Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Interview with Flotilla Author Daniel Haight

Buy Flotilla here!
Stephanie: Is there a specific message in Flotilla that you would like your readers to come away with?
Daniel: Good question – there are a number of messages that people have drawn from the series, but I think the biggest personal choice I wanted people to come away with is that they have a choice in the future they’re walking into. Just like Doc Brown said: “Your future is whatever you make of it, so make it a good one.” The world we’re living in now goes out of its way to make us feel powerless and vulnerable but each of us has the responsibility and the opportunity to make good choices, even in bad circumstances. So I wanted to show people how that might work, someone going from feeling powerless to powerful. That informs Jim’s journey.
Stephanie: Would you say you relate to your main protagonist, Jim, in any way? If so, was this intentionally done or a subconscious coincidence?
Daniel: Oh sure, Jim is the kid you want to hug and then kick in the pants. He’s a lot of fun to write for because I rarely agree with him. I can’t justify his choices, but it’s interesting to see how he talks himself into (and out of) trouble.
Stephanie: Flotilla is not your typical science fiction novel. What led you to take this particular path and how important was it to maintain the science fiction aspect as you developed the plot?
Daniel: Absolutely! I don’t want typical Sci-Fi. Typical is boring. I want interesting. I think other people do, too. The path I take is “How do we legitimately get to the future, and what kind of people are we when we get there?” So developing it was as easy as thinking about how a company like Wal-Mart would develop a green tech business in the future.
Stephanie: What type of research did you do in order to make certain Flotilla was told with accuracy and realism?
Daniel: Ooh, tons! Lots of time behind the keyboard on Google, Wikipedia and elsewhere to make sure that whatever I’m saying matches up with what we know about mariculture, seasteading and future tech. I spent weeks looking up every aspect of the book, from the addresses of the restaurants that Jim visited to the correct coordinates of The Colony. Other people lent their support, too – the book’s been through a gauntlet of military and nautical professionals. I want it to sound and feel real – that’s one of the things people enjoy about the series.
Stephanie: You mention on your webpage that you are a huge fan of volunteering and partaking in charitable endeavors. How do you think your volunteering influences your writing and writing style/process? 
Daniel: Had to stop and think about this question. I’m not sure how much it influences my writing; I know it influences me personally. I love to be able to give to people – I’m helping a close friend get their family to Disneyland this week – that makes me feel like I’m finally getting close to who Dan is supposed to be. He’s supposed to be the guy who gives to other people. I used to think that you could only give if you had achieved a certain level of success but later I realized you can help people in meaningful ways no matter how rich or poor you are. I started giving away my books to survivors of Child Abuse, for example, and I found that to be very rewarding. In the future, I’d love to expand on that because I don’t get to help as much as I want to.
Stephanie: What has been the toughest criticism you've received for Flotilla? How did this alter the story and how you approached the promotion of the novel?
Daniel: Oh, I’ve heard the average ‘you suck’ comments both online or in reviews. You have to learn how to be okay with criticism, both of your work and how you might come across online. One of the best lines I heard about this came from Sinbad, the stand-up comic. He said, “Being an artist means I am willing to take the hits.” It’s a process.
Stephanie: Flotilla is told from the perspective of Jim, your main protagonist. Why did you choose this method of storytelling? Do you plan on using different perspectives in the follow up (i.e. Jim's father, little sister, etc.)?
Daniel: Interesting behind-the-scenes note: when I first wrote the book I couldn’t decide between first or third person, so I ended up writing some scenes as diary entries and others as third-person descriptions. Everyone hated it. I ended up going back and re-writing the novel as told by Jim and that flowed much better. Sometimes we try different experiments in our writing and change it as we go along. As for other perspectives, my answer is ‘Sure, absolutely!’ I think it’d be a narrative goldmine to tell some sci-fi stories from other perspectives like Madison or one of the supporting characters of the next book, Iron Mountain. The entire series follows Jim like a Steadicam through the end of the world but we can take that camera and point it in any direction – the possibilities are endless.
Stephanie: Are there any other genres you'd love to explore? Do you have any particular scenes that you find challenging to write or are there any subjects you classify as 'off limits?'
Daniel: Interesting that you should ask that – I was writing some scenes in an upcoming project and I had to step back because they were getting too dark for the overall tone and audience I want to write for. One of the most powerful parts of science fiction is its ability to be accessible to younger audiences. I’m sure it was a stretch for guys like Asimov or George Lucas to constantly pull the reigns back on their creativity but it made it possible for a young sprog like me to discover their universes, so I want to carry on that tradition.
Later on, other genres might be fun but for now I’m sticking with sci-fi. As a frontier, it’s more than big enough for me. 
Stephanie: Did you learn anything from writing this story? In what way(s) do you see the experiences of creating Flotilla effecting your future projects?
Daniel: Sure, I think you learn something from every book. The process of writing is something like 40% creativity, 20% nuts-and-bolts business, and 40% audience building. ‘Real artists ship,’ as Steve Jobs says. That means I’m involved in every aspect of the book production process and all of that grunt work informs the creativity. That’s actually a good thing: if all I did was write, my characters and I wouldn’t be as down-to-earth as I want us to be.  From Flotilla, I learned the value of having a chapter and book outline before I start writing. Writing a book without a plan is like building a house without a plan…neither will keep a roof over your head.
Stephanie: Please take a moment and use this space to let us all know what you have in store for the future and anything else you'd like your audience to know. What projects are you working on currently? Do you have any convention appearances coming up? Book tours? What are the best ways for your readers to connect with you?
Daniel: Thank you! This has been a lot of fun – I really enjoyed your questions – very insightful! Upcoming projects include a short story called “I am Patient Zero” and a novel code-named “Project Cascade.”  You can follow along with me as I release new blog posts over at, or join the mailing list or talk with me on Twitter.

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