Interview with Rhett Bruno, Author of From Ice to Ashes

Today I’m launching what I hope will be a recurring feature on BadNovelist: interviews with other sci-fi authors! I’m kicking it off with Rhett Bruno, author of Titanborn and From Ice to Ashes.

FromIceToAshesYou’ve written several sci-fi books. Your latest, From Ice to Ashes, just came out on Tuesday. Can you tell us about it?

Sure. So, From Ice to Ashes is really about the birth of a rebellion on an offworld colony on Titan whose people have been constantly taken advantage of by their corporate owners. A pretty classic sci-fi premise right? What I hope sets it apart is the perspective. The story is told firsthand by a young offworlder who is only interested in getting the money to save his mother. So the arc his life takes is pretty powerful. I wanted to tell the story of Darth Vader, if you will. The fall of a good man due to war and horror and loss against his own best intentions.

From Ice to Ashes is set in the same universe as Titanborn. Do you consider From Ice to Ashes a sequel to Titanborn? Do you recommend readers read Titanborn first?

I consider it a sister novel, if that makes sense. You can read either story first as they standalone, but they add a ton to each other as a whole as far as building the world. Titanborn stars a bounty hunter working for the corporation which runs Titan and gets caught up in bringing down offworld terrorists on Titan. From Ice to Ashes is from the complete opposite perspective. It’s told by someone who gets involved with those “terrorists”. So together they complete a story about the birth of a rebellion, and you begin to see that nobody is really a villain.

TitanBornTitanborn was clearly influenced by Philip Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Blade Runner. Many other sci-fi books share those two works as inspirations, including my own The Big Sheep. What is it about DADOES and Blade Runner that inspires so many authors?

I think it’s the world. I’m more impacted by Blade Runner as I saw that before I read the book. It speaks to how influential it is since I was born in 1990 after it was even made ha. I don’t think it’s even the story that grabs people, but in my opinion it is the base for any world featuring a scifi detective. It essentially created that sub-genre. And despite being so old, in my opinion, no other movie has captured a “realistic” future world like Blade Runner. I can watch all the modern scifi movies I want with their amazing effects but I always feel like they’re effects. Never has a movie made me feel like I was “there” in a possible future, like Blade Runner. The life-worn detective chasing rogue androids is just a bonus.

rhettWho are some of the other authors who inspire you? Who did you grow up reading?

It’s funny, I was never that into reading growing up. I think school really turned me off to it by forcing us to read certain things which I had no interest in. My favorites growing up that I can think of are the Chronicles of Narnia (duh) and Robert E Howard. It wasn’t until the end of high school when I chose to read The Road that I really got back into reading, and that book opened my eyes to trying to write science fiction. I always loved that genre in movies and video games and I think those were the foundation for me when I started to write.

In addition to being an author, you have a day job as an architect. That’s an interesting juxtaposition to me, because a lot of writers talk about novels in vaguely architectural terms, e.g. “framework”, “plot structure”, “character arc”, etc. Does your proficiency in architecture affect the way you write? Are you one of those novelists who has to have every little detail mapped out before you actually start writing? 

I barely do an outline at all, ha. Which, honestly, when it comes to architecture I’m the same way. Obviously I have to do drawings to build it, but in the design phase I’ve always been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type person.  I get an idea and just go for it, adding and subtracting as I progress. I think the one area where architecture really helped my writing is how tough the college program was. I had to learn how to take criticism on something I spent hours upon hours working on. It helped me to learn how to handle and give critique, which is something I believe every new writer should do. Writing groups, giving a MS to strangers, etc. Everyone thinks they’re the greatest writer, but you can learn so much from having another set of eyes on your work.

Can you tell us a little about The Circuit Trilogy?

CircuitExecutorRisingSure. The Circuit was my first foray into writing a science fiction book. Of course, it turned into a trilogy. I wanted to write a series that flipped Star Wars on its head and set a kickass space-opera within our own solar system. The idea came because in SW every ship has artificial gravity somehow and nobody has to explain it. So I decided that we discover an element that allows us to generate artificial gravity fields in Earth, but overmining it causes the Earth to fall apart and humanity to live throughout the solar system waiting for it to recover.

That was the basic premise, then characters started to come alive. One from an order who worships the Spirit of Earth like the planet is god. An android who is the opposite of C3PO and can kill with the flick of his fingers. A miner dying of a rare disease and desperate to leave his daughter with money. And, of course, Cassius Vale. A heartbroken ex-general who helped unite the solar system, but now wants to make everyone pay for his own sorrows. There are 4 main, flawed characters, and they carry a crazy adventure about people just trying to keep the remnants of humanity from falling apart. [Note from Rob: The Circuit Trilogy books are on sale right now for $0.99 each!]

You’ve also recently launched another enterprise, called Sci-Fi Bridge. What’s that about?

Yeah, so Sci-Fi Bridge was a tiny idea I came up with, to bring together a lot of science fiction authors no matter what their background is and create a sort of co-op. A one stop for sci-fi, where we can offer giveaways, deals and all the stuff readers want. Then two writer friends loved the idea and we took it and ran with it until now we’re developing anthologies, helping readers reach new scifi writers they otherwise wouldn’t have known existed. Through our emails you’ll get news about traditional and indie authors, bestsellers and emerging talents, but we blur the boundaries. It shouldn’t matter who they are as long as they’re writing great fiction.

If readers want to buy From Ice to Ashes or your other books, where should they go?

They can go to my website: www.rhettbruno.com, where there are links to everything. My Amazon page is easy to get to: https://www.amazon.com/Rhett-C.-Bruno/e/B008X8ND1O. And all of my books are also available on all other retail sites. I’m probably the only “Rhett” author out there, so it’s easy to find.