Today I am interviewing Jon Del Arroz, author of the new science-fiction novel, Rescue Run.
◊ ◊ ◊
DJ: Hey Jon! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Jon Del Arroz: Sure! I’m an avid gamer and writer. I started the former with Magic The Gathering and a lot of other collectible card games, and the latter I began selling short comic stories to different magazines. I ran a web comic for a long time which had a decent following called Flying Sparks, before the site got hacked, and then transitioned into prose writing because art is expensive! Star Realms: Rescue Run is my first published novel, though I have 3 others written.
DJ: What is Rescue Run about?
Jon: It’s about a former military operative turned rogue who is sent on a mission by her government to rescue one of the greatest military strategists of the empire from the clutches of their enemies.
DJ: Can you tell us about what Star Relms is? Were you a player before you began writing Rescue Run?
Jon: Star Realms is a deckbuilding game which is small-box and inexpensive and easy to learn. It also has a free app that people can try out the game. It’s two players squaring off making decks of bases and battleships and playing them to do damage to the opposing player until they have had their authority vanquished from the galactic scene. Super fast pace, simple to learn yet with some deep strategy as well. I started playing the game soon after the Kickstarter came out and dreamt up the book idea from there.
DJ: Something I’ve always been curious abut when it comes to video-game/board-game/card-card novels, is who asked whom to write them? Did you approach Star Realms to write this novel? Did they approach you? Or was it by some other path that this novel came to be?
Jon: I actually reached out to the creators of Star Realms, told them my background as a writer with a small following from both my comic, and working for Alderac Entertainment’s Doomtown: Reloaded card game, of which I wrote the flavor and several short stories. They liked the idea and we took it to a publisher.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Rescue Run?
Jon: I love military sci-fi/space opera, and especially ones that have a character-centric focus rather than getting too heavy into military procedurals. My most direct influences are probably the television show Babylon 5, along with writers Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (Who write as a team), and Elizabeth Moon.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Jon: I have two main characters whose perspectives we delve into. Joan Shengtu is a solitary sort, stubborn, and talks to an artificial intelligence that she’s dubbed G.O.D. based on a shaky acronym, which of course confuses a lot of people when she mentions it, much to her own amusement. She’s got a killer intuition and is very cautious with trusting people too much.
My other main character is Dario Anazao, a corporate middle manager who got there because of nepotism, and he wants to prove that he can get out from his family’s shadow. He is a very compassionate person, and wants desperately to fix the way that a large contingent of neglected workers are treated. He’s got his own quirky tech in ocular implants that let him see different spectrums, pull up news feeds directly in his skull, and allows him to immerse himself in video games or any other setting he desires.
DJ: What is the world of Rescue Run like?
Jon: It’s a galaxy at war, having to deal with the strife of strange aliens as well as competing interests for outward colonies as humanity tends to expand. Megacorporations took over a lot of the Earth core worlds and the more populated areas, and a rebellious Star Empire emerged out in the colonies as they wanted to separate from that money-dominant culture. A group of people have gone off and worshipped technology in a creepy Machine Cult that looms off away from the central conflict, and all of humanity is under constant pressure of attack by powerful aliens they call the Blob, because of what the creatures look like.
The book focuses mainly on the areas closer to Earth, in the Trade Federation where we have stations built far up above a multi-leveled society. It’s crowded and dirty down below, and management lives up in the sky, commencing with commerce and forgetting the people down below. A board of directors controls each corporation, and those are the powerful people within, as they’re the primary shareholders. The Star Empire in the colonies beyond has its own problems, as it has little resources and it’s tough for anyone to survive out there, providing a ripe environment for conflict. That empire is controlled by an Emperor Martine, the son of the original emperor who separated from Earth. He has a Council of Ministers who advises him, living on a transient ship rather than having a single base of operations, for their own safety since the colonies are under attack so much.
DJ: I’m not normally the type of book blogger to ask, “what kind of research did you do”, but seeing as how this is based off of a deckbuiling game… I need to ask what you research you did 😛
Did you play/replay Star Realms? How involved was Star Realms with what you were writing for the plot and characters?
Jon: Physical cards helped me a lot in researching this book. The art of Star Realms is top notch, if you haven’t seen it before, so I laid out all my cards, deciding which ships and bases made sense for a story and then envisioned the world starting from there. I worked with White Wizard Games every step of the way from first proposing an idea, then turning in an outline, then taking feedback to add/change/subtract some of the cards from the game so it made more sense.
Some of the names of the cards lent themselves to certain worldbuilding situations and certain scenarios, which was a huge help. As I was writing my drafts, expansions came out that had events, missions, heroes, gambits – all different card types that added a lot of flavor to the world. At first I had a spreadsheet of these so it was tough to visualize at times, but I did my best to add those in to what I pictured. For those who haven’t read – the card Commodore Zhang plays a central role in the story.
DJ: Do you need to be player of or familiar with Star Relms in order to enjoy
Jon: Not at all! I think it works great as a character-driven Space Opera story. There are a ton of easter eggs for those who do play the game, but I tried to create it as accessible as possible. What’s great is the card game itself is so accessible that made my job easy.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Rescue Run?
Jon: Knowing that I was expanding the Star Realms universe. I play this game so much that each day became a joy to work on it.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Jon: So far it’s my quirky artificial intelligence who’s succumbed to a virus. Hopefully it’ll be demand for a next installment as I… … will leave that up to the readers as to why 🙂
DJ: What was your goal when you began writing Rescue Run? Is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it?
Jon: My original goal was to create a fun experience for Star Realms players and Science Fiction readers. I really wanted to have a nice light adventure that people can have an experience akin to Star Wars or perhaps the Herris Serrano novels or whatnot. As the book took form, a theme developed around compassion and its importance. It also speaks heavily to the importance of keeping one’s own determination and persistence, even when the odds are stacked against you.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Rescue Run that you can share with us?
Jon: “A ship full of credits and her reputation as an ‘independent procurement specialist’ was on the line. It felt better to call herself that than to say ‘petty thief.’” — love this because I was thinking, well, a thief isn’t a very nice or politically correct thing to say… how can we make it sound nice? I laugh every time I see this.
“There’s a way to act to get things done, and there’s a way to act to cause a scene. It may seem like the scene is the way to go, especially when you’re getting stonewalled, but it never helped anyone.” – A quote from my other main character Dario. It’s very true!
And finally I think this paragraph sums up the gravity of Joan’s situation quite well and communicates how freaked out she is by the situation she’s gotten herself into early in the book:
“Joan laughed. She laughed until she buckled over and could barely breathe. It wasn’t that this was a funny situation at all. If anything, her laughter was because she’d never been so scared in her life. Not when she’d heard her parents had both died and she’d be alone. Not during basic training, or even during her tribunal. Those had been frightening on a personal level, but to be called the best hope for a civilization? These people were out of their minds.”
DJ: Now that Rescue Run is released, what is next for you?
Jon: Finished up a novella about baseball in space I’d like to get edited and released early next year. It delves a lot into business and how entertainment drives technology. I’m also doing NaNoWriMo for my own space opera series, which so far has ended up a lot darker of a work than Star Realms. Beyond that, hanging with my kids and gaming as much as I can. I go to a lot of gaming conventions if anyone wants to play some Star Realms!
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Rescue Run that we haven’t talked about yet?
Jon: Beyond references to Star Realms, it’s loaded with subtle references to a lot of classic science fiction work! If you’re an avid genre reader, pick out what you find and message me. I’d be interested to see what people spot.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
◊ ◊ ◊
*** Rescue Run is published by Evil Girlfriend Media and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
◊ ◊ ◊
Since being court-martialed by the Star Empire, smuggler and thief Joan Shengtu has done what she needed to do in order to survive—gaining a reputation along the way. When a new client’s mission goes sideways, Joan finds herself caught in the middle of dueling gambits between the Star Empire and the Trade Federation. Recruited to perform the heist of a lifetime, the fate of the Star Empire rests in her hands.
On the opposite side of the galaxy, Regency BioTech manager Dario Anazao sees an unsustainable situation brewing that promises a full-scale revolution. The megacorporations of the Trade Federation have kept the population in horrible working conditions, violating their human rights. With no one else to help, Dario must take it upon himself to rescue the workers of Mars.
Can two heroes from warring factions come together to make a difference in the galaxy?
Star Realms: Rescue Run is the first novelization of the critically acclaimed Star Realms spaceship combat deckbuilding game. You can check out the game here: http://www.starrealms.com.
“I’ve long been a big fan of epic science fiction and space opera. I think Jon’s entry into this realm is an excellent and compelling read. Fans of the Star Realms deckbuilding game will appreciate this look into the Star Realms universe, with its fast-paced story and intriguing characters. From his strong female lead to her amusing AI, I think Star Realms fans and sci-fi fans in general will be eager for Jon to write a sequel.” —Darwin Kastle, Star Realms creator
“Jon Del Arroz is a promising new writer with a knack for story and an interesting voice.” —Jody Lynn Nye, author of the Wolfe Pack series
“This game-related novel is a lively, action-filled tale that should appeal to those who want a space adventure romp with intrigue and a touch of romance. A disgraced ex-military thief, the thief’s snide former shipmate, a special operative who isn’t that good with guns, and the resentful son of an arrogant corporate executive attempt an impossible mission… and there’s a humorously glitched portable AI in the mix, too, breaking into song at odd moments.” —Elizabeth Moon, author of the Paksenarrion novels
Jon Del Arroz began his writing career in high school, providing book reviews and the occasional article for a local news magazine, The Valley Citizen. He is the writer of the weekly web comic, Flying Sparks, which has been hailed by Comic Book Resources as “the kind of stuff that made me fall in love with early Marvel comics: an equal balance of super-powered action and personal/relationship drama.” The comic has garnered national attention and has given me the opportunity to speak on expert panels at many conventions, including San Diego Comic-Con. He has had short stories published with Zharmae Publishing and If-X magazine and serves as associate editor of Albedo One Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two sons.