This summer I decided to take a break from the Internet and get my reading on. I have a stack load of books on my Kindle app but before settling down to read, I purchased a few more including Gary Bloom’s Olympus Union: The Future Reborn. This book appealed to my ‘anywhere else but here’ mood. Fascinated by the new world the book opened up to me, I decided to catch up with the author and ask him a few questions. Here’s how the interview went down:
Tell us a bit about yourself?
About me… is always a fun thing to consider. These days, I think of myself as husband and father, first, with my beautiful 6-month-old baby girl. Funny enough, I’m a musician second, and a writer third. Not that I don’t love writing – and I do – but my world really changed when I was married and the baby was born… and music has always been what’s defined me.
What drew you to writing science fiction books and where do you get your inspiration?
When I was a kid, my preference was towards reading sci fi and fantasy. I was one of those kids who took a flashlight under the blanket after lights out, so that I could keep on reading. Thanks to all of that, I’ve got a really long history of science fiction experience in the back of my mind… books, movies, TV shows. Those ideas roll around with things that I see in real life. Sometimes, there are things that I want to “fix” that I disliked, be it in sci fi or reality. Sometimes, there are things that I’d like to see play out again, a little differently… and if I happen to set them on Mars, or Mercury, hey, that’s just another wrinkle.
Olympus Union: The Past Repeated came out in 2011. Could you share with us your experience of first getting published?
When I put out The Past Repeated, I actually made the decision not to use a publisher. Finding BookBaby.com, I did it myself. Sure, I could have gone the Amazon route, but BookBaby appealed to me because it let me go out to multiple platforms, and I liked the wider exposure. I’ve sold to folks who use Kindles, Nooks and iPads. It’s nice to know that I can be a bit broader based that way. All three books in the Jovian Trilogy went that way, as did my fourth book, the Jeremy Hunter stand-alone.
The next obvious question is why I decided to self-publish, right? I’ve gotten that more than a few times. The fact is, my best friend is also a writer. Watching his frustration with the process helped my decision along. Olympus Union was something I’d spent a while coming up with. The storyline was something I’d wanted to maintain control over, to take where I wanted it. The beauty of self-publishing is that, while you might not get rich, you do get your freedom. That’s really fun, actually, because I can go in so many different directions, almost on a whim.
What inspired you to create the Olympus Union universe and what are your plans for the series?
Ahh, the “where are you going with this” question! If only I knew at the end, you know? Let’s tackle the first part – where did it all come from. That part is a little easier. Like many science fiction lovers, I’m a massive fan of Timothy Zahn and Michael A Stackpole. There is a sense of “building” that they’ve done, which always appealed to me. While everyone else played Madden, I’m a Front Office Football guy – my interest was more in being the owner and GM when it came to games. The sports analogy is a bit random, I know, but it fed into what I wanted to do – I wanted to build. My thought was to do something not too distant in the future, and all close to home. The furthest we’ve made it so far is Jupiter, and even then, there’s a lot of work to be done. Ticonderoga is building on Mercury, Mars isn’t fully fleshed out yet, and Venus has a couple of orbital stations.
Where am I going with it all? Oh the plans! Funny enough, I’ve decided to take what I consider to be a Marvel approach. The MCU is great at building up with smaller component movies, for the major events. As most of my fans know, I’m running in a handful of different story arcs, or “brands”, and I have a little more to it than the Marvel movies, but I can do a lot there. Right now, I’ve focused a lot on the Ticonderoga and Red Scythe arcs the most. My plan right now is revolving around the Alpha Station and Red Scythe arcs. For each, I’ve got a couple of smaller arcs that will play out in flash fiction, and will culminate in a novella for each.
It’ll be the first novella for Alpha Station, the second for Red Scythe. Both of them will involve some major deaths. In the Alpha Station case, I’ll wind up removing a couple of major characters from the Jovian Wars trilogy. Yeah, I’ve been reading George RR Martin for a few years, too (my buddy got me reading the series a few months before they announced the HBO series). Killing off a major character actually appeals to me. Few things shook me up like the death of Chewbacca in the Star Wars expanded universe. Yeah, I know, it’s been discontinued, but I still remember what I read.
With the Red Scythe, I wanted to get back to Ceres and explore that some more. It gives me some leeway to bounce between Ceres and Mars in the future of the Red Scythe. I always wanted to explore certain characters, and work towards an expansion of what Hardbarger does. We need to have a more ruthless big man, so I’m winding towards that too. We’ll see how it all pans out.
Besides all of this, I’m actually working on the specs for a Ticonderoga game. I might do one for the Red Scythe, soon, too, but I figured I’ll try a Kickstarter and see where it goes. If nothing else, it’d be fun for me to get to play a little more in my own world… but I’d love to have a whole lot of other folks playing around inside of it too!
You have several Olympus Union books available on Amazon but now you are writing under sponsorship on Patreon.com. How does Patreon work and what made you choose that route?
Patreon is something that sort of fell into my lap. It’s similar to a Kickstarter, in that people can sponsor projects, but it’s more of an ongoing Kickstarter. You don’t donate for one project; people can sponsor me for each novella that I put out. I encourage people to go over to http://patreon.com/olympusunion to donate – you can earn a lot of rewards, and find yourself literally inside the Olympus Union universe!
While the Amazon run is still going, and I love what I did with the first four books, moving to this sponsored model allows people to decide what I’m worth. Folks want to read me for free? That’s cool. Folks want to give me a dollar or two… or the few generous folks who have been donating $10… it’s just the next evolution, in my mind.
What are you currently writing now and when will it be released?
I actually just released the second novella in the Ticonderoga story arc – Arrival of the Elite. One more Ticonderoga piece is going to come out in flash fiction before I move on for a little while. I decided to have Agatamori Ko and Radin Hall battle on Mercury. That should be out soon, and should be a little bit of fun. Alpha Station is going to be my next focus. There are already a couple of flash fiction stories out there, and more to come. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll be focusing on Derek Maguin, as usual, but also on the new character Adi Mandro. On top of that, we’ll be introducing a new character that will see some extended run in OU… but I can’t get too into it for the surprise factor. There are a number of other pieces in the works too, including an assassin’s guild coming that may exist as another story arc.
Wow! Gary has lots going on. Keep up with him on Twitter and if you haven’t read any of his books yet, you can download them on Patreon and don’t forget to donate.