Online interview with Aaron Rommel of SVP on 3/4/2015
AR: John, thank you for taking the time for this interview.
JD: My pleasure.
AR: Where did the inspiration of Gunship come from?
JD: Honestly, I have no idea. About a decade or so ago, I worked for a security force here locally. It was rather low-key and that left all kinds of time to think. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a ton of money. So as the other kids were opening brand new video games, I was looking at them through the glass of my nearest retail store. It was back in the days of the original Nintendo, so the box art was fantastic. I would always wonder about the games and how they played out. I actually began sitting down and sketching up the covers at home, along with a brief overview of the story. I supposed that working security many years later led me back to that, to some degree. I once again found myself alone with my imagination. I began creating these character and locations. Some of them at least. Long before I began writing.
AR: And what led you from working security to writing?
JD: Lots of things. The birth of my daughter and watching a few childhood friends being put into the ground. Those were the main factors. I kind of had this finality on my life and I didn’t want to work security forever. I guess I felt like I was here to do something different. And so the wife and I talked it over a lot and she just told me to sit down and figure out what type of job I could see myself doing. I took a weekend and thought it over a lot. I had no idea how publishing worked, other than I’d heard it was a pain in the ass to break into. But I wanted to write. I committed to it and haven’t looked back since then.
AR: Talk to me about the R.E.D.D. movie project?
JD: Wow. Long story short, one of my cover models, Amanda, who portrays Sarah Blaine of Gunship, was cast in a movie called R.E.D.D. She directed me to the website and I immediately fell in love with the whole project. She introduced me to Patrick Prejusa, the mastermind behind it, and he and I pretty much agreed on everything. I thought of myself as the Patrick Prejusa of the publishing world and he was the John M. Davis of the film world, I guess.
AR: Is the project still happening?
JD: I don’t know. The last I heard, it had been fully-funded, but things take time. Patrick went through some personal issues as well, as we all do, and I just haven’t heard back on it. I do believe at some point that R.E.D.D. will hit the video market and I’ll certainly be glad to see it.
AR: And you would still be interested in novelizing it?
JD: Absolutely. Time hasn’t changed the fact that I think Patrick is a creative genius.
AR: Who’s your favorite Gunship character and who’s your least favorite?
JD: Vladris is my favorite, though Dalton James is very fun to write. The least favorite is very hard. I like them all, but if you had to have an answer, I think Troy was my least favorite to write.
AR: Why is that?
JD: He was originally put out there to replace Adam and form his own crew. Passing of the torch, so to speak. He just didn’t take with readers, though, and really had no place in the story. Whiskey, Dalton’s dog, ended up have more of a purpose. And he was also fun to write.
AR: You’ve had some success, but also some busts.
JD: Thanks for pointing that out. (laughs)
AR: Of your non-Gunship projects, which has been the most disappointing?
JD: Lost City. And that was a quick answer, right? I love that story so much that it hurts. I remember sitting up plenty of nights over in our country getaway and filling notebooks with cool technology and potentially hidden gems within the city of Atlantis. When it released, I thought it would be my greatest work yet. Shortly after, my crowd was demanding more Gunship. Don’t get me wrong, I was glad to see Gunship doing so well. But at the same time, it was like a well-groomed fighter had just been knocked completely out. I put a lot of time into that story.
AR: What’s ahead for fans of your work?
JD: I’m about to release another non-Gunship title and, honest to God, it may be my last. I’ve invested a lot into the project and if it falls flat, I may just sit down and begin mapping out the Gunship universe and begin writing in the Skyla System non-stop. I’m talking about one book a month. At some point, I have to stop looking a gift horse in the mouth and write what my core group of readers is asking for. When I release a Gunship book, they begin asking for another in just under a week’s time. If Gunship is my legacy – so be it. I may just have to embrace that for a change.
AR: Finally. What advice would you give to new authors?
JD: I would tell them to write whatever they want. Whatever makes them happy. When The Colony was shattering records as a short story, I decided to write a second. The whole process was downright painful. I realized about ten pages in that I would rather be sitting in a dentist’s chair than writing another Colony. Readers loved the story, but I hated it. Honestly, I did. As an author, writing should bring happiness. That was the first and only time I will ever dread sitting down to write. So I would tell new authors to write where their heart is at, and don’t let sales dictate you in that area. Thankfully, I enjoy the Gunship story and especially all of its characters.