. Such devices can be a lot of fun. They're also neither good nor bad. It's how they're used that provides the problems that need to be resolved.
Tell us about your latest novel in 25 words or less.
A Ghastly Gillion Stars, set in my Ux-Blood milieu, details how a race called the Shiss acquired their anchor portal, freeing themselves from the Pheelm.
THIS or THAT?
“May the Force be with you” or “Live long & prosper?”
Live long & prosper.
I like the idea of the Federation and its struggles against other equally well-drawn societies like the Romulans and the Dominion.
Time travel or Space travel?
While time travel does have its inherent risks and can offer a tremendous variety of stories, I think space travel requires more effort from humanity, has a certain intimacy (man and machines are forced closer than with time travel), and just hits closer to home.
Hal or Cybermen?
We might very well see Hal, in a rudimentary form, in our lifetime. Of course, we might also run into the Cybermen if things take an unexpectedly bad turn.
Are aliens here for Invasion or Exploration?
I'd like to think Exploration, but the harvest of organic material, such as proteins or chloroform, is probably a more realistic reason.
Where can we learn more about your books?
Everything I have available for sale is on Amazon.com. Just search using my pen name, Charles Brass. The following links will take you to my specific titles:
The Ux-Blood Trilogy:
A Child of Byne (an Ux-Blood novella)
I hope to have A Ghastly Gillion Stars available by the end of August. In addition, you can like me on Facebook here, and visit my blog here. Feel free to leave comments. I'd enjoy hearing from you! Thank you!