Interview with Thomas Gunning

What's the story behind your latest book?
It's about a quartet of widely diverse women, usually from different worlds in a tri-stellar system called the Talon Cluster. Each woman is strong in her own ways, but they are formed in differing planetary cultures. Ultimately, their interactions violently impact the settled planets of the Talon Cluster. Although there are many military elements, the focus is on how each of these women, whether allies or enemies, react to the tensions, violence and horror that come from attempts to dominate one's neighboring planets.
What else do you write besides science fiction?
I write a blog called "Pardon & Mirth" at The posts are essays like the newspaper columns I once wrote, edited and published. A column I wrote about my grandmother's death in the midst of her large Irish family won a "Best Column" nod from the Nebraska Associated Press Association. The personal essay remains my favorite genre.
I also wrote a one-man play based on the writings of H.L. Mencken, the great journalist, columnist and cultural critic of the early 20th century. Although it hasn't yet been produced, I hope to publish it, with illustrations, later this year on Smashwords.
When did you first start writing?
As a youngster. I was a voracious reader by the time I was seven. Initially, I wanted to be playwright, but 15 years as a newspaper and magazine editor saw me coaching other writers, editors and reporters, not focusing on my own writing. I've been a longtime fan of well-written space opera, so I decided to write "Pacts of Desperation." I work on its sequel, "Hound of Winter," on a recurring basis.
Who are your favorite authors?
In science fiction, I teethed on Robert Heinlein. Harlan Ellison, Frank Herbert, David Weber, Neil Gaiman, and Lois McMaster Bujold would be in my top 10. I'm also a big fan of urban fantasy. I especially like Richard Kadrey's "Sandman Slim" series, as well as Simon R. Green's "Nightside" and "Secret Histories" books. I consider Mark Helprin's fantasy "Winter's Tale" to be the best American novel in the past 50 years. Whatever Helprin's politics, he's our best novelist and one of our top short story writers. "The Pacific and Other Stories," the picaresque "Freddy and Fredericka" and "A Soldier of the Great War" are hard-copy proof.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. "Winter's Tale," by Mark Helprin. Simply the finest American novel in the past 50 years. A mixture of fantasy, historical observation and sheer magic.
2. "Delights and Shadows" by Ted Kooser. The finest collection of his poems by the greatest American poet since Robert Frost. Simple, clean and elegant, Kooser's best poetry resonates in head and heart.
3. "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris. A wonderfully written biography of one of the most powerful personalities in the history of American politics. Morris was never able to match its novelistic power in his other works.
4. "Giving Good Weight," by John McPhee. The master of extended nonfiction, here McPhee looks at the use of water hoses to defend a town from lava; the Corps of Engineers' billion-dollar effort to keep the Atchafalaya River from capturing and rerouting the Mississippi, and the effort by Los Angeles to control debris flows from the San Gabriel Mountains. Fascinating stuff.
5. "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein. An underrated masterpiece of adventure, culture shock and political shenanigans. It's the first book of his to help me realize how formidable his storytelling ideas could be. Better than his more vaunted works.
Published 2017-03-04.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Pacts of Desperation
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 103,190. Language: English. Published: December 1, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The Confederation of Allied Worlds gobbles up free planets. Its next target is green Belfrey. Those involved include Caitaliné Talavera of Troop Morghan, whose heart gets pinched between blood oath and blood contract, and Alexis DeWinter, the Confederation's best general, whose invasion seems a success. The only way to defeat DeWinter is to recruit the high-tech "elves" of neighboring Somerset.