I read and enjoy a lot of blogs, but Grasping for the Wind is one of my favorites. So I was pretty thrilled to have John invite me here to speak about my writing and my upcoming book, STARFINDER. Sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint the inspiration for a story, but with STARFINDER it’s easy. I can sum it up in one word–flying. I can even tell you the moment when I knew I had to write it, but I’ll get to that shortly.
Cover Art for STARFINDER by Tom Kidd
I’ve always been interested in flying and aircraft. I built little balsa wood planes as a kid and I still do with my own son, Jack. We go to local airports and watch the pilots climb into the sky, and I’m still struck with wonder by the scientific miracle of flight. In the back of my mind, I always planned on getting airships into my stories somehow. Some of you who’ve read my Tyrants and Kings books might remember the diminutive, slightly evil scientist Bovadin. Had there been a fourth book in that series, Bovadin might very well have invented the flying warship Avatar featured in STARFINDER. There never was a fourth T&K book, however, and so the idea got shelved until I could resurrect it in this new series, called The Skylords.
Books are like babies and they take time to incubate, but when they’re ready to be born you know it. For me that moment came several years ago while taking a flying lesson in a small Cessna. The feel of that little craft clawing its way skyward has never left me. I’ve dreamed about it, and about how I flew over Long Island that day, across the shore and over landmarks I only knew from ground level, shocked by how many people had swimming pools. I hate flying in big commercial airplanes, so much so that I drive to Florida instead, but I love getting into little private planes. To me they’re sort of magical. That first flight started me imagining the world of The Skylords.
I’ve heard some folks call STARFINDER steampunk. Maybe it is; I don’t know. I can say that it’s a world where humankind is starting to unlock its scientific potential. It’s an anachronistic place of gaslights and flying contraptions, a world where the tension between old and new leaves some of its inhabitants behind while others are looking forward. But this brave new human world also borders a forbidden mythological one, and the unseen rulers of that world–the Skylords–aren’t too happy about humans taking to the air. So STARFINDER isn’t just about flying, but also about an unusual culture clash.
All of this takes place through the eyes of the book’s main character, Moth, a thirteen year old boy. Like so many kids–like myself as a boy–Moth yearns to fly. His mountain home, the city of Calio, is where the best young pilots are trained to fly the dangerous, ornithopter-like dragonfly. Think of the pilots of World War I and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what I was going for here. Aviation was in its infancy then, and aircraft were just plain unsafe. People died flying them, as people in Moth’s world die flying the dragonflies, but Moth isn’t stopped by that, because he has the same need as the rest of mankind–to strive, to become more, to find out what’s on the other side of the hill.
So finally, STARFINDER is a coming of age story, not just for Moth but for humanity as well. It’s a story about progress, and it’s a hopeful story, I think, because it’s about looking forward instead of looking back. Or, it may just be a story about a kid who wants to fly. If that’s all people see in it, that’s okay with me too. I do hope readers will check it out when DAW publishes it in May, and I want to thank John Ottinger for giving me the space here to talk about it. His generosity is much appreciated.
You are welcome John. For more on John Marco or his novels, you can check out his website http://www.johnmarco.com/ or stay even more up-to-date by reading The Bastion, his excellent blog.