Today I am interviewing Steven Burgauer, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Grandfather Paradox: a time-travel story, as well as any number of historical fiction novels. He is perhaps best known for his book Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou, historical fiction set during World War II in the colorful river town of New Orleans
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DJ: Hey Steve! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
Could you tell us a little about yourself? I understand that you became an author later in life. What led you to make the unusual switch from successful investment broker and mutual fund manager to author?
Steve Burgauer: Hello, DJ. It is so nice to be invited to be part of your show. There is not a lot I can tell you about myself that is James-Bond-exciting. I am a life-long Boy Scout; I have two grown children; a wonderful wife of more than forty years; and I love to travel. The magic of modern medicine and the promise of clean-living has allowed me to enjoy a long and productive life. If a person is willing to take the necessary risks, there are enough years in a life today to enjoy more than one career. I felt that after twenty years of stock brokering that I had accumulated enough wherewithal to see me through to the end and yet, I had an unmet need to say something and to leave behind a written legacy. So I quit my job when I was about forty and took the plunge. Writing allows me to talk about some of humanity’s possible futures, one in which we might settle other planets or tame wildernesses far away, one in which we have to build entire new societies from scratch, exploring, harvesting asteroids, terraforming, corralling comets to bring cold water to hot places like Venus. Likewise, I still enjoy learning about past events, reading biographies and learning about often unsung heroes who have made a difference to our way of life.
DJ: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, what do you see?
Steve: I see highly intelligent, curious people. Those are the people I write for. They are in my target audience, especially for my science fiction. Let’s face it: not everyone is a book reader. That probably eliminates half the population from consideration right off the bat. Many people enjoy science fiction, but only when it is spoon-fed to them on a large (or small) screen. People are busy. It takes time to read a book and only a small percentage of the population even enjoys reading science fiction. So, I write for the ones who have some time. They have a basic understanding of physics, a basic grasp of economics and anthropology, a sense of history, a taste and wish for destiny. The others I try to attract to my writing using devices such as a video book trailer. Here is the one I had professionally produced for The Grandfather Paradox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XO1PwyFffBk
Science fiction is forward-looking and so I write to seek an optimistic, successful future, not dystopia. I am a libertarian and I believe in people’s right to choose without interference from government.
The target market for historical fiction, which I also write and have had great success in, is not altogether different. People who read and know about actual events in a global war like World War II are often more informed than I am on narrow topics or certain specifics like what weapon was used in a particular theater of war, or how many men were in a given action. These readers are smart, well-informed, and highly intelligent. So I have to carefully research my facts and solicit opinions from specialists in the field so I do not embarrass myself as a writer. I have many friends and associates who were (are) in the military or armed forces. Their input is incalculable.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Grandfather Paradox?
Steve: I adore Mark Twain. When I was a boy, I was a Boy Scout. I loved to camp and I loved the outdoors. At summer camp, when I was about 13 years old I fell upon a copy of Twain’s “Roughing It” and I was hooked, not just about him as a writer, but also about the sense of the great open spaces of this great land we call the United States. To board a stagecoach, to travel across the land, a land that at the time was mostly uncivilized seemed a dream come true. So, when I began to conceptualize The Grandfather Paradox I knew that Samuel Clemens had to be part of that story. When I was still a stockbroker I would sometimes take my bag lunch to the courthouse lawn, a place filled with war memorials, especially from the Civil War. I randomly chose a name off the list of honored dead on one memorial and decided to research that boy’s history. Off to the library I went, drawing on the years of experience possessed by the library archivist. Before long I was looking at actual Mustering Reports for troops drawn from central Illinois. Thus was born a time-travel adventure, from the future back to the time of Mark Twain and the Civil War, specifically the Battle of Shiloh.
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 will want to sympathize with them?
Steve: What a great word “quirk.” Synonyms include idiosyncrasy, foible, or eccentricity. So let’s see: My characters include a sexy female clone, a battle-hardened soldier from the future, and arguably the greatest and most well-known American writer of the second half of the 19th century. I would say that, yes, they each have their own eccentricities.
The leading lady of the story is a young woman in her early 20’s, a clone born in outer space enroute to Ancon, the planet our hero lands on after his ship’s crew mutinies. Prime Alpha is an innocent, a babe in the woods. She knows nothing about humanity. She knows nothing about human sexuality, nothing about human history on Earth. In the course of the story, as she and Andu, the story’s hero, time-travel back to the time of Mark Twain, back to the time of the Battle of Shiloh and the Civil War, the time of riverboat traffic and high-stakes poker — the girl becomes a woman and falls in love.
Andu, the battle hardened soldier soon falls in love with this wonderful woman, but not before spending a delightful month in the company of Samuel Clemens, a man who needs no introduction.
DJ: What is the setting of The Grandfather Paradox like?
Steve: The book consists of two parts. Part One is set on an alien planet in a distant future, a planet crawling with dangerous beasts and equally dangerous vegetation, not to mention a trio of female clones. Part Two is set in central Tennessee circa April 1862, the Battle of Shiloh. Shiloh is a crude Braveheart-style, two-day battle where thousands die from mortal wounds and thousands more from sepsis and a general lack of medical attention, limbs hacked off with bone saws to prevent gangrene, that kind of thing.
DJ: I am a big fan of time-travel stories, and I have noticed that there basically two types of stories: those that focus heavy on science and go in-depth into the mechanics and technology behind it; and those that use it a plot piece/tool that is major to the story or used to enhance the story. Which of these does The Grandfather Paradox fall in to?
Steve: Oh, definitely the former. When an author writes science fiction of the fantasy stripe, there are no rules of physics to obey. Magic trumps Sir Isaac Newton and Heisenberg. The writer can have a flying horse with wings simply by invoking magic and mysticism and by spreading around enough fairy dust. But to achieve a flying horse when one writes hard science fiction, the author has to invoke physics and genetic manipulation, perhaps biological implants. Two very different worlds. If I were to research the physics of a genetically modified horse, it would entail hours of careful study and consideration. As a writer, I cannot live in a world of magic. I can conceive of fantastical things, but I only wish to bring them to life in the rather more orderly world of physics and mathematics. In that world, no matter how “magical,” behavior still observes certain immutable rules. Thus, I approach the subject of time-travel as a matter of complex physics not incomprehensible magic.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Grandfather Paradox?
Steve: Trying to imagine how a young woman from a distant future and raised on another world would try to reconcile her identity when she travels back in time 500 hundred years to a time before she existed, before even her great-great-grandparents existed. To say more would fall into the category of spoiler.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Steve: There is no logical solution to the grandfather paradox. Can you travel back in time and do something that upsets the relationship of your grandparents in such a way that your mother is never born and, by extension, neither are you. The paradox is a fascinating logical impossibility, one that I wanted to explore in my story. The central feature of the story asks the question: Do we — or do we not — have free will? Or is free will an illusion? My story addresses that question from several angles. Mark Twain is and was a genuine person. What he did over the course of his life is on the record and in his books; no chance of fudging that. How easy is it to slip a fictional character into his life story without altering his life story? In a battle as devastating as the Battle of Shiloh, a battle where tens of thousands of Americans died, on both sides of the war, is it possible to slip in a fictional soldier and have him survive the cataclysm? And then there is that stagecoach west. Clemens records that trip in detail in his book Roughing It — he, his brother Orion, and an unknown third passenger. I place my time-traveler in that stagecoach wagon along with the two brothers and send her west to the frontier.
DJ: What was your goal when you began writing The Grandfather Paradox? Is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Steve: Just a sense of wonderment.
DJ: Now that The Grandfather Paradox has been released, what is next for Steven Burgauer?
Steve: Being a grandparent. My first grandson was born one month ago. I take great inspiration from the ordinary people I meet every day on the street who are heroes in their daily life: The women who make good mothers, great wives, and pursue successful careers. The men who give their all to be good fathers, great husbands, and excel at their chosen trade, whatever it may be. The sons and daughters who make the most of their God-given talents and take the calculated risks in life to make their parents proud and to become contributing members of society.
My next book project has the working title of Moon Beam. It is the story of the building of the first lunar space elevator, running from the surface to Lagrange Point 2.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Author Website: http://sites.google.com/site/stevenburgauer
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Steven-Burgauer/e/B000AP9LE6?ref_=pe_1724030_132998060
Midland Authors: http://midlandauthors.com/burgauer.html
DJ: Before we go, is there anything else you would like add?
Steve: I would really like to direct my readers to my new WW2 historical fiction novel, which is getting excellent reviews all over, Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou. I have been told that “Nazis” and “bayous” are two subjects which most people would not ordinarily associate together. Yet these subjects are the foundation on which Nazi Saboteurs of the Bayou is built. The question that is often raised is how I came to put them together for this historical thriller. It was not until I visited the National WWII Museum in New Orleans that I came to grasp the central role that city played in winning the war. The steel-ramped landing boats that made beach landings possible at Normandy and North Africa and on every Pacific island were designed and built in New Orleans by the hundreds each month and mostly with unskilled labor. While it is a well-established fact that Nazi saboteurs targeted East Coast steel mills and boat assembly yards as part of Operation Pastorius, I theorized that the Higgins boat plants might be targeted by the Nazis as well. On this premise I built the central storyline. The idea began to take shape as I studied the full-scale model of a restored Higgins boat parked in the lobby of this wonderful American museum.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** The Grandfather Paradox: A Time-Travel Story is published by Battleground Press and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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Marooned in the present, their only hope for the future lay in the past.
But first there was still the small matter of staying alive. The planet they were marooned on was crawling with bird-beasts, immense parrotlike carnivores that stood two meters tall, weighed upwards of fifty klogs, and had a giant scooped beak like a pelican. They normally swallowed their prey whole, though not before crushing them to death in their vise-like jaws.
Then there were the vipers – writhing snake-like creatures armed with dozens of sucker-bearing tentacles. They sprayed their victims with acid, then ate them while they were still alive.
But it got worse. Much worse . . .
Now, join Andu Nehrengel and his female clone companions on an intense voyage through time. First stop: the Civil War and the Battle of Shiloh, April 1862, one of the most horrendous land battles of all time. Meet Mark Twain when he is still a riverboat pilot. Journey with him north to Missouri when he joins the Confederacy.
Then it’s back to the future and on to Mars!
And when you’re done reading this adventure, check out these other fine books by author Steven Burgauer: The Night of the Eleventh Sun, The Road To War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture, and his newest historical fiction piece, Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou, with a short video trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQs2pwr89RI
Steven Burgauer, Biography
Watch the video book trailers, then read the books:
Avid hiker, Eagle Scout, and founder of a mutual fund, Steven Burgauer resides in Florida. A graduate of Illinois State University and the New York Institute of Finance, Steve writes science fiction and historic fiction.
Burgauer’s The Road to War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture is based on the journals of an American WWII infantryman who landed at Normandy, was wounded and taken prisoner by the Nazis.
A member of the Society of Midland Authors, Steven is included in The Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, Volume 2: Dimensions of the Midwestern Literary Imagination.
Some of his SF titles include The Grandfather Paradox, The Railguns of Luna, The Fornax Drive, and SKULLCAP. Other books of his include The Night of the Eleventh Sun, a Neanderthal’s first encounter with man, and The Wealth Builder’s Guide: An Investment Primer. Steven contributed to the zany, serial mystery, Naked Came the Farmer, headlined by Philip Jose Farmer.
His work has been reviewed in many places, including LOCUS, SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE, the PEORIA JOURNAL STAR, the EUREKA LITERARY MAGAZINE, and PROMETHEUS, the journal of the Libertarian Futurist Society.
A review of The Railguns of Luna from the prestigious SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE (June 2001):
Steven Burgauer writes old style science fiction in which heroes and villains are easily identified, the action is fast and furious, and the plot twists and turns uncontrollably. His newest is the story of a crack team of military specialists who discover that the brilliant but warped Cassandra Mubarak is planning to use advanced scientific devices to seize control of the world. To stop her, they must infiltrate her heavily guarded headquarters and rescue the fair maiden in distress. This is action adventure written straightforwardly and not meant to be heavily literary or provide pithy commentary on the state of humanity.
When Steven lived in Illinois, the State of Illinois Library included him in a select group of authors invited to the state’s Authors’ Day. He has often been a speaker and panel member at public library events and science-fiction conventions all across the country.