Today I am interviewing Scott Coon, an accomplished short story writer and author of the new science-fiction novel, Lost Helix.
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DJ: Hi Scott! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Scott Coon: Hello, DJ. Thank you for having me. Though Lost Helix is my first published novel, I have had several short stories published. Bewildering Stories recently featured “The Loneliest Advertisement Bot” and have published a few other stories over the years. My work is often influenced by my career as a computer programmer and also by my six years as intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army. Both played a role in Lost Helix.
DJ: What is Lost Helix about?
Scott: Growing up in a space station, DJ dreams of writing music but he can’t make a living on it, not in the Stone River Asteroid Belt. Thanks to company’s never-ending contracts and impossible to afford transit, leaving isn’t an option. DJ expects to end up working for Black Mountain, just like his dad and everyone else. When his father goes missing, DJ finds an encrypted file and other evidence that his dad was a hacker in the company’s secret war of industrial sabotage, sometimes claiming lives to knock competitors off the most valuable asteroids. To recover the evidence, the company sends a lifelong family friend, Agent Coreman. DJ is forced to make a run for it, hoping to find justice and maybe his dad.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Lost Helix?
Scott: My ideas often come from asking the question, “Yeah, but what next?” Terraforming is a recurring concept in science fiction, like in James S. A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes, but what happens when the planet is done? How does humanity go about populating it? The world of Lost Helix is my answer to that question. Another source of inspiration was the video game Sid Meier’s Civilization. Every time I built the domed spaceship bound for Alpha Centauri, I wondered what would become of it after the colonists stripped it for parts and left its remains in orbit. In Lost Helix, I give my science victory colony ships a second life as a farm, feeding the miners of Stone River.
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?
Scott: DJ learned hacking skills from his dad. At the start, he uses them to try to find the mother he never knew. He’s brave—at times—and can be resourceful. But he doesn’t have the skills he’ll need to make a run for it when company agents come after him. Fortunately, his friend Paul has dedicated his life to learning how to illegally travel across the void as a stowaway so he can join a land rush on a newly terraformed world. Basically, he’s taught himself Ninja skills so he can become a farmer. Along the way, we meet Maya, who’s on the same path as Paul. Before the end, DJ will have to learn something from both them.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role in the story? Why?
Scott: That would be Katie. She’s a little girl who pops in and out of the later part of the story. She appears shy at first but, as she opens up, she becomes a delightful character with some wonderful lines. Characters sometimes surprise the people who are writing them, doing things in the moment that hadn’t been planned. In Lost Helix, Katie surprised me a couple of times. I think she’ll surprise the readers as well.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Lost Helix like?
Scott: Lost Helix takes place on the edge of human civilization. Exploration is farther on, but civilization stops here. Planet Hestia, named after the Roman goddess of the hearth, is the local seat of government, operating mostly autonomously. Our hero, DJ, lives in Stone River, an asteroid belt around a neighboring star. It’s under Hestia’s governance but the real power lies with the mining companies. In the background of DJ’s story is a planet wide land rush for the newly terraformed New Greene, with Middle Black Space Station serving as staging area. Each location has its own character while also fitting together to create this frontier.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Lost Helix?
Scott: With everything I write, my favorite part is creating a layered experience for the reader. I always imagine what this will be like for the person reading it for the first time. I want them to be awed by the setting, thrilled by the action, and moved by the story of the people.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Scott: I think people will say: “Yup, I can totally see a company doing something like this.” The important thing to remember is that corporations are like sharks. When a shark eats someone, that’s a shark being a shark. Getting angry at the shark is pointless. It’s the Mayor and the Sheriff you should be mad at for not doing their jobs to keeping people safe. Corporations seek profit. Sharks eat meat. It’s the government’s job to keep either from eating people.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Lost Helix? 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?
Scott: My goal was to entertain. That is always my goal. Within that context, I tell a story of corporations on the edge of civilization wielding unchecked power over their employees. It affects every aspect of their lives. It’s also the story of how the actions of a few people can bring about change. I hope readers will find that inspiring.
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 Lost Helix that you can share with us?
Scott: Here is one of my favorite quotes. It comes when DJ catches his breath for the first time since he started running. He thinks about what Black Mountain Mining is and what it has done to him:
Black Mountain had done that. A faceless entity, imaginary but powerful—it was no one and everyone. It had ripped through his life quickly and thoroughly. The company forced DJ to run without any thought of direction other than away. And there was no going back.
DJ: Now that Lost Helix is released, what is next for you?
Scott: Keep writing. I have other novels in the works and more short stories too. Once people have had a chance to read and enjoy Lost Helix, I will be ready to give them more.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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***Lost Helix is published by Dancing Lemur Press and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
Lost Helix is the key…
Stuck on an asteroid mining facility, DJ dreams of writing music. His dad is a corporate hacker and his best friend Paul intends to escape to become a settler in a planet-wide land rush, but neither interests DJ.
When his dad goes missing, DJ finds a file containing evidence of a secret war of industrial sabotage, a file encrypted by his dad using DJ’s song Lost Helix. Caught in a crossfire of lies, DJ must find his father and the mother he never knew.
When the mining company sends Agent Coreman after DJ and his guitar, DJ and Paul escape the facility and make a run for civilization. Will DJ discover the truth before Coreman catches him?
Scott Coon has enjoyed success as a science fiction short story writer, winning accolades and publishing over a dozen works in various magazines. Formally a U.S. Army Intelligence Analyst and currently a software developer, Scott brings his technical experience into his work, along with a sense of spectacle.