Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Interview of Joe Chiappetta, author of "Star Chosen"

Please join me today for an interview of Joe Chiappetta, author of Star Chosen.

Who do you think would like your book?

People who love classic science fiction will appreciate this book most. Also, those who follow Jesus will also easily appreciate this story, because it's basically like what if Star Trek consisted of a crew of Christians. However, most non-Christians should be drawn into the story as well, since it has a lot of futuristic action and clean space opera drama. As Christian sci-fi goes, it's not very preachy. Rather the emphasis is on the personal righteousness of the characters, and how they fall short. That said, anyone aggressively persecuting Christians will most likely hate this book, because the allegories are embedded in the story.

What is your favorite thing about your story?

The relationships--it's really a story about a futuristic, yet down-to-earth group of teens and their parents fighting to stay together despite all sorts of intergalactic adversity.

Do you remember how long it took you to write?

It took just over five years to write. I kept rewriting it and having people provide input all along the way. My crew of editors and proof readers was a mix of non-Christians, Christians, sci-fi fans and non-sci-fi fans from a spread of life stages (ages 20 to 60). Basically everything they advised along the way has been added into the story, so it seems to have a very wide appeal. I self-published it in 2010.

What is your favorite type of book to read?

Aside from the Bible, I like science fiction and comic books--but the content needs to be clean.

Do you have any favorite books or authors? Hands down, it has to be "The Gods of Mars" and the sequel, "The Warlord of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs. After that, I would say "Out of the Silent Planet" and "Perelandra" by CS Lewis.

Anything interesting in your past you'd care to share?

Before I became a Christian in 1998, I was world renowned (for reals) in the comics community for a series called Silly Daddy. However, once I started introducing Christian concepts into my comics, I pretty much lost the majority of my fans. Since then I've built a base back up and turned Silly Daddy into an all-ages family comic, but it is amazing how many people wanted nothing to do with me after I started representing Jesus.

Also noteworthy, but in a bad way, I verbally persecuted the church with much bitterness prior to becoming a follower of Jesus. I used that experience in the Star Chosen story, because the believers in that plot are quite the segregated minority.

What's your favorite movie or TV show?

Nacho Libre--most people miss all the deep spiritual character lessons in this hilarious wrestling movie about perseverance. After that it would be the Star Wars series, with "Empire Strikes Back" as a high point. As for TV, Stargate Universe is top notch sci-fi. The lessons on leadership and loyalty are most memorable.

Can readers contact you?

Absolutely. All my contact info is listed at http://joechiappetta.blogspot.com

If you were alive in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, etc., did you have any hairstyles that now make you cringe?

In the early 80s I think a few times I went to a barber and got feathered hair. No, I'm not proud of this.

Please share a synopsis or blurb, and a brief excerpt from your book.

Synopsis: Silly Daddy dares to write apocalyptic science fiction for the whole family! Think "Star Trek" meets the Bible. Deleting history was just the beginning. Blast off with STAR CHOSEN, a space opera of post-biblical proportions! After war, heartbreak, attacks to your faith, and the erasure of all history and culture, whose side will you fight on: the Proud... or the Chosen? In a time yet to come, the high-tech Faith War threatens to destroy all religions across the universe. One small yet bold group, known as "the Chosen," survives, but will they rebuild, or be torn to space dust across a cold universe? Xeric Award winner and Ignatz Award nominee Joe Chiappetta crafts a science fiction epic of 67,000 words: Star Chosen.

Star Chosen Excerpt:
Chapter 5: Wipeout Like Never Before

Tharquinn Thane, an aspiring teenage scientist, sat typing by the window of his mother's high-rise condo. He was an average looking youth of medium height with big, wavy hair, "but not too wavy," his mother would add.

The wall adjacent to the Thane's kitchen had a number of Tharquinn's school science awards and also a hologram displaying promotional images from some of his most widely distributed theories and hypotheses. His "Virtual Reality without a Hangover" poster holographically faded into "Object Opacity Technology for Living Organisms," then "Magnetic Implants for Life," and so on, in a continuous loop of self-promotional scientific wall decoration.

The condo unit, currently overlooking the Chicago River, was set at "shuffle." This made the whole living unit physically rotate, albeit slowly, upwards and then downwards, along with a trail of other condo units. Such buildings looked somewhat like square Ferris wheels. For those who could afford this living luxury, it was promoted as a room with an ever-changing view, ideal for creative types, the adventurous, and those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Combined with object opacity technology (OO Tech), which Tharquinn always set at transparent for his outer walls, this made for a spectacular living experience.

"Tharquinn, dinner is almost ready," his mother Jane called to him from the hallway. "Are you slouching again? That's bad for your back, you know. Anyway, this afternoon I met some of those 'Advocate' folks. I accidentally dropped my 3D camera down a sewer, and while I was all in a flutter, a family came up to me. The man, who was rather tall, said, 'I'm Shamus. This is my wife Sarah and our daughter Reyna. You go on and enjoy some girl talk while I go and fish out that gizmo for you, young lady. I don't believe in luck, but if I did, I would tell you that you are very lucky because I am a fisherman of sorts.'"

Jane suspected that her son wasn't listening, so she spoke louder; "Can you believe that, Tharquinn? The fisherman called me 'young lady.' Isn't that nice? So, Shamus pops open an old sewer grid and jumps in. He reaches around in the muck, bare hands mind you, and finds my camera. Now all the while his wife and daughter are talking to me about some sort of book club or something. They weren't even watching Shamus splashing around in the underbelly of Chicago. Their focus was on me. They were trying to invite me to attend their book club. The daughter, Reyna, was very cute. I think you'd like her: just your type, with long brown hair and thick eyebrows. Next term, she'll be enrolling in the science academy. You may even have a class together."

As Tharquinn's mother poured her son some soy milk, she continued talking, "Anyway, Reyna gave me an invitation to that book club. It's a handwritten note on a leaf. Can you believe it, a leaf? I kind of felt sorry for them. They can't even afford electronic paper. The girl does have nice handwriting, though. Penmanship--now that's a lost art."

"Moreover, the funny thing about this book club is that, apparently, they only talk about one book: something called the 1F8thFile. The wife even beamed me a copy over to my wrist computer and said that I had to read it and then study it with her for some sort of life-changing experience. Those people were so nice, honey. A little odd, but maybe I should read their book sometime. Tharquinn, are you even listening? Anyway, dinner is ready."

"Okay, Mom, I'll be right there," said Tharquinn, "but just give me one more minute. As soon as I finish this closing sentence, my latest hypothesis will be totally finished."

"You didn't even hear my story," replied Jane with a whine, "but I'll cut you some slack because it's not every day that my son finishes his next great masterpiece. It's about time. You've been working on that thing for, what, the whole year?"

Just as Tharquinn finished saying "not quite," an unexpected wave of sparkles crackled its way through the entire building. The air outdoors was infiltrated with sparkles as well. In every direction, the world looked to be suddenly decorated with wireless holiday lights. The sparkles lingered for a few moments and then moved onward, expanding out with ever-increasing radius from their humble beginnings at the fiery circle in central Illinois.

"What was that? Did you see that?" whispered Jane. "It's outside too. Wait. Why am I whispering?"

"Because this is freaky," mumbled Tharquinn. "It was... everywhere, but now the sea of sparkles seems to have passed through us and left us behind, like a giant wave of migrating fireflies."

"Hey," Jane added, "your hologram stopped working. And where's the hypothesis you were finishing on screen?"

Tharquinn's eyes glared at his computer monitor with extreme concern. He tapped away at his keyboard, but with undesirable results. "It's gone? No! That can't be. Computer, retrieve most recent hypothesis file. Computer, acknowledge. Computer?"

The computer gave no response at first, but then made a most dreadful sound. The generic factory default start-up jingle played, followed by the familiar default introduction: "Hello, I'm your new computer. Give me a name, followed by a few commands of your choice and let MycroMak, the universal leader in software, do the rest because we do data best."

Tharquinn hadn't named his computer when he first got it, and he certainly wasn't about to name it now. Consistent with the surveys, the majority of males tended not to name their computers, while most women tended to name their computers.

Tharquinn frantically typed away at the keys to do a manual search on his unnamed computer, this time looking for any scientific files, next for any narrative files. "No. This can't be happening. This doesn't happen anymore! Mom, everything I've ever written since... well, since I was a little kid, and every book I've ever collected, they're all gone! Our whole library, and my life's work... it's all gone. Computer, open hypothesis file 'Virtual Magnetic Skates.'"

"I'm sorry," said the computer calmly, "but that file does not exist. You can create it if you'd like. But as your new computer, don't you want to give me a name first? MycroMak computers are fully customizable for all your..."

"No. No! Computer, your name is just 'Computer!'" shouted Tharquinn. "Now search backups and sub-backups. Search remote locations as well. Search other computers and the Internet. Display all narrative files, book files, and any other text files written by Tharquinn Thane."

"No Tharquinn Thane narrative files, book files, or any other text files are found," said the computer.

Tharquinn's mind was racing. "How could this be?" he thought. "Why would anyone wipe out only my work and my collection, and how is that even possible?"

His mother responded, "Maybe it wasn't just your work. Maybe everybody's work was wiped out by those little sparkle things."

Tharquinn followed up with another command: "Computer, search for any narrative files written by anyone, anywhere in any media, on any hardware."

The computer replied, after a few moments of bleeping: "I'm sorry: none found."

Tharquinn slumped deeper in his chair during dinner while Jane pondered aloud, "Can you have a book club without any books? I guess I won't be reading that 1F8thFile after all." As Jane said this, she tossed the handwritten invitation to the Advocates' book club toward the recycling bin. However, she missed the bin and the leaf landed on Tharquinn's foot.

Tharquinn picked up the invitation and said, "I think I'm going to check out this book club, Mom. If a whole group is devoted to one book, maybe they'll figure out a way to restore their lost data, and then mine."

"Besides," thought Tharquinn, "in the company of a very cute girl who is just my type, what have I got to lose?"

End of excerpt.

Alice, Thanks so much for taking the time to do this.

Joe Chiappetta

Thank you, Joe, and best of luck with your book! :)

Star Chosen ordering info: http://joechiappetta.blogspot.com/2010/03/buy-book-now-star-chosen-science.html

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