Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Interview with Malcolm Petteway, Author of Homecoming - Osguards: Guardians of the Universe

Joining us today is Malcolm Petteway, author of Homecoming: Osguards: Guardians of the Universe.

Malcolm is a senior military analyst, a retired military officer and a twenty-year veteran of the United States Air Force. He flew B-52’s as an Electronic Warfare Officer and has 3,000 flight hours and 300 combat hours. In his distinguished career, Malcolm has used his knowledge in the art of war, military weapons and combat defenses in planning over 400 combat sorties.  Besides his Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters and numerous other awards, Malcolm is the recipient of the U.S. Air Force Air Medal and the U.S. Air Force Air Achievement Medal for his actions during Operation Enduring Freedom. Malcolm Petteway is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and California State University.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Malcolm. It's a pleasure to have you here. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am an avid reader. I don’t just read science fiction. I also read mysteries, action/adventure and religious fiction. I also love movies. The summer season is the best season for movies because Hollywood saves its best for the vacation season. But my favorite past-time is spending time with my lovely wife. She is the light of my life and the reason I breathe. She gave me two wonderful daughters that I enjoy being around. They are my pride and joy. And if I leave this world today, I know I gave it two bright gifts in my daughters.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Waterbury Connecticut. It is a small New England town with the picturesque downtown green containing statues and small monuments celebrating the country and the sacrifices made by the local populous in times of war. When I was growing up, Waterbury was just shedding its manufacturing roots. The local factories that attracted so many to migrate to Waterbury in the early to mid 20th century were just starting to disappear. I grew up in the seventies, where crime and drugs were making their introduction into the town. Seeing the transition from hardworking, tight knit families to families trying to survive the onslaught of unemployment, crime and drugs is one of the motivators that shaped my writing voice. My family survived, but had its challenges, and the Osguards is a loose adaptation of that survival, set in a science fiction fantasy world.

When did you begin writing?

When I was young, I was fascinated by science fiction stories on T.V., in the movies and in books. I was so fascinated by science fiction, I made up my own stories about two sisters running away from a war on their planet, only to find themselves in the antebellum south. Their descendants are then plucked from Earth and given the reigns to a universal peacekeeping organization…like a U.N of space. I would play these stories in my head on long car rides during family trips down south or when I was alone during the day and had nothing to do. To me at the time, this was just daydreaming; a way to pass the time. When I was in high school, I enrolled in creative writing classes. There I took my favorite science fiction characters and used them to spawn a couple of my projects. Boy, did I get razzed by the other students, but the teacher commended me for well thought out and very creative characters. During the Academy, on those long lonely nights, wondering what the hell did I get myself into, those characters and those scenes lulled me to sleep and gave me encouragement to put up with the rigors of the coming day. This continued well into my adult life. These characters and the action sequence I placed them in, began to invade my dreams at night, where I no longer controlled the outcome. Now they were telling me the story. They were old friends, and I welcomed them as part of a peaceful night’s rest. One day, in 2000, I had a setback in my Air Force career, at which time, I received some sound advice. Do something to keep your mind busy. So I decided to write down the stories that plagued me. Every day for three months, after work, I would lock myself in the office and type away at the keyboard. Until one day I emerged from the dark pit of imagination and dropped on the kitchen table a 450 page manuscript. I felt a sense of accomplishment.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

It is hard to find time to write. I mainly write at night after dinner. I schedule Tuesday and Thursday night to write and Saturday morning. The other days, I collect ideas and review what I’ve written.

What is this book about?

The 2011 Hollywood Book Festival recently recognized Homecoming with an Honorable Mention award. Homecoming is a military science fiction book; written in the same fashion as Star Trek, Star Wars and Star Gate books. It is the first book in a series of four novels. It tells the adventures of Michael David Genesis and his family, the Earth-born Osguards. They are leaders of a United Nations type organization in space, called the Universal Science, Security and Trade Association of Planets – USSTAP (pronounced ewes-tap). The Osguards administer diplomatic, economic and military tools of power to keep the peace throughout 60 galaxies of the known universe. Their adversary is a race of humans called Kulusks, who want to destroy the Osguards and take over USSTAP. Homecoming is set in the near-present day and people of Earth are unaware of USSTAP or the Kulusks’ existence. In Homecoming, Earth has become an unwitting pawn in the Kulusk Empire's thirst for revenge against USSTAP. Maxum Ritchen, the leader of the Kulusk Empire, has set into motion the destruction of USSTAP and with it the destruction of Earth. Michael and his family must prepare USSTAP, for the first time, to go on the offensive and wage an all out universal war. If he is successful, many people will die, and if he is not, Earth will be destroyed.

What inspired you to write it?

I am an impatient man who is discovering the power of perseverance. I conceived Osguards when I was young traveling to Jacksonville, North Carolina for a family reunion. There I met relatives I never knew I had from all parts of the country. The reunion was held on land that was the plantation my forefathers and mothers worked. More spectacular, we were celebrating being a family on that very land. It was so surreal and fascinating at the same time. I took that feeling and created the Osguards. Back then, I was fascinated with science fiction, so I placed my characters in a science fiction setting. Like I stated before, I would play these stories in my head when I was alone during the day and had nothing to do. I first put these characters down on paper in my high school creative writing class. Osguards were a family discovering their rich history and the awesome responsibility that history brought them. The characters, I created in high school stayed with me until one day, in 2000, I decided to expand those short stories into a novel. I wrote Homecoming and received some glowing support and calls for more adventures with the Osguards. I also found I had more to write. Therefore, I continued the series with Revelations, Armageddon and Revenge. In summary, my life experience, my family and friends as well as the need to tell a story with positive protagonist inspired me to write.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My wife, Karen Michelle Petteway, is my biggest supporter and fan. Her faith and love sparks me to continue on this journey. She is an associate editor of the first three Osguard books, and now works diligently as the Chief of Marketing for Rage Books LLC. Rage Books is the friends and family independent publishing company I started in 2009.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

Unfortunately, I’m not a member of a critique group. However, my editor and friend, Mr. James Barnes provides a wealth of feedback on my work. He doesn’t just edit my work; he reviews, critiques and polishes my work. He is brutally honest, but supportive in his efforts. I have learned to grow a thick skin with him.

Who is your favorite author?

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series probably influenced me the most. Additionally, Alex Haley’s Roots left an indelible impression on my writing style. I also must include Octavia Butler and Steven Barnes as the sci fi authors who have influenced my thought process. Finally, James Patterson’s Alex Cross character is very influential in my own character development.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Homecoming and the other books in the series, Revelations, Armageddon and Revenge, can be ordered wherever books are sold. They are nationally distributed and can be ordered on the Internet as well through sites like Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Borders, and Amazon. You can also find savings when you order through Rage Books at http://www.ragebooks.net/, http://www.osguards.com/, or http://www.ragebookstore.com/.

Where can readers find out more?

My website is http://www.osguards.com/ and I have a blog at http://www.ragebooks.blogspot.com/.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it? 

You can find book trailers for the entire Osguard series on Youtube, Vimeo or on Rage Books websites. Simply search keyword Osguards. Homecoming at Youtube.com: http://youtu.be/YANZjlwpNMc. Homecoming at Vimeo: http://www.vimeo.com/26302138

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

The Best investment I have made is entering Homecoming into the Hollywood Book Festival. Homecoming garnered an “Honorable Mention” award for genre-specific category. Now, Homecoming is an award winning book, recognized by a national organization. Additionally, my wife and I traveled to Hollywood to receive the award and met with other authors, where we exchanged marketing ideas, struggling author stories and more. It was exciting and refreshing.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Never quit. I’ve only quit one thing in my life. That decision has altered my life and maybe even my very soul. Never quit. Fortitude sends a better message of who you are and what kind of character you have. Because once you quit, it becomes easier to quit again. Then all you are doing is quitting every time you are challenged.

What is up next for you?

I have a few projects in the making. Presently, I’m working on a different type of book. Working title is called Forever Changed. It is about two Department of Homeland Security agents who think they are chasing terrorists, but are actually chasing aliens. Another project I will probably begin writing will delve more into fantasy. I plan to do something with an angel, genie/gen, wizard/witch and ghost. I’m still playing around with the setup, but I feel positive about the concept. The third project I will work is about a military sniper, who comes home to his sister’s funeral. His sister was murdered and he uses his advanced training, weaponry and skills to hunt down the killers. Now, I still have to pay honor to the Osguards, and start another series. I just haven’t settled on the setup yet.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Although, I believe anyone who loves to read action, adventure and thriller books would love Homecoming, I think I have two main types of audiences that will find my books worth their time, intriguing and most of all exciting to read.

First I have the loyal science fiction fan. They will find Osguards is fresh, innovative and exciting with a new voice. My books capture the reader’s imagination, and challenge the industry. There is a quiet revolution taking place in the reading world. There is a new generation of readers, touched by advanced technology. Today, technological hunger, personal experience and raw attraction are what define this audience. They will buy my books because they are avid readers who can relate to the characters using advanced technology as they push through electrifying adventures. These characters are normal people pushed into extraordinary circumstances.

My second fan base consist of disciplined people, mainly military oriented. Between my time in the Air Force Academy, twenty years as an Air Force Officer and my time now as a military analyst, I daresay I know a little something about the military and how to speak to the military. Osguards is a contemporary blend of Science Fiction, Technical Thriller, and American History wrapped in Professional Military Science. My military experience, coupled with my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Masters Degree in International Relations, gives me credence to reach an untapped audience of Military Science Fiction fans and enhances my ability to compose exciting stories filled with scientific essence and political intrigue encircled in military conflict.

Thanks for spending time with us today, Malcolm. We wish you continued success.

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