Today I am interviewing David Pedreira, author of the new sci-fi, mystery novel, Gunpowder Moon.
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DJ: Hi David! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
David Pedreira: Sure thing, and thanks for having me. I’m a former reporter for daily newspapers including the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times. Gunpowder Moon is my first novel. I co-own a small business and live in Florida with my wife and daughter—as well as a miscreant cat and a Chihuahua who thinks he’s a wolf. When I’m not reading or writing I hope to be on the water— fishing, surfing, scuba diving, or camping on a remote stretch of river somewhere.
DJ: What is Gunpowder Moon about?
David: It’s a near-future science fiction thriller about the first murder on the Moon, and how that murder will lead to a full-scale lunar war if a veteran named Caden Dechert and his small crew of miners can’t solve the mystery of who is to blame, and why. It’s a gritty, realistic look at the frontier days of lunar colonization, where people live in broken-down and claustrophobic mining stations. There are a lot of things that can kill them, from moondust to the vacuum of space. I’d describe the novel as hard science fiction, and it has mystery and military sci-fi elements to it.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Gunpowder Moon?
David: That’s a long list that includes a lot of books and genres I grew up with. On the science fiction side, I’d say Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Ursula Le Guin (who will be sorely missed). There’s also this mystery component to the novel, so I’d add Agatha Christie, Dennis Lehane, and Arthur Conan Doyle. On the thriller/espionage side of things, John Le Carre, Len Deighton, and the early Tom Clancy novels. I’d even throw in Joseph Conrad for his visions of colonial expansion, and Michael Herr for his outstanding literary journalism about war.
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?
David: The three most prominent characters are probably Dechert, Lane Briggs, and Jonathan Quarles. Dechert is a war-weary and somewhat haunted veteran who has come to the Moon to escape the sins of Earth. He’s not getting any younger and his middle-age pricks at him. When he was in the military, most of his squad got killed in the Middle East. Now his driving force is simple: keep his people alive on their remote mining station on the Sea of Serenity. He’s a cynic and an idealist at the same time. He thinks space should be different than Earth—better than Earth. Lane Briggs is the safety officer on the station. She’s something of a badass, as she has to be. She’s a woman on a Moon full of alpha males, but she commands their respect (and obedience) through competence and force of will. She’s a cynic as well, but she’s also the moral center of the novel. She’s hates bureaucrats and has no time for politics or any other BS. Quarles is the station’s young propulsion engineer, resident geek, illicit botanist, music lover, and all-around nuisance. He and Lane provide the comic relief in the book, as they bicker constantly. While he’s immature, there’s an underlying anger and depth to him, as his family died in the Thermal Maximum back on Earth, and he blames ignorance for what happened. For Quarles, ignorance is the deadliest sin. There’s a bunch of other good guys and bad guys and politicians and soldiers, but those three are central figures throughout.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Gunpowder Moon like?
David: The book is set in 2072, and Earthside, things are a mess. A methane hydrate eruption from the Pacific Ocean has nearly turned the planet into Venus. Earth is recovering from a decade of famine, drought, floods, and wars—thanks in large part to helium-3 mining on the Moon. On Luna, several nations have been mining peacefully for some time, but now that the Earth is beginning to stabilize, the politicians and corporations back home are more worried about profit margins than common cause. Things are getting ugly between the U.S. and China, as the Moon’s two superpowers squabble over mineral rights and territorial expansion. The main U.S. base on the Moon is at Peary Crater, near the North Pole. The main Chinese base is at the South Pole. Everyone else, including Dechert and his crew on the Mare Serenitatis, are stuck in the middle.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Gunpowder Moon?
David: I liked all parts of it: developing the characters, building the world, figuring out the science, and mapping out a plot that kept things moving. But I especially enjoyed researching the Moon. I spent a lot of time poring over lunar geology, geography, and topography, and discovering crazy things like moon fountains, lava tubes, moon caves, etc. As part of my research, I read a good chunk of the Apollo mission transcripts, which were fascinating.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
David: Hopefully the Moon! I tried to make it a character in the book. It’s Earth’s only companion, and we wouldn’t be here if it didn’t emerge about 4 ½ billion years ago (probably from a proto-planet collision, which is cool in itself). The Moon shapes our lives in more ways than we recognize, from its physical effects on our planet to how it’s helped to develop our religions, calendars, migrations, agriculture, superstitions, cities, myths, fishing and hunting cycles, and cultures. I really wanted to dig into the Moon, and show it for the beautiful and forbidding place that it is.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Gunpowder Moon? Was 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?
David: I didn’t want to get preachy or overly thematic, but I think there’s a strong undercurrent in the book about the history and nature of warfare, and how it always emerges for the same reasons: power, greed, territory, resources, and the darker side of religion. No matter how technologically advanced we get, those remain the foundations of human conflict—which is why war endures. And if anything, I wanted Dechert to be a positive voice for our future endeavors in space. We’ve shown that we can screw things up on Earth, but we’ve also shown that we can work together in space. Is it inevitable that we’ll bring the worst parts of humanity with us when we start to colonize the stars? That’s one theme I wanted to explore.
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 Gunpowder Moon that you can share with us?
David: I like this snippet of conversation when Dechert is arguing with his Chinese counterpart, Lin Tzu, who runs a helium-3 mining station on the neighboring Mare Imbrium:
“The Moon was supposed to be different, Lin. It was supposed to be demilitarized. It was supposed to be shared.”
“Nothing so valuable ever is.”
DJ: Now that Gunpowder Moon is released, what is next for you?
David: My agent and I are talking to Harper Voyager about a second novel, and hopefully there will be a third and a fourth after that, so please stay tuned.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/David-Pedreira/e/B077XNLLR6/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Author Newsletter: https://davidpedreira.com/newsletter
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Gunpowder Moon that we haven’t talked about yet?
David: The Moon really does smell like gunpowder! (part of the reason for the title). Neil Armstrong noticed it first, followed by every other moonwalker. Selenologists haven’t really been able to explain why. It’s one of the many peculiarities of moondust.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
David: Just my thanks for taking the time to chat.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Gunpowder Moon is published by Harper Voyager and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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A realistic and chilling vision of life on the Moon, where dust kills as easily as the vacuum of space…but murder is even quicker—a fast-paced, cinematic science fiction thriller, this debut novel combines the inventiveness of The Martian, the intrigue of The Expanse, and the thrills of Red Rising.
The Moon smells like gunpowder. Every lunar walker since Apollo 11 has noticed it: a burnt-metal scent that reminds them of war. Caden Dechert, the chief of the U.S. mining operation on the edge of the Sea of Serenity, thinks the smell is just a trick of the mind—a reminder of his harrowing days as a Marine in the war-torn Middle East back on Earth.
It’s 2072, and lunar helium-3 mining is powering the fusion reactors that are bringing Earth back from environmental disaster. But competing for the richest prize in the history of the world has destroyed the oldest rule in space: Safety for All. When a bomb kills one of Dechert’s diggers on Mare Serenitatis, the haunted veteran goes on the hunt to expose the culprit before more blood is spilled.
But as Dechert races to solve the first murder in the history of the Moon, he gets caught in the crosshairs of two global powers spoiling for a fight. Reluctant to be the match that lights this powder-keg, Dechert knows the lives of him and his crew are meaningless to the politicians. Even worse, he knows the killer is still out there, hunting.
In his desperate attempts to save his crew and prevent the catastrophe he sees coming, the former Marine uncovers a dangerous conspiracy that, with one spark can ignite a full lunar war, wipe out his team . . . and perhaps plunge the Earth back into darkness.
A former reporter for newspapers including the Tampa Tribune, the St. Petersburg Times, and The Capital in Annapolis, David Pedreira won awards for his writing from the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association and the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He has also served as a corporate communications director for enterprise software and telecommunications companies, and he currently co-owns a legal and executive recruiting business. He has a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of New Hampshire. He lives with his wife and daughter in Florida, writes at night, plays ice hockey twice a week, and spends as much time as he can outdoors.