Interview with Joseph J. Madden

Has writing always been a passion for you?
The earliest memory I have of writing is when I was about five or six, when I wrote and illustrated a book about the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Muttley. Around the age of twelve, I wrote my first short story, Space War 3000. The first six pages were my own creation, the last six were heavily plagiarized from the novelization of Return of the Jedi. Mr. James Kahn, the novelization's author, had nothing to fear from me. So it could be said that writing has always been a passion for me
Where do you get your inspiration?
It’s difficult for me to pin down exactly what inspires me. I draw from so many diverse things. Comic books, history, old movies, travel. Music is a big part of it. About 65% of my music collection is film scores. The works of Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, John Williams and David Arnold are very inspiring, and I have drawn a lot from them. And every time I get back from Walt Disney World I have about five dozen ideas.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I got tired of going to book stores and checking the science fiction and fantasy shelves and finding only books about vampires or books based on video games. I wanted to read the kind of science fiction like I grew up on: I watched the original Star Wars endlessly, plus Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers. There was nothing on the shelves that interested me.

Also, when I would submit The Starhawk Chronicles to agents, I continually got the reply that they liked what they saw but it "was not what they were looking for at this point." I took that to mean that since there were no sparkly vampires, I had no chance of consideration. So I went indie. I knew I had a marketable story and just had to get it out to the public to prove it.
How did you begin devising The Starhawk Chronicles? What’s the back story in its creation?
April 19, 1987 is the date when I first conceived of The Starhawk Chronicles. I was 16 and visiting Disneyland with my father and had just come from seeing Captain EO. I loved the idea of a group of space-going misfits, and while waiting in line for Star Tours, quickly began to devise a band of my own. The original crew of the Starhawk was a group of down-on -their-luck space pirates. After numerous attempts (and one finished novella) I decided to take them in a different direction, making them bounty hunters instead. Ironically, the space pirate idea has crept back up and is being reworked for another crew.
You list Star Wars and Star Trek among you inspirations. What is it about them that speaks to you?
Star Wars was the first science fiction I had ever encountered, and I was totally mystified, sitting in the theater at age seven seeing it for the first time. After that, I would watch anything that had spaceships or aliens in it, and that got me involved with Star Trek. My first experience was Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Granted, not a great start, and I remember being bored to tears, but also not wanting to leave the theater until I saw how it turned out. Even though I did not think much of the movie, it did interest me in the TV show. Then I saw Star Trek II and was hooked from then on
What are you working on next?
Currently I am hard at work on the second installment of The Starhawk Chronicles, as well as a spin-off for one of the characters. In addition, there are several other stories that pre-date TSC, not prequels per se, but stories that contribute to the overall fabric of history leading up to the time in which TSC is set. The timeline runs from about 150 years prior to Starhawk to about 25 years after.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
There are so many books I love that it is hard to choose. I would have to say Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire trilogy is definitely at the top of the list. John M. Ford's The Final Reflection is one of the finest Star Trek novels I have ever read, though it doesn't fit in with the history we know now. Mario Puzo's The Godfather was required reading for me growing up Italian-American in New York, and the works of Mark Twain got me through many summers at camp. Perhaps my favorite book of all time is Bob Thomas' biography of Walt Disney, An American Original. I read that at least once a year when I need to feel inspired.
Who are your favorite authors?
Science Fiction - Orson Scott Card, Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole
Thriller- Dean Koontz
Adventure - Clive Cussler, Rafael Sabatini
History- Stephen Ambrose
Published 2014-03-13.
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