Interview with Jeremy Reimer

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I spent my childhood years in the small town of Gibsons, British Columbia, home of "The Beachcombers". Our family also had a small cottage on the nearby Keats Island. I grew up loving boats and being on the water, something that has stayed with me to this day. Because of this, and also because my father was a pilot in the Navy, I had a strong preference for science fiction stories set on futuristic aircraft carriers. To me, stars in the Milky Way Galaxy are kind of like islands in the Pacific Ocean.
When did you first start writing?
I remember two short stories that I wrote in school that were significant to me. The first was a one-page story I wrote in elementary school about astronauts on the Moon witnessing a nuclear war back on Earth. The second, which I wrote in Grade 11, was titled "The Egg" and was about a vigilante trying to hack into a worldwide computer network in order to bring all of humanity together into one global consciousness. The latter story impressed my classmates enough to make me think that I had some ability to write fiction.

In my early 20s I took a course at Simon Fraser University called "Writing and Marketing Speculative Fiction" taught by Eileen Kernaghan in which I wrote several short stories. At the time I didn't feel ready to start on a full novel.

Finally, in 2003, I started writing what would become Edge of Infinity, the first book in my Masters trilogy.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Beyond the Expanse is the final novel in my Masters trilogy. The Masters are a reclusive, xenophobic alien race that are millions of years old and reside in an ancient globular cluster orbiting the Milky Way Galaxy. They have defeated every intelligent civilization in the galaxy and have enslaved the Earth's population inside a technology-dampening shield. Now, the space-borne carrier Pegasus and the rag-tag fleet that survived the Masters' attack are the only forces left to oppose them. In the third novel, pilots Jack and Sarah start off stranded on a barren planet deep inside enemy lines. They must escape and return to the Pegasus with the secret to defeating the Masters once and for all.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
For me, it was reading Wil Wheaton's blog entries about publishing. He published one book under a traditional publisher and had a bad experience. His second book he published himself, and not only did he have greater creative control over the project but he enjoyed much greater sales. I followed his advice and self-published on Lulu, then expanded to Amazon and Smashwords. I enjoy being able to do my own covers and handle my own marketing. It's a lot more work, but it's far more rewarding, especially in the long term.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has been phenomenal. Because of Smashwords, I became eligible for (and won) the "Breakout Book" award for Edge of Infinity, which has been a great motivator for sales, especially on the iBookstore. Despite Amazon holding the vast majority of market share for eBooks, I find that Smashwords is responsible, either directly or through affiliates on other platforms, for over half of my sales. I'm also amazed by the number of innovative ways that Smashwords has to help new authors with promotions.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I find the greatest joy in writing is to hear feedback from readers about the characters and worlds that I've created. To go from just a vague idea in my head to an actual novel that people can read and talk about is the best feeling in the world. The best feeling is when I create a character that people find appealing or that resonates with them in some way. This is probably the hardest thing to do when writing, but it's also the most rewarding. In Beyond the Expanse I created several new characters that my beta readers latched on to quite quickly, so I think I'm improving on this aspect of writing.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans are the greatest people in the entire world!
What are you working on next?
I'm just finishing writing the third book in the Masters Trilogy, Beyond the Expanse. After that I'll be working on a collaborative effort with my friend Terry Palfrey about a present-day effort to return to the Moon called "We Choose To Go" that will be serialized.
Who are your favorite authors?
As a child I loved Asimov and Clarke. I also read Heinlein and some C.S. Lewis. In my later years my favorite author was William Gibson, who lives in my home town and I've had the honor of meeting! More recently I've become a big fan of Greg Bear (Anvil of Stars is my favorite novel of all time) and Vernor Vinge. I don't read much fantasy but George R.R. Martin is an amazing author.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I have so many projects and hobbies that I basically can't wait to get started on at least one of them every day. I tend to write in the evenings, so I don't leap out of bed ready to write, but I do think about what I'll be writing throughout the day.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love reading, both fiction and nonfiction. I find the more I read the more inspiration and ideas I have for writing. I'm a technical writer and web developer by trade, so I spend time working on my web development platform (newLISP on Rockets) and building web sites. I love video games (the best game of all time is the Mass Effect trilogy!) and I'm currently working on a Freespace 2 mod set in my own universe, which is a lot of work but tons of fun to do!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
My best friend Terry is a voracious reader, so he recommends a lot of books for me. I also like to check out new indie authors, so I subscribe to BookBub's mailing list. Also, I really like it when people recommend things to me on Twitter!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
My first stories were probably the silly comics I scribbled using stick figures in Grade Three to amuse myself and my friends. But the first real science fiction story I remember is the one I mentioned before about a future Moon mission looking back at the Earth and witnessing a global thermonuclear war. A bit of a downer! I think I was in Grade Five or Six at the time. My student teacher really liked the story, and I remember getting a perfect grade on it.
What is your writing process?
I find my process has changed with every novel I've written. For my last book, I decided I would stick to a strict writing schedule of 1,000 words each day, with no breaks for weekends or even vacations. I found it worked really well, so I'll probably keep using this method, perhaps even increasing the word count. To do this, however, I need to think about what scene I'm going to write (or keep writing) during the day. I keep a folder in Scrivener called "Notes" where I basically just ask questions to myself about how certain plot points are going to be resolved. I find if I write down only the question and then leave it, I'll come up with the answer the next day when I'm in the shower or doing chores.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I ever read was called "A Bug In A Rug" and it was one of those learn-how-to-read books. I remember it because my sister would tease me about how I hadn't really learned how to read because I'd just memorized the words in that book. Years later, I heard a line in a French-Canadian movie about a governess who was teaching her students how to read and how they would "fake it, and fake it, until it became real". It got me thinking about how everything we do in life follows this pattern. To become a writer, you have to pretend you're already a writer and just keep writing until you have learned enough and gained enough skill to be called a real writer. It's a long process, but it's a rewarding one if you stick with it.
How do you approach cover design?
I love science fiction books that have spaceships on the cover. In fact, I even have favorite artists with different space ship styles that I recognize on the covers of many different authors. So when it comes to covers, I want to do spaceships, and because I'm not only the author but the publisher, nobody can tell me I can't do them! So I create the ships in a 3D program (Blender) and then compose them into a realistic space scene using images from the Hubble telescope as backgrounds.

For my second book, however, I wanted a specific image: a "Galaxy-rise", from the point of view of someone on a globular cluster orbiting the Milky Way galaxy. So I created a landscape image using Terragen. I needed some 3D astronauts so I found some 3D models on NASA's web site. Then I got the image of the galaxy from one of many barred spiral images. I then composited the whole thing in Photoshop and added glows and reflections. I find the cover design to be the most fun part of the whole process, because you can do whatever you want! I usually start with a rough pencil sketch and then revise it until I get the basic idea down, then I start doing the 3D work, then finish it up in Photoshop. I try to keep a consistent kind of style and branding between my three novels, so I use the same fonts and spacing for each one.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Number five is Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. I just loved his idea of separating the galaxy into "Zones" from the core outwards, with different physical laws applying in each one. The story itself is just a crazy rush of awesome ideas all colliding together at once.

Number four is the three combined books in the enormous Baroque Cycle-- if I had to choose a favorite one I guess it would be the final installment, The System of the World. I loved how Neal Stephenson made the history of the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment seem real and like an amazing action adventure story. So many neat ideas are in there that essentially form the core of our modern society, and you get to see it emerge from the greatest minds of the generation.

Number three would be A Game of Thrones. The first book in George R.R. Martin's epic saga is also the best. I came to the books from the TV series but the books are really well done and worth reading even if you've seen the show. Of course I had to read all the books at once to see what happened, but now I'm stuck waiting for George to write the next one!

Number two is probably Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card's first novel and easily his best one. The stark simplicity of the story is its greatest strength, and it had a profound impact on me as a young man.

But my all time number one favorite book is Anvil of Stars by Greg Bear. I devoured this book while on holiday in England and I was actually sad when I finished it because there was no more story to read! It stuck with me for a long time. The story of a galactic-sanctioned revenge against the destroyers of Earth has a deep emotional resonance that leads to an incredibly satisfying conclusion, and the epic scale of the saga is truly awe-inspiring. One day I would love to be able to write a book as good as this one.
What do you read for pleasure?
On the fiction side, mostly science fiction with some fantasy. On the nonfiction side I try to read everything I can get my hands on-- including as much of the Internet as I can absorb without exploding! I love reading about history and explanations about why things are the way they are-- Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel is one of my favorite books because it answers one of the greatest unanswered questions of history: why did European nations invade and conquer Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Americas, and not the other way around?
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Kindle, an older model with a keyboard. I love reading on that thing. In a pinch I'll read on my iPhone but the Kindle is always my first choice.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
So far, Twitter marketing and blog posts have been proven to be the most effective. I'm still a rank amateur at marketing and I'm finding that it's a lot more complicated and difficult than I imagined!

The other really effective marketing method is to simply release more books. I released the sequel to my first novel and it increased sales of the first novel. I'm hoping that the release of the third book does the same!
Describe your desk
It's my lap! I do all my writing on my laptop, and so my desk is wherever I happen to be. I've written on the bus, at the kitchen table, at the Shadbolt Center for the Arts waiting for my wife to finish her dance classes, even in bed! Laptops are awesome.
What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
Write every day. This is the single greatest advice I think anyone can ever give. If you want to do something, do it every day. If you love it enough, you'll do it.
Published 2013-09-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Beyond the Expanse
Series: The Masters, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 95,100. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
In the final book of the trilogy, the Masters prepare for their final assault on the galaxy, and the pilots and crew of the space carrier Pegasus must scramble to find new allies anywhere they can. In the mean time, the inhabitants of Earth, still trapped under the Masters’ technology-dampening field, desperately try to keep society and civilization from collapsing into chaos.
The Last Bonjwa
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 51,640. Language: English. Published: December 26, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » High tech
The Last Bonjwa is an action-packed adventure set a few years ahead in an alternate future. It follows the life of John "Heart" Wolanski, a professional Starcraft 2 player living in Korea, as he struggles against mysterious forces who want him dead. He must uncover the mystery behind his shadowy assassins while still trying to qualify for the biggest tournament in the world!
The Stalker
Price: Free! Words: 7,930. Language: English. Published: May 14, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Technological
The Stalker is a short science fiction story that centers around John "Heart" Wolanski, a professional Starcraft player living abroad in South Korea. John encounters a strange glitch in the game that comes at the worst possible time in his professional gaming career. He must struggle against the glitch and his own personal demons, which are threatening to destroy him.
Heart of the Maelstrom
Series: The Masters, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 78,240. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Military, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
Heart of the Maelstrom is the second book in the Masters Trilogy. The creators of the Deathspawn come to Earth, but are they here to destroy, or for some other reason? The crew of the UNIN carrier Pegasus soon find themselves facing this new foe head-on, but can they match their enemy's advanced technology?
Edge of Infinity
Series: The Masters, Book 1. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 75,900. Language: English. Published: January 3, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Science fiction » Military
Edge of Infinity is the story of the pilots and crew of the Pegasus, a space-bound carrier designed to project humanity's power and influence throughout the galaxy. The Pegasus is on a mission to retrieve an ambassador when suddenly they are attacked by a mysterious new alien species.
Price: Free! Words: 4,750. Language: English. Published: December 27, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Starfarer is a short story about an unusual first contact between a woman on a deep-space sleeper ship and an alien ship.