Interview with Robert M. Campbell

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I like reading on my Kindle Paperwhite as a pure reading device. The e-ink display is comfortable and works well in low-light. I have a lot of devices and read on all of them, including my laptop – anything with a screen, though most of them are too distracting to read anything serious. Airplane mode should be renamed to "get off the internet". iPads have great displays and font rendering and are pretty comfortable. My Android phone is fine on the go and sort of utilitarian. But really, you can't beat good ol' books for comfort.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in small-towns in the east coast of Canada. Pre-internet, so I really had to work to get a hold of books about science or computers. Magazine shops with copies of Astronomy and libraries were havens for me. There was also this great comic shop I used to hang out in. I probably spent most of my allowance there for a few years. That stuff's all gone now, of course, replaced by Tim Hortonses and Starbuckses. The magazine shop did reopen though a few years ago.

I think it's given me an appreciation for the incredible access we have to knowledge with resources like Wikipedia and the Internet Archive, and of course digital books delivered right to your device. In a way it makes research too easy, though. You can go to any page, find the References section and come out with a really solid list of further reading. It's ridiculous.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Coffee.
When did you first start writing?
I had a short story published in the local paper when I was around 11 or 12. I've written off-and-on since then, though nothing book-length, and never published. Most of my recent work involved writing blog posts or project or technical writing so that kind of sapped my creative juices – I didn't have a lot of energy left over for writing creatively. This is a new challenge for me and I'm interested in seeing how far I can go.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I've always been fascinated by space and the idea of colonization. Mars is an obvious destination for us, perhaps the only plausible one beyond the moon. A lot of discoveries in the past decade have made it even more viable than previously thought. I also had these ideas for interplanetary work ships and a story around a disaster in space, between the planets. The Trajectory story grew out of a combination of those ideas, and it's still growing. It turns out to be really fertile ground for writing.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Well, I had these books I wanted to publish... I thought about going the traditional route, getting an agent, shopping around, but that felt like a long road. Without any previously published material, and given the scifi genre, it felt like a long shot. If this works out, I'm not opposed to working with a publisher in the future. It would certainly make a lot of things (like marketing!) easier.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Sometimes it surprises you. You have to get from one scene to another without really knowing how you're getting there. So you think about what the characters need to do, what's stopping them, what motivates them. And then it just becomes obvious and the course emerges.

The flip-side of that is interesting too. Sometimes you have a scene in mind and start writing and realize, "wait a minute, this is totally wrong. This character wouldn't behave like this." It comes down to being true to the characters and respecting them.
Describe your desk
My desk is an upcycled wood and cast iron monstrosity from somewhere in Vietnam. I think it was from old barn wood that was refinished and cleaned-up. The uprights are made of really heavy-duty cast-iron, stamped with some old machinery from the early 1900s. It's a new desk but it looks very old and weighs a tonne. Of course you can't see much of it because it's covered in papers, books and electronics. Thanks for reminding me I need to clean that up.
What are you working on next?
It figures I'd start by writing a series. I've got a second book to start editing out of a three book trilogy, the bulk of which is already written. I have ideas for several short stories in the same setting I'd like to explore as a more well-contained exercise. I have a future volume already clocking in around 40 thousand words that will be the basis for the next trilogy. I have a lot planned for this series if I can get through the editing. Do you know an editor? Would you like to be an editor?

If that doesn't pan out maybe I'll write a western!
Who are your favorite authors?
Awkward. I'll pick some dead ones to avoid embarrassment if I ever happen to meet any of my favorite living authors.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Joseph Keller, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Roald Dahl... Ray Bradbury. HP Lovecraft. Edgar Allan Poe... um. Sun Tzu... Douglas Adams.

I'll stop.
Published 2015-12-02.
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