Interview with R. N. Chevalier, author of “Are We The Klingons”

Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?

Not at all. My grammar stinks. I have several people proof read for me before the publisher’s proof reader gets it.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

It would have to be the “Holy Bible”. It’s the biggest seller in the history of human-kind. Need I say more?

What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?

2 days before my 6th birthday I watched man step on the moon. I was already a StarTrek fan so the correlation between fantasy and reality was set for life. Space travel went from being fantasy to reality so in science fiction in all things are possible, then become real.

What inspires you to write?

In 2012 I was diagnosed with ALS. This is a terminal illness so my inspiration to write is time or, more precisely, the lack of time. I also have a deep seeded feeling to get my stories out of my head before I’m no longer capable of doing it.

How often do you write?

Every day. Sometimes a few paragraphs, sometimes a few chapters, sometimes just to clarify an idea, but every day.

How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?

Not hard at all. In “Are We The Klingons”, I knew the story I wanted to tell. In “Advances Of The Ancients”, the story told itself.

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies;is there any truth to that?

Not loner to the degree of being a hermit. I, personally, when in a crowd, I’d rather sit back quietly and watch the people around me. I watch the soap opera called life around me. Some of the interactions I see end up in segments of stories, not the people themselves, but their interactions.

Do you think writers have a normal life like others?

Yes, we’re just able to work in our underwear if we want. Having worked a vast variety of jobs, writing is a normal job, with really flexible hours.

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I use an outline. I know where I’m starting and I know where I want to end. I also know some of the points I want to make and certain actions I want to have happen. When I actually start to write, the story runs its own course and I follow it.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

For me, the hardest thing is grammar. I never got into English in school. I thank God for auto-correct.

What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?

The easiest thing is the flow of an idea. Whether it’s for a short burst or the several chapters, the flow just comes out so easy.

Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?

I worked for a security company, 3rd shift, when I started writing “Are We The Klingons”. I was half way finished when I left the job. I finished it after my diagnosis. The time in between: 7 years.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?

A good cover and title are just as important as the content. The title has to spark Interest in the reader and the cover needs to tell the story without giving too much away.

Have you ever designed your own book cover?

I designed the concept for “Are We The Klingons” then hired a local, up and coming artist to bring my concept to life. In “Advances Of The Ancients”, the only things I didn’t do was design the weapons or the wormhole effect. I did everything else from the photo shoot to the drawing of the battle scene.

Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?

Covers play a very important role. They draw the reader in. They peak the readers’ interest.

Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?

To a school-aged me, I’d say “pay more attention in English class”.

What did you want to become when you were a kid?

I always wanted to be an astronaut. Now, at 53, I’ve been to the other side of the galaxy. I’ve been through wormholes and sub-space vortexes.

Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?

It was “Helter Skelter” by Vincent Bugliosi.

Which book inspired you to begin writing?

That was “Brothers To Demons/ Brothers To Gods” by Jack Williamson.

How much of yourself do you put into your books?

Not much in “Are We The Klingons”. All the characters were pre-existing, all historical, just used differently. In “Advances Of The Ancients”, 1 of the characters is based, somewhat, on me.

Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?

Yes, there is. “Full Circle”, the sequel to “Advances Of The Ancients” and the final installment of the trilogy, is waiting to go to the publishing company.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

Even though I used to write very long book reports and essays in school, I never thought I’d do it for a living.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I found the techno-babble, as it’s come to be called, was the hardest. Being a sci-fi writer and even though Star Trek was a huge inspiration, a lot of my terminology is mine.

Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that?

I had 2. My wife, Donna, was the muse for my new first officer, introduced in “Advances Of The Ancients”. A friend was the muse for the captain, introduced in the same book. Both characters continue into “Full Circle”.

Do you enjoy book signings?

I love book signings. They are so much fun. I have 1 on Columbus Day weekend and 1 in November.

Do you reply back to your fans and admirers personally?

Absolutely. If they take the time to talk to me, I take time to talk to them.

Which of your books took you the most time to write?

Overall, “Are We The Klingons” took the longest. Even without the 7 year gap, Research then writing took much longer than “Advances Of The Ancients” and “Full Circle”, which are pure imagination.

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

I have no problem co-authoring. My wife and I are co-authoring a project that is very near completion. We’ve had a great time working together.

Do you make your own vocabulary words in your book or resort to the existing ones?

Yes. Not only did I have to invent new items, I had to invent several medical procedures and elements.

How do you feel when people recognize you in public and appreciate your work?

It’s a great feeling. I must admit, though, 25 years ago I was part of a band called Ego Trip. We gained local recognition so I became accustom to that. It’s that same feeling but for a different reason.

What advice would you like to give writers who are struggling with their first novels?

I would tell a young writer to sit down, whack yourself in the head with a baseball bat then finish the damn book. Once the 1st one is finished, for me at least, more flowed out so much easier.

How did it feel when your first book got published?

When I held the 1st finished copy, it was comparable to holding my daughter for the first time. Each book is developed, chapter by chapter, the author breathing life into his/ her creation. When it’s finally published and you hold it, it’s a part of you, like a child.

How did you celebrate the publishing of your first book?

It was a quiet celebration with my wife, the artist that drew my cover and his wife. The big celebration comes when sales are high enough for me to clear a profit.

Which book would you want adapted for the silver screen?

Not to sound bias but all 3. “Are We The Klingons” combines history and religion with action and ancient astronaut theories. “Advances Of The Ancients” continues with the same crew but is a stand-alone movie and “Full Circle” is the sequel to “Advances Of The Ancients”.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

Apart from “Full Circle”, I’m writing a horror novel titled “Aftermath”. It’s about survivors of a nuclear war. I’m also working on a compilation of short stories. My wife and I are co-authoring a book together called, “Civil War Monuments Of Rhode Island. It feature historical facts about each of the state’s monuments as well as photographs showing their artistic aspects.