Interview with Doug Cook

Published 2018-04-23.
How and when did you become interested in space?
I grew up during the Cold War and the Space Race. I remember my parents talking about the Soviet Sputnik. I watched Alan Shepard’s launch on a small black and white TV. It was set on a rolling cart in the gymnasium. I watched sitting on the floor with our whole Fairplain East Elementary School. Similarly, we watched JFK’s “We choose to go to the Moon” speech under the threat of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We ran duck and cover drills, naively thinking that this would protect us from global thermonuclear war. To a seven year old, it sounded exciting.
The space race marched on. Back in the school gym, we watched John Glenn’s first US orbital flight followed by the other Mercury launches. I watched the Apollo lunar landing and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon, transfixed by our new 25” color TV hi-fi stereo console.
Somewhere in a box in our basement, I have a picture of Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon taken while the Apollo 12 crew was out on their first EVA. I took the slide photo with my telescope and an SLR camera body at prime focus. Geeky!
My Apollo enthusiasm did not wane with subsequent missions as it did with the rest of America. Senator William Proxmire got the entire Apollo program and the mighty Saturn V cancelled past the Apollo 17 mission. In 1974 as a freshman at the University of Michigan, the great Werner von Braun, the father of the Saturn V, and Carl Sagan, the father of the Voyager program and the Mars Viking landers, stoked my enthusiasm with their lectures—free and open to the student population.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The actual inspiration for The Aquila Mission can be traced to a dream I had in the early morning hours in May 2015 when we were having a family reunion weekend in Bahrain. My family was back in the US for the previous year and I was going down a rabbit hole focusing more on astrogeology than my exploration geophysicist job as I was approaching retirement. I awoke from a vivid dream at 2 AM and started drawing orbit diagrams for the asteroid and comet rendezvous scenario on hotel stationery.
The idea stuck with me and I began research in earnest. I have presented the Aquila Mission concept to the AAPG Astrogeology Committee, the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society, and to the New Worlds Space Settlement Symposium. I have floated it on YouTube and Twitter. However, the story was still needing legs. How could I experience the Aquila Mission vicariously? The mission idea has spurred me on to write this book. It is non-fiction, describing the technology for mission elements, and uses fictional characters to bring it to life and highlight some of the human physiology and psychology issues facing astronauts in deep space. I owe my inspiration for embarking on this writing project to my favorite science fiction authors Ian Douglas, Andy Weir, and Joe Vasicek.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My idea for The Aquila Mission needed an avenue for publication. I owe my inspiration for embarking on this writing project to my favorite science fiction authors Andy Weir, who published The Martian as hi first book project, and Joe Vasicek, a favorite indie author who describes the self publishing road at the end of his books.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Samshwords is a very easy vehicle for self publishing. I used a professional editor for a developmental edit and line editing. Equally important to me was having a professional do my formatting for Smashwords and 6x9 print publication. With the formatted Word doc, the Smashwords upload was easy and flawless.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I retired from a 34 year career in petroleum geology in 2016. Writing has given me a purpose in retirement and a way to more intimately explore my passion for space exploration. The characters I created in the fiction aspects of the Aquila Mission have become a part of me. I have already embarked on writing the sequel- Arcadia Mars. Many of the characters from Aquila are now in a colony on Mars in 2037. I am enjoying developing new characters and describing a newly established Mars colony in realistic terms.
What are you working on next?
Arcadia Mars is the sequel to The Aquila Mission. It set in the first colony on Mars in 2037. The principals in the colony are characters and crew from The Aquila Mission and their families, thirteen years after the success of The Aquila Mission.
Mars seems to be destined to be populated by peoples of diverse beliefs and politics. From the Colossus ships, the first designated colony outside Mars Arcadia Colony Base, Arcadia Beta, is sponsored by a multinational consortium but funded by the Mars Society, Planetary Society, Mars One and the Mars Initiative. The second, New Kolob, is funded by the NDS, Church of the New Day Saints. Its colonists believe the colony follows prophesy in reaching a place closer to the throne of God. The third, al-Salam al-Jadid, or New Peace, is funded and to be populated by the United Arab Nations. The UAN has been forward looking notably turning their rapid expansion in the desert into green enterprise. Their petroleum and investment wealth has long supported efforts in asteroid mining and off-Earth colonization development. Their colonists will be a nearly equal mix of Sunni and Shia Muslims.
The prospect of these new colonies brings with it the need for a communication network, a support system of trade and barter, and a council of representatives to ensure cooperation. The International Space Coalition has been busy working with colonial sponsors to establish the groundwork for that cooperation as an extension of the Coalition’s Charter. The issue of enforcement has yet to be resolved.
Who are your favorite authors?
The Aquila Mission was in part inspired by Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, whose directors’ vision of space history gave us From the Earth to the Moon, Apollo 13, and In the Shadow of the Moon. Further inspiration came from authors Andy Weir, who gave us The Martian; and Robert Zubrin, who set that stage with the Mars Direct scenario to get us to Mars.

My love of science fiction was inspired early by Arthur C Clarke, Larry Niven, Frank Herbert, and Isaac Asimov. Currently I am enjoying Ian Douglas, Meg Howry, and SJ Morden.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am retired and live in Colorado with Pikes Peak in my back yard. I enjoy hiking, nature, and wildlife photography. I pursue my love of space exploration and astronomy mostly by volunteer pursuits. I am a member of the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society and enjoy participating in public outreach star party events. As a member of the Planetary Society and National Space Society, I have participated in the Space Advocacy Legislative Blitz where 80 volunteers visited 180 congressional offices advocating increasing NASA's budget. We succeeded in increasing the 2018 budget by $2 Billion, enabling the next step to human deep space exploration.

I am the current Chair of the AAPG Astrogeology Committee. I organize an astrogeology technical session at the annual convention. Last year, I organized a Total Eclipse Field Seminar in Wyoming with astronaut geologists Apollo 17 Jack Schmitt and ISS veteran Jim Reilly in attendance. We accomplished field work that confirmed several impact craters. This work was recently presented at EGU and LPSC (Lunar and Planetary Science Conference) and is in final publication review for Nature Reports.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
2001 by Arthur C Clarke is the first sci fi book I can remember reading that had an impact on me. Not only did it explain the cryptic and epic movie, but it launched my love of science fiction and space exploration at the pivotal time in US space exploration when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon.
How do you approach cover design?
I first attempted creating my own cover and was convinced that I need a professional to create the cover I needed. I looked at advertisements and connections to many cover artists. I contacted Fiona Jade Media and went through a very enjoyable process to design The Aquila Mission cover. She guided me through the process as we went through the iterations to finalize it. With the cover art, I felt like I had the beginnings of a publishable book.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I started with an early Amazon Kindle and still use the app on my iPad. Since my family are using iPad and iPhone devices, I have found myself gravitating to iBooks. eBooks are all good. While I love print books, especially author signed editions, almost all of my book lately reading is with eBooks. I'm never without it. Its a great way to pass idle time in the doctor's waiting room or sitting a spell while my wife shops.
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Books by This Author

The Shiva Encounter
Series: The Second World. Price: Free! Words: 90,910. Language: English. Published: February 15, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
(5.00 from 1 review)
The dwarf planet, Shiva, could impact the Earth in the year 2079. Settling Mars is now a reality. Settlement ships from Earth are now launched almost faster than the Arcadia Settlement infrastructure can assimilate them. Survival is a constant struggle. Just as art, architecture, and interplanetary economy are blossoming on Mars, the Shiva threat now encompasses the red planet.
Arcadia Mars
Series: The Second World. Price: Free! Words: 86,730. Language: English. Published: May 26, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi, Fiction » Science fiction » High tech
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Arcadia Mars, sequel to The Aquila Mission, is a must-read for space buffs and sci-fi fans alike. Coby Brewster, Ellie Accardi, Vik Ivanov, and Abby Denton—are chosen lead a crew of twenty-one people to Mars to prepare for the arrival of Colossus colony fleets. Even on Mars, a human utopia seems an impossible task. Time is running out and survival uncertain, an unstable psychopath is among them.
The Aquila Mission
Series: The Second World. Price: Free! Words: 121,080. Language: English. Published: April 23, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi, Nonfiction » Science & Nature » Space Science
(5.00 from 1 review)
The crew starts to wonder whether they’ll ever make it back to Earth. Their only hope is to trust in, rely on, and love one another. The Aquila Mission is both a thrilling story of man’s first journey beyond the Earth-Moon system and a carefully researched proposal for such a mission in the real world. Rigorously scientific and emotionally stirring all at once. An adventure in hard sci-fi.