Science Fiction Author Interview w/ Trevor Schmidt | #AskTrevor

Today I thought I’d do something a bit different from my usual posts. I recently read a Science Fiction Author interview with one of my favorite authors out there on the Interweb and so I thought I’d try my hand at my own.  In this interview, I use a combination of questions from Twitter and a few good questions I found online. To ask questions for future question and answer sessions, tweet me @TrevorSSchmidt and use the hashtag #AskTrevor

1. From @Sydner_Writer on Twitter: “What was the first story you wrote about?”
If you want to go way back, my first story was written on a really old computer when I was about five years old. It was called “Ben and the Dragon” and it was a supremely cliché fairy tale riddled with typographical errors. My parents were pretty impressed though because it was about two pages long. I still know people that dread a 500 word essay. I don’t remember many of the plot details, but it involved Ben having to slay a dragon to save the princess, who was definitely modeled after Princess Peach from the Mario franchise. I’m happy to say I’ve gotten more creative over the years and written more intriguing roles for women in my books, especially in my latest series.
2. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
From the time I was nine I wanted to be an astronaut. I got a simple telescope for Christmas and looked at the stars and spent a lot of time wondering what was out there. Around that time I started reading science fiction as well as science books targeted toward my age group (like those Eyewitness books about the space shuttle and different things like that). One of the most common ways to become an astronaut back in the day was to be a pilot in the Air Force (Now they are mostly scientists). While I never made it to space, I did enlist in the Air Force which is about as close as I expect to get unless my situation changes drastically. Unfortunately my eyesight precludes me from flying a plane. Drat. However, I also knew from a fairly young age that I wanted to write, no doubt spurred from watching my dad publish countless books. So at least I still have my books to hold on to.
3. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first book in 2009 right after graduating college with a B.A. in English. I would have been 22 years old. It was a short young adult mystery geared especially to the 9-12 age group. I meant it to be a series, but to be honest everything changed when I wrote Memory Leak, my first science fiction novel. Not only did it sell tremendously better than my first book, Memory Leak was a far superior tale that interested me a lot more. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea because I experimented with an interrupting narrator, which played into the story nicely I thought. I don’t want to give anything away, so you’d have to read it to understand.
4. How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies based on length and whether or not it is a sequel. I have found that it’s easier to write a sequel because I already have most of the characters hashed out and if it’s a more linear series meant to be read in order I can spend less time world-building because the reader will already know some of the basics. However, I do try to add in enough so that if someone was coming to the story somewhere in the middle of the series they could still enjoy it. That said, please read them in order to avoid massive spoilers! Back to the question, once I’ve plotted out what’s going to happen in the story and who my characters are, it takes me about three months to write and do the majority of the editing. You should note that I’m also not writing epics like A Song of Ice and Fire. I take a lot of my book length cues from Philip K. Dick, who I think had the right idea.
5. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I probably spend too much time on Youtube and playing guitar. Though I have cable TV, I hardly use it. I tend to favor Netflix anyway. I try to get out of the house and do things with friends as much as possible. On Fridays I like to play Pathfinder or something similar. Right now I’m doing a Dead Lands version of Savage Worlds. I can feel myself pushing my glasses up the bridge of my nose as I type. Also, it’s always a good day for Magic.
6. What do you think makes a good story?
A good story should have a conflict that gets the reader involved emotionally. I think it’s also important to write realistic characters who the reader can grow to care about, even if the feelings they manifest toward that character is hatred. As a writer, I revel in the times I can get my readers to squirm just as much as the times I can lift their spirits. Does that make me sadistic?
7. What is your favorite color?
Blue. No, green. Ahhhh!
8. Speaking of Game of Thrones, what’s your perspective on the HBO series? Do you like where it’s headed?
R + L = J (enough said).
9. Do you have any special talents?
I’ve played guitar since I was 11 years old. I recently bought a Martin GPCPA4 and I’m in love. When I was in my early twenties I toured in eight states from the West to the Midwest. It sounds a lot cooler than it actually was. If I’m going to travel, I prefer to travel overseas and not on long road trips. I’ve had enough, thanks!
10. What are you currently writing?
I am knee-deep in writing the third novel in The Corsair Uprising series entitled Death Wish. It will be released this summer (2015) and I’m shooting for July. Without giving anything away, this one is going to be both the end of a trilogy and the beginning of a much larger Universe that I hope will go on for a long time. There really is a lot to explore in the world I’ve created and there are so many juicy characters that I want to see more. If all goes as planned, Book 4 will come out sometime in the Fall of 2015 and should be an excellent read as well. Books one and two are available on Amazon in eBook form and at a bunch of retailers in paperback. You can visit my website to see a detailed list.
11. From @Simbelsim on Twitter: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I have wanted to write a book since I was around five or six, but the first time I really acknowledged that it was something I needed to do was Junior year of college. I changed from being a Business major to an English major. You don’t know how many people asked me what I was going to do with my life with a ‘useless’ degree. Even though I’m not Arthur C. Clarke yet, I feel I’ve been fairly successful in the short time I’ve been doing it seriously.


Startup Interview: Devan Stormont, Creator of the Popular Weather Route App

Startup Interview: Devan Stormont, Creator of the Popular Weather Route App

Weather Route

Startup Interview: Devan Stormont of Weather Route

Background: Weather Route is an app that displays what the weather will be at any given stage from your present position to your destination, based on when you’re expected to be there.

Hello, Devan.  Thank you for
joining me for this interview. Why don’t we start by having you give a
little background about yourself?
Hi Trevor, it’s my pleasure to join
you. I’m a software engineer at a mid-size company here in Reno, where I’m
heavily involved with product development and internal training. On the side, I
wrote a little app called Weather Route.
What inspired you to create the
Weather Route App?
Two winters ago, I had plans to visit
my out-of-state parents for Christmas. A large weather system moved in that
wasn’t completely a “bad storm”. It had areas of being clear, but
they would shift around as the weather system moved. I tried for a while to
plan a road trip through the storm, but getting information about which roads
were clear and which were not was almost impossible from existing weather
sites, especially when long hours of driving were factored in.
Eventually, I gave up and canceled my
plans for the trip. But, Weather Route was born!
Currently, Weather Route is limited to
the United States.  Do you have plans to expand to International Markets?
Yes. I just completed a big overhaul
in the weather forecasting that will allow the app to work internationally.
I’ve begun rolling this out to some foreign markets.
I understand you’re coming off some
pretty significant gains in membership after this holiday season.  What can
you tell me about that?
Absolutely! This was a very exciting
winter for me. Once the weather started turning bad, I began getting very
consistent user growth – about 12% user growth a week, very regularly, almost
like clockwork. By the time that had slowed down with the winter trailing off,
I had 5x as many users as I’d started with.
Reno has been getting some buzz lately
for a number of tech startups in the area, how does it feel to be a part of
this movement and have you had a chance to work with any other entrepreneurs in
town?
It’s very exciting to see the local
tech industry growing with such momentum. I haven’t been as involved as I
should be, but I have participated in a couple of hackathons (the annual Space
Apps Challenge). That has been a great way to meet other entrepreneurs and see
what they’re working on. Colin Loretz at the Reno Collective, Eric Jennings at
Pinocc.io, and Joe Chavez (who runs the local Space Apps Challenge) are each
fantastic local entrepreneurs.
Will Weather Route be available in
other languages?
Yes. Right now, it is English-only,
but I am planning on providing multiple languages, if the international version
picks up well.
How can I find Weather Route?
The app is available on Google Play.
Just type in “Weather Route” and it will pop
right up!
What kind of users make up your core
demographic and what markets are you trying to expand into?
I wrote the app to target vacationers,
originally. What took me by surprise was the number of truckers that have
started to use it. One thing I’d like to do is target that segment more with
app solutions.
Can you tell me any future plans for
Weather Route?
We’ve already touched on a couple
areas – expanding to international markets and providing localization for other
languages. I’m also examining porting the app over to the iPhone, as well. I’ve
gotten some requests from coworkers to do so, indicating that the demand is
there.
Customer satisfaction is arguably the
core reason apps exist.  How do you keep your customers satisfied and do
customer suggestions affect the development of future versions of the app?
I pay very close attention to what my
users are telling me. Some of the best ways to get users impassioned about your
product is when they complain to you about a problem or a missing feature and you
go above-and-beyond in response. There’s always some part of code I’d like to
fix or some new feature I’d like to put in, but I take a “drop
everything” approach with user feedback. If a user reports a problem, I’ll
hunker down until it’s fixed. And if I start to hear about a wanted feature
from two or three users, you can bet I’m working on implementing it!
Ultimately, it’s users who drive
adoption of an app forward. If a developer gets in the way of that adoption,
they’re only hurting themselves. Plus, it’s just great to hear directly from
users that you’ve fixed their issue!
Thank you for taking the time to
answer some questions, now get back to work!