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F. Stephan

‘Only augmented pilots can cross space. But at what cost?’

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

It had been a dream dormant for many years. The day my mother had a severe health problem, the time came to face this envy and begin writing. It was also a way to work with my father, an illustrator.

And when I began, my friends said “At last, we told you so …”

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

Recently, I’ve read a lot from L.E. ModesittJr and I love both the coherence of his worlds and the philosophy behind. I’ve also read a lot of the classics (P Anderson, R Heinlein, J Vance, …).

Tell me about your book / series.

Six student fly to a distant planet to become starpilots, the first from Earth, charged to help their planet surviving from ecological collapse. Do they have what it takes to succeed?

In one hundred years, Earth is falling into an ecological collapse, looking for a way, any way, out. When an alien Star Federation offers assistance, the planet jumps on it. There’s only one catch. This Federation desperately needs Star Pilots, and very few individuals can sustain the nanorobots required to perform this job. Earth will receive all the help it requires, provided its inhabitants can prove future pilots. Six are chosen to go. This is their story.

In Human Starpilot, they will face the first stage of the training on distant Adheek and learn to manage their nanorobots.

In Interstellar Starpilot, two students go on to the Core Worlds of the Federation to further their training and face new dangers.

In Space Station Acheron, the other four return to Earth to build and run the first station to link Earth and the stars.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Interstellar Starpilot is just out of structural assessment and will be a month in copy editing. It should be live in June or July.

Space Station Acheron is 50 000 words strong and fully outlined. It could be released in late fall.

The next one is only at outline level with a thousand words of intrigue.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

Books shouldn’t be banned. It’ll always remember Usher II from Ray Bradbury in Martian Chronicles. If you haven’t read it, well, you don’t know what is in for you.

But at the same time, some books aren’t meant for all and some warning should be given to readers either when content can be offensive to certain belief or dangerous to certain age, or common readers. As a reader, I would appreciate it. I believe this transparency is important to keep book from being banned.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

Brian has chosen his life, got a degree and is suddenly thrown into another career, as space pilot, sent to another planet and injected with nanorobots which can destroy him. He isn’t a super hero, someone normal thrown into an abnormal situation and trying to survive the adventure. He’s also thrown out of his universe into another one and trying to find his place in it.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

Indie.

I’m learning the trade and there’s only one way to it: write, write and face readers. Listen to what they like or don’t like and work, again and again.

I have no issue with traditional publishing and would be delighted to enjoy this type of support.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

100% aligned. I have been a ferocious reader for years in many fields. I began with a lot of classic books both in French and English, then I went into different styles and type, from mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy, and many other.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

The best, first, is to be able to share your dreams and ideas with others, and not just play with them in your head. And, meeting others, talking with them about your books is an incredible experience.

The worst is when someone, after reading twenty-five pages, tells you your book is crap because he wants murder and gore first and then explanations. This is very hard after so much effort into a book.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

Plotter, absolutely. I would love to be a pantser but it doesn’t work for me right now. I can focus on the scene I write once I know where it starts and where it leads, not before. But it goes beyond that. Some sci-fi books are ever expanding. The universe keeps growing as the author adds features after features and it has often left me disappointed. I want a tighter story.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not really, there are clues into the next books, but they aren’t secrets per se.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

I’m part of the theater amateur group, with a focus on improvisation. This is shared creativity, beginnings, ends, small snapshots of stories. I love the gifts of stories and emotions that come out in these sessions.

What are you writing at the moment?

Right now, I’m revising my second book. The pure writing is on the third one. How do you build a station on a planet under global warming where resources and popular support are scarce? How do you come back to your birth place after seeing a wide universe and find your place again?These are fantastic themes to explore!

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

Editing is a real art and very expensive. I once delivered a book of a quality that shamed me, not running a second editing after the initial assessment. This was a mistake. I learned that lesson the hard way.

But on that same occasion, I also found a good team to help and support me on editing. It’s hard because as Indie you don’t “know” the process, the right steps. I have had the chance to find people who suggested a more professional approach, more cost effective. It remains a huge investment for me now on each book, making this writing endeavor absolutely not profitable. But if you do something, do it right!

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

For now, I love to write science fiction for the freedom it gives in the world building activity. I want to travel to foreign places when I read, and this is what I want to provide my readers.

This may change over time, naturally.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

I’d want to travel in the Federation’s worlds and especially its center, which is the focus of Interstellar Starpilots. First, because it boasts the last working star elevator in the Federation and I’d love to ride it, second because this is a beautiful place from where you can travel anyplace.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

There are so many lessons learned in that career, so much advice I wished I had had or understood sooner. The only give I would is: Go. Do it. Write, publish, you’re going to love it.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

I listen to all sort of contemporary music, played at random. Some scenes have a musical theme in my mind when I write. But, I don’t often listen to it while I write, maybe just before.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Characters have a life of their own which is, nearly, out of the author’s control. You set up a character initially for a scene. Then, you need someone in another situation and you bring him or her back. And suddenly, someone is there, facing you, with its own motives and desires, and will move on his own course from now on. You may not call the character again or another scene may lead to an intervention.

Tell me three unique things about you.

I was born in the USA and raised in France, and I love both countries.

I’ve worked and lived in many countries, been part of a student organisation whose aim was to reconnect Eastern and Western Europe and went even Down Under in Australia on a job.

I was in West Berlin 2 month before the Wall fell.

Fabrice, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

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