Please welcome Justin Woolley
to The Qwillery. Shakedowners
was published on June 14, 2021 by Lonely Robot Books.
: Welcome to The Qwillery. Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?
: Ah, the single question capable of causing a room of authors to descend into hours of argument. It's most likely my engineering background but I am absolutely a plotter. I plan out my novels in detail before I start writing them. I know a lot of authors feel like doing this removes some creativity or discovery in the process of writing the first draft but I find that having a scaffold in place gives you room to be more creative. It removes the cognitive load of having to think about plot and gives you freedom to apply your full creativity in the scene you're currently working on.
: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
: Authors always have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the actual craft of writing but outside of always trying to improve at the craft itself my biggest challenge when it comes to writing is time. I, like most writers, still have a job outside of my writing and a family and other commitments so scraping out more than an hour or two of dedicated writing time is hard. The upside to this is I've become very good at writing just about anywhere on just about anything that can make a mark on paper.
: What has influenced / influences your writing?
: My writing has many influences but if I had to reduce it down to a few major influences they would be: my background as an aerospace engineer which comes in particularly handy when writing science fiction and being exposed to fantasy and science fiction from a very young age. My biggest author influence would probably be Terry Pratchett. I absolutely devoured the Discworld series as a teenager and it changed my view of what fantasy and all genre fiction could be.
: Describe Shakedowners using only 5 words.
: Star Trek crewed by misfits.
: Tell us something about Shakedowners that is not found in the book description.
: It's not explicitly stated in the book description but I hope it comes across in the book itself - Shakedowners
was the most fun I've ever had writing a book!
: What inspired you to write Shakedowners?
: In a lot of ways Shakedowners
was inspired by my early exposure to two things, Star Trek and British comedy. Both thanks to my father. When I was six or seven my Dad started collecting every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series on VHS tapes through a subscription service and this was soon followed by Star Trek: The Next Generation. I watched both these shows from beginning to end more than once growing up and Star Trek became my first science-fiction love. On top of this Dad had another love he shared with me, Monty Python and that very British brand of absurdist comedy. Eventually I discovered Red Dwarf and Douglas Adams and saw that you could combine these two things into something spectacular. Shakedowners
is basically my homage to these influences.
: What sort of research did you do for Shakedowners?
is certainly not hard science-fiction but one thing I pride myself on is using both my aerospace engineering background and research into the latest science to at least make much of the science plausible. Rather than just hand-waving problems like faster than light travel and space flight away I took the time to design technologies that, while fictional, actually address real issues with the physics of space-travel and communication across vast interstellar distances. This meant research into cutting-edge science like quantum entanglement and possible solutions to relativistic effects of space travel. I also ground the technology in ways that are realistic according to our current best understanding of physics, no laser-swords here.
: What is Captain Iridius B. Franklin's favorite alien bar and favorite alien cocktail?
: Iridius's favourite bar is a little place on Procyon C called 'Arsonic Atmospheric' and he's partial to a Grantakian Razor Vodka on hallucinogenic ice.
: In Shakedowners who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
: I think the easiest character in Shakedowners
to write was Ensign Benjamin Rangi who is the helmsmen. He's the most outwardly comedic of the characters and his actions and dialogue just seemed to flow so easily. On the flip side the most difficult to write was the major antagonist of the story an alien synthetic lifeform that calls itself the Aegix. The Aegix was difficult to write because it is an artificially intelligent hive-mind. This meant trying to write a character that was comprised of a swarm of smaller life-forms and so had no real sense of singular identity and is also highly intelligent - vastly more so than a human. This meant trying to give the enemy a motivation that the reader understands but still doesn't seem to fully grasp - just like the characters in the story.
: Does Shakedowners touch on any social issues?
is by-and-large written to be an entertaining piece of science-fiction comedy but it's my view that all fiction touches on social issues whether the author does so willingly or not. In Shakedowners there is a subtle undercurrent throughout the piece that I've definitively included on purpose. It's certainly not front and centre in the narrative but I have included some discussion for the discerning reader about whether the seeming utopia of the Galactic Federation is quite as perfect as it seems. There are also indications that despite advancements in many ways humanity still has a habit of leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
: Which question about Shakedowners do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
: Excuse me Justin, would you like to sign this movie option contract for Shakedowners
with a blue pen or a black pen?
I'll take the blue one please.
: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Shakedowners.
: That is such a hard question! I'm going to cheat and say the opening of the actual story after the captain's log.
"No one in the universe would consider the FSC Diesel Coast an attractive ship. It was a hauler, a starship built purely for function, with as much thought put into aesthetics as a sledgehammer puts into the meaning of life."
I like this line because it is introducing the ship but it is also subtly telling you about the crew inside too.
: What's next?
: Right now I'm working hard on the sequel to Shakedowners
. I'm hoping to have it completed quite quickly so that readers don't have to wait too long for the continuing adventures of Captain Iridius Franklin and his crew!
Lonely Robot Books, June 14, 2021
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 298 pages
To boldly go where no losers have gone before... Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound : Powell's
Some starship captains explore strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilisations. Some lead missions of discovery through wormholes to the other side of the galaxy. Then there's Captain Iridius B. Franklin, someone who spent too long seeking out strange new bars and new alien cocktails.
After graduating bottom of his class at Space Command Academy Iridius Franklin hasn't had the glamorous career he envisioned, instead he hauls cargo ships full of mining waste, alien land whale dung, and artificially intelligent toy dogs across the stars.
Iridius does have talent though - he is exceptionally good at breaking starships. So, when not hauling freight, he is captain of a shakedown crew, a skeleton crew used to test newly constructed ships for faults before the real crew takes over.
While on a routine shakedown mission aboard the FSC Gallaway, soon to be pride of the Federation Fleet, Earth is attacked by an unknown alien life-form. With the galaxy in chaos, Captain Iridius B. Franklin finds himself, unqualified, understaffed and completely unprepared, in command of the most advanced starship in the galaxy.
Now, he just needs to not break it.
| Holly Kate photography |
Justin Woolley has been writing stories since he could first scrawl with a crayon. When he was six years old he wrote his first book, a 300 word pirate epic in unreadable handwriting called 'The Ghost Ship'. He promptly declared that he was now an author and didn't need to go to school. Despite being informed that this was, in fact, not the case, he continued to make things up and write them down.
Today Justin is the author of the Australian set dystopian trilogy The Territory Series consisting of the novels A Town Called Dust, A City Called Smoke and the recently released finale A World of Ash. He also writes the web serial Listening to the Other Side, a fictional blog about talking to the dead.
Justin lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two sons. In his other life he's been an engineer, a teacher and at one stage even a magician. His handwriting has not improved.