Today I am interviewing Victor Godinez, author of the new science-fiction novel, The First Protectors.
◊ ◊ ◊
DJ: Hi Victor! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Victor Godinez: Well, I’m a longtime newspaper reporter who made the switch over to public relations several years ago in the telecommunications industry. I grew up all over the world: Dallas, Boston, New York, Venezuela, Indiana, France, Belgium, Brazil, then back to Dallas, which is home for me now, with my wife and three kids. Believe it or not, Belgium has better French fries than France!
DJ: What is The First Protectors about?
Victor: The First Protectors is my vision of what an alien invasion could realistically look like and how we might realistically fight back against it. It opens with the last survivor of a conquered alien race called the brin trying to warn mankind against the coming invasion of another species called the mrill. The last brin alien crashes on Earth, with a mrill attacker in hot pursuit. The brin survivor is killed, but not before he meets our hero, Ben Shepherd, and injects him with alien nanotechnology that just might give humanity a fighting chance against the imminent mrill invasion.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The First Protectors?
Victor: As a kid, I was a big fan of a mix of novelists, from Stephen King to Louis L’Amour to Tolkien to T.H. White. Plus, whatever pulpy sci-fi novel I happened to stumble across. As I got into high school, Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series made a tremendous impression on me, with its mix of absurdist humor, adventure, and an exasperated love of humanity in all our ridiculousness, stupidity, and sheer bloody-mindedness. In fact, I reread the entire series every couple of years. And lately, I’ve been a big fan of Ted Chiang. Stories of Your Life and Others is haunting in ways that are so subtle that you seem to feel them under your skin. Barbara Tuchman’s The March of Folly is also a good reminder that, ultimately, people just do dumb things, no matter how smart they seem to be.
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?
Victor: Ben is a character who, on the surface, seems like the perfect person to lead the human resistance. He’s a retired Navy SEAL, trained in combat and guerilla tactics, and extremely lethal. But the reason he’s out by himself in the New Mexico desert, where the brin and mrill ships land one night, is because he’s so traumatized and wounded by war (both physically and mentally) that he wants to leave the entire world behind. No more missions, no more gunfights, no more bloodshed. More importantly, he never again wants to be responsible for leading other people into battle and watching them die under his command. And yet, with the mrill assault force coming, he’s now responsible for defending the entire world. So there’s a push and pull between what he needs to do, what he’s very good at doing, and what he never wants to do again. As he reluctantly goes back to battle, he also has to confront guilt he’s carried since childhood. It turns out that the faster you run from your demons, the faster they run to catch you.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The First Protectors like?
Victor: The First Protectors is set in the present day, albeit under fictional leadership in the U.S., Russia, and a handful of other countries. I was interested in exploring the tensions that would arise from a sudden alien attack and how that might affect geopolitics. So as the Americans try to alert the world to what’s coming, they actually end up setting off a chain reaction that results in civil war, protests, and riots across the globe.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The First Protectors?
Victor: Finishing it! This is my first novel, so I really had no idea what I was doing when I began writing. I had an idea and a vague outline in my head, but no real sense of how to get from point A to B. It turns out that Stephen King was right when he said that he writes the same way they built the Great Wall of China: one brick at a time. Same for me. A little bit every day. As I was writing, I ended up discovering along the way who my characters were, why they do what they do, and what sacrifices they’d have to make to get what they want.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Victor: I started with a big idea—alien invasion!—but ended up really loving most of the characters I’d created. They’re flawed, wounded, occasionally despairing, just trying to figure out how to survive and help those they care about. I hope people enjoy the characters as much as the action.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing The First Protectors? 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?
Victor: First, I wanted to tell a big, sprawling, adventurous story, that both ends on a defining moment while also leaving open the possibility of future stories in this world. Beyond that, I think we need to consider the toll that war takes on the people we send to fight it. Even when the bad guys really are bad guys, combat leaves scars on everyone.
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 The First Protectors that you can share with us?
Victor: “The five drones, designed in a distant star system by a dead race, assembled on the other side of the world, guided by a man who was no longer certain whether he still qualified as human or not, responded to a thought and opened fire on the alien invaders.” I like that quote because it encapsulates the scope of the story, but also nods to the cosmic absurdity that anyone who found themselves in that situation might feel. I mean, you’re fighting aliens. You’d have to laugh at that a little bit, even as you were tearing them up.
DJ: Now that The First Protectors is released, what is next for you?
Victor: A sequel, hopefully! And, if that works out, a threequel. Is that a word? (googles) Hey, it is! So yeah, if TFP does well enough, I’ve got ideas for further entries in this series. I’m also in the homestretch with a near-future detective novel that explores what the world will look like if/when self-driving cars, autonomous drones, and hyper-realistic virtual reality graduate from labs to real life. TFP is written in third-person narration, and this new novel is first-person, so it’s also a chance for me to experiment with a different style and voice.
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 The First Protectors that we haven’t talked about yet?
Victor: While The First Protectors is a big, sprawling, military science fiction story, it’s also a human novel about people with complicated pasts put into difficult situations. Our heroes stumble, make mistakes, are afraid, uncertain, angry, depressed. While the scope of the plot is huge and filled with technology—both real and imagined—it’s also about what it means to be human and how we find our place in a world that seems to be changing faster than we can comprehend. It’s a tough question that we all grapple with every day, alien invasion or no.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Victor: Thanks for the invite!
◊ ◊ ◊
*** The First Protectors is published by Talos and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
◊ ◊ ◊
The last thing Ben Shepherd wanted was another war. But sometimes the universe won’t take no for an answer.
His body and spirit mangled by a lifetime of combat, Shepherd, a retired Navy SEAL, has retreated to the desolate desert of New Mexico to heal his wounds and dodge his demons. All he wants now is peace and quiet.
Both are shattered one starry night, when an alien ship crashes nearby. Out of the ship crawls the last, dying member of a conquered civilization. It’s been shot down by an extraterrestrial enemy, the vanguard of a ravenous force hunting for a new homeland. With its last gasp, the wounded alien injects Shepherd with a high-tech serum that gives him near superhuman powers.
Now, with a new body but a soul as fractured as ever, Shepherd becomes the reluctant leader of the human resistance against the coming invasion. With enemies on all sides, the man who couldn’t bear the guilt of seeing one more friend die in battle now finds himself charged with protecting the entire planet.
Victor Godinez is a former newspaper reporter and current works in public relations. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Sarah, three kids, two dogs and, according to the most recent household census, two guinea pigs. You can find him on twitter @VictorGodinez, where he rambles about self-driving cars, The Simpsons, and sci-fi.