Saturday, February 4, 2012

Jed Fisher - Armor Academy Space Cadet

It is our pleasure to have Jed Fisher and his novella Armor Academy Space Cadet with us today.

Jed is 47 years old and currently lives in Oklahoma.

Tell us a little bit about your life.
I was born and raised in a small town right on the Ohio River. My two wonderful parents were school teachers and I have five sisters and two brothers. I served 24 years in the US Army and in 2008 I retired and settled near a military base.

When did you first start writing?
In junior high school.

What was your very first story about?
A guy is driving a modest car and is harassed on the road by the driver of a big, ugly tractor-trailer. My mother, a university English professor at the time, thought it was good and edited it and sent it off to a small press’s writing contest in Maine. Never heard back from them.

Have you written anything that you were too afraid to let anyone read?
Yes. I wrote a very dark novel. The characters were pure evil and did some despicable things. It was a dark time in my life.

Did you experience anything you’ve written yourself?
Yes. I wrote a non-fiction piece about riots in Korea in the 1980s. That, and much of my fiction is exaggerated, embellished, or just as often subdued representations of some things I have done. For example, I used my experience with commercial airline travel as a basis for describing space flight.

Who are several of your greatest literary inspirations?
Hemmingway, Carver, Richard Wheeler, David Drake, and the Battletech and Star Trek novel series. And Jane Austen, she writes well. She demonstrates the best use of passive voice and narrative summary. And the lesser-known writers who influenced me the most because they took the time to teach the art and craft of writing in the classrooms of Cameron University: Hardy Jones, Bayard Godsave, and Mark Spencer.

What kind of education have you received, and how has that affected your writing?
I have a BA in English from Cameron University and that education has made my writing publishable. Without that education, I’d be nothing but another illiterate ambitious scribbler.

How much research time customarily goes into your projects?
For my last novel I spent about two months pondering, sketching an outline for the plot, and making notes of key phrases before I actually started writing that novel. For science fiction it’s a lifetime of experience plus thumbing through my old physics textbook. And flipping through channels on TV. Sometimes a scene or phrase I need presents itself, although, often times I see a bad scene and put a much better version of it in my fiction.

That, and I’ll occasionally ‘people-watch’ in public to find models for character behavior.

Everything is research, life is research, for fiction.

Tell us about your featured book.
Armor Academy Space Cadet is a military science fiction novella intended to develop the central character and establish the universe of the trilogy that follows. It goes from about noon of the day the main character graduates from a mercenary military academy to about noon the next day, when the main character sets off to find a job.

Why did you write that?
I wrote Armor Academy Space Cadet because of the response I was getting from readers about the three novels of my War for Profit trilogy. I’d assumed the Trilogy would only appeal to hard-core military sci-fi readers so I left out some character development, setting descriptions and premise common to military sci-fi. Apparently my books appealed to readers who don’t usually enjoy sci-fi so I needed to accommodate them.

They needed more setting and character development so I wrote Armor Academy Space Cadet as a prequel novella to clarify those areas. Readers who aren’t military sci-fi fans now have a foundation from which to enjoy the three follow-on novels of the War for Profit trilogy.

Is there anything special you would like your potential readers to know?
Yes. Some readers may feel I take a somewhat cavalier approach to describing military service, doing a disservice to those who served. Well, I served. I’m one of those guys.

Expecting me to exalt military service as some mythical thing would be like expecting a retired NFL player to ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ his way through the displays of the football hall of fame.

Where is the one place you’ve traveled where you’ve felt most like you fit in?
Germany. While there, I lived in a small town on a river which reminded me of home.

Also, the area where I grew up was settled throughout the 1800s by waves of German and Dutch dirt farmer immigrants, so many aspects of the German culture were familiar. The language was a bit of a challenge, but besides that it was easy to fit in.

What activity or hobby, besides writing, do you find most enjoyable?
Shooting. Pistols, rifles, and shotguns. Marksmanship is very enjoyable, and I’m pretty good at it.

What was your favorite childhood toy?
My bb gun, I guess. Never put an eye out.

What is your most valued personal possession in life? Who gave it to you?
My ‘retired military’ ID card. The Army issued it to me when I retired. I don’t go anywhere without it.

If you lost the ability to see every color but one, which one would it be?
Green. I used a graphics program to run through all the colors, and the absence of all but green, that picture looked the best overall.

How do you treat people you’re not fond of?
I ignore them as much as possible, but when that isn’t possible I’m outwardly civil and use biting sarcasm when I’m forced to speak with them.

What do you see as your greatest achievement?
Serving in the military, serving long enough to retire honorably.

What, to you, is absolutely wrong?
Hypocrisy. It is the basis of the mindset that allows people to do all other kinds of evil.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Always tell the truth and you won’t have to remember anything.” (by Samuel Clemens.)

What do you classify as an “Adventure?”
A challenging journey where the outcome is uncertain and the reward is unknown.

If you could learn one new thing instantly, what would it be?
Korean. I’d like to be as skilled in Korean as I am in English.

Finish this sentence. “I sometimes find it hard to…”
“…pronounce words correctly.” To spell correctly when I write, I’ve developed my own pronunciations for many words, so that they are spelt the way they sound in my head.

Then when I have to read aloud, I have to remember to use the proper pronunciations.

Example, “Char Act Err” for character.

Who is your most favorite literary character?
Walter Mitty, from O. Henry’s “Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” His imagination, his escapism, is intriguing and easily sympathetic.

Who is your favorite character of your own creation?
Master Sergeant Sevin, a grizzled veteran who plays a key role in all three novels of the War for Profit Trilogy.

To be or not to be?
To be. To be, regardless of circumstance. Standing on a ledge in a cold, stiff wind or dangling from a cliff by the tips of the fingers, or curled up in pain in a hospital bed. No matter, life is precious and just one more moment of life is worth it. To be alive, that’s what life is all about.

We would like to thank Jed once again for being with us today. Go check out his work, before you're struck with a crippling fear of snails.

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