Daniel Arenson - Battlestar Galactica meets Starship Troopers in a Thrilling Sci-Fi Adventure
Daniel Arenson is a bookworm, proud geek, and USA Today bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction. His novels have sold over a million copies. The Huffington Post has called his writing "full of soul." He's written over seventy novels. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, Starship Freedom.
Please give us a short introduction to what Starship Freedom is about.
The book is about a starship that fought a great war decades ago. But now she's a floating museum, full of spas, casinos, buffets, and even minigolf. The old commander, who fought the war as a young man, now finds himself running a tourist trap. When aliens invade the solar system, this creaky old museum ship must enter the fight and save Earth.
What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to see the Blue Angels, the US Navy's stunt pilots. They put on an amazing aerobatics show. If you're unfamiliar with the Blue Angels, definitely watch them on youtube! I'm very fortunate that I got to see them in real life. While watching the show, I had a story idea. What if a surprise alien attack wiped Earth's air forces? What if only the stunt pilots survived, because the aliens didn't see them as a threat, and it's the stunt pilots who must save the world? That was the seed of the idea, and indeed, some of the heroes in Starship Freedom are stunt pilots forced to fight a real war. I was also inspired by military science fiction franchises like Battlestar Galactica and Starship Troopers.
Why Sci-Fi adventure? What drew you to the genre?
A lifetime of reading and watching science fiction. I've been a fan of the genre for thirty-five years.
Tell us more about James King. What makes him tick?
When we first meet him, he's about to turn sixty and he's depressed. When he was a young man, the starship Freedom was a real warship. James King fought as a real soldier. But over the decades of peace, the Freedom was stripped of her weapons, slowly converted into a tourist attraction. One year they added a casino, then a wave pool, then a magic show . . . Today the Freedom is tacky and barely anything of that old warship remains. She's essentially just a cruise ship. King hates it. He's miserable. He is loyal to the starship, because he remembers the glory days. He hates what she became. When the aliens attack, King sees a chance to restore his ship to glory and become a soldier again.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Writing is the only thing I can (arguably) do. But I also really enjoy music. I listen to music all day long, including while writing, and try to go out to see live music a few times a year. I can play a bit of the piano--not very well, unfortunately, but I do enjoy it. I also love reading (it's why I became a writer) and collecting books.
Why did you decide to start the story around Christmas?
The aliens attacked on Christmas because they knew everyone would be distracted. And indeed, many of the admirals and generals are at Christmas dinners! There's been peace on Earth for decades now, so everyone is complacent. Christmas is a chance to really catch the humans with their pants down.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
All the time! I can't stop them. The characters just do what THEY want, not what I want. They don't listen to me. So I just let them run wild and transcribe what they choose to do.
How did you go about creating your aliens?
I love the super scary aliens from old science fiction. Predators. Xenomorphs. The Starship Trooper Arachnids. In old sci-fi, aliens are often horrifying monsters. Psychologically, maybe they represent our fear of the dark. A thousand years ago, we told stories of goblins and ogres who hid in shadowy forests. Once we explored the forests, we imagined our monsters in space. I wanted to use that theme, so I tried to invent the scariest space-monsters I could. That said, I also tried giving my aliens a real culture and motivation. You see a few chapters from their point-of-view and realize there's a certain ideology behind what they do, and they're not just mindless killers.
What did you have the most fun with when writing Starship Freedom?
Probably writing about Stowy, a girl who stows away on the ship. All her scene were tons of fun to write.
You have written over seventy novels. When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?
I make sure I have an hour or two free from the disruptions of life, put on loud music, drink some coffee, and just get going. Starting a new novel is usually the scariest part. Seeing the blank page can be intimidating, even after writing 70+ books. But once you get the first few pages down, the pressure eases up a bit, and I just keep rolling.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
Sometimes it's hard to balance "real life" (parenting, chores, errands, etc) with immersing myself in writing. The hardest part is getting the first draft down. Then I spend a lot of time rewriting and polishing.
What are you working on right now?
Starship Freedom 8, which will conclude the series. The book is coming out in October.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Visit my website here: DanielArenson.com
On the home page, you can join my newsletter. I'll send you three free ebooks right away, and we can keep in touch via email.