Note to my readers: These books were written by a Christian author for the general. It's possible there may be a few elements in them that are objectionable to you.
Welcome, Nick. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
A lot. I get this question a lot, too, and I think that’s probably the best way to answer it. I’ve actually never been very good at “characters,” as I tend to be moved more toward plot and leave the characters struggling without me. However, I’ve been specifically on building more believable characters with my most recent books, and to do that I’ve been inserting a little bit of my personality into each of them. I’m not sure I’ve nailed it each time, but it’s fun trying to explore the particular aspects of “me” that gets into each of them.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Hmm, wow. I don’t know. Probably more things than I’ll ever admit, though I’m not sure if the question wants me to include “stupidest” things as well… Once story my writer friend Will Flora likes to tell is about the time (in college, obviously) some friends of mine and I tried to hang a poker table from our dorm ceiling on a pulley system that elegantly descended when we wanted to play.
It didn’t… work.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I hesitantly gave myself that label only after I finished my first book, The Golden Crystal. It wasn’t any good, hadn’t been edited (or rewritten), and generally lacked focus. I had a hard time believing that something like that could make me a writer.
But I eventually came around to the idea, as I kept blogging and teaching anyone who would listen that “you’re a writer if you write.” That was a good enough definition to give to them, so I realized it needed to be a good enough definition for me as well, or it was a double standard.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’m picky, but mostly because I know I only have a limited amount of time to read (I thought having a kid would allow me to read while changing diapers, feeding bottles, and while they slept. I was… wrong.). My favorite authors are James Rollins (shoutout Jim!), Matthew Reilly, Dan Brown, and Jeremy Robinson, as I like that particular blend of history/science fiction, worldwide adventure, and lots of nonstop action.
That said, I’ve been broadening my horizons quite a bit these last few months as I’ve been writing more sci-fi and techno thrillers, so I’ve been reading things like Leviathan Wakes, the Avagadro Corp thrillers, and some other related books that pop up as recommendations at Amazon.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Margin is extremely important to me, and even though I’m never going to be perfect at keeping a good balance, I’ve gotten a lot better after I’ve started focusing and scheduling it. Seriously – scheduling things like fun, hanging out, and date night sounds like a no-brainer, but so many people just wait for “time.”
I’ll give you a hint: no one has time. You make time. If it’s important, make the time. People ask me all the time how I have time to write. My answer? No one does. I just chose to add it to my schedule late at night and sometimes early in the morning, and I’ve given up some other things I could be doing instead. There’s really no “magic secret” to it!
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Good question! I am terrible with names. Often I use the first name that comes to mind, but sometimes that comes back to bite me. After I finished The Depths and my editor sent it back, she told me the last thing she wanted to change was “all the ‘J’ names.” I had named 90% of my characters a name that started with ‘J.’ She gave me a few alternate ideas (Jason became Mark, Jesse became Reese), and I used Scrivener’s built-in name generator to come up with the rest.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I wrote a symphony when I was 17 – I don’t talk about it much because “writing symphonies as a child” rarely comes up in conversation.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Probably a tortoise or a sea turtle. Since Finding Nemo is an accurate portrayal of the life of sea turtles, it seems like they have a pretty chill life. Tortoises are just awesome, and I can’t imagine being disappointed if my job was to “have to walk around slowly and sleep and eat a lot” my entire life.
What is your favorite food?
Contrary to my answer above, it’s not grass or flowers. I like steak – medium-rare ribeye with a side of fully-loaded baked potato. And bacon. And carbohydrates.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Finishing the book. When I started The Golden Crystal, I got stuck in the middle and had no idea what to do to finish it. I took a multi-month hiatus and read as many books on outlining and planning a novel as I could find. I re-outlined the entire book, and tried to get as granular as possible using Dwight Swain’s “scenes and sequels” method (see Techniques of the Selling Writer), then tried again.
It wasn’t easy, but it was possible. I finished the first book and haven’t stopped since!
Tell us about the featured book.
Amazon Publishing called me out the blue and asked me to write a book in A.G. Riddle’s Atlantis Origins world for the launch of his Kindle Worlds world. He’d had a lot of success with the three-book series, and I was flattered he’d recommended me, so I said yes.
…the catch was that I had to finish the thing in a month. I hadn’t even finished reading Riddle’s second and third books, and I had to write, edit, and design the entire book. Long story short, I finished it and was extremely happy with how it turned out.
It’s been described as “
in space,” which is certainly flattering but hard to live up to. I think it’s
fun to read, it’s short, and Kindle Worlds has it priced at $1.99, so it’s easy
to get started! Jurassic Park
Please give us the first page of the book.
Here’s the first chapter:
The look on the man's face told her everything she needed to know. His eyebrows were creased in a dark, brooding sort of way, and his eyes were glassy. Aware, yet distant all at once, as if he'd just been given a death sentence.
And a death sentence, at least for their research funding, might be exactly what they would receive upon their arrival back home.
“What?” she asked him. “You were in the meeting, and you heard the results.”
“The results?” He shot back. “The results were almost unanimous. Except for a few of those dreadfully incompetent volunteers, we decided this was far too risky.”
“Those ‘incompetent’ volunteers are the reason we’re allowed out here in the first place,”
Isis said. She
knew she had stretched the truth a little, but she was content with her
response. She also knew Mercer couldn’t disagree.
His jaw tensed, then relaxed, an ongoing cycle of teeth-clenching and unclenching that told
everything she needed to know.
He knows I’m right, but he still doesn’t like it.
“I still don’t like it,” Mercer said. His voice had dropped now to a conversational level.
She nodded. “I don’t either, Mercer. You of all people should know that. How long have we been doing this?”
The question was meant as rhetorical, but Mercer seemed to be searching for an answer. “In local years?”
“Twenty years since I signed on. Same as you.”
A thousand years, at least, on their home world.
“Twenty years. And during those twenty years, how often have I been inclined to do something rash?”
She turned to the wall panel next to her and spoke a command. A voice echoed in response through speakers hidden in the walls and ceiling of the massive hallway. “Janus is currently in his quarters. Would you like me to alert him?” Mercer raised an eyebrow.
“No, thank you.”
turned back to Mercer. “You should discuss this with him. He’ll be at dinner,
but I’d suggest bringing it up after, when you can catch him alone. You don’t
want a repeat of this morning.”
Mercer nodded, then turned abruptly and began walking toward his room.
Isis watched him for a moment, the
broad-shouldered man receding around the slight bend in the hallway.
The hallway, stretching around the massive arc at the center of the ship, housed everything from the crew and scientists’ quarters to the research labs, medical facilities, and engineering and maintenance rooms. It was a giant circle, joining itself back at the front of the vessel at the bridge and main flight deck.
Rax and Galene would be there now, prepping the ship for its return voyage and setting the proper coordinates. Much of the flight was completely automated, thanks to the centralized intelligence of the ship's computer. Takeoff, flight prep, and landing, however, were usually considered good times to "check in" on control status, systems, and any troubleshooting needs the computer would display.
It was always surprising to
how little time they all spent in their rooms. They were certainly communal
creatures, evidenced by the fact that almost all research was conducted in the
multipurpose labs, meals were consumed in the the dining hallreas, and the
preferred style of recreation among the team was an intellectual team game of
Isis and Janus were different, though. She’d known Janus longer than she’d known the rest of their small team, and his reputation for being a reclusive genius was not altogether untrue. He was much kinder than she’d originally expected, and he wasn’t one to shy away from interaction, but she felt he was happiest alone in his room, his own thoughts and the computer’s AI his only companionship.
She reached her room and the door immediately slid open, aware of her presence. The lights faded on, gently aligning themselves to her programmed preferences for this time of the day.
The computer spoke with the same soft voice they were all familiar with. “
Isis, would you like a preview
of tonight’s scheduled activities?”
She shook her head.
The computer read the movement and processed her nonverbal cues. The lights dimmed slightly, and the wall at the corner of the room swiveled inward and revealed her casual wardrobe.
The small closet featured only two options: a casual, two piece outfit of a single gray color, and the field-ready version she was wearing now, with a hardened exterior and light, stretched fabric bottoms. This set was the clothing choice the crew wore most of the time, as it was more versatile for the myriad of tasks a scientist or engineer would need to perform during their working hours.
When she finished, she sat down on the bed in the center of the room.
“I am sensing unusual levels of stress,” the computer said. “A combination of 37 local minutes of REM sleep and three units of Beramin should be enough to —”
“Thank you, but I’m fine,” she said. As someone who usually preferred solitude, it was always surprising to
when she felt herself longing for someone to talk with. It might be her nature
to seek solace, but it was her species’ nature to seek camaraderie. This
internal struggle was one she’d considered her entire life — what were the
peculiar genetics that allowed an organism the complexity to battle with
itself? To allow one to feel loneliness even in the midst of knowing that being
alone was what made it truly happy?
The gene sequences that governed her own unique character began to spill into her mind. She’d memorized the general traits that differentiated her from everyone else long ago, a sort of homage to her passion for genetics.
But quickly the comforting, itemized data turned into a barrage of unwarranted, unexpected emotion.
The confrontation with Mercer, Janus’ quiet retreat to his room, the reaction from the volunteers, all of it.
had her own feelings on the matter, but it wasn’t her place to inject her own
opinion into the mix. They looked to her for…
Janus was the team lead and the one most capable of making decisions. But even he turned to her, his second-in-command, for the difficult decisions.
They trusted her.
But did she trust herself?
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m easy to find – thankfully, “Nick Thacker” isn’t a common name. Google can get you most places, but I have a personal site (three free books available to download!) at nickthacker.com, a writing/self-publishing blog at writehacked.com, and an Amazon.com author page as well.
Thank you, Nick, for sharing your work with us.
Readers, here’s a link to the books. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
Nick said: I’ll not only give away The Atlantis Deception, but I’ll give away The Depths, The Golden Crystal, and The Enigma Strain in ebook format. I can also offer The Depths and The Golden Crystal in professional audiobook format.
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