Which single author do you think influenced Star Liner most?
I guess of those authors that I listed above, I would probably say Robert Heinlein shows through into Star Liner. Heinlein was a master of space opera and Star Liner definitely has elements of space opera in it. Also, Heinlein’s main characters were often young adults faced with a situation completely out of their experience. He took us inside their heads and let us experience what they were going through, their fears, motivations, and thought processes. Like them, my main character, Jan Stot, finds himself in situations he would not have imagined and is unprepared for, yet somehow he must deal with them. We see him trying to overcome his own insecurities to solve the problems he and the others face. We see relationships develop. We see Jan forming a bond with the rest of his “crew”. They are all very different personalities yet they come together to try to accomplish their tasks.
Did you start out with the intent to include the mystery element to Star Liner?
I did. Having a murder happen in a contained location like a space ship seems to me to heighten the tension. Agatha Christie knew this (Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None). Even though it is a large ship with nearly a thousand people on it, no one can leave. I enjoyed playing with the paranoia that would ensue in such a situation.
The crew of the Webelos launch a mystery during spaceflight that is only solved when someone on the ship observes something completely unexplained - and the entertainer, Stot, questions his humanity when the secret is finally revealed.