Welcome everyone! We are delighted today to have author Daniel Schwabauer here with us!
If you could spend the day with one spec fic character, who would it be?
Aslan, hands down. I have three reasons why this is the only answer that makes sense.
First, spending the day with Aslan would mean spending the day in Narnia. And who doesn’t want to spend a day in a world where talking beavers cook your meals and the fact that you’re human automatically makes you royalty?
Second, because time works differently in Narnia, spending a day with Aslan would likely mean that I’d get to spend several yearsthere. And even if I didn’t–if the time deficit ran the other way and when I came back it was two hundred years in the future–I’d still be coming back two-hundred year in the future! By then someone will surely have invented gluten-free bread that doesn’t taste like cardboard. Point being that either way it’s a win.
Third, no one is better at removing what my wife calls “inner grossness” than Aslan. Spending a day with him would make me a much better person.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Great Britain. I really want to eat at the Eagle and Child, walk a Scottish moor, tour a dozen or so castles, go to the theater in London, and make a “cousins across the pond” reference at an awkward moment in a fancy restaurant.
Would you rather live in Middle-Earth, Tatooine, or aboard the Starship Enterprise?
Middle Earth, assuming that the word “live” implies I’d be moving there in a post-Sauron era. I’m not nearly as brave as my characters.
How many books did you write before being published?
Seven. My first published novel, Runt the Brave, was my eighth completed manuscript. A few of the others had some passages of decent prose and a few interesting characters, but they really weren’t good enough to inflict on the world. I’m grateful now that my earlier stuff isn’t floating around out there. I think Hemingway and Asimov were right that you have to write about a million words of fiction before you really start to pick up the craft.
What was the inspiration behind your most recently published work?
I was reading the story of Elisha and saw a pattern of story bookends I’d never noticed before. It’s found in 2 Kings 5 and 6. (Western chapter breaks encourage us to see different openings and closings, but the original text isn’t artificially divided by these markers.)
The first bookend is 2 Kings 5:2 “Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel…” (NIV) I used to read this as an explanation for how Naaman hears about Elisha. But I think it’s more than that. At least, I think it’s possible to read the passage as a set-up for what happens in the next two chapters, where Elisha demonstrates the difference between seeing things from God’s perspective and always looking through human eyes. In this interpretation, 2 Kings 6:23 is a perfect closing bookend: “So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.”
The Curse of the Seer is book 3 in the Legends of Tira-Nor series (AMG). My goal in writing it was to make the idea of “seeing” (not responding from assumptions, not paying back evil for evil, etc.) accessible to a mid-grade audience.
Why do you write Speculative Fiction? What draws you to it?
Many reasons. It evokes and channels wonder. It provides a playground large enough to accommodate the ideas in my head. It expands my thinking. It challenges me. It pushes back against the encroaching naturalistic philosophy that permeates much of my “real” life. It promises something utterly new.
But most of all, speculative fiction affirms that part of my soul which longs for something else, for a better home, a better country. It tells me I’m right to be dissatisfied with comfort–with a mortgage and a microwave and two cars in the garage. It tells me I’m not just a man on a tiny speck of a planet in a far corner of an insignificant galaxy.
Even when spec-fic goes out of its way to tell me I’m a tailless monkey in an empty void, it always ends up sending the opposite message. I think it can’t help itself. Because the hardest, most techie sci-fi yarn–based on the most adamant materialistic philosophy–always makes me want something more than reality provides. Faster than light travel, ansibles, pulse guns, transporters, light sabers. These are not the devices of a cold and meaningless universe. They are echoes of a place where human purpose claims beauty and adventure as birthrights.
The magician who pulls a bunny from his hat and then explains how it was done may think he has put magic out of a child’s mind forever, but he has really only lit a flame. The first vision, the trick, is more real than the explanation. It points to something true, something human and important and eternal. Any child who sees a rabbit emerge from a hat will never stop hoping that somewhere there’s a magician who can do the trick for real.
In short, speculative fiction tells me that whatever the world is, I don’t belong here. I’m the alien, not E.T. I’m the stranger in a strange land.
Some people would like us to believe that we’re all just passing the time with shadow puppets on the wall, that the movie is in black and white and always will be.
But in my head it’s all in color.
And someday the movie will be out in 3-D.
Thanks so much, Daniel, for joining us today!
Why do you write speculative fiction, dear readers? What draws you to it?
Daniel Schwabauer, M.A., is editor of Crosswind Comics and creator of The One Year Adventure Novel and Cover Story creative writing programs. His professional work includes stage plays, radio scripts, short stories, newspaper columns, comic books and scripting for the PBS animated series Auto-B-Good. Daniel’s young adult novels, Runt the Brave and Runt the Hunted, have received numerous awards, including the 2005 Ben Franklin Award for Best New Voice in Children’s Literature and the 2008 Eric Hoffer Award. He graduated from Kansas University’s Masters program in Creative Writing in 1995. He lives in Olathe, Kansas, with his wife and two dogs.