Interview with Robert Collins

When did you first start writing?
The eighth grade.

I'd always been an imaginative kid. I saw "Star Wars" and got into science fiction and fantasy. I wanted to see and read everything I could. One of the books I read was "Asimov on Science Fiction." That book showed me that there was a way to take my imagination and put it to use: I could be a writer.

I started writing in junior high. I wrote mostly fan fiction through and after high school, then in the late 1980s I began writing only in my own worlds. I sold my first short story in 1990, and I've been published (or publishing) ever since.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yep. A "Star Trek" fan fiction short story. It wasn't good. I doubt it was even so-so. Thankfully, the only copy was lost in the 1991 Andover tornado.

I hope I've gotten better since then.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Telling stories. I love reading good stories, and I hope I'm telling good stories.
What is your writing process?
Get my butt in the chair. Play a few rounds of a game to clear my mind of other thoughts so I can focus on the work in progress. Once I've played a few rounds, I start writing. I stop writing when I get to the end of a scene, or I feel that I've found a good place to stop.

Recently I've gone to two writing sessions a day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I felt I was wasting time not writing in the afternoon. I feel I can be more productive, and so far I have been. I've been meeting my new daily goals, and exceeding them a good deal of the time.
Does where you live influence your writing?
I live in Kansas. It's had some influence on me. I've found interesting story ideas from Kansas history. Our state's history is one of morality and immorality. Opinions can shift on who are the heroes and who are the villains. I try to keep those things in mind as I write.

As to any larger influences, well, if I become an author worthy of study, I'll leave that question to the future. Right now, I just want to have my stories read and enjoyed.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Maybe someday my stories will be liked and read enough for me to make a decent living. That won't happen unless I keep writing, so I keep writing.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I listen to music. I read. I'm trying to get back into model railroading as my one hobby. I like to get on social networks and see what my friends are up to. That's pretty much it.
What do you read for pleasure?
Science fiction and fantasy. I used to read quite a bit of Kansas history, but that was as much for research for my nonfiction projects as for fun. As a result, I've gone back to genre works for fun reading.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My iPad.

I like the idea of ebooks in general. I've come to wonder how much physical space gets taken up by things in my life. I like having books, but I don't like having to figure out how many shelves I need, or where to put those bookshelves. Having one device that can hold my books, my music, and other media is great.

Plus, I can write and edit my works on my iPad. I can also tinker with covers and cover design. I can show people sites like Smashwords and Wattpad. I can keep track of my sales at events. It's great to have such a useful device with me, as a creator and as a consumer.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had three novels published by small presses. I always thought that a publisher would know more about publishing than I did. In those cases, I either knew as much as they did, or more. I wondered why I was relying on them if they didn't know more than I did.

I had learned quite a bit over the years. I self-published a series of travel booklets in the early 1990s. I worked closely with the small press that put out several of my nonfiction railroad books. I worked with a mid-size press on two biographies.

There were two projects I wanted to do: an article collection and collection of short stories published by small-press magazines. I learned about print-on-demand and did them myself. A year later I learned about ebook self-publishing, and started doing that.

It feels good to have control over my career. It also puts a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. Still, I'd rather have my success or failure as a writer in my hands than in someone else's hands.
What are you working on next?
I'm always working on something. As of this writing (late October 2013), I'm working on what might be the last books in two series I have out, the "Blue Pistol" series and the "Lisa Herbert" series. Once those are done I'll get back to another story I have half-finished. I might start another series as well.
Published 2013-10-29.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Jake Bonner!
Series: The Jake Bonner 'verse. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 197,110. Language: American English. Published: June 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
Jake Bonner travels space with his cool ship and its witty A.I. Odin. Unfortunately, space is full of people who need help... This collection contains all the works in the “Jake Bonner ‘verse” - the novel “Expert Assistance,” three novellas, the short stories, and the concluding short novel.
The Frigate Victory Series Collection
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 160,450. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » Military
Captain Jason Ayers and his crew deal with aliens, politicians, colonists, and pirates. Their adventures include action stories, mysteries, and dramas. These short stories have appeared in “Tales Of The Talisman,” “Golden Visions,” and “The Fifth Di…,” among others. The stories are in chronological order. Also included is the concluding short novel “Bear at the Door.”
The Blue Pistol
Series: The Blue Pistol. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 309,670. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
"The Blue Pistol" and his allies use guns and magic to fight the Slavers Guild, the ruling power of the Settled Domains. They also use terror, deception, truth, and knowledge in their fight against slavery. This ebook combines the six novels that make up the series into a single digital compilation volume.
Lisa’s Path
Series: Lisa Herbert. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 268,830. Language: American English. Published: April 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
Lisa Herbert wants to bring back the life that people had before the "Savage Rain" closed the hyperspace gates and isolated colony worlds. She uses trade, compassion, and her wits to bring worlds together and resolve their problems. This ebook combines the individual novels and short stories that make up the “Lisa Herbert” series into a single digital collection.
The Case Files of Gwen Conner
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 60,000. Language: American English. Published: April 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » General
Gwen Conner solves mysteries in a land where magic is used to create telephones, dictation machines, and streetcars. It’s also a world of scheming criminals, cheating spouses, and charming con artists. This collection contains fourteen fantasy-mystery stories, combining the older two collections into a single volume.
The Defender Chronicles: Volume 3
Series: The Defender. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 146,880. Language: American English. Published: March 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
This volume contains Defender stories 21 to 30. More Defenders are joining the fight for justice. They’re also fighting ignorance, and rediscovering the knowledge that was lost when magic disappeared centuries ago.
Eighty House
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 22,930. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Steampunk & retropunk
Andrew Manson is working on an invention that might ease traffic in the city: a steam-powered omnibus.He’s visited by his college friend John Simmons and John’s sister Josephine. The day after John and Jo arrive, John disappears from the boarding house they’re staying at. Andrew and Jo race to find her missing brother.
The Legend of the Black Fox
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 64,720. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
Tulla breaks the rule his town leader set down, and visits the men in strange boats from the east. They come with a message: magic has returned to the world. Tulla learns magic from the strangers, and decides to fight for justice as they do, as "The Black Fox."
The Defender Chronicles: Volume 1
Series: The Defender. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 211,770. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
Allan began life poor, and knowing that magic was the stuff of ancient legends. One day he discovers that the magic never went away, and that he has the gift of using magic. He decides to fight injustice as The Defender, and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. This volume contains Defender stories 1 to 10.
The Defender Chronicles: Volume 2
Series: The Defender. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 161,200. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
Allan began life poor, and knowing that magic was the stuff of ancient legends. One day he discovers that the magic never went away, and that he has the gift of using magic. He decides to fight injustice as The Defender, and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. This volume contains Defender stories 11 to 20.
A Story from Richland
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 18,140. Language: English. Published: January 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
One day a stranger appears in the village of Richland on the planet of Ogallah. The stranger wants to make Richland his home. The stranger is willing to integrate into his new community, but unwilling to talk about his past. The Mayor of the village, Bert Zimmer, would like to know more about this stranger. Will he learn anything about this new resident of Richland?
Willow Hill
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 31,410. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Steampunk & retropunk
Andrew Manson has traveled to Pensacola, Florida, to see his college friend Richard Abbott get married to a local lady, Samantha Grimes. Rumors of a hidden fortune, ghost sightings, and murder threaten the happy occasion. Can the promises of airships and inventions help or hinder Andrew as he tries to uncover the secrets of Willow Hill?
The Fateful Lightning
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 60,510. Language: English. Published: August 4, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
Owen Brown has followed his father, John Brown, to Kansas Territory to fight the wicked institution of slavery. He’s met one of the native medicine men of the Territory, who teaches him something the white men call “magic.” Over the next decade, Owen will use magic in the service of the cause, taking him across the Territory and the nation.
The Defender: Elderwood
Series: The Defender. Price: Free! Words: 30,840. Language: English. Published: May 2, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Adventure » Action
Allan flees Elderwood City because he killed the rich man who murdered his sister. He hides in the ruins of an ancient castle. He discovers the castle was the stronghold of one the legendary mages of yore. Allan learns that the magic never went away, only diminished due to overuse. He has the gift of using magic to cast spells. But what should he do with his new-found skill?
The Convention
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 22,190. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age, Fiction » Science fiction » General
David Chalmers is attending Mo-Kan 2, a science fiction convention in Kansas City. He’s there because a national Doctor Who group has big plans for the future. During the con he meets fellow fan Lila Woodson and the members of another fan group, the Space Rats. Will this convention alter David’s future? Will Lila win the costume contest? Should we be afraid of Doctor Who: The Wrath of Kroll?
Change Magic
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 28,840. Language: English. Published: December 16, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
What happens when a young wizard decides that his society can no longer endure the cruel commands of petty noblemen? Can he and his friends use magic, and their wits, to improve life in their realm? This collection tells of the extraordinary path taken by Oliver of Plimoth and his three friends as they attempt to overturn centuries of corruption and indifference.
Trent Tinker, Magic Man
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 39,140. Language: English. Published: November 12, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
Trent is a young man in search of a path. He’s learned to cast spells, but hasn’t enough coins to start his own shop. One day his father asks him to help light the city’s streets to find a criminal. That work starts Trent on the journey of a lifetime. The short stories in this collection take Trent from a minor dukedom to the edge of space. How can you do that with magic? Read and find out...
Monitor
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 72,830. Language: English. Published: October 15, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
A woman scientist travels back in time. A TV preacher warns of the “mutant danger.” A teenager’s training to be a mutant hero. A mutant villain with ambition. How are these four people connected to a mysterious hero known as the Monitor? Can the future be changed? Can a person be changed trying to do so?
No Easy Futures
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 25,640. Language: English. Published: June 16, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
This is a collection of stories that will make you think about yourself and the choices you make. There are few simple solutions to the problems raised in these pieces. Still, the characters try to overcome the best they can.
The Opposite of Absolute
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 56,010. Language: English. Published: December 3, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
John Ewert is one of a handful of survivors of a mysterious plague that leaves those survivors with magical powers. One group gathers around a man named Gabe, believing The End Times are at hand. Others follow a woman named Lucy, who tells them they’re going to win the final battle of the haves against the have-nots. John wonders, “Is the apocalypse, or just an incredible simulation?”
The Trail to Better Days
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 9,360. Language: English. Published: November 26, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
One day Will Beck says to his patron, “I’m under siege on two fronts. My trading business has to pay duties to bring goods here, and I have pay more for plows for my estate.” Beck has an idea: go west over the plains, and establish a direct trade route to the dwarves and their prized metal goods. Will that solve Beck's problems? Will it do more?
Cassia
Series: The Blue Pistol. Price: Free! Words: 61,490. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
A young woman named Cassia, journeyman in the Slavers’ Guild of the Settled Domains, is tasked to capture a mysterious outlaw named The Blue Pistol. Her encounter with him will shatter her life and subject her to physical and emotional agony. But in understanding his battle and her past, Cassia will seek to overcome her pain and prove that she can be of value to those who are willing accept her.
A Somber Tale
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 15,670. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
Four old friends, former officers in the army of their kingdom, gather one night. One them, looking haunted by his past, tells them of his meeting with a legendary warrior on the vast plains, his encounters with the Lizard Men, and what he knows of the powerstones that fuel magic.
The Valley Springs Resort
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 18,090. Language: English. Published: July 10, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
The Valley Springs Resort is a place on a distant world where visitors can relax and have a good time. You might not think such a place has much of a story. You’d be wrong, which is why you need to go there. From its founding by a lovable eccentric to its sad-yet-funny end, this novella tells the tale of the Valley Springs Resort.
Better Tomorrows: A Speculative Fiction Collection
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 34,080. Language: English. Published: June 26, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Here’s a collection of ten science fiction and fantasy stories with an optimistic streak. These stories, all by author Robert Collins, have appeared in The Fifth Di and Hadrosaur Tales, among others, and have appeared as short-story ebooks
Lisa's Way
Series: Lisa Herbert. Price: Free! Words: 75,810. Language: English. Published: November 22, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy, Fiction » Science fiction » General
(5.00)
Lisa Herbert lives in on the planet Fairfield. The “Savage Rain” decades earlier isolated her world. A remark from her sister gets Lisa to ask, “If life was better before the ‘Savage Rain,’ why couldn’t it be better again?” Lisa travels to three planets, using wits, compassion, and a little sneakiness to rebuild civilization.
True Friends
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 47,690. Language: English. Published: August 30, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age
It’s fall, 1983. David Chalmers hangs with a group of science-fiction fans. Alison Hughes runs with the popular crowd. Events cause David and Alison to consider the meaning of friendship and how strong their bonds to their "friends" will be after high school.
Fun Tales of Fantasy and the Future
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 32,260. Language: English. Published: March 6, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Inside this collection are tales of a spooky mansion eager to be bought; a clever antiques dealer; disappointed model railroad denizens; and a doorknob that greets your hand, literally. Thrown in at no extra charge are con-men, cranks, and college-age aliens.
Expert Assistance
Series: The Jake Bonner 'verse, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 61,950. Language: English. Published: January 29, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
(3.50)
To get out of debt, spacer Jake Bonner takes on two odd jobs. The first, chauffeur pop star Evvie Martini on her tour; the second, helping Daniel and Clarissa Rosen overthrow their planet’s tyrannical ruler. Unfortunately for Jake, Evvie finds out about his second assignment and, hoping to advance her career, invites herself to the revolution.
Kansas 1874: Triumphs, Tragedies, and Transitions
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 66,460. Language: English. Published: January 5, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » History » American
1874 in the Sunflower State was a time of the Wild West and of Indian attacks, but also of a rising poet and debates on temperance. It was the year the Mennonites first arrived, and when Abilene’s T. C. Henry began to promote winter wheat as a good crop for Kansas farmers. Few other years in state history show Kansas in its transition from part of the frontier to its own identity so clearly.
The Sagas of Surgard the Traveler
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 32,750. Language: English. Published: September 21, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(5.00)
Gather ‘round, one and all, and thrill to the rediscovery of the sagas of Surgard the Northerner as he collected tales from across the known lands of man. Stand alongside the heroic and witty Surgard as he faces down foolish giants, singing dwarves, duplicitous wizards, suspicious savages, and worst of all, a monster with an attorney!