Today, Luther M. Siler, author of THE SANCTUM OF THE SPHERE (THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES VOL. 2) is with us to talk about his newly released book, Science Fiction and much more!
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
SILER: This would be a much easier question if you said “Fantasy” instead of “Science Fiction,” because I know the answer: my uncle David gave me THE HOBBIT in second grade and condemned me to geekery forever. I have been racking my brain for a week or two now and I cannot for the life of me figure out what the first SF I read was. David was probably involved somehow, though, as once I was old enough to realize speculative fiction was a thing (although, obviously, I’d not have used that term) I was off to the races.
Wait. You never used the word “book” in that question. (NG: Of course, I didn’t).
STAR WARS. It was STAR WARS.
NG: What do you like most (and least) about this versatile genre?
SILER: While I like to think of myself as a smart person, and I think I’ve probably fooled some other people on that front in the past, I gotta be honest here: I’m a very surface-level thinker with regards to a lot of my entertainment, and I like science fiction because it’s cool. I like lasers and aliens and space and technology and various people acting like badasses in stressful situations. Sci-fi and fantasy are both full of that sort of thing.
NG: How did you start writing Science Fiction stories?
SILER: SKYLIGHTS was my first shot at writing pure Science Fiction, actually– I had a draft of that several years ago and only just recently polished it up for publication. It’s very specifically Warren Ellis’ fault, who posted something in one of his mailing lists about these weird holes they’d found in Mars and may even have said “Someone should write a book about this.” I waited patiently for a year for him to tell me what was in those holes and he didn’t, so I did it myself.
NG: Which authors have been most inspiring to you?
SILER: Specific to my work, and not necessarily in this order: Douglas Adams, John Scalzi, Warren Ellis, and Brian K. Vaughan. Outside of that: Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, George Lucas, Hunter S. Thompson, and Mike Royko. I love Neal Stephenson and Ålastair Reynolds, too, but I would die if I tried to write like them. Rowling. Rushdie. I’ve got a series of fantasy short stories that are crying out for a longer treatment that can be blamed directly on Nnedi Okorafor and Saladin Ahmed.
NG: What are you top 3 favorites for Science Fiction books, TV shows and movies?
SILER: I have large portions of THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY memorized. STAR WARS, obviously. I really love James S.A. Corey’s EXPANSE series and have high hopes for the TV show.
(Personal failing: I have never really been able to get into STAR TREK.)
NG: What is your publishing path and why did you chose this particular one?
SILER: I am an independent author, although I went ahead and registered Prostetnic Publications (which is, of course, a Douglas Adams reference) as an actual business to make certain transactions easier while working with a pen name. Basically nobody wanted to publish me and I got tired of waiting. I shopped SKYLIGHTS everywhere and eventually it just felt like masochism. I’ll be happy to leave self-publishing if someone makes me an offer– it’s an economic and career decision, not a political one– but at this point they’re gonna have to come find me, I think.
NG: Which advice would you have for aspiring and new authors?
SILER: I’ve taught middle school writing either formally or as a club for most of my teaching career, so I actually do this all the time– there are two pieces of advice: 1) read constantly; 2) when you are not reading, write. Write every day. It doesn’t much matter what; I am a terrible procrastinator about writing fiction because it is pure pain for me, but I write every day on the blog pretty much no matter what. Even if you only get a couple of sentences out, that’s a couple more sentences than most people did. And don’t be afraid to self-publish, but don’t publish because you feel like you HAVE to. Writing for yourself is perfectly legitimate.
NG: When you started writing THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES, did you already plan it as a series or was it an organic evolution?
SILER: Both, I think? I was casting about for a Universe as opposed to a single story idea– something I could come back to again and again. But the actual stories that came out of that were very much an organic thing that continue to surprise me as I get deeper into them. Most people have told me that THE SIGIL is their favorite story from BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES, VOL. 1. That story was basically an accident. I didn’t know about it until seeing the cover for the collection and then the whole story jumped into my head.
NG: What can new and returning readers expect from SANCTUM OF THE SPHERE (THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES VOL. 2)?
SILER: There’s a lot more meat on the bones here; I spend a fair amount of time fleshing out the world and the backstory for one of the major characters, so you have a much better idea of what the BA world is about by the end of the book. Other than that? Carnage. Some swearing. Some stuff gets ‘sploded. Y’know, fun. And while the STAR WARS roots of the series are never going to go away– the question that inspired the series was “What would have happened if Han and Chewie never came back at Yavin?”– the influences are more dialed-back in this one than in the novella.
Well, okay. There’s about five pages in the first third where I was laughing my butt off while I was writing, and it’s a direct SW reference that I couldn’t make myself pull out. But outside of THAT, I mean.
NG: What other writing projects are you currently working on? Will there be a third volume to the BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES?
SILER: I think that my next book is actually going to be a nonfiction collection of essays about teaching, but I’ve said that before and the book hasn’t happened. The next two things on the plate after that, not necessarily in this order, are a sequel to SKYLIGHTS and another BA short story collection. I suspect I’ll be bouncing back and forth between short story collections and novels on that series for a while, actually. Sooner or later I want to write a pure fantasy novel, but that might be a way off. We’ll see.
Thanks so much, Natacha!
Luther Siler was born in 1976 in northern Indiana, where he currently resides along with his wife, three-year-old son, two cats and a dog. In his spare time he works at a school helping other people be awesome. He writes about space gnomes and Mars.
His novel SKYLIGHTS and his short story novella THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES: VOL. 1 are both available on Amazon and elsewhere now. The second book in the BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES series, THE SANCTUM OF THE SPHERE, is available digitally and in print since April 28th.
You can find him at the following links: