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Adam Interviews...Bryan Chaffin!

Updated: Mar 15


Welcome back to Monday!

Did everyone in the US remember to set your clocks AHEAD yesterday?

Or did you show up for work an hour late?

We have dogs, who have their own schedule; for us, Spring Forward means we get to sleep a little longer before the dogs realize it's time to go out!


Anyway, here's today's first author, come to tell us about their works! Bryan Chaffin wrote about Apple and technology for 23 years as the cofounder and editor-in-chief of The Mac Observer, which he and his business partner sold in 2022. Bryan lives with his dog Ichabod in Silicon Valley, where they both enjoy the fantabulous pastime of THROW THE DAMNED BALL! It's a hoot. 10 out of 10 stars. Would recommend. Bring treats. In other news, Bryan loves writing. He loves words. He revels in the power of stories.

Links

Site: https//geektells.com


Star Trek or Star Wars?

There’s room for both, but Star Trek at its best is better than Star Wars at its best.

 



Firefly – gone too soon or overrated?

Firefly was the greatest SciFi show on TV when it aired, and it remains amazing television today. And this was with just half a season? Most shows don’t find their footing until the second or third season.

 

A book you’re looking forward to release (by someone else)?

Come on, The Winds of Winter, by George R.R. Martin!

 

Coffee, tea, or cacao?

I’m a snooty espresso drinker, only I’m snooty in a way that true espresso snoots get snooty about. Every morning I make myself an iced  latte, flavored with vanilla and cookie butter sweeteners, with frozen milk that I partially thaw and then smash up. No water-based ice to water it down. I take this (absurdly) seriously.

 

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

About 1999 or 2000, when I figured out how Dan Simmons makes his books so immersive. That’s not “I figured it out” as in “I can do it just like Dan can,” but when I sussed it out, I fell down this rabbit hole, hard. I wanted to be able to do it, too!

Dan’s secret is that he never explains anything. About the fifth time I read Hyperion, I did so with the express purpose of figuring out how he made his writing so immersive. He shows you his worlds—even his far future worlds—through his characters’ eyes, and the results suck you in.

 

What does your family think of your writing?

I’ve been very lucky in that my entire family and many of my friends have been very supportive of my writing from the get-go.

 



Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Yes! Crit! And be critted! Also, be sparing with your use of exclamation points.

I have personally learned more about my own writing when critiquing others—and discussing it with them. It’s not always possible to discuss every crit, but my two main Critique Partners and I always discussed our mutual crits, and that process was excellent for all of us.

It’s important to get your writing in front of as many different sets of eyes as possible. Which then makes it important for you to figure out who you should listen to. Not every crit is created equally, and you do have to sort the wheat from the chaffe, especially when you’re just starting this process.

One final point: there’s an adage that says when many people tell you there’s something wrong with your book, they’re probably right. When they tell you how to fix it, they’re probably wrong.

Take both halves of that adage to the bank.

 

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I’m active on social media (mainly Threads), and I have heard from some readers there, in email, and in reviews. (Reminds self to stop reading his reviews.) I’ve gotten amazing reviews so far, and people seem to be loving my book—which is beyond gratifying.

 

What do you think makes a good story?

The story should be about the characters. The genre, trope, or mechanisms a writer uses should always be in service to the story, which means in service to the characters in that story. For instance, quest books should never be about the quest. The quest should serve as the vehicle for the story, not the purpose of the story.

 

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I visited Stonehenge after making it a part of Accidental Intelligence. It’s a special place.

 

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

When things are going well, it’s invigorating! When less so, it can be exhausting.

 



Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I want my stories to be the very best that they can be. That’s my only consideration.

 

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

My two main critique partners were gems! Courtney Washburn and Dmitri Del Castillo remain unpublished, but if Accidental Intelligence is good, it’s mostly because of their help. More recently, I’ve become friends with many people on Threads, including JD Robinson, Rohan O’Duill, TK Toppin, Lonnie Busch, Nick Snape, and many more.

Other writers have helped me on my writing journey in two ways: the above-mentioned critting and by mututally hyping each other up. Both are incredibly important to me.

 

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?

I’m modeling my SciFi world on Lary Niven’s Known Space universe, where each story takes place in a shared universe over a long timeline, regardless of the characters involved. My first trilogy—Tales from the Quantum Vault—will be three, standalone novels all following Mason Truman in a comprehensive arc. I have short stories and additional novels planned for the Terran Republic, too.

 

Who shot first, Han or Greedo?

Han. Duh. Obvi.

 

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

My thought process on this excellent question is kind of coming in sideways: I present everything through the eyes of my character. I (try to) never explain anything to the reader that doesn’t make sense for my character to be reasoning out. Everything else must make sense through context.

 

Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?

I queried for years, but didn’t land an agent. So, I self-published and haven’t looked back. At this point it would take a significantly good offer for me to consider trad publishing—even though having a book released by one of the big players is still sexy as heck.

There are advantages to both, and generally I find people trashing either indie or trad publishing are some combination of projecting and/or being defensive. The biggest pro (to me)            for trad publishing is having professional help. The advantage to indie publishing is that YOU are in control of everything (for good or for ill). You can move so much faster as an indie writer, and you get first-hand data on how your books are selling that trad authors don’t have.

Again, both forms of publishing have advantages.

 

What is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything?

42.

 

What does literary success look like to you?

Someone doing their own fanart based on my work. That’s success!

 

What do you have coming next?

My next story is a freebie! It’s a short story with the working title King Liam set in the Terran Republic universe. It’s about a belter miner who takes his singleship to the Oort Cloud, farther than anyone could—or should—try to go in such ships. What he finds will make a great story to tell all those doubting Crowders back on Ceres, yes sir!

This story takes place in Mason Truman’s timeline, in between Accidental Intelligence (Books One) and Inside the Mirror (Book Two).

After that is Inside the Mirror itself, which will be ready to go by the summer of 2024.

 



Excerpt from Accidental Intelligence


It's 2139, and private detective Mason Truman has a problem. There's this crazy AI named Miranda, and she wants his help stopping a conspiracy to destroy humanity. Only, when she says "help," what she means is "bait."


Mason Truman’s case hinged on what was in the plasteel box. Could be a hat. A bowling ball. Maybe a head. Curiosity needled him, an itch that worsened the more he scratched. The guy he was tailing, Lance Caldane, gripped the box tightly, but was lost to his inner eye even as the busy transub platform swirled around him.

He knew Lance was watching vacation holies. Again. The Omninet logs Mason had acquired painted a depressing, but clear picture. Lance got up, went to work as an accountant, left right at five—never early, never late—and went straight home to wallow in the recorded memories of his dead wife. He tapped straight into his immersion deck, and on the weekends stayed there until it was time to go back to work on Monday. Just like billions of other functional Omninet addicts.

Yet here he was in the middle of a workday, sitting on a bench in a transub station beneath the Republic’s capital. An island of Lost quiet in a sea of people. With a box clutched on his knees. A box important enough to shake up his routine, but not enough to keep from losing himself in memories while he waited.

What’s in the box, Lance?

“Any guesses, Sam?” he sent to his factotum privately. She’d been watching with him.

“I am not in the practice of guessing, Mason, but there is a 62.03 percent chance the box contains a memento of his wife.”

Mason grunted. It wasn’t a bad guess, but there was more to this box than a memory. He opened his own inner eye and told Sam to give him a view through his real eyes, which he kept open. It was one of his favorite tricks, the modern equivalent of hiding in plain sight. It was too easy to ignore someone lost to their inner eye.

He zoomed in on the box. It was a plasteel cube twenty centimeters on a side secured by a palm lock. Plasteel was strong, but it wouldn’t stop him from peeking if he could get closer.

A new wave of commuters hit the escalators and Mason closed his inner eye. He palmed his R-scanner from a coat pocket and headed toward Lance’s bench, timing his approach to coincide with the people coming the other way. He marked a man plowing through his fellow travelers. When they were both next to Lance, Mason stumbled into the plow, sending him reeling. 


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