- a long-time writer, (mostly of military science fiction), retired marine, and lover of dogs
Readers! Let’s give a good hearty welcome to David Sherman!
David Sherman is the author or co-author of some three dozen books, most of which are about Marines in combat.
He has written about US Marines in Vietnam (the Night Fighters series and three other novels), and the DemonTech series about Marines in a fantasy world. The 18th Race trilogy is military science fiction.
Other than military, he wrote a non-conventional vampire novel, The Hunt, and a mystery, Dead Man’s Chest. He has also released a collection of short fiction and non-fiction from early in his writing career, Sherman’s Shorts; the Beginnings.
With Dan Cragg he wrote the popular Starfist series and its spin off series, Starfist: Force Recon—all about Marines in the Twenty-fifth Century.; and a Star Wars novel, Jedi Trial.
His books have been translated into Czech, Polish, German, and Japanese.
After going to war as a U.S. Marine infantryman, and spending decades writing about young men at war, he’s burnt out on the subject and has finally come home. Today he’s writing short fiction, mostly steampunk and farcical fantastic Westerns.
He lives in sunny South Florida, where he doesn’t have to worry about hypothermia or snow-shoveling-induced heart attacks. He invites readers to visit his website, novelier.com.
David, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
I like dogs. Modern humans and dogs have pretty much evolved together–we’ve been eating out of the same pot for a long time. Dogs are smart, quick learners. But they barely have the longevity of a human adolescent. How much more could they learn if they had the life expectancy of, say, the horse? Good people, dogs.
So true. You always know where you stand with a dog, and as long as you feed them and don’t mistreat you, they think you hung with world. It would probably better for the world if dogs lived to 75 and humans to 15.
What do you write and how did you get started?
I’ll take that in the opposite order.
My alma mater is the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where I studied painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Later, after working professionally as a sculptor, I had to stop for a time, and learned to my horror the truth that the brain-hand-eye coordination of the visual arts is a perishable skill. It’s very much a case of use-it-or-lose-it. When I was able to get back to sculpture I worked at it for a year before I had to admit that I was never going to get back to where I had been much less go beyond.
So what do I do with the rest of my life?
Well, I could buckle down to a nice little middle class job, find myself a nice little middle class wife, buy a nice little middle class house in a nice little middle class suburb, and I’d rather die.
So I considered my options. “Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach critique.” Eh, neither of those choices appealed to me. Then I remembered my childhood. When I’d sit around with other boys, as boys do, and make up stories, the other boys liked my stories best. Then in high school I took advantage of every opportunity to do “creative” writing. That part of English, and art class were my favorite subjects. For the rest, I wasn’t a good student. I decided to give writing a shot.
I had an Olivetti portable typewriter, but that wasn’t going to do the job for me. I was a lousy typist and rotten speller. I needed a computer. I did my research and bought a K-Pro 2. C/PM, 2 single sided 5.25″ floppy disks, 64 K of memory, primitive spelling checker, and started banging away. Over the first several months I tried my hand at poetry, memoir, science fiction, general fiction, opinion. Whatever tickled my fancy. Then I wrote a novel. Then I wrote a second novel. Then I wrote a third novel.
As soon as I finished the first one I started querying publishers. Most politely said no.
Finally, Owen Lock at Del Rey liked my first novel. I had reluctantly, after all he edited SF and my novels were Vietnam War, queried him at the urging of two of my friends who’d had professional relations with him. He wound up buying my second and third novels. Later, Lock asked Dan Cragg and me to write a military SF series from the point of the enlisted men who do the actual fighting. Dan and I jumped on it and co-authored what became a 14 book series, Starfist–17 books if you count our Starfist: Force Recon books.
Wow! I never realized sculpture was such a demanding artform. So good for you — and your readers — that you found your way to sf. 17 books in one series? You’ve been with that world and those characters for a long time. I wonder if you know them better than people who exist… then again, most writers know their characters pretty well.
What do you like to read?
I read mostly science fiction until I started writing. Early in my career I read mostly military fiction and non-fiction, specializing on Marine Corps and Vietnam. Later, I returned to SF and fantasy. Today I read mostly urban fantasy, some SF, and some mystery. I don’t think you can get any better than Jim Butcher’s Dresden files, though Domino Finn is giving him a run for his money. And Simon R. Green covers all the bases.
What an excellent selection of authors you just named. You have excellent taste in books.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.
Keep your characters to a minimum,.
The accepted wisdom in short fiction is, keep your characters to a minimum. Uh-huh. My first published short story had 22 named characters, nearly all of whom spoke. Generally, though, I do manage to limit my cast to no more than a dozen.
Wow! I feel a bit less bad about my novel with it’s thirty-five or so named characters. I think when you’re writing a military group, that’s supposed to be a set size, it’s hard not to end up with at least twenty-five named characters…
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.
There are as many ways to write as there are writing
When I started I read a lot about the art and craft of writing and story telling. The one that I found the most valuable was Lawrence Block’s Writing the Novel From Plot to Print. After all these years it’s still out there. The main lesson it taught me was; there’s no one way to write, there are about as many ways as there are people writing.
Definitely advice you’ll hear me parrot a lot. 🙂 Every “do” in writing can be thrown away if it doesn’t work for you, and every “do not” in writing can be ignored if you do it well enough.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
David’s 3 book 18 Race series is currently KICKSTARTING the final book, but it kicked off with Issue In Doubt:
We are not alone!
In exploring and colonizing the galaxy, humanity discovers evidence of eighteen sentient species. Seventeen of them had not developed interstellar travel. Those were destroyed by the species that did reach the stars. That space-faring eighteenth decimated the human colony on the Semi-Autonomous World Troy.
A Marine Force Recon platoon sent to investigate is wiped out almost to the last man. In reaction, the North American Union assembles the largest army seen since the major wars of the 20th Century.
A Marine Corps Combat Force is sent to “Kick in the door,” backed up by a four-divison Army corps to take the planet back. The initial landing is unopposed. It isn’t until the fleet carrying the Army corps is approaching Troy that the enemy strikes, with devastating effect.
The story continues in book two: In All Directions
The men of 1st Marine Combat Force are in a life-and-death struggle with the Dusters, bird-like aliens who launched a surprise attack on Troy, and vanished the entire Human population. When Corporal John Mackie and his squad from India Company aren’t fighting off “human wave” attack after “human wave” attack, they are aggressively patrolling in search of the Dusters, intending to meet and destroy them in their own bases.
In space, the remnants of Amphibious Group 17 rescue soldiers and sailors from wounded Navy starships. They begin feeding small, reassembled units to the surface of Troy. As they make planetfall, the soldiers have their first contact with the Dusters even before they reach their target firebase. Soon after, they are engaged in the same kinds of defensive and offensive operations as the Marines.
On Earth, the president of the North American Union orders the formation of a field army to be dispatched to Troy to aid the badly outnumbered Marines and soldiers, but have they any hope of arriving in time?
Things seem grim for Troy and its defenders as a new Duster fleet arrives and attacks the remaining warships of Task Force 8, in orbit before landing a huge invasion army meant to defeat the Human forces.
Plus — I currently have a KICKSTARTER.
The 3rd and final book in my 18th Race trilogy has been finished by Keith DeCandido, who took it up when I crashed and burned.
As of today? We’re $98 shy of the third stretch goal!
The dual crowdfund for TO HELL AND REGROUP by me & Keith DeCandido and Christopher Bennett‘s ARACHNE’S CRIME has reached its first two stretch goals, and we’re very close to the third. Right now, everyone who pledges $5 or more also gets short stories by Keith and Christopher, and when we hit $2000, they’ll also get a free story by John French!
Please consider supporting these two new science fiction novels, one concluding a series (My “18th Race” military SF trilogy), the other starting one (Christopher’s is the first of a planned duology).
Currently, I’m finishing up the final story for a collection of my steampunk stories–set in the American West, featuring gambling man Cheyenne Walker and Pinkerton agent extraordinaire Miss Kitty Belle. I’m particularly fond of my DemonTech series: three novels, one novella, and a few short stories in eSpec Books anthologies.
Check David Sherman out across the web!