I’m off and running on None Call Me Mother. I only have 14,291 words in the main file, but I have quite a few notes yet to add. Still aiming for the end of the month.
Writing this one is kind of odd for me because I basically devised the plan for each of the main characters while working on Brief Is My Flame. I don’t usually plot that far ahead, but I kind of needed to do so while writing it.
That means the pace of writing has been pretty good. However, it also means I have mornings like today where I’m standing in the shower realizing I could have put more clues in both the first two in the series that would really kick up the ending a notch. It would also provide more fun for those, like me, who enjoy re-reading things.
None Call Me Mother is my main focus right now, of course. However, I’ve been playing around in the back of my head the story I’ll write for the second in the Phases of Mars anthologies. The first was Those In Peril, which came out in February and focused on alternate naval history. The new one is focused up in the air, and I have a story idea that will be fun, but I need to make it work with the technology of the era. Not sure yet how I’m going to play with it, but Phil Wohlrab really got me thinking about things in a conversation at FantaSci.
Speaking of short stories, I ended up calling the one for the We Dare anthology “The Chaos of Well-Seeming Forms.” The other title was good, but this one is much better for a number of reasons. You’ll see why when you read it.
With that, it’s off to celebrate Mother’s Day a bit early.
Current Playlist Song
Vapor Trails by Rush. I don’t think I’ve ever anticipated an album quite as much as this one. It was 2003. Rush had not made any music for years because of Neil’s tragedies. We never really knew if they would make any more. Then the rumors came out that Neil had started to play again. And they were in the studio. And then that they would release Vapor Trails. It’s title track is wonderful, but just one of many great songs on it.
Tonight it’s time for the Docfather, Philip Wohlrab himself. He’s a writer and a combat medic. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him at LibertyCon and several other conventions. If you’re at a con and see a guy in a heavily-adorned Imperial Andermani Navy uniform, it might just be him.
Interview: Philip Wohlrab
What is your quest?
Ultimately, I want to tell a good story, whether it is set in the future, the past, a past that never happened, or complete fantasy. I want to entertain people, pull them out of the land of the mundane, even if for a little bit. Right now, I have a couple of projects that I am working on, first is my novel set in an entirely new universe known as the Squidverse. Think WWII meets Star Wars, with a helping of the Mind Flayers from D&D. I am also writing a short alt history of the Battle of Jutland, where the US and Germany are allies, and lastly another short set in Black Tide Rising, though whether it gets published after certain people read it is going to be interesting.
What is your favorite color?
Cyberpunk Electric Blue? Hmmm, I do draw a bit from nature when I am creating new creatures. The Akkorro, aliens in the 4HU, are literally drawn from Cuttlefish. In fact, I like squids, and octopi quite a bit so you will see them featured in my stories in some form or another. I also try to get the little details right, what were the sounds, what were the smells. As a combat vet I can tell you that certain smells will never be forgotten, and I try to bring that out in my writing.
What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?
Time management is my biggest issue. I should be writing more, but I find myself getting distracted by things. I also tend to idea hop, so I have to make that work for me when I am working on multiple projects. This is a bit of a learning curve.
What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?
Emotion, I think I do that well. The Beach was an emotional short to write, for me, and I know it has hit readers pretty hard based on some of the feedback I have been given. I like to give people the emotions the characters are feeling, as it allows the readers to connect with the characters. You may have never experienced combat, but you have had some experience that has terrified you, or gotten the adrenaline flowing. So, if I can tap into that, and give the reader some personal idea of what the character is feeling, I am going to try and work that in.
Favorite Muppet? Doozers from Fraggle Rock. I mean these guys spend all their time building stuff that the Fraggles just eat anyways. That has to take some fortitude not to poison the Fraggles.
Crunchy or Creamy? Creamy for the WIN!
Favorite Sports Team? Atlanta Falcons, I am used to disappointment.
Cake or Pie? Why not both?
Lime or Lemon? Definitely Both.
Favorite Chip Dip? Ranch
Wet or Dry? Wet
Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Gunship, seriously if you like 1980s Cyberpunk go give these guys a listen.
Whisky or Whiskey? Whiskey
Favorite Superhero? Darth Vader. What? He has comic books!
Steak Temperature? Damn near still mooing.
Best Game Ever? Hmmm I am currently very much enjoying Battletech.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee, drank black as hell, or perhaps Irish. Never adulterated with cream or sugar.
Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Sci-Fi.
What question(s) would you like to ask me?
Rob how do you find time to do all the stuff you do?
Rob’s Answer: Uh, I do a bunch of stuff? I don’t feel like it, especially right now when I’ve been fighting a bit of a dry spell with writing.
I do try to do at least a little bit each day, though. One of my favorite sections from the Prince Roger series is the bit where Roger talks about eating soup with a knife. It’s not always easy, and it requires determination, but you have to keep doing a bit here and there.
Tell me again where we can find your stuff?
I have a couple of things up on Amazon, and a few more on the way. I have a short I independently published entitled The Medic. My short The Beach is available in The Good, the Bad, and The Merc. I have another short that will be published in the Homo Stellaris anthology, that I cowrote with Kacey Ezell, about the first pregnancy in space, and I have a short coming out in the next 4HU anthology involving a German merc company, and the Akkorro.
I attend Libertycon and Dragoncon each year and can be found at other Cons in the North Carolina or Virginia area, schedule permitting.
Do you have a creator biography?
From my Amazon page: Philip Wohlrab has been a medic with the Army for over 12 years, and he has served his time in the sandbox. He currently trains the next generation of Combat Medics and runs a schoolhouse medical section. When he isn’t doing Army things he can be found at various Sci-Fi Cons, and writing.
Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?
You should have asked how my service has affected my writing. I have served both in the United States Coast Guard, and the Virginia Army National Guard. This has given me a unique look at very different service cultures, and I use that to ensure that when I am writing characters that they are unique to their service branches. Army speak doesn’t always translate well to Naval speak, things of that nature.
Lastly a small snippet from my upcoming Squidverse novel. Thanks for doing this Rob!
Outer Luzon System
Space itself seemed to blur as ship after ship of the Taiyo battlegroup emerged into the realm of physics that Einstein and Newton would recognize. Atago, a heavy cruiser, formed up the center of the battlegroup alongside the Taiyo, while two Nagara Class light cruisers took up station as the inside defensive ring. Six destroyers formed the outer ring of warships that would protect the heavy cruiser, and light carrier.
Admiral Lady Hitomi Izumi scanned her repeaters arrayed around her command dais, she was looking for any flaws in the deployment of her vessels. Admiral Izumi was known to be exacting in her expectations of junior commanders. Finding no faults, she sat back in her command chair and crossed her legs.
“Commander Sasaki are there any indications of enemy ships nearby?” inquired Admiral Izumi. “Also, what was it that they were calling these things now?”
“They are calling them squids My Lady,” said a moon-faced heavy-set officer sitting at the sensor station. “Also, our scopes are not showing anything out here My Lady, however the sensor drones we left back in system is still showing a sizable Squid fleet around Marigold. Most of the ships though are either transports or supply vessels.”
“Interesting, I wonder where their warships have gotten off to? If they had been present in force we would never have been able to sneak in our own transports, but you would think they would have reacted by now to our presence in the system.”
“As you say My Lady, but we have no indication as to where they are, or when they left. Perhaps these Squids are harder pressed for ships than we previously thought? Could it be that they have used their entire fleet in the attacks across the entirety of the Fan and left nothing in reserve?”
“I think that most unlikely,” chimed in another officer. This worthy was Commander Asuna Hasegawa, Izumi’s chief intelligence officer. “I suspect that we have yet to see any reserve formation for these squids as you call them Commander Sasaki, it is more likely that we are seeing just the tip of their frontline units.”
“Then where are their warships Commander Hasegawa, and why aren’t they here?” growled back Sasaki.
“That is a good question Commander Sasaki, and one I wish I had an answer for.”
Fleet Controller 672 was proud of the fact that she had predicted that the human battlegroup wasn’t going to jump completely out of the system. It was rare that a Squantalavi female would be elevated to a position such as hers, but she had consistently demonstrated that she was one of the most agile thinkers in her cohort of officers. Even in a society dominated by males, 672 had both excelled, and been recognized as one of the best officers of her generation. That didn’t mean that she didn’t experience her fair share of hiccups in her career though. She had not been given a position in of the first assault fleets, but instead had come in as a second-tier commander, as the males of her cohort jealously guarded the prime assignments. Still Fleet Intelligence 11 had seen her potential, and rather than relegating her to one of the Skazi battlecruisers, he had given her command of a Saltze battleship.
Thanks to Philip for taking the time to answer my questions and the fun snippet.
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.