An Interview with Robert G. Williscroft, PhD
Where are you from?
This is a tough question. I was born in Montana, grew up in Germany, and have lived up and down both coasts, in Idaho, Texas and Missouri, and in Alaska and Hawaii, and even in Key West.
What did you do before you became a writer?
I am a retired Submarine Officer, deep sea diver, scientist, businessman, author, and adventurer. I have spent 22 months underwater, a year in the equatorial Pacific researching manganese nodules, 3 years in the Arctic creating a biological baseline study, and a year at the geographic South Pole in charge of National Science Foundation atmospheric projects.
Have any of your careers or education inspired your writing?
Since my background is so eclectic, I have to answer, Yes! Virtually everything I have done gives me material for my writing. My submarine and diving experience gave me the detailed background for Operation Ivy Bells, my Amazon Technothriller Bestseller, with 8,800 copies sold in the first nine months. As a PhD engineer, I have an in-depth understanding of how things work. I discovered years ago that I had a knack for explaining complex things. In fact, this was the basis for my syndicated newspaper column, The Thrawn Rickle. These formed the basis for my current events book the Chicken Little Agenda - Debunking "Experts'" Lies.
What would you say is the hardest thing about writing?
Unquestionably, it's marketing - selling what you have written.
How do you conduct research for your books?
It depends on the book. For Operation Ivy Bells, I used my personal experience, interviews with former shipmates, and the Internet (great resource!).
I am a space exploration enthusiast. While reviewing the Cassini photos from Saturn, I was fascinated by the details of Iapetus. It is rocky, but has a very low density; it has a mountainous wall around the equator and several other interesting things. I began to speculate what would happen if it were a derelict starship, and that led to The Starchild Compact and its forthcoming sequel, The Iapetus Federation.
Before going to the South Pole, I read a couple of interesting scientific papers about constructing a space launch loop. I contacted one of the authors and we eventually met and spent a day together. The result of that meeting was a life-long friendship, and my latest book, Slingshot, that will be released at the International Space Elevator Conference in Seattle on August 21, 2015.
I used to tell my boy bedtime stories about the adventures Starman Jones, Space Pup, and Billy. I used these stories to instill in him an intuitive understanding of advanced principles of physics, like Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. These stories resulted in the Starman Jones Series of children's stories. These books have been endorsed by Dr. Frank Drake, the Director of SETI and the Carl Sagan Institute for Intelligence in the Universe.
I already mentioned how The Chicken Little Agenda came about.
My books on diving instruction resulted from my having taught over 3,000 people to dive.
Do you have any authors that inspire you?
I am especially inspired by Robert Heinlein and Michael Crichton. Both were excellent story-tellers, and both were word-smiths par excellence.
How did you get published?
My doctoral dissertation, A System for protecting Scuba Divers from the Hazards of Contaminated Water was published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and distributed to port captains around the world.
My first two dive books were published by a small commercial publisher. My third one was commissioned by a dive magazine.
The Chicken Little Agenda was published by a mid-size publisher in New Orleans.
I decided thereafter to go the Indie Publishing route, because I had to do just as much work for my traditionally published books, but earned less profit. As an Indie publisher, I get to keep all the profit.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Don't be discouraged by rejection notices. If your writing is good, ultimately, someone will pay to publish it. If you choose to go Indie, be sure your book is every bit as good as anything else out there in its genre. If it is not up to per, you will fail, but if it is a really good book, you will be successful.
9. Who is your greatest supporter?
My wonderful wife of three-and-a-half years, Jill.
Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans?
"Buy my books!" Seriously, an author survives when people purchase and read that author's writing. Furthermore, in today's world, if you liked the book, review it on Amazon and on Goodreads. Yes, I know that Goodreads is a difficult platform to use, but do it anyway! We need you, we really do.
What is next for you?
I am in the midst of writing The Iapetus Federation, the timeline sequel to The Starchild Compact. It should be out in early 2016. Following that, I expect to write another book in the Starchild Series, tentatively titled Mars Calling. It is about a disastrous first expedition to Mars saved by the Captain of the Cassini II from The Starchild Compact. It will be a prequel to The Starchild Compact. I am also considering a sequel to Operation Ivy Bells. Finally, I am working on the remaining books in the Starman Jones Children's Series.
These projects should carry me for a while, at least.
Jon Stock takes his international exploration team to Saturn’s moon, Iapetus, that earth scientists have determined may be an artifact. Following launch, they discover Saeed Ismail, a Jihadist stowaway, who hopes to sabotage the mission.
They arrive at Iapetus, determine it is a derelict starship, and eventually meet with the Founders, descendants of the starship builders. Their revelations impact the entire Solar System with momentous implications going backward and forward in time, paving the way for a joint push to the distant reaches of the Galaxy.