First more about Starlight City...
When Black and his team are sent to investigate a foreign ship orbiting near the Harmonica spaceport, they're killed onboard by a homicidal humanoid weapon built in the image of a beautiful woman. Several years later, Black is reborn through a miracle of science on an unfamiliar planet called Neon as part of the Rebirth Project. He's mysteriously set free and flees to Starlight City, where he lives the frenzied life of a hunted fugitive who's been genetically "modified."
Though he has no memory of his escape, and the memories of his previous life on Earth are blurred moments at best, Black crosses paths with several misfits who have their own stories to tell. He pieces together a tale of unlikely friends pit against the powers that be, fending for day-to-day survival.
Now for the Interview...
1. What was your inspiration for this book?
The impulse to write a science fiction book probably stemmed from my fascination with deeply engaging storylines of various video games. I love how stories of interesting characters unfold in these interactive digital worlds. On a craft level, books like Cloud Atlas and the classic work of writers like Philip K. Dick, Heinlein, and Asimov, among others, certainly fed the flames for my ideas.
2. Would you classify your writing as plot driven or character driven?
As readers can see in Starlight City, my first inclination is to create interesting and memorable characters. For Starlight City, I wanted lots of characters and hidden character connections worked into the plot. While there is a central plotline surrounding Black, the main character, there are perspective shifts throughout the book, with various subplots interwoven into the central plot.
3. Can you tell us a little about your main character?
Black is essentially a dead soldier from Earth who’s been revived through genetics on a foreign planet. He’s a “modified” humanoid, though his knowledge of this modification is limited at the start of the novel. Black misses home and merely desires to live his new life in peace. The fact that he is a hunted fugitive makes this kind of difficult, needless to say.
4. Which of your supporting characters was the most challenging to write?
This is a challenging question. I struggled with a number of characters for different reasons. I struggled to make Administrator Nahzir a complex antagonist rather than a fundamentally “evil” one. I struggled with Griff, also, and mainly with establishing the differences between Griffin Hurst, the fully human adolescent, and Griff, the humanoid weapon, as both share the same memories but are essentially different beings. In the end though, I might say that Jada was the most difficult character to write for. Where Griff is in opposition to the Regime and ultimately, the alpha humans, Jada’s stance is a gray area. She is fully indoctrinated by the Regime, but her connection to Griff pulls her to his side. I found it difficult to write dialogue for her at times.
The main conflict is that of rogues, rebels and/or social outcasts against the powers upholding the status quo for their own ends. More specifically, there is a wedge between Administrator Nahzir’s society and the “misfit” characters, who join together with Black and attempt to break free from the society. Spearheading the main conflict are Nahzir, who initiated the alpha human project, and Griff, the alpha human he helped create who wishes to destroy him.
6. Why did you choose this genre?
What attracts me most about the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres is the possibility to create an entire world from scratch. My science fiction background spans from games and Japanese animated films/series to the writings of American authors like Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, Le Guinn and Samuel R. Delaney. I’m hoping to bring a fresh, or at least a unique perspective to the Sci-Fi genre.
7. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope readers leave this book with a hunger for more. I want them to leave with the characters stuck in their minds in hopes that they’ll look forward to seeing them in later books. Thematically, I’d like readers to feel the spirit of comradarie permeating throughout, and the idea of friends sticking together in the face of uncertainty.
8. Who are your favorite authors?
I typically jump from author to author in search of great books rather than reading their whole archives, but I can say that David Mitchell’s Number 9 Dream and Cloud Atlas rank him one of my top authors. I’ve also enjoyed several works by Jonathan Lethem, including Motherless Brooklyn, Chronic City, and Chaos Moon. I admire him as a cross-genre writer and like his use of Sci-Fi elements. I’m a big fan of Ray Bradbury as well, especially his short stories. Also, Harlem Renaissance writers like Richard Wright and Langston Hughes have deeply impressed and inspired me.
9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write?
I’m really into music, and sometimes I’ll play music when I’m writing to fit the mood of the scene, or in some cases, to help me create the mood. Other times, I’ll attempt (key word, attempt) to draw a picture of the setting in my mind to give me a starting point, or I might leaf through magazines of Sci-Fi and fantasy art to get a little inspiration for creating a scene. Also, I write most of my manuscripts by hand in notebooks or anything I can find when the ideas strike me. I’ll usually keep writing until I run out of ideas, then type out what I wrote to see whether I’ll keep it, change it, or throw it out.
10. Can you tell us about any future projects?
I’m hoping to publish a prequel to Starlight City in 2014, but at the moment I’m working on a theatrical audiobook of Starlight City, which I plan to complete this summer so be stay tuned and keep an eye out for it!
Meet Radford Lee...
Radford Lee is a college writing tutor and freelance editor for independent publishers who has taught writing at the college level. His work fits into the classic Sci-Fi mold, though his history as an avid gamer gives his ideas a new-wave, cyberpunk flavor.
He's also been a volunteer tutor for an after-school program where he conducted free creative writing workshops for local community students. He hopes to continue building students' reading and literacy skills and is passionate about cultivating talented young writers.
Radford lives with his beautiful family in Ohio.
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