I’ve been asked by several readers to post the Reddit Q&A session. So here you go!
submitted 4 hours ago by S_H_Jucha AMA Author – stickied post
Hello, science fiction fans. I’m S. H. Jucha, the author of the science fiction series, The Silver Ships. My first novel, The Silver Ships, was published in February 2015 and the second in the series, Libre, in July. Méridien, the conclusion to the trilogy will be available on November 1st.
[–]tuppenance 3 points 3 hours ago
I have the audio book for The Silver Ships. When will LIBRE be available? I’m really looking forward to it – I have a trip coming up.
There’s been a slight delay in the “Libre” audiobook, but it’s coming soon and the “Méridien” audiobook will follow shortly afterwards. Grover Gardner, who narrates the series, has had an impacted schedule lately so production has gotten behind. By the way, Grover, who narrated Stephen King’s “The Stand”, was nominated for a 2015 SOVAS award for his narration of “The Silver Ships”!
[–]tuppenance 3 points 3 hours ago
I loved your book The Silver Ships. I especially liked the character Julien. What was your inspiration for Julien the SADE?
Glad you’re enjoying the story, tuppenance! Julien is the “stalwart man” even though he’s a SADE (self-aware digital entity). He’s the kind of friend each and everyone of us wishes they had … always with us and dependable through thick and thin, but his trust has to be earned.
[–]Chtorrr46 1 point 3 hours ago
What is your writing process like?
My first step is to get a sense of an antagonist(s). My first three novels came from one outline, so one story flowed into another. When I conceived the antagonists for my fourth book, the outline grew so long that I realized it would be two books: Hellébore and Sol. I try to write every day, but sometimes I have to stop because the next chapter doesn’t feel right. Sometimes it just needs a small tweak, sometimes it’s a much bigger problem. I complete a first draft and then polish about four times before I send the final manuscript to my indie editor. After their corrections are reviewed, I have a small group of proofreaders who help me hunt down minor errors.
[–]Chtorrr46 1 point 3 hours ago
What were your favorite books as a child? Have they influenced your writing now?
I discovered novels on my parents book shelves at thirteen. I must say that some were probably not suitable for a teenager. They ranged from detective stories to western to romance. One of my first memorable stories was authored by Isaac Asimov. And, yes, these early science fiction stories did influence me. I think I’m only realizing now how much they did. These early authors investigated how humans would develop in a world of advancing technology, and how humans might react to alien species. The stories were intimate, and the people real.
[–]pverco 1 point an hour ago
Hello Scott, I’m about 60% through Méridien and am enjoying it every bit as much as the earlier two novels – possibly more, if that’s possible. My two major disappointments are that Méridien will end this series, and that you can’t write as fast as I can read. I would have thought the Nua’ll would provide plenty of scope for an expanded story line that sees the Humans facing them with technological parity. Still, the fact that you have other books in the works shines a small light of hope in my direction.
It should be said that I am a voracious reader, and rate your works equally amongst the top writers in the field, so best-selling shouldn’t be too far away.
I particularly like your accurate characterisations of personalities, and their positive interactions. As a student of psychology and people, I often find SF authors strong on action and technology, but weak with people. That said, I would have liked a little more exploration of technological directions, and even explanations, in your books. It is also refreshing to contemplate AI’s developing personal relationships, something that I thought would be inevitable if they ever became truly sentient – and notwithstanding that they would eventually surpass us, there would be lifetimes in which to enjoy human AI interactions.
Do you know of any way in which kindle readers can feed back editing corrections? I keep thinking that would be a nice additional way for readers to support excellent authors, who may not be able to afford a horde of proofreaders
Whew! Where to start? Thank you for your compliments! To let a small cat out of the bag, Hellébore picks up nine years later still in the worlds of the Confederation, Haraken, and New Terra. I needed the time jump to develop conditions appropriate to the story … the SADEs. I couldn’t conceive of cookie-cutter AIs. The essence of sentience allows choice, choice that would be influenced every moment by environment. It would seem inevitable that the SADEs would develop in different directions, creating a dark one like Rayland or an artist like Cordelia. P.S. I don’t know of a feedback mechanism for Kindle readers. Perhaps you can suggest the idea to Amazon.
[–]DougPa [score hidden] 22 minutes ago
Really enjoyed the first two novels, have the third on pre-order at Amazon. Your stories are exactly what I’ve been looking for (and not finding) on Science Fiction bookshelves for the last 10 years.
I like the fact that they offer a positive view of humanity and depict the kind of science-supported future that I grew up expecting to have (I’m 68). The recent Martian movie (I haven’t read the book yet) had the same sort of effect on me. Why the heck aren’t we doing things like supporting NASA and exploring space?
I prefer Science fiction that stimulates and encourages us, enough zombies and dirigibles already!
Thanks for doing what you do.
I like the swell I’m beginning to see in global space exploration concepts. NASA signed an agreement with the Israeli Space Agency recently to co-develop space exploration opportunities. This is smart … share the developmental load on technological innovations, funding, and personnel. Also, I love Dr. Buzz Aldrin’s practical approach to creating a “permanence” on Mars. He is suggesting the employment of “cycler” ships, an extremely clever idea of two vessels, one going and one coming, on round trips between the Earth and Mars. Astronauts would catch the “cycler” vessel like hopping on a train. You have a problem on Phobos (moon of Mars), setting up your next stage, just catch the next “cycler” back to Earth and let the next mission give it a go to complete that stage.
[–]fmcane 1 point an hour ago*
What pushed you over the hump to get the first book started, and then more importantly finished? What kept you going?
Why do so many contemporary authors like to dwell on the dark side so much? I love the writing and vision of many of them, but can’t dig through all the depressing stuff to get to the end.
Thanks for the AMA and I really love the positive aspect in your books.
Second point first: That was my problem too. I am tired of getting depressed by a story. I’m a glass half full kind of guy. I will say hello to you on the street and chat with you in the elevator (trying not scare you though). So I wrote my books in the manner I did so I can enjoy the story as well. First point: Good questions. I might say I tried unsuccessfully so many times, I was embarrassed by not finishing one and refused to give up this time. But I think the real reason is that I fell in love with my characters. They became my friends!
[–]AMDHamm 1 point 3 hours ago
Hi Scott! I have not yet read MÉRIDIEN but I really enjoy how your characters develop and how the connections deepen among the Rêveur crew. Where do you get your inspiration from in creating your characters and their relationships? Do you plan to push those connections further in HELLÉBORE?
I think my years in Alaska and Asia while growing up, and later, my years in the Bahamas taught me a great deal about where you find people who lend one another a helping hand. Boating people are some of the best! When I thought about space travel I realized the extent to which people would need to depend on one another, especially for the New Terrans, who were just conquering space. I try to think of my characters as real people and ask myself: what would they do? what would they say? how would they react? Alex and company have become my friends, and we will continue to see them develop their relationships.
[–]leowr150 1 point 2 hours ago
Hi! Do you prefer reading the same genres that you write in or do you try to vary your reading as much as possible? Thanks for doing this AMA!
Over the years (make that decades), I have read many genres, historical, autobiographical, detective, science fiction, and fantasy. I think this series came about because lately I was reading science fiction. My favorite authors were in the midst of writing, and many of the Sci-Fi books I found were “doom and gloom”, full of dark futures of space battles and military combat. I see my books focusing on the human stories (okay with aliens and artificial intelligence too) with futuristic science wrapped around their lives. As to holding this AMA, you’re welcome!
[–]AMDHamm 1 point an hour ago
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I would say I have two. The first, supplied by my wife (bless her heart), is the placement of small tablets of paper everywhere … and I mean just about everywhere. When a thought strikes, I now have to write the title of the book at the top so I know which story to apply it to. Sometimes I’m thinking of two or three stories in one day. I have tried other methods, dictation and such, but they just didn’t work for me. The second quirk is that I’m a night owl. By best writing is done after 11 PM until 2, 3, or 4 AM. It’s quiet and my immersion into the story is complete. I’m there … living it with them!
[–]tuppenance 1 point 31 minutes ago
I was wondering how you found the self-publishing process?
Daunting, to say the least! There is a great deal of advice out there for the indie publishing and marketing processes, but the book I found the most helpful was Guy Kawasaki’s “APE”, which stands for author, publisher, and entrepreneur. Of course, I envisioned that title with an enormous “A”, a capital “P”, and a small “e”. What I discovered is that I had it completely backwards. As much work as writing the books entail, it has been nothing compared to the effort expended for the other two disciplines. Such is the life of the self-published!
[–]dmelvin001 1 point 50 minutes ago
What favorite food items were given new names and found a place in the story line?
I didn’t dwell on new food items as much as I did on future food preparation techniques. When I considered the point that the “Rêveur” was a derelict starship with survivors, I had to figure our how to feed them after their waking. I had already presented Méridien nano-technology so it seemed logical to extend the technology into food preservation and added the recipe controller to mix the food stocks into a finished meal. Voilà … your meal is ready! P.S. Although I did interject thé, the French word for tea, because my wife and I are great tea drinkers.
[–]AMDHamm 1 point 2 hours ago
I’ve been trying since 1980 to complete a novel, despite having started dozens of them. If I had known how much fun I would have telling these stories, I would have tried a lot harder decades ago to complete one. Many people warned me after I published the first book that the second book would be even harder to write. Not! Just last week, I sat down to make notes about a sixth book for Alex and company. It was a comment by a fan that gave me the idea.
[–]AMDHamm [score hidden] 20 minutes ago
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
I do. It’s the concept of impulsing buying, and I wonder if my covers weren’t slightly off target. I think the cover excited and attracted many military-genre readers despite my book description. I allowed Alisha, my cover designer, to continue the theme for the next two books that we had developed, but for Hellébore’s cover I’m considering adding the element of people to the mix of space and ships to push the human aspect of my stories.
[–]tuppenance 1 point 2 hours ago
Are there any ideas for another series besides The Silver Ships? I would be a willing reader if there were! 🙂
Funny you should ask! I was digging in my 4-drawer cabinet the other day where I keep all of my “novel experiments” … read unfinished works, and I discovered a concept that would work well for an adjunct series … the story of a third colony ship from Earth! I don’t see the story line intersecting that of The Silver Ships. At least, I don’t see it doing so right now.
[–]AMDHamm 1 point 2 hours ago
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I try not to think and speak in messages, but what is inherent in my books is the willingness on the part of my protagonists to reach out a helping hand to others, regardless of who or what they are. As one fan commented to me, “I have rarely read a novel where I had wanted so badly to meet the people in the book as those I found in ‘The Silver Ships'”. That was wonderful for me to read.
[–]AMDHamm 1 point an hour ago
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
I spent an enormous amount of time researching the subject of covers. Finally I found the Damon Za website, and Damon assigned Alisha as my cover artist. She and I went back and forth quite a bit on the first cover, and I created a rough design of the silver ship for her Adobe Illustrator. After that, we clicked and she created the next two covers with few changes.
[–]DougPa 1 point 43 minutes ago
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Do you plan to write other novels that are largely unrelated to the Silver Ships series?
I would think that the initial idea forming the center of a story is perhaps the hardest part. Although I’m certain it’s a great deal of work, after the initial idea the rest is “filling in the details”.
Speaking of details, how do you keep them all straight? It wasn’t until I finished Libre that I realized there was a substantial Glossary in the back of the book. Maybe it should be at the front of the book (kindle version in my case).
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Thankfully, I have garnered enough fans to be able write full time, which is a great joy! I am already planning a second series (read response to “tuppenance”), which will tell the tale of a third colony ship. And you’re right, having set the time and the conditions of the universe; it’s easier to explore an adjunct story. As to the details, being a bit “anal” helps. I find as I proofing my manuscript again and again, I’m able to read faster and faster without stopping to make a change. That enables me to catch inconsistencies. Plus, I have a lot of cheat sheets in which I outlined significant events, facts, or characterizations. They get referred to a great deal to help me keep my details straight. (It does get confusing sometimes!)
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[–]dmelvin001 -1 points 2 hours ago
How much pronunciation coaching did you provide Grover Gardner?
I was pleased that Grover, my narrator, set up a call with me for a Sunday, and we spent a long while going over the names of people, places, and things. The key question to answer was how true to make some of the pronunciations to today’s languages or how the languages might have drifted in the future. I chose the latter. I can’t wait for his call for the third book, “Méridien”. Is he ever going to have some questions!
[–]dmelvin001 1 point an hour ago
How much input do you give how each character should sound?
The audiobook was produced by Podium Publishing of Canada. They contracted with Grover Gardner, who is considered one of the “golden voices” and who has a long resume of work the voice arts. Grover read the entire manuscript carefully, which was obvious from our discussion, and I believe there was ample characterization within the novel to give him a sense of who the people were and how they might sound. In the end, the characterizations were his.