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Author Interviews

The Thunder Child is delighted to present this interview with Caroline Miniscule, author of the ebook The Coldest Equations.

Caroline Miniscule is a prolific writer and blogger. Her blogs include Recreational Nuclear Physics, Recreational Rocket Science, and Recreational Geography, among others (all available on the Kindle).

As an annotator, she's annotated Dorothy Sayers' Whose Body? and Clouds of Witness.

As a writer, she is the author of The Lady and the Tiger...Moth, and now: The Coldest Equations. Her books are available on the Kindle and will shortly be available on the Nook.

Your book takes TV actors and transports them into the bodies of the characters they play in their series.

There's nothing new under the sun. I was first introduced to this "conceit" way back in the 1970s, when I read a Star Trek short story called "Vist to a Weird Planet". The exact details are a little hazy now, but I think it featured William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelly filming "Amok Time." They get on the transporter pads, pose, and at that exact second there is a lightning strike. Next thing you know the actors are on board the real Enterprise - in the Mirror universe - and have to figure out a way to get back home.

But there have been plenty of movies and TV shows and books that have explored this theme - of actors and their creations. Larry Blyden played a cowardly actor in a Twilight Zone episode, for example.

I've always been fascinated by the craft of acting, especially by stage actors, who can act the part of a double-dyed villain one night, and the part of a gentle, hilarious comedic hero the next night. In my writing, I wanted to explore that, and the idea of actors being transposed into the bodies of their characters allowed me to do that.

What was the genesis of The Coldest Equations?

For many years I wrote fan fiction, mostly for The Avengers, at One of the stories I wrote was called The People Out There, and dealt with a race of tentacled creatures who had developed a "Teleinvisichronomicon" to transport Earth actors into the bodies of their characters on alternate earths. The TV series I chose to use was well-known, and of course that's what makes fan fiction so easy - you don't have to describe your characters or give them backgrounds - your audience already knows what they look like and how they behave.

For some time I had toyed with the idea of converting this fan fiction into a "real" novel, but that would require that I create a new, original TV series.

I thought about it, and thought about it...while I did other things. Then, one day, while I was listening to an actor named Simon Lack on an old radio program called Paul Temple and the Alex Affair...just like that it clicked and the ideas for this new series - and the book in which it would feature - started coming thick and fast. It's amazing what will trigger the creative juices.

Why the title The Coldest Equations?

"The Cold Equations" is a classic science fiction story, first publishing in the early 1950s. A young woman stows away on a rocketship that is taking medicine to a plague-struck planet. There's not enough fuel on the ship with her extra weight, so it's a question of her one life against the lives of many. Eventually the astronaut pilot has to put her in an escape pod and jettison her out into space, where she will surely die.

For some time I had wanted to update that story for a modern day audience, and I'd always had that title, "The Coldest Equations" in the back of my head.

When I needed to come up with a new TV series for this book, which I was originally going to call The People Out There, I toyed with the idea of just making it an action-adventure series. The science fiction would come in only in that the actors would be transported into their characters by way of the Transmittotron.

Then I decided that that wouldn't be "science fictional" enough. The TV series had to be science fiction as well. This was about the time that the United States announced it was ending the shuttle program, and that civilian space businesses were taking up the slack. And that gave me the idea for the corporations - all of them vying to be the first on the moon, the first on the asteroids, the first on Mars. They'd spy on each other, they'd kidnap each other's scientists, it would be great fun. And I called this TV series The Coldest Equations.

There are a lot of "pop references" in the book.

In movies they are called pop references. I call them homages! I get in tributes to one of my favorite authors, the great Terry Pratchett. There are a few references to Doctor Who and The Avengers, and some other classic science fiction shows. Oh I had a lot of fun with that.

On my website, by the way (The Coldest Equations, I give a list of homages, chapter by chapter, if anyone wnats to check them out.

The book ends on a cliffhanger, and we have to wait for the sequel.

That follows in the grand old tradition of science fiction serials. Let us not forget Han Solo was frozen in a block of carbonite for three years before he was rescued! Then of course there's the never ending Wheel of Time!

I build up a lot of tension and anticipation in the first book between the various characters and the way they interact. Will they betray Miranda Rainbird or won't they? All that is going to come together in the second book. I wanted to whet my reader's appetite for that.

The next book is already plotted, and I've begun writing it. I expect it to be finished in about four months.

I can't wait! Thanks, Caroline for this interview.

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