Cosmic Convocation, Starry Eyed Press’ first official space opera anthology features a story called Flight of the Black Swan, a tale of military strategy set on the bridge of a starship.
We had a chance to sit down with its author Ivan Richardson to get the scoop on what inspired the tale and to learn more about him in general.
Hi Ivan, fill us in on the story of you.
I’ve been writing stories in my spare time for over a decade now. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been making up fantasy worlds and stories. But it’s only in the last few years I’ve gotten serious about trying to get my work published. Joining a professional writing club made a huge difference. I’ve always been into sci-fi and as an engineer, I love hard sci-fi in particular where the concepts have been well thought through; every piece of technology has its limitations.
To date, I’ve had three short stories pushed in 2021 with another three coming out in 2022. While I find short stories very satisfying, I’ve started moving into novellas with the hope of starting my first novel next year.
Tell us about Flight of the Black Swan. Why do you think readers will love it?
As the galactic battleship Oberon struggles to take down its enemy, a young bridge office struggles against his conscience.
What was the inspiration behind this story?
I’d been reading articles (watching youtube videos) speculating what realistic space battles might one day look like, the limitations a ship might have, compared with how they’re shown on film.
Most likely space battles will be fought over huge distances, it’s very unlikely enemy ships would even be able to see each other. Even now, modern fighter jets will normally engage their enemy from miles away. I started imagining a “destroyer” class starship, designed for taking out enemy bases from long distances, but vulnerable at a close range. I imagined it sparing against a different ship, a corvette or frigate type. I tried to imagine what tactics they would use, what limitations they would both have to overcome.
What sci-fi books have you recently been reading and which titles represent your long-time favorites?
DUNE remains one of my all-time favorite books, I’d love to write something that epic one day. CHILDREN OF TIME (Adrian Tchaikovsky) was another favorite. I’ve recently gotten into the BOBIVERSE series (Dennis E Taylor) and GIDEON THE NINTH (Tamsyn Muir). All of these combine compelling character-driven stories with well-thought hard sci-fi ideas. I’m also slowly making my way through the HORUS HEARSAY series (Games Workshop, The Black Library).
What are your favorite genres to write in, and are they different from the ones you read? Do you have preferences when it comes to story length?
So far everything I’ve written has been speculative (sci-fy, fantasy, horror). This very matches my reading habits and TV shows I go for. At the end of the day, I use fiction for escapism, I want to escape somewhere different to my own world. I think a story is as long as it needs to be. As long as it isn’t dragged out for the sake of it.
Tell us more about your writing process.
At the moment I have a two-year-old son, so my best writing is actually when I’m taking him for a nap. I can’t make much noise while he’s sleeping on my lap so it’s just me and my laptop. It’s where I’m writing this now. I also try to get some writing in every evening.
I normally start with a scene or character idea in my head, then work out from there. I always have to plan it out first. I find it very hard to write without a start, middle and end nailed down. I need to know where I’m going. Initially, I plan everything out as a short story, some stay that way while other will naturally grow into something much bigger. I need to find a strong character arc, but often that will emerge by itself during the planning or writing phase.
Whilst I rarely change my start and endpoint (once I start writing), the bits in-between will constantly evolve during the process. Often the central theme of the story will change as I’m writing. The most important thing to me is always the ending. I always feel a story is only as good as its ending (same for film and TV series).
How do you promote your writing, and what marketing strategies and tools have worked for you?
So far all my published work has been in magazines or anthologies so not had to do much promoting. But as I move into bigger stories I know this will change. Luckily I know serval full-time novelists (through various writing groups) who have already given me tips.
Lastly, where can readers learn more about you and your works?
Ebook and illustrated paperback available here.