Teish Knits: What inspired you to take the leap into writing novels?
John Otte: I’ve always been a storyteller at heart. There’s a reason why I love the Gospel of Luke more than the others, and that’s because Jesus is depicted as a storyteller. I’ll never be the master that He is, but I love following in His footsteps by telling stories that hopefully point to a deeper reality.
I’ve “gotten serious” about my writing lots of times. When I was in junior high, I wrote a Gary Stu-style sci fi adventure that I was convinced would catapult me onto the bestseller list. Thankfully, that one has been lost to the ages. In high school, I was going to write a mystery series about a teenage detective that also has mercifully vanished. But no matter what the idea was, I always wanted to share my stories with the world.
TK: What’s your favorite scene from The Hive?
JO: Some of my favorite scenes are between Scorn and Hopkins, the apartment AI. I like the way the banter between the two worked out, especially right after Zain arrives. I won’t say more than that, but those are some of my absolute favorite scenes.
TK: The universe you’ve created for Numb and The Hive is intriguingly complex politically. Did you have a vision of what this looked like before starting the books, or has it grown out of the stories?
JO: A lot of it has grown organically as the story has grown. To be quite honest, there are big chunks of the backstory that I never really figured out. I knew that the Ministrix was a corrupt, despotic version of the church. I knew that the Praesidium was an atheistic government with no moral compass. In both cases, they were caricatures of how atheists view the Church and vice versa. But that was just a starting point. While I like to outline my stories pretty thoroughly before I start writing them, I seem to explore the storyworlds with the readers.
TK: You are a self-professed geek. What’s the geekiest thing that you’ve done? (Or at least willing to admit to!)
JO: Oh, wow. Let’s see here. Be part of a World of Warcraft guild? No, that’s probably too tame. Been a panelist at Salt Lake Comic Con? No, still too normal. If I had to pick just one thing, it’d be the time I gave a wedding toast in Klingon. I tell the whole story over at my blog (link: http://johnwotte.com/geek-confessional-i-once-gave-a-wedding-toast-in-klingon/).
TK: What advice would you give to aspiring young authors?
JO: Just keep writing. The best way to learn how to write is to do it. You’re going to make mistakes. Some of what you write is going to be abysmal. There will be days where you’ll feel like all you’re producing is garbage and you should stop. But through it all, just keep writing. Every day, if you can.
TK: If there is one speculative fiction book that you enjoy reading over and over, what is it?
JO: Okay, I’m going to throw you a curve. Rather than go with a book, I’m going to go with a video game, namely Mass Effect 2. The Mass Effect franchise is fantastic, and it tells an incredible story. Out of the three games, the second one is my favorite and a big part of why is because it tells such a fascinating story. It may not be a book, but it’s just fantastic.
If we were going to just go with books, there are a lot that could qualify. So many good choices. If it was a series, I’d go with Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston’s X-Wing books. I used to read that over and over again.
Or here’s another curveball: Paul Maier’s A Skeleton in God’s Closet. It’s not speculative in the strictest sense of the word (there are no real fantastical elements to it, but the story is definitely speculative). It’s a story about what might happen if archaeologists found Jesus’ skeleton during a dig in Israel. Fascinating book.
TK: When writing, do you prefer music or quiet?
JO: Quiet is usually the best for me, but I do like to listen to music at times when I’m writing. But what I’ve found works best is if I listen to instrumental music with no lyrics. Otherwise, I get distracted.
TK: Thanks for stopping by John!
Don’t forget that The Hive is releasing tomorrow! You can pre-order it on Amazon today though!