GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Interview: Jack Campbell (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Guardian) + giveaway | I Smell Sheep

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Interview: Jack Campbell (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Guardian) + giveaway

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Today we have Science Fiction author Jack Campbell (AKA John G. Hemry) to talk about his adventure series The Lost Fleet. Guardian (Book #3 The Last Frontier) just released this week! We also talk about important issues like are there sexy aliens in his book and Naked Mole Rats. Good times people, good times...

Sharon: Welcome to the Flock! Grab some moonpies and Kool-Aid. *shoves Solo cup into Jack’s face* Seriously… drink the Kool-Aid *twitch,twitch* 
Katie*smacks Sharon with a moonpie* Sorry about that *nervous laugh* She's harmless…
*awkward pause* 

Sharon: I haven’t read your Sci-Fi series, but I checked out your website and I was impressed with what I saw. Got some serious cove lust going on. Can you tell me and our readers a little bit about The Lost Fleet series?
Jack: The series came out of two big ideas. One of those was the Sleeping Hero, the person who once saved the day but didn't die, and will someday awaken when most needed.  (Think King Arthur, the Twelfth Iman, etc.). Those heroes were real people once. I wondered what it would be like for such a person to reawaken and discover what everyone thought they were, to learn that they were now expected the save the day. The other big idea concerned a long retreat. Xenophon's March of the 10,000 has been used a lot in fantasy and SF, but not in space, because it's really hard to make it work (the two iterations of Battlestar Galactica have wrestled with that, though the second version came out after I had started the Lost Fleet). 
So here is John "Black Jack" Geary, who fought a desperate rear-guard action at the start of an interstellar war that has been going on for a century. He was thought to have died in that battle, and an Alliance desperate for heroes built him up as the epitome of everything great and honorable. Only he's not dead, just frozen in survival sleep. Geary gets recovered and revived just before the Alliance fleet is trapped deep in enemy space, and even while he struggles to cope with post-traumatic stress and the knowledge that everyone he once knew is dead, the descendents of those he knew are depending on him to save the day, to get the fleet home, because he is the legendary Black Jack.

Geary knows he's not that awesome hero. He's appalled by the changes a century of war have caused and feels like a stranger among his own people. But they need him. Unless he tries his best to be that hero, they are all dead. So he does his best, and along the way his road is both eased and considerably complicated by his developing feelings for Captain Tanya Desjani, who is the captain of his flagship and very much a child of her war-haunted time.

Sharon: l hadn’t heard the term “sleeping hero” before, but I am aware of the theme in literature. I just became a little bit more sci-fi-y.
 Katie: “eased and complicated” is that a euphemism used in science fiction for romance? <G> 
Jack: Maybeee…

Katie: How much world building detail was in place before you started writing the first book in The Lost Fleet series? And how much was made up along the way?
Jack: I had the basics down. I had to figure out how to trap the Alliance fleet deep in enemy space, and to make the long retreat plausible, which called for two different means of travel between star systems. I had to set down how the ships worked (really worked, because this isn't a planet's surface and spaceships aren't aircraft or water-riding ships, and they operate in an endless environment with no up or down). One critical decision was to stick with actual light-speed limits in star systems. If you are a light-hour from someone else, it takes an hour for a message to cross that distance, and you are seeing what they were doing an hour ago. It really brought home the vast size of space, and made me work out 3D maneuvering and time delays, which it all feel much more real. And of course who were the good guys (the Alliance), and what had the long war done to them, and who were the bad guys who started the war (the Syndicate Worlds, a corporate-controlled police state). 

Most of what was made up along the way involved the characters. They had a path they had to walk (getting home, that is). But as they faced decision points and worked together they evolved. They ended up doing things I hadn't expected, and I put that into the stories. Because these are real people in a way, and real people may have limited options, but the choices they make are theirs. 

Sharon: Do you dream about the world you created or hear them giving their two cents about things you see and do?

Jack: The characters very definitely tell me what they would and wouldn't do. I don't dream about the world, but I do see it. 

Sharon: May 7 is the release of The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Guardian, part of a spin-off of the original series. How many books do you see for this series?
Jack: The Beyond the Frontier continuation of the Lost Fleet was created because people wanted more stories about those people and their universe. While I want to avoid the dreaded endless series syndrome, I'm also in a situation where my readers want the stories to keep coming. As a result, Beyond the Frontier is a bit open-ended and divided into two- and three-book story arcs. The first two books (Dreadnaught and Invincible) took Geary's fleet into unexplored space and back to human space. Guardian covers the return to Alliance space, and some new challenges after that, including a visit to a most unexpected place. If I run out of ideas, or reach a conclusion that simply ends things, I'll end the series. But as long as I can keep the stories fresh and interesting, I'll keep writing them for those that want them. Part of keeping the stories fresh involves the Lost Stars books, which have story lines that intertwine with the Beyond the Frontier series, but feature the people in a former enemy star system who are dealing with the collapse of empire and trying to build something better on the ruins of the old system. 
Sharon: do you get the storylines and characters confused? 
Jack: No. Very distinct people and places. One character actually goes from one series to the other, but there's no confusion about it. 

Katie: Will there be a “last” book where you tie everything up? 
Jack: There already was one! Victorious was the end-of-the-story-arc, hero-gets-the-job-done, romantic-tensions-resolved book. But when we got there, the readers kept asking for more, and since the readers were asking for more, my publisher asked me for more. This created a Big Moral Dilemma: do I compromise my art for money? Are you kidding? Of course I did. I've got kids. I have to pay the grocery bills. Besides, my art is telling stories. If I'm doing well enough at that for people to be asking for more, why would I stop? 

There may come a point where Beyond the Frontier reaches a natural end-point. If that happens, I will tie things up, because once a series is dead it shouldn't keep shambling onward like a zombie.

Sharon: well, if it does don’t worry. Katie and I will help you go all Daryl Dixon on its zombie ass. We have a sheep signal, just call. *puts hand for fist bump* 


Sharon: We have a dragon in the dungeon, but no spaceship yet. What type would you recommend? 
Jack: The Alliance fleet has a battle cruiser named Dragon. That would be a good match, wouldn't it? Dragon's commanding officer (Honore Bradamont) plays a significant role in Guardian. But you'll have to get her quick because she has a big role in the Lost Stars book Perilous Shield (coming in October) when she has to leave Dragon in part because of her True Love (honest, he really is, even if he is also technically a bad guy, but he's not really bad). And because she has to teach her guy's friends how to fight in spaceships as well as she can do it. I think she and Dragon would be good match for your dragon. 
Sharon: Are the women characters in your world considered equals to the men?
Jack: Absolutely. Actually, the question doesn't even occur to them. They are at the point where people are evaluated by who they are, instead of what they are. Any other way of doing things would baffle them.

Katie: Are there sexy alien men in your books? Can you hook a girl up… names and number?

Jack: That depends on what you think is sexy. If you like mysterious, the enigmas are obsessed with privacy and don't want anyone to know anything about them. Unfortunately that means they think curious creatures like us are the neighbors from hell. Having someone trying to learn anything about them makes them crazy (in a bad way, that is, not in a sexy Robert Downey Jr. way.) Or maybe you like cute and cuddly? The Kicks are like small teddy bear/cows. Very cute. But they're also descended from herd animals, so the entire extended family would be coming along on the date, and then they would take over your house and kick you out so you wouldn't compete with the herd. The Dancers, though, are really graceful, and interesting, and smart. There's some mysteries about them, too, but they seem to be nice people. They also look like what would happen if a very, very big spider mated with a wolf. If you find that sexy I might be able to help you. (On the other hand, if you find that sexy no one may be able to help you.) 
Katie: uh, I’ll pass…but the Kicks would probably fit right in around here. 

Sharon: You know how the heroes and villains have theme music that plays when they enter a scene? If theme music/song played every time you entered a room, what would it be?

Jack: Diablo Rojo by Rodrigo y Gabriela. Or (if it's a formal occasion) Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin. 

Time for a little Rapid Fire: 

Sharon: Star Wars or Star Trek?

Jack: Starbuck (the 2003 version).

Katie: Step into the Stargate or the Tardis?
Jack: The Tardis. It can take you anywhere the Stargate can, anywhen (which the Stargate can't except occasionally) and…no, wait. Stargate has Samantha Carter. 

Katie: left leg first or right leg first?

Jack: Right first. I'm married, so it's about the only time I'm allowed to be right.

Sharon: basket of puppies or basket of naked mole rats?
Jack: Naked Mole Rats! (Do they come with a Kimmunicator?) 
Sharon: ha! You just earned 10 coolness points for that answer!

Jack: If I'd been forced to chose between naked mole rats and a platypus, it would have been harder. 

Sharon: Alfred Hitchcock or Stephen King?

Jack: Hitchcock. None of King's movies have Cary Grant in them. 

Katie: Hammer Time or Gangam Style?

Jack: Gangnam. I never looked good in harem pants. 

Sharon: Thank for taking the time! Anything you would like to say to our readers before we take you on a tour of the dungeon? Did I mention we have a dragon…

Jack: Thank you for hosting me! I've been very lucky to reach a lot of people through the Lost Fleet books. And hopefully I'll be lucky enough to make it out of the dungeon as well. 
*Sharon and Katie lead Jack to dungeon door*
No, thank you! You were a great guest. The last one was nothing but trouble… “let me go home” “stop feeding me moonpies” “is that going to hurt?” and throwing around words like lawsuit *shakes head*.

Guardian (Beyond the Frontier #3)
by Jack Campbell

Admiral Geary’s First Fleet of the Alliance has survived the journey deep into unexplored interstellar space, a voyage that led to the discovery of new alien species, including a new enemy and a possible ally. Now Geary’s mission is to ensure the safety of the Midway Star System, which has revolted against the Syndicate Worlds empire—an empire that is on the brink of collapse.

To complicate matters further, Geary also needs to return safely to Alliance space not only with representatives of the Dancers, an alien species, but also withInvincible, a captured warship that could possibly be the most valuable object in human history. Despite the peace treaty that Geary must adhere to at all costs, the Syndicate Worlds regime threatens to make the fleet’s journey back grueling and perilous.

And even if Geary escortsInvincibleand the Dancers’ representatives safely unharmed, the Syndics’ attempts to spread dissent and political unrest may have already sown the seeds of the Alliance’s destruction.

About the Author:

Jack Campbell is a pseudonym for American science fiction author John G. Hemry
John G. Hemry is an American author of military science fiction novels. Drawing on his experience as a retired United States Navy officer, he has written the Stark's War and Paul Sinclair series. Under the name Jack Campbell, he has written four volumes of the Lost Fleet series, and on his website names two more forthcoming volumes. He has also written over a dozen short stories, many published in Analog magazine, and a number of non-fiction works.

John G Hemry is a retired United States Navy officer. His father, Jack M. Hemry, also served in the navy and as John points out was a mustang. John grew up living in several places including Pensacola, San Diego, and Midway Island.

John graduated from Lyons High School in Lyons in 1974 then attended the US Naval Academy (Class of '78) where he was labeled 'the un-midshipman' by his roommates.

He lives in Maryland with his wife and three kids. His two eldest children are diagnosed as autistic and suffer from Neuro immune dysfunction syndrome (NIDS), an auto-immune ailment which causes their illness, but are progressing under treatment.

John is a member of the SFWA Musketeers whose motto reads: 'The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword, but the Wise Person Carries Both'.

Lost Fleet Series

The Lost Fleet : Beyond the Frontier Series
1. Dreadnaught (2011)
2. Invincible (2012)
3. Guardian (2013)

US Only
Penguin Publishing is offering 5 print copies of The Lost Fleet to 5 winners! Talk to the raffledude to get entered.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I think I would like the stargate option. I love sci fi but have not read one in a bit. Thanks for telling about your books. Have added them to my list.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  2. Stargate :) Congrats to Jack on the new release! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Stargate for me. I love the Lost Fleet series for Geary and his struggle to adjust and deal with the staggering expectations and responsibility that have been put on him. I'm so glad to hear that more books are forthcoming!

  4. I think it would definitely be the Stargate. Thanks so much to Jack on another new book, and thanks to you for a great giveaway.

  5. Stargate of course.

    Amazing giveaway like always :)


  7. I'm old fashioned, I'd rather take my chances with the Tardis.

  8. Definitely the Tardis :)


  9. Could you please tell me the name and artist for the theme music? I enjoyed it :)

    1. Oh Penumbra... Did you read the interview? Jack tells you what it is.

      Jack: Diablo Rojo by Rodrigo y Gabriela

    2. Haha, actually I did, but my eyes didn't catch it. Thanks :)

  10. Stargate. OMG! This is just the type of SIFY I enjoy reading!! I enjoyed the music too. Wheeeeeee!

    Meljprincess AT aol DOT com

  11. The STARGATE...
    Many thanks!

  12. The Lost Fleet Series sounds fantastic! Will definitely be adding it to my TBR list. Great interview. Thanks for sharing.
    I think I'd rather step through the Stargate.

  13. The Stargate... I love space! Thanks for the giveaway!
    mestith at gmail dot com

  14. Definitely through the Stargate! That would be pretty AWESOME!! Thank you so much for a great giveaway!!!

  15. I'm gonna take a chance and say Stargate :)

  16. I'd rather step through the Stargate!