Lawrence N. Oliver

‘Fucking robots.’ -Ben Corbin

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

I’ve always loved fiction, especially science fiction and my imagination runs wild often to the point of distraction. Writing had always been something I enjoyed as a young person and I had wanted to pursue it as an adult but never made the time. One day I found myself unexpectedly off work for a few days so I was catching up on my reading (The Helmsman Series by Bill Baldwin). But as I tried to read I kept finding myself staring out of the window and thinking about another story, one I wanted to tell. So, I put down the book I was reading and I started writing.

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

Oh wow, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Tolkien, Burroughs, King, Koontz, McMurtry, Homer, Shakespeare (his stories, not the annoying Old English we were forced to read him in). Many more I’m sure …

Tell me about your book / series.

A soldier out of his time struggles to find closure at the loss of his wife. Earth’s new government presses him into service as an ambassador to our alien allies in a war against another alien species attacking Earth’s off world colonies and assets.

Having been replaced by robots and drones, veterans Ben Corbin and Sam Garrett go into business for themselves, towing derelict vessels and space junk out of the shipping lanes around Mars. Business was good, but a couple of malfunctioning service robots forced them to return to Earth for replacements. Aliens attacked the freighter they’d booked passage on, slaughtering and feeding on the crew and passengers. Only Corbin and Garrett managed to hold their own until they could hide in stasis pods. 200 years later Earth and her colonies, governed by the Commonwealth of Nations, are at war with a race of aliens known as the Nineteenth. Not with the Gar Rei Jhi who had attacked Corbin and Garrett so many years past. That war had been fought and humans lost. The Nineteenth is a new alien threat whose origins and motives are unknown. What information humans have on this new enemy comes from the uneasy alliance with the Gar Rei Jhi who’ve been fighting an even longer war with the Nineteenth. Though long ago, Corbin and Garrett’s history with the Gar Rei Jhi hasn’t been forgotten. They are to be ambassadors serving at the pleasure of the same aliens that attacked them. Thrust into a new age of engineered soldiers, interplanetary politics, and self-aware robots, Corbin has to quickly decide who he’s going to trust as he journeys back to the Mars colony. But his search for truth may come at the cost of his life, and the fate of the Commonwealth may rest on his decision.

WARNING: If you don’t like space battles, cyborgs, diverse flawed characters, aliens, AIs, mechs, robots or bad language this book may not be for you.

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

The sequel to The Last Marines is in the self editing/ revisions phase and will hopefully be available by the end of the year. And I’ve got another WIP on the back burner along with the third novel in The Last Marines series.

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

Banning books is wrong as long as the book doesn’t provide dangerous information. I don’t mean ideas or themes that aren’t mainstream or that challenge established cultural norms etc. …By dangerous information I mean Boris’s Meth Cook Book or Dirty Bombs for Dummies. America was founded on the principle of freedom. Even if I don’t agree with everyone’s views, I will fight for their freedom to express them.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s).

What makes them memorable? Norton. She’s a disabled Fleet Infantry veteran making her way as a VIP shuttle operator on Mars and making a few extra credits whenever she can even if she has to bend the law to get it done. Norton doesn’t take shit from the books’ MC or anyone except maybe her wife Eidnam.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

Indie. I like the freedom of independent publishing but honestly, I did try to go the traditional route at first and couldn’t find an agent that felt my manuscript was right for their list …

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

I think everyone is different but that stimulation is often the father and mother of imagination. That said, I would stop short of saying you need to read in order to write well. As for myself if I had the time to read as much as I’d like I’d never get anything written. I still have a frick’n day job…

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

The worst probably the marketing and the expense of hiring good quality support people like editors, proofreaders, cover designers. Though they are certainly worth the investment. The best part, other than being able to express my imagination and let it run wild at times, I’d have to say it is when other people love your story.

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

If I had to pick one I’d say I’m a panster, just because I don’t really do an outline. I’m not afraid to use a rough draft like an outline and do major rewrites. I like to get it down and move on then come back and work out any details that may need ironing out. Again, everyone is different and sometimes I wish I was more of a planner where my writing is concerned. I may even explore trying to be just that in the near future. It’s funny really because in most other aspects of my life I always have a plan and a back up plan and a back up plan for the back up plan. Drives my wife nuts.

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

Yes, oh yes.

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

I love 3 gun competitions, drawing and art in general.

What are you writing at the moment?

Revisions to The Last Marines sequel, book 3 in the series, and a zombie western.

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

As an indie author that spent a considerable amount of money on editing, proofreading and cover design my knee jerk reaction to this question is pretty much “Who the hell said that? Get a rope.” Though in truth it is a fact but like most things this issue isn’t as black and white as some people claim. Of course, not all indie books are badly edited or low quality but many are. There are very few standards that have to be met to publish a book on Amazon but I’m pretty sure almost all traditionally published books have fairly high editing standards. Many indies don’t have the filters or financial resources that a traditionally published author has access to or lack the patience to save up to afford them. It’s the double edged sword that is Amazon, having come about as a result of the relatively cost effective print on demand technology that now exists. IMHO.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

Science Fiction/ Space Opera hands down. I honestly can’t tell you why for certain. I grew up watching science fiction and fantasy movies and TV. The first novel I read was The Hobbit, followed by The Foundation. Maybe it’s just all of the possibilities available when you have the freedom to build not only characters within known environments, with all the rules that entails, but entire cultures and worlds. Or it could just be because I think aliens, blasters and space fighters are really cool.

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

Hmm… Damn. Certain aspects would be pretty cool, space flight, backwater terraformed frontier worlds, nanite healthcare plan, blasters, anti gravity (jetpacks), self aware robots … However, on the other hand, there would be the blood sucking aliens, cyborgs, AIs and self aware robots dominating the job market, compulsory military service to qualify for higher levels of citizenship and voting rights, government instituted nanite healthcare system, The Cutts (big thick aliens warriors with four arms and ten tentacles for legs) bent on destroying humans as they encounter them. Yeah… I’m gonna say yeah, I think I would.

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

Pay attention in English class, take some creative writing courses. Do more market research, make a better effort to spend more time writing.

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

I mostly listen to one of my Pandora radio stations (see links below if you want to give them a listen). Either “Ollie Radio” (mix of 80s and current indie music mostly) or most of all “Ollie’s Epic Movie Scores” (scores from movies like ‘Gladiator’, ‘The Last of the Mohicans’, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, ‘Lord of the Rings’, etc… etc…) I find it is easier to concentrate without the lyrics but just as rousing.

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

That I didn’t know jack crap about writing a book … As I went on chapter length, fighting the urge to explain and info dumps were things I had to be mindful of and things my editor Amber Helt with Rooted in Writing help me with greatly.

Tell me three unique things about you.

I grew up in a small Texas town working on my grandfather’s ranch and for my father in the oil field.

I’ve been married for over 20 yrs, father to an autistic son (20) and a daughter (21).

I love art and worked closely with my cover designer to come up with cover that is pretty damn close to my own design sketches and ideas.

Lawrence, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!