Interview with Bryan Thomas Schmidt

A guest appearance

Today I’m happily participating in the blog tour of my friend Bryan Thomas Schmidt, whose novel The Worker Prince debuted this month.  Below is an interview with Bryan.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I have been creating stories since I was very young. My mother says I never played with a  toy the same way twice, and I used to organize my friends on the playground at school into these elaborate scenarios as firefighters, paramedics, and various other heroes. I discovered a gift for words in school, and, with the encouragement of teachers and others, got quickly hooked. I loved how I could move people emotionally.

Did you start with novels?

No, I came to novels and fiction in general late, after writing plays, screenplays, and even non-fiction to varied success. Sometimes on my screenplays I’d been given the “criticism” that I should be a novelist because of my penchant for excessive description (for that medium, at least). But in 2007, I finally began to try in earnest, when I found this story I really wanted to explore. It was in a different genre, and the novel came up short and undeveloped and badly crafted. So I quit for a year and studied craft, thinking I might have found yet another medium of writing to fail in.

When did The Worker Prince start to generate publisher interest?

Well, I queried three dozen agents and only had a couple bites which later passed so I finally saw some open calls from publishers and sent it to them. Three small presses were really interested but Diminished, for whom I had already been writing a space opera serial, The North Star Serial, for their ezine Digital Dragon Magazine, was just over the top enthusiastic from the start.

Did it bother you that they’d never published novels before?

Not really. It’s kind of an honor to be the first, and there is the advantage of extra enthusiasm to get it right and launch themselves well, which benefits my book. But above and beyond that, they shared much of the enthusiasm as I got from beta readers and friends who read the book and felt it captured the magic of the original Star Wars and just had to be read. That’s a good feeling and the kind of passion every writer would want for their book from a publisher.

Tell us a little about the story. You said it’s based on the story of Moses?

Well, the setup is pure Moses: a hotshot young prince discovers he was secretly adopted from the people enslaved by his own. When he discovers how hard life is for them and it conflicts with his sense of justice, he comes into conflict with the ruler, his uncle, and others amongst his family and friends. Then he winds up wanted and on the run and things just evolve. I depart from it a bit because the overall arc of that Moses story is spread out over three books. The exodus, for example, won’t come until the second book, and plays out in the third. So, beyond that, I did a lot of improvising. I wanted a story with great action scenes, cool vehicles, aliens and characters and good humor and romance mixed in. So there’s a love story subplot, good comrades and rivals for the protagonist, a larger than life villain, but one who has three dimensions. Unlike Darth Vader in his first appearance, Xalivar does have some nice qualities at first. Additionally, the slaves rebel and fight for freedom, and that goes differently than the biblical story in many ways as well.

There are obvious influences on a few set pieces from various past Science Fiction and Fantasy films or books you enjoyed.

Yes, and I allowed those parallels to be obvious because they’re fun if done well, I think. I don’t mind seeing stuff that I know the inspiration for as long as it’s handled well, and I am hoping many readers won’t either. It’s also true that some familiar tropes are repeated because they just work so well, and I’ve been told that’s the case here as well. There’s an awful lot of originality mixed in, so I’m proud to also get to pay tribute to those who inspired me from time to time.

Whose your intended audience with the book?

I wrote it for people who love Star Wars type space fantasy. My hope is that parents will read it with their kids and discuss it and teens will discover the joy in science fiction through it as I did with those films and their novel tie-ins. But I think it will appeal to a broad spectrum.

For more information about The Worker Prince, click here!

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