- What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?
My name is Darren Beyer, and I’m a story teller. When I was six years old, my mother woke me in the middle of the night to watch one of the Apollo landings. I was hooked and knew at that moment I wanted to work in the space program. After I graduated from Virginia Tech, I was graced with a job offer from NASA at Kennedy Space Center. For nearly ten years I had one of the best jobs I could hope for: I got to crawl around spacecraft. I saw some amazing things including the Hubble Space Telescope and the first modules of the International Space Station. I climbed aboard Space Shuttle orbiters just prior to launch to install experiments, and on landing did it again to remove them. I got to turn wrenches and operate cranes – all the things any kid at heart would love to do. After time, the excitement of the job waned and I moved on to more entrepreneurial ventures, but my fascination with space has not ebbed. Now I get to write about it, and I draw my NASA experiences to create realistic backdrops and technology. My name is Darren Beyer, and I’m a story teller. I can be found online at:
- Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?
I’m one of those people who must always have their mind going and I carry a number of interests. Sitting in my living room is a 370 gallon reef aquarium. I’ve been keeping saltwater aquariums for about 35 years and now I grow corals and keep happy fish. The “fun” of reef keeping doesn’t happen day to day – the corals grow so slow that you don’t get that instant gratification. But then 6 months or a year later when you compare photographs, you see just how much things have grown. I’m also an instrument-rated private pilot and try to stay in shape playing beach volleyball. I’m not sure I succeed at the staying in shape part.
- How long have you been writing? How many books have you written? They don’t have to be published.
The first time I put pen to paper for anything resembling fiction was during a creative writing class in college. I really didn’t learn anything other than how a “C” looks on a report card. The pen and paper were put away and I decided that writing must not be for me. Then about 15 years later I began to formulate a story and pulled back out that pen and paper – this time in the form of a laptop. That was a little more than 10 years ago. Telling a story is an art. Creating a story is like building a puzzle. I worked to create the most intricate puzzle I could as I believe realism lives in that intricacy, and realism is what makes a story believable. Casimir Bridge is the first of a three book series and is my first novel.
- What genres do you like writing the most? And why? Is this genre the same as the one you prefer to read?
I like to write what I call Smart Science Fiction. Rather than epic space battles and monster aliens, I like to focus on the character development, realism and technology. I want the reader to know what it feels like to stare up at something as grand as the Hubble Space Telescope, to feel your body shake and the air crackle as massive rockets carry a Space Shuttle into orbit, or to look out through the ruins of the Apollo 1 launch pad to waves crashing on the empty beach beyond. I strive to get the technology and science as correct as it can be. With so much misinformation floating around, if one of my readers can learn something real and true, then I’ve accomplished something.
When it comes to reading, I like “smart” novels as well. While science fiction, and to some extent fantasy, will always hold a place in my heart, I also enjoy thrillers and alternate history. I can work my way through a good Dan Brown novel in no time flat, and, as a student of history, the historic unknowns associated with stories from writers like Robert Conroy and Harry Turtledove have always fascinated me.
My debut novel, Casimir Bridge, is the first of the three book Anghazi series. As the first book, Casimir Bridge does much to set the stage, but only lightly delves into the true back story of the series. The second book, Desolation Bridge, is currently in work and reveals so much more about what’s behind all the plot twists and conspiracy. I literally can’t wait to finish this second novel and tell so much more of the universe it took me ten years to develop.
- How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?
Before I begin a project, I have a core event envisioned, along with a basic idea of the backdrop. I then develop some key scenes and envision the characters that will work within them. From there I develop the main protagonist(s) and antagonist then just start writing. This is where the puzzle aspect begins to come into play. It’s like I’ve found all the straight-edge pieces and now I need to fill in the middle. I’ll develop a scene, or string of scenes, then find a gap. “That wouldn’t make sense because…” Then I create something to fill that gap, in some cases creating even more gaps that need to be addressed. By working through each of those puzzles with Casimir Bridge, I was able to create an intricate universe that comes across as believable.
- What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?
My background in space travel and technology gives me insight that few others have into how the science part of science fiction really works. It allows me to insert realism into a fantasy setting. If I don’t know the answer to a technical question, I seek it out until I’m sure it is as close to correct as it can be. For Casimir Bridge, I needed to know more about nuclear forensics so I interviewed experts from a major government nuclear research facility. I wanted to make sure my assumptions on things like antimatter were correct so I interviewed a particle physicist from Fermilab, a U.S. facility that creates and studies antimatter. I feel that authors who gloss over the science, history and facts, or, worse yet, get them wrong, do a disservice to their readers.
When it comes to intimate or personal moments, I have a hard enough time with them in my real life, so it’s no mystery to me why I have such a difficult time writing about them in fiction. Fortunately I have an excellent developmental editor who helps me past some of my hangups.
- After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?
Marketing is a universal problem – not just for writers. Some of the best ideas for business have failed simply because the marketing savvy wasn’t there to back them up. For writers it’s even more difficult because there is literally a sea of choices for readers to choose from. In my business life I learned long ago that if you don’t have the talent or know-how to do something very well, hire someone who does. Unless a writer is a book marketer by profession, then hiring a marketing/PR agency is a great move. Such a company will take a writer places they never would have gotten on their own.
- What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?
There is one piece of advice that I feel everyone should know. If you are writing your first book, hire a developmental editor after you get your first 25-30% of the manuscript done. Actually, hire the right developmental editor. I hired two. The first one came back with limited feedback. “Wow,” I thought, “I must either be a prodigy who hit a home run my first time at bat, or I need a new developmental editor.” I’m pretty sure I’m not a prodigy so I went to my second. You know those pictures of alien cattle mutilations? Child’s play. This editor eviscerated my manuscript – but in a very constructive way. At first I was crushed, but then I did a cover to cover rewrite and performed wholesale slaughter of certain characters and scenes. The result was far superior and is my debut novel: Casimir Bridge.