Welcome back! I still have H. K. Devonshire tied up — I mean, we’re still chatting over coffee. Also, Martian coffee is something else. You should try it sometime.
So, let’s talk about how you create worlds with your words. What’s a typical day look like for you?
Probably not all that different than yours, to be honest. I get up a bit before sunrise and have a cup of coffee while watching the morning break over the crater rim. I check water reclamation and supply for both the ranch and the cattle, then shower. After I’m dressed, it’s a once-over for O2 levels in the dome, then if there hasn’t been a seepage, I’ll have breakfast. Steak and beans is my normal fare, though sometimes just cereal. Finally, after making sure the surface suits have all passed diagnostics and are filled, I go into the puterverse and finish up the morning chores there and check on the news around the system. I get off in about an hour, have another cup of coffee, then start my day. If it’s a writin’ day, I spend it at my desk. I use an external interface so I don’t get distracted. If it’s a research day, I go back into the puterverse. If it’s a ranch day, I suit up and help the hands with the cattle and range. The B&H is a small place – just the crater, three hands, and a couple hundred head of cattle – so I’m not needed much. But I like to get my gloves dirty, so I pitch in, time to time.
After lunch is writin’ time, even if it’s already been a writin’ day. I try to get six hours in on non-writin’ days, and ten on writin’ days. I finish up around dinner an’ we have the family meal. Final checks on atmo, water, commlinks, and make sure suits are chargin’, then off to bed!
Sounds like a full day to me! And we don’t need to check atmo back home. Instead I spend a lot of time rousting the layabouts and make sure I’ve got customers! But you’re a rancher, I’m a showman, and we both make worlds out of words! (Also I had no idea you actually had experience with cattle… adds some verisimilitude to your stories! Some snap and wonder to the whip you wield with your words, sir!)
You got a career highlight?
Verisimilitude? Jon, that there’s a three Realm word I’d be hesitant to use on Mars. Plain language is best to avoidin’ misunderstandings. Use that word around here an’ you’re likely to get a free punch in the mouth.
Fancy wordin’ aside, you an’ I ain’t too much different. I’m only a hobby rancher, really. The big outfits, they’ll run twenty or thirty thousand head of Dexter beef. I raise mine mostly as a distraction these days, though I did have a cow hov in my younger days and work the red dirt and blue grass for a livin’.
A career highlight? There’s lots of ‘em. The Martian Premier is a big fan, so that’s somethin’. But even bigger is seein’ all the young ones runnin’ around in the towns and cities, wearin’ the toy badges, and fightin’ ‘the bad guys’. It’s good to see them growin’ up with a sense of right and responsibility for making stuff right.
One of the real big highlights was havin’ the REAL Martian Rangers name one of their barracks after me. That’s an honor I try to live up to every day.
What should readers expect when they read one of your books?
My stuff’s not all that great. There’s others who write better. And I’m not the best at the details in some cases. I like to fudge a bit on dates and technologies. Folks give me a lot of jawin’ about the shields I use on the Ranger bikes. Hey, I know they don’t work in all those ways. I grew up here! An’ maybe I fudge on exactly what tech was out when the Rangers first got started. But that stuff is just decoratin’ a story. It ain’t the point.
The POINT, Jon, is the Martian Rangers themselves, an’ the people they protect. It’s about us as a people and the way we live and think. And like those younguns I mentioned, it’s about the sense of adventure and responsibility and doing what’s right for others.
As for the stories themselves, I ain’t a preachy sort, so you’ll see a lot more doin’ than talkin’. The history is romanticized up some. An’ the names and people aren’t all fact. But there IS history, an’ there ARE people like Martian Rangers.
So what you get is a buncha shootin’, ridin’, chasin’, and action. I don’t use a lot of romancin’ or anything like that. An’ I like to tone down the language some. Those folks wearin’ the Red Iron badge can talk pretty salty at times!
Do you have a favorite scene? One that you read over and over again for pure pleasure of knowing you wrote it?
I do. There’s lots of scenes I’ve written over the years that I’ve liked an’ re-read. Heck, if I didn’t like myself as a writer, I’d stop writin’!
But my favorite scene happens to be in the book comin’ out first down on Earth. Toward the end of the book, there’s a showdown between Greg Farer an’ the main bad guy. I won’t give it away, but I’ve always thought that scene was the best at capturin’ the spirit of the Rangers.
When can we expect to see your books here on Earth?
I heard from John jus’ this mornin’ on the puterverse. Falstaff Books, his outfit, has a messa books comin’ out in the next few months. I’m not sure where I am in the mix, other than I’m in the mix. That suits me fine. I’ve never been to Earth, but if the books do well, John’s offered to bring me down there for a convention or two. Prob’ly sit a lot while I’m down there ‘cause your gravity is about three times normal.. Anyways, the extra time will let me strengthen up a mite.
Well, H. K., I gotta say, you done me a huge favor.
And now I’m talkin’ like you.
I guess I can release you back into the wild, now. I’ll make sure to mention to my readers when your books get out. Thanks for your time, and I’ll be readin’ your stuff on earth. (I may have smuggled a few copies out in my luggage, but don’t tell anyone!)