Earlier this month, you met Steven Radecki in his role as managing editor of Paper Angel Press. (See Meet Paper Angel Press, Part 1 and Part 2.) Did you also know he was an author? Today, I’m talking to him about his book, Building Baby Brother. I remember when he was writing this story, ten or so years ago. It’s great to see it in book form! I really enjoyed it and think it will appeal to readers of diverse genres: YA, family drama, sci-fi. You can find my review at the end of the interview.
Building Baby Brother was published in August 2016. It’s 120 pages long.
You can find it here:
And now, the interview.
Why did you decide to write this book?
It actually started as what was intended to be a 2,000-word short story for a family event at the school my son was attending at the time. The event, unfortunately, got cancelled, but my mind couldn’t let go of the story … and it kept growing … and growing … and growing – and eventually became the 29,000-word novella that it is today.
What genre is your book?
Building Baby Brother would definitely be considered science fiction. Had it been told from the point-of-view of the son rather than the father, it could also have been YA (Young Adult). Hmm … excuse me, I need to get back to the keyboard right now.
Do you consider Building Baby Brother character-driven or plot-driven?
Originally, I think the story started out to be plot-driven, but I think it turned out to be far more character-driven.
What makes your book unique?
That’s a good question – and one an author should be able to answer when promoting their book. I’d have to say that it might be unique because it’s approachable science fiction that anyone with children could relate to because it doesn’t get bogged down in the “science” part, but themes are relatable to anyone with children or who has been a parent.
Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?
This may come as quite a shock to people who know me, but I rarely plot out the entire story before I begin. I tried outlining my stories first, but once the characters develop lives and voices of their own, they rarely want to follow the script I originally laid out for them. (I do occasionally create pseudo-outlines when I’m in the midst of creating a story to make sure that I remember to hit some key points or events along the way to the end. I guess I’m a big believer in “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” I do like being surprised when I read a story. I don’t always know how the story will end when I start it (as problematic as that might sound), but I always know how it must end when I get about a third of the way through writing it.
How do you develop the names for your characters?
Most of the time, they name themselves. As I’m writing, there’s usually a name that feels right. If that doesn’t work, I check name lists on the Internet, like lists of baby names or random names in directory listings and then often combine names from two different sources together.
How do you decide on the setting?
Well, for Building Baby Brother, it was set in an imaginary home and an neighborhood that resembled the one where I grew up in Southern California when I was the same age that the boy was in the story.
Do you have a writing mentor?
I don’t know that I have a specific writing mentor, per se. There are authors who I admire and look to for inspiration. Some of the key influences would be Robert A. Heinlein, Spider Robinson, Tom Robbins, and Harlan Ellison.
What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?
If I could hold to an actual writing schedule, then the sequel(s) to Building Baby Brother would be published, as would books in my various space opera series. I don’t know that I have a particularly favorite place to write, as most of my writing tends to get squeezed in wherever I happen to be. I do, however, have a fondness for a local coffee place where they roast their own beans. I would try to get one of the tall bar tables next to the roaster and write away on my netbook to the aroma of roasting coffee. I may need to put that place in a story someday.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to encourage our writers to submit their stories – particularly to smaller presses who might appreciate them. Feedback – even less than positive – is a gift that can help you grow as a writer. And, please, stop giving your work away for free. Your time, effort, and vision are worth more than that.
Where can readers find you?
Check out my page on the Paper Angel Press website: Steven Radecki
Also check out my website: A Work in Progress
Nancy’s review of Building Baby Brother:
Building Baby Brother is a fascinating book, with themes on multiple levels, from the impacts of AI to what it means to be a parent. A dad wants to do the best for his son and uses his engineering skills to ‘create’ a baby brother. And, just like a person, baby brother grows in unexpected ways. The story is touching, funny, and wise, and will appeal to sci-fi fans, as well as to fans of family drama and YA.