Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sci Fi Author: Daniel Roozen Talks about Story Ideas

Today, I'm happy to have author Daniel Roozen visit with us. Daniel has a book coming out soon.

Rachelle: Hi Daniel, tell us a bit about your latest book.

I’m calling it Chronicles of Ariel:Path of Darkness, and it’s still a work in progress: a sci-fi thriller/adventure, the first in a series of at least five novels that I plan to write. Here’s a blurb, also a work in progress:

Eons after Earth became a thing of myth and legends, the factions of humanity spread among the stars had come together under one government in a bid for peace and unity. Only hints of alien life have so far been encountered but never fully acknowledged by authorities.

Ariel, 17, lost her father as a child after an encounter with an alien race, to be raised by her Uncle Marcus on Starbase One, the seat of human government. Now framed for murder and on the run, Ariel must fall in with the darkest that humanity has to offer to discover an alarming truth about Starbase One and the origins of humanity.

Rachelle: Sound like Ariel is in trouble. How did you come up with the idea for that book?

This one came at me in a couple different directions. First I was basically just doodling, writing a short story of a little girl on a deep space mining barge. I wrote it from her perspective, of how life must be like for her, and some ideas of just some things that could happen came out of it that would set up a good character. But I didn’t have a plot yet.

Then, I don’t know how the next piece started. I was thinking about it while I was half asleep, so perhaps a piece of a dream got in there. The last chapter of what is currently going to be the second book in the series grew. It’s a creepy sci-fi conflict the main character partakes in. (Sorry, I can’t spoil the ending here. ;) ) But I didn’t know how to get from the young girl to that ending.

Finally, a third piece started over a year ago. I was thinking of a neat board game one could make where the players each controlled a different race and they worked cooperatively to defend the galaxy, and earth in particular, from invading cyborgs. A few elements of that board game idea played into the story ideas and finally I had the basis for both short story and novel arcs in this new universe under creation.

I’ve already had one short story from this world published, another on its way, and two more making the rounds.

Rachelle: Very interesting. So you're writing primarily science fiction. Do you pay attention to genre rules or bend them?

Most science fiction, though some of my short stories have been general or fantasy, though I tend to veer away from magic themes, despite that being popular these days. As far as rules for the genre, there might be a lot going on subconsciously, based on what I pick up from what I read and how I think people might take it, but in general I believe genres are a good way to categorize books after their written, guiding a reader to other books he or she might enjoy, as opposed to boundaries or rules that writers must stay within. There’re so many genres nowadays, anyways, that it might be difficult to write for a particular genre. How do you classify Cowboys vs. Aliens? Sci-fi? Western? Okay, so now there’s a genre known as a sci-fi western. These days, I think the books and movies are making the genres, not the other way around.

That being said, I like space, future, time-travel, and the general unknown, so I tend to write in the science-fiction area.

Rachelle: Write what you like to read, right? So, what kind of books do you like to read? Which authors influenced you?

I’ve read a lot more fantasy than you might expect, so I’ve enjoyed Tolkien and Robert Jordan in the past. What especially intrigues me is the ability of those writers and others like them to both create a new world and weave and intriguing and epic story. Jordan, for example, has elements placed in the first books in the series that aren’t fully realized until the last books. I admire that ability, and it was one of the things that first made me want to write a novel of my own. I said to myself: “Man, this is so cool. I want to write something like that!”

Then we have Orson Scott Card and his Ender’s series. I especially admire how he and Jordan can really get in the heads of their characters and tell the story as the characters would see it. I like how Card can work out brilliant scenarios, like when Ender first beat up Stillson in the first couple chapters, so hard and vicious, and then we get the reasoning. He was not going to fight that every day, so he fought this one fight to make all the other kids wary of testing him. Amazing.

Rachelle: Sounds like you are in great company. Are you a character driven or plot driven writer?

I would definitely say plot driven, though I try to work hard at keeping it with realistic characters. In my novels, I tend to build the elements of what should come together in good conflict, differing characters and experience, and then build the plot off of that. But when I sit down to write I am definitely writing mostly dialogue and plot out in my first draft, with an ear to keeping the characters consistent. Then I go back and consider what’s missing in each chapter. Or, I had a good basis for this character, is that coming out in what I wrote? Do I need to flesh the character more?

Rachelle: Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out?

There’s nothing more important to your writing than to write. Find time, make time, but keep writing. Don’t worry how bad it is. You can always rewrite and edit later. That’s part of the process. Give yourself permission to write badly.

That’ll get you writing. Be careful of the advice you take. Established writers and journals such as Writer’s Digest have their place, but much of writing is subjective. What’s important, in the end, is your readers. Get your writing read and critiqued, but you as the author know your story.

The rest, I’m still learning myself.

Rachelle: Who is your favorite character?

Definitely the main character of my next book, Ariel Ryder. I feel a bit like I’ve grown up with her as her story has touch all the years of her life.

Rachelle: You don’t have to tell us, but who in your life did you pattern him/her after?

That’s interesting, because I had no intention to pattern Ariel after my wife, but as she grew in the plot and in my mind she took on a lot of aspects of my wife’s life. Much of it, though, seemed a natural extension of her childhood. I’m not sure whether this was coincidence or subconscious.

Rachelle: Have you ever fallen in love with one of your characters? Was your wife jealous?

Wow, I haven’t even thought of that. No, actually, I can come to love them, but I consider them more like children than equals. I have a niece and a cat, and I would mix up their names sometimes like parents do with their own children. As I got further into my current book, I started calling my cat or my niece “Ariel” at times. It makes it hard, sometimes, to do what needs to be done and harm her or put her in hard situations.

Rachelle: Ha, ha, I wonder if you'll get another kitty named "Ariel" someday. Describe a scene in your book where you would have liked to be in. Which character would you be and what would you have done instead?

I’m not sure I’d want to be in my current work in progress. J It’s very fast paced and dangerous. In my first novel, Suspended, though, half of a town in 2012 gets transported to 2099. I would have loved to be one of those 2012 characters and getting to see the future. The world is changing so fast these days. If it continues on, what would the world be like in 90 years?

I know, I kind of dodged the question, but if I were to place myself as one of the characters in the scenes I’m afraid I’d ruin the book. Knowing the whole picture, I’d make sure to do what needs to be done and I’d do it right. But a lot of drama comes out of the inconstancies between the characters, with them acting out of emotion or partial knowledge. It all goes into making a good book. J

Rachelle: That's true. You would be too knowledgeable and make wise decisions, unlike the characters. What is one thing you wish you knew before you began this journey?

How easy it would be, but also how difficult. It’s hard work and you have to be disciplined. But it’s not as hard to complete your work and get it published as you might think.

Rachelle: What is your greatest fear?

Failure. Though you only really fail when you don’t try.

Rachelle: What keeps you up at night?

The next chapter.

Rachelle: That's a good one! Tell me what a typical day looks like.

I work a normal, 40+ hour/wk office job, sometimes from home. When I go into the office, though, I ride the bus where I can take my netbook with me and write 800 to 1,000 words on the way to and from work. That’s a big help to getting the chapters done. Then there’s the wife, the house, and religious responsibilities. It would seem to not leave much time for writing, and so I had stopped for several years, but I’ve learned you have to make the time. If it’s important to you, you can make the time.

Rachelle: But you're doing it now. Did you dream of being a writer or something else?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Actually, I wanted to be a best-selling fiction author. I’m still working towards that, but for now being a writer is enough. 

Rachelle: We should never give up on our dreams, right? It's been great having you and boy did I drill you.

Folks, please drop Daniel a comment below or visit him online:


  1. Hi Droozen, it was fun working with you. Shoutout to where we met.


  2. Thanks again for drilling me, Rachelle. :) I might just have to get a cat named Ariel now. Good suggestion. And go CC! :)

  3. And in case anyone stumbles upon this interview, I did finally finish and publish my book. You can find it on Amazon: