Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Roy Huff talks to Novel Novelist about his work and love of the genre.
First of all, a big thank you to Mr Roy Huff for taking the time to answer my questions. It is always a privilege to be able to peek into the minds of authors and writers and it is fascinating to experience the diversity that comes with creativity - the rich and individual lives and histories of the writers, their perspectives and standpoints, their inspirations and working methods.
Huff is the author of the widely successful Everville series, where we join university student Owen Sage on an epic journey through ancient civilisations and parallel worlds and see him confronted by feared creatures of myth and other-worldly alien beings. The delight in Huff’s writing is his clear scientific understanding and experience with highly sophisticated technologies and intelligence (he has five degrees, yes -five). It adds a sense of realism that is often difficult t come by in sci-fi and fantasy fiction.
Interview with the Author: Roy Huff
As a big fan of real-world astronomy and the fictional world of sci-fi, I was looking forward to delving into the mind of real life scientist and author, Roy Huff. I thought long and hard about my what to ask, and I hope I managed to get a good and interesting mix of questions in there in the end. I hope you enjoy.
Both science fiction and fantasy are broad genres, and often include hints of speculative fiction, horror, the gothic, and so on. How do you define science fiction and fantasy?
Magic is the main difference between science fiction and fantasy. Science fiction is based on possible, or at least potentially possible, technology based on our current understanding of physics. Superhero fiction recently has straddled both with a tendency towards fantasy as it’s introduced elements of mythic gods and magic. Of course, each genre has numerous subgenres and tropes. I tend to be a fan of nearly every speculative fiction subgenre but have become more entrenched in my love for science fiction due to my science background.
Why do you think their boundaries are so fluid and cross-disciplinary?
The boundaries within speculative fiction are fluid because they are fiction. And like all works of fiction, the writer gets to decide what they want to write. This creates opportunities to walk and cross lines. Professionals and publishers like to put writers and genres in boxes. But all societal constructs are artificial and can be reshaped with enough effort.
Do you think science fiction has played a part in shaping people’s perspectives of modern technology, artificial intelligence, robotics, etc.? If so, why?
Yes. Absolutely. I even wrote an article on the subject. I think when we see a potential technology, it gets our brains thinking. It motivates and inspires passion. It also creates ideas and makes connections we might not have otherwise seen. Science fiction steers people into career paths and often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I also believe that fiction can create hope and optimism. And for those familiar with the concept of a growth mindset, if one believes that something is possible, then one is more likely to act in a way and engage in deliberate practice to acquire that skill, which translates into invention and progress.
To what extent can science fiction improve or effect developments in science and technology in real life?
I am a HUGE believer in the notion that fiction inspires technological advancements. For the same reasons mentioned before, ideas born from a writer’s eyes will often become reality. And even when technology hits roadblocks, humans will often find ways around those constraints. It’s like thinking about flying. Of course, humans can’t fly by flapping their arms, so they build airplanes. You can extrapolate that concept to other advances. Maybe we can’t exceed the speed of light, but we might just be able to build warp drive engines that create waves in space to surf spacetime that create the same practical result.
Do you think science fiction can change what human life looks like for the future?
I certainly hope we don’t end up looking like the Face of Boe in Doctor Who, but we’ve already changed our appearance, and we’ve already begun modifying our DNA and expressed traits. So the short answer is yes. The details are in the how and what, and your guess is as good as mine.
What inspired you to start writing the Everville series?
I was working concurrently on my fourth and fifth degrees, writing a creative paper titled Everville for an English class. We had to share the paper with other students in the class, and one student commented she wanted to read an entire book on Everville. The rest is history.
Do you read science fiction and fantasy yourself? If so, which writers have inspired you the most and why?
Any writer worth their salt reads what they write (and what they don’t write). I’m a huge lover of the genre, so I’ve read a lot. When I was younger, I tended to watch more on screen, but I do both. I also listen to a lot of audiobooks. Generally, I listen to at least an audiobook a week. I also read books as well. I’ve been inspired by numerous writers. For craft, Stephen King. But I’ve also read nearly all the greats: J.K. Rowling, J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, to name a few. But there are hundreds of authors I’ve read and continue to read.
What is your writing method? For example, do you wake up early to write, or write in the evenings, and so on.
I’ve developed a miracle morning, and tend to write new content between 4 AM to 6:30 AM. But that also means I’m generally in bed by 9 PM. It’s not always the case, especially when I travel, but putting the most important thing first means I’ll push the ball forward each day. I used to be more of a marathon writer, but since I’m traveling more, I tend to write smaller amounts in one sitting but on an almost daily basis. I usually create new content in the AM and edit or write nonfiction or articles in the evening.
I also study the craft of writing and marketing. I see what others have done. But more importantly, I do my best to show up and dare to publish and iterate in the face of fear. It’s impossible to eliminate fear, so you can’t let what other people think or worry about your own inadequacy keep you from writing and publishing.
Do you conduct research for your novels? If so, what sort of research do you do and how do you manage it and incorporate it into your work?
I do research, but I also have a broad pool of knowledge to work with, five degrees in four content areas, and experience traveling the world. This helps limit what I need to research, but I still do it when there’s something I don’t know. Typically, a Google search or an image search is sufficient to find what I need. I also use editors and proofers to help with details in certain specialties I might have missed.
What advice or tips would you give to any aspiring science fiction or fantasy authors out there?
Read as much as possible. Find a mentor. If you can’t find a mentor initially, imagine your favorite author is your mentor and read everything you can from that person.
Write as much as possible. If you get stuck, write random letters if need be. Use random generators. Copy verbatim the first sentence of a book then finish it. Write a dream journal, or just take down random thoughts. You can even write what you see.
Whatever you do, be sure to read and write as much as possible. That’s the most important thing. Next, engage in deliberate practice. Get feedback and make an effort to locate specific strategies to improve your craft.
Write a note with a calendar and a timer to ask if you’re still writing a month, six months, and a year in the future to give you the reminder and nudge if need be. If you get discouraged and quit, don’t let it stop you regardless of your age or how long you’ve set it aside. As long as your alive and kicking, there’s still hope.
What’s in the pipeline for you? Do you have any upcoming projects?
I have three books expected to come out in quick succession. First, I’m planning a July 2nd launch of Seven Rules of Time Travel. In late August, I’m planning the release of my yet untitled Space Opera. And in Spring 2021, I’ll likely publish the final book in the Everville series. Both Seven Rules of Time Travel and Everville book five are in their post first draft stages. I’m still currently writing the Space Opera. For those who want to catch up on Everville, I’ll have a free promo for Everville: The Fall of Brackenbone June 18th through the 22nd, and I’ll be running a 99 cents Kindle Countdown Deal for Everville: Books 1-4 Boxed Set June 18th through June 24th.
Later down the line, I’m thinking about a lucid dreaming fantasy series as well as continuing the series’ for both the time travel and space opera books.
You’re on a solo one-way trip to Mars and can only take limited things with you: one science fiction novel, one fantasy novel, and one work of nonfiction. What have you packed and why?
I’m taking The Martian, for obvious reasons, Lord of the Rings, and Mindset by Carol Dweck.
Many thanks to author Roy Huff for his time and thoughts.
If you fancy delving into the rich, atmospheric world of Roy Huff’s mind but aren’t quite sure, he’s written a brilliant sci-fi short that you can access for free here: https://www.royhuff.net/salvationship
Huff has some super cool upcoming projects and publications, so make sure you look out for those too!