This week’s interview is with Robert E. Waters. As you’ll see, he’s also interested in using history to shape his SF, something I mention later myself.
What is your quest?
I strive to write fun and engaging stories. Do I always succeed? I do not know, but the effort is well worth it. My early influences were Clifford Simak, Robert Silverberg, and Stephen King, an odd mix, I admit, but each of these authors brought a different perspective to my own writing. I figure, if I can model my work around “the spirit” of what these three authors have accomplished in their lives, and if I can achieve a fraction of the skill and success that they have accumulated, then I can die a happy man.
What is your favorite color?
I’m a plotter, not a pantser. I don’t feel comfortable starting a story until I know how the tale will end. All the details in the middle can evolve as I write the story, but the big strokes of the narrative need to be firmly in my mind before I crank up the ol’ Word and get going. Most of my writing also has a decidedly historical bent, and so, I firmly recommend that if research is involved in the telling of a tale, that the research be done prior to starting the writing. I have found that I can get lost in the weeds of a narrative if I stop too often to research while I’m writing.
What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?
Patience. To be a good author, and more importantly, to be a published author, one needs to accept the molasses pace that often plagues the publishing industry. You must remember that there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people out there trying to get their stories and novels published just like you, and it can take a long while for your submissions to get a response. So, don’t be an ass like I was on occasion in the early days and harass editors about making a decision on your novel/story prematurely. If you push too hard, they might make a decision that you do not want them to make.
What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?
I think I write combat and battle scenes very well. I’m no expert on such scenes, mind you, but I’ve been able to work in my knowledge of historical warfare with a kind of frenetic pace that showcases the chaos of battle. I once wrote a 14,000 word rolling battle sequence that took nearly two full weeks to write, but in the end, it made the story.
- Favorite Muppet? The Count (assuming he is one and not just a Sesame Street construct)
- Best Present You’ve Ever Received? My son, Jason.
- Favorite Sports Team? Miami Dolphins
- Cake or Pie? In a pinch, pie
- Lime or Lemon? Neither
- Favorite Cereal? Captain Crunch
- Favorite Superhero? Iron Man
- Favorite 1970s TV show? Sanford and Son
- Best Thing From the 80s? The fact that we survived it, with the threat of nuclear annihilation present for a time
- Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Summer
- Favorite Pet? Bandit, my dog for 15 years; died because he had cataracts so bad he didn’t see the car to get out of the way
- Best Game Ever? Hard to say, but with a gun to my head, Fury of Dracula
- Coffee or Tea? I like both, but coffee
- Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Sci-Fi
- Brought to you by the letter R
What question(s) would you like to ask me?
What would you consider to be the “definitive” science fiction novel written in the last ten years? And why?
Rob’s Answer: Man, this is a hard question to answer for me because I don’t read as much new stuff as I should. The definitive SF novel to me is The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It’s got everything an SF story should happen, with fantastic pacing and an ending that’s only partially happy. The good guys win, but not all survive. I can’t not cry at the end.
As for recent stuff, I’m going to lean towards David Drake’s Lt. Leary series, of which I can’t pick one book. It’s strong work, solid all the way through, filled with action and strong characters. As a historian, I also love the way he uses historical events to shape the story. I just mimicked that process with my short story for the anthology We Dare, which comes partially from the Finnsburh Fragment.
Tell me again where we can find your stuff?
- The Masks Of Mirada, published by Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press, also available on Amazon
- The Masks of Mirada on Ring of Fire Press
- The Masks of Mirada on Amazon
- The Cross of Saint Boniface, published by Winged Hussar Publishing, available on Amazon
- The Cross of Saint Boniface on Amazon
- The Persistence of Dreams, co-authored with Meriah L Crawford, published by Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press, also available on Amazon
- The Persistence of Dreams on Ring of Fire Press
- The Persistence of Dreams on Amazon
- The Swords of El Cid, book 2 in the Cross of Saint Boniface series, publication date August 2019
- The Last Hurrah, media tie-in novel based on Mantic Games’ Dreadball universe, publication date TBD
- 1636: Calabar’s War, co-authored by Charles E Gannon, set in Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire series, publication date TBD
And where can we find you?
- I’ll be attending Balticon in May… https://www.balticon.org/wp53/
Do you have a creator biography?
Robert E Waters is a technical writer by trade, but has been a science fiction/fantasy fan all his life. He’s worked in the board and computer gaming industry since 1994 as designer, producer, and writer. In the late 90’s, he tried his hand at writing fiction and since 2003, has sold over 60 stories to various on-line and print magazines and anthologies, including the Grantville Gazette, Eric Flint’s online magazine dedicated to publishing stories set in the 1632/Ring of Fire series. Robert is currently working in collaboration with author Charles E Gannon on a Ring of Fire novel titled, 1636: Calabar’s War. Robert has also co-written several stories, as well as the Persistence of Dreams, with Meriah L Crawford, and The Monster Society, with Eric S Brown.
He has also written in several tabletop gaming universes, including Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy series and in the Wild West Exodus weird tech/steampunk universe. He has also dabbled a bit in Warlord Games’ Beyond the Gates of Antares milieu, writing about assassins and rescue missions.
Robert currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife Beth, their son Jason, and their precocious little cat Buzz.
For more information about his work, visit his website at www.roberternestwaters.com.
Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?
You should have asked what my favorite music is so I could tell you I love smooth jazz. All the greats: Gerald Albright, David Sanborn, Steve Cole, Grover Washington Jr., Euge Groove, etc. etc. I listen to it every evening. It relaxes and inspires me.
Thanks to Robert for taking the time to answer my questions.
If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.
Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: https://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.
Have a great day.
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels
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