I was able to ask Gary Darby some questions via email. A big thank you to Gary for indulging me!
My English teacher once said, “Write what you know.” What experiences did you draw on to put together First Trail?
Actually, I heard the phrase “write what you know” not just from my English teacher but from so many other authors and publicists that I literally took it to heart when I started writing “StarScout Rising – First Trail.” I am a 20-year veteran of the US Armed Forces with most of that as a Military Intelligence officer. As an MI officer I spent a great deal of time analyzing terrain, weather, mobility corridors, and trying to determine where the enemy was, his intent, force size and capabilities. I was heavily involved in using both human recon units as well as very sophisticated high tech surveillance platforms. Thus, the idea of “seek, locate and catalog” missions to interstellar space was a natural outgrowth of those experiences. The idea of a paramilitary style unit was based on my experiences with ROTC in college plus my active duty time. My sweetheart and I raised seven sons so it was pretty easy to use young adults as my main characters. Lastly, our sons were Boy Scouts and I was a scout leader so I drew upon the values extolled by that organization along with my own religious faith to develop a StarScout honor system.
Who are your favorite authors?
Well, I suppose this will date me, but I grew up reading the “Grand Masters” of science fiction, Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, e.g. And I suppose I haven’t really outgrown reading them because I still love to pick up one of their books. I do read some of the more modern science fiction authors such as Orson Scott Card, but I guess my heart still lies with the GMs of old.
What was the last book you read?
A biography of George Washington by Jay Parry. Very insightful work on a very complex man and great leader.
Your Star Scouts seem like a futuristic version of the Boy Scouts of America – Describe your involvement in Scouts and how it has influenced your life and the lives of your family.
Well, I really didn’t intend for the StarScouts to come across as futuristic Boy Scouts so completely. I really wanted to portray a paramilitary unit that had a value and honor code that embodied a commitment to service, respecting the sanctity of life, loyalty to teammates and organization, and a willingness to share, freely, any and all interstellar discoveries. Yes, the Boy Scouts do incorporate some of those principles in their creed, but I also extol ideals that I learned as a US military officer and from my personal religious faith.
But yes, as I mentioned above, our seven sons participated in scouts and I was a scout leader in several capacities (Assistant Scout Master, advisor, committee member, and merit badge counselor). Scouting was a family affair for us, and my sons and I have some great memories of adventures in the Alaskan wilderness (camping with bears, camping at 20 below, crossing a freezing glacier fed river, salmon fishing for our supper, and sea kayaking). My sons were all youth leaders in scouts and in their church activities and now as grown men; I still see those leadership qualities, only in more adult terms. They are good men, one and all.
What character in First Trail is most like you?
My wife says, Sami the perpetual wise-cracker, whereas I see myself more as ScoutMaster Tarracas, the all wise, all knowing, all seeing, and heroic figure.
What’s your favorite dessert?
Never met a pie that I could say no to, particularly pecan or lemon.
My husband would agree with your there! Thanks Gary!
If you want to know more about Gary Darby and his work, check out his blog here.