Spoiler Questions below. If you haven’t read Runaway, then you might want to skip these…
Q: Did Seamus’ parents’ start the self-destruct on their ship?
A: A definite maybe. This is an open-ended question that I haven’t settled on an answer, or needed to. I could see them doing it, especially Seamus’ mother, but I also laid the groundwork their shipboard computer may have made the call based off of parameters supplied by the “Agency”.
Q: In Runaway, you write that Pol (the Apostle Paul) is nearly blind and uses special glasses to see. I don’t believe the Apostle Paul had an eyesight problem. Why did you do write him that way?
A: I tackle that question in the scriptural cross-reference at the end of the book. I think there is a case to be made that Paul had poor eyesight, but those hints throughout his letters are hardly conclusive. Plus we tend to forget that throughout his writings, Paul lived 20-30 years. The poor man went through so much traveling the world and sharing the good news. His eyesight may have gotten worse through life. How many of us wear glasses? They didn’t have eye correction back then. Really, it came down to trying to make him feel more human. He was no superman and never was. I wanted to portray him as he described himself: as nobody special other than what Christ did in him.
Q: For a toy, Thunderblade seems too advanced and capable. How could he do all he did?
A: You probably haven’t signed up for my newsletter and received the short story Stowaway. I deal with that question there; a lot due to this same question from my good friend, Ron. My thinking is that just in my lifetime toys have gone from pull string talking dolls to robotic toys that interact with you. My daughter has a toy horse that turns his head to look at you when you walk in the room. I can imagine that by the time I have great grandkids, those toy horses will walk around the yard and carry on conversations. Just like everything, toys will just keep getting better. A toy like Thunderblade may actually be available in the not-to-distant future.
Q: What exactly are “hypertracks”?
A: Hypertracks are something between a wormhole and faster-than-light travel. Wormholes – at least in the realm of sci-fi – are usually instantaneous transit from one fixed point in space to another, where hyperspace is like flying faster than light, but not instantaneously, wherever you want to go. I wrote hypertracks to be somewhere between the two. I wanted the fixed points of wormholes, but I wanted them to take time so I could have the interactions of the characters on board the Wander Wide.
There were two questions I tried to answer with hypertracks. The first being, what kept a technologically advanced civilization from finding Earth first? With hypertracks the answer is that they didn’t need to develop hyperspace travel once they found hypertracks. Yet hypertracks limited their options. It’s like saying you can live anywhere you want as long as you live within two miles of an Interstate exit. If we had to live with those rules, there would be huge areas of land unsettled. The second question was why the sharks didn’t think to look for Seamus’ mother ship. The answer was that they wouldn’t think of it, since people traveled in small ships through hypertracks all the time.
Q: In Runaway what are the technological differences between the Star Kingdom of Rom and Earth?
A: I considered the Star Kingdom to be around 50 years more advanced and much, much larger. The difference was in how the Romians controlled their technology. To the Romians, if they could control key industries and certain fields of knowledge, then they could easily keep all their conquered realms in line. For example, if they limited knowledge of space flight to the bare minimum, then no one could amass a fleet to challenge them. The result is they have a very ignorant population, which would eventually stifle innovation and slow down progress. Earth was the opposite. Though not as advanced, everyone had access to knowledge and thus had developed all sorts of applications that would seem advanced to the Romians.
I envisioned two main outcomes. First, on Earth toys like Thunderblade existed, designed to adapt to the needs of their owners and to continue to grow. Nothing like Thunderblade existed in Rom.To the Romians, robotics were a means of control and limiting technical knowledge among the conquered. Second, with such an ignorant population, the Romians were lax in their security of certain things. That way a robot like Thunderblade could easily find his way into their computer systems. It’s kind of like having a handful of scientists working on super computers in a competition against thousands of teenage computer geeks. Who would win? Not so easy to answer, is it?
Q: Are the planets and cultures in Runaway based on actual places?
A: Yes, if you lay a map of the ancient Roman Empire over the StarKingdom of Rom, you’d see it line up quite nicely with the names changed slightly. As far as cultures, there are some historical influences, but just as much imagination. Vissi refers to the Visigoths, but I made Löwin’s people more like Native Americans.
Q: Do you plan to write more books in the Runaway universe?
A: No, I don’t think so. A sequel would go too far into conjecture on my part since the Bible is silent on the outcome of most of the characters I used. I’m just not comfortable with that. A prequel might be possible, but I don’t have a story I want to tell presently. Also, I’m not sure I’d want to do that level of research either. ForRunaway I had to do nearly as much research as if I were writing a historical novel. If anything, I could see writing a parallel story likeStowaway, but like I said, I don’t have a story to tell right now.
Q: How does Runaway differ from the Bible?
A: Though I tried to be as true to the Bible as possible, there are three main differences: timing, details, and Philemon’s role in Paul’s life. The actual events Runaway was based upon probably took 3-5 years, mainly due to the time it took to travel. I compressed the time frame to what felt natural within the story. Also, though history tells us there was later a bishop named Onesimus in Ephesus who may have been the same runaway slave referred to in Philemon, there’s no mention about what happened to him. Seamus being set free was pure fiction on my part.
Another thing is that I provided a lot of emotions and motivations to characters. Why did Onesimus come to live with Paul in Rome? Why did he run away? Those types of details are important in character-driven stories, so I added them as needed, trying to keep as true as possible to what I know and understand from the Bible.
One last difference was Filymon’s role as the captain of a ship allowing him and Seamus to witness much of Pol’s life in Effizus. In reality Philemon was likely a wealthy farmer and certainly had no role in most of those events. It doesn’t seem like it, but Paul is a major character in Runaway, and I chose to make this change in order for Seamus (and the reader) to witness Paul’s life.
Q: How did you prepare to write a story based on the Bible?
A: I read a chronological Bible to better understand how the letters Paul wrote fit within his story. You can really see how events in his life and within the larger church shaped his writing. I also researched each of the cities that would become planets in Runaway and studied those books of the Bible pertaining to them. Last, I tried to find relevant passages of Paul’s writings that I could use for his dialog in a natural way. That was very difficult. Hopefully it worked.
Q: Why didn’t you put the Stowaway story in Runaway?
A: A couple reasons. I wrote Stowaway initially as a thank you story for all my test readers. Afterwards, I thought it would make a great incentive for readers to come to my website (and here you are!). But really it comes down to point-of-view. I wanted to write from one exclusive viewpoint, that being Seamus. The reader learns and understands as Seamus does, just how life works for all of us. I’m not opposed to multiple points of view and will use the device in the future. I think Runaway was a story that was best told from one point of view, and thus Stowaway couldn’t be told in that way. I also thinkStowaway is a better stand-alone story, too, written from one viewpoint.
Q: How much did Chippus know and when did he figure it out?
A: This is a case of ‘I’m not too sure’. I try to have an emotional shift in every scene, and it happened that Chippus provided that a few times. At the moment of Seamus’ escape I needed a threat or some peril. It happened to be Chippus again, and adding up all the things he had already witnessed it made sense to me that he had figured a few things out. It added a sense of danger at the right point. Looking back I’d say that Chippus thought Seamus had a radio of some sort and was communicating to someone on the outside. And he also figured out that Seamus would attempt escape at some point. I think he more knew this intuitively than by some systematic collection of evidence. He had a feeling and when he saw Seamus walking out, he knew he was right.
Have a question? Click here to send me an email. I will try my best to answer your question and you might even see it here! EDC