Interview with Scott Warren (author of Vick's Vultures)

Good morning, all. Please join me in welcoming Scott Warren to the Ruins, here to talk about Vick's Vultures, which releases tomorrow.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to stop by today, Scott. For those who haven't made your literary acquaintance, please tell us a little about yourself and give us an idea of what we can expect of Vick’s Vultures.

A: Well I’m 28, living in Huntsville Alabama and currently daylighting as a UAV or Drone pilot full-time. I come from a fairly technical background and you can expect to see a little bit of that in Vick’s Vultures. The book itself is written in 3rd person limited from several points of view, and at 60,000 words you can probably tackle it in a couple evenings of steady reading.

Q: Now, I know the elevator pitch for Vick’s Vultures mentioned Firefly and Mad Max, and you’ve said you were influenced by John Scalzi and Paul Honsinger, but what other genre influences went into crafting the tone and feel of the story?

A: Terry Pratchett and the Discworld have been the biggest influence to my tone. The idea that a book can be fun and fantastic while still being real and handling realistic issues helps ground the characters so that the reader is never caught off guard and or rudely transitioned when those hard military sci-fi elements brush up against the greater backdrop of space opera melodrama.

Q: You’ve taken an interesting approach with the novel, relegating humanity to the role of symbiotic boogeymen . . . a mouse among lions. I love the idea, and it seems completely plausible to me, but what made you approach the story from that angle?

A: It was always the intent to explore the period directly after humanity encounters aliens and finds them largely indifferent, if not outright hostile. Lots of novels cover first contact (usually followed by a desperate struggle against extinction) or already established, IE the Scalzi novels mentioned earlier.
Q: Without getting into spoilers, what can you tells us about the alien races readers are set to encounter?

A: Of course! To understand the galactic landscape of Vick’s Vultures, the most important races, known as the Big Three, are the Malagath, the Dirregaunt, and the Kossovoldt. All three fight for control of the Orion Spur, the band of stars connecting the Perseus and Sagittarius arms of the galaxy where Earth happens to reside. Of those three, the Malagath and the Dirregaunt feature prominently. The Malagath are an empirical expansionist race, spreading their dominion across the stars. They fight in large formations like ships of the line. The Dirregaunt are an ancient race of ambush predators, they wait patiently and strike with overwhelming force at the opportune moment. Also featured are the Grah’lhin, a hive-mind where instead of existing as a separate entity, the brain of the queen is spread telepathically across the minds of the drones via quantum entanglement. They provide humanity’s biggest local threat, and are in a similar position on the technological power curve. We also have the Jenursa, humanity’s greatest friend in the stars, resembling something between a slug and a jellyfish.

Q: If we can turn the clock back for a moment, what can you tell us about your debut with the Sorcerous Crimes Division series? How did that come about, and did you always intend for it to be a series?

A: The best way to answer this is again to recall back to the Discworld. The City Watch saga was a huge influence, and also serialised police dramas like The Wire and especially Flashpoint. When I was writing my first novel I had no idea if I would even be able to finish it, let alone continue writing a second (The rough draft for Sorcerous Crimes Division Book 2 was finished last month, by the way). So I knew I had to have a story both self-contained enough for the reader to have the full experience, but open enough that there were plenty of threads to follow. Between the base novel Devilbone and the two companion novelettes, Stone Atlas and Hand of Davamosse, there are a lot of places to explore.

Bonus points for the Flashpoint mention - an amazing series that really deserved more respect south of the border.

Q:In the two years since you first published Devilbone, what are some of the strangest or weirdest reactions you’ve had from readers?

A: Lots of messages about typos! Devilbone was self-edited because I wanted to experience every stage of the process, which I think ended up hurting the finished project. Rest assured that Vick’s Vultures has been put through the wringer by the talented and thorough John Adamus. But I was really surprised how overwhelmingly positive the reception was, especially because it was my first serious attempt at really writing anything.

Q: As an aviator and former submariner, clearly you have some unique life experiences to draw upon in your writing. How much of your career comes through in your stories or your characters?

A: Quite a bit actually. I think Paul H. Honsinger is really the master of submarines in space with the Man of War saga, but Vick’s Vultures explores the idea as well. It’s important to remember that the Condor is actually a civilian ship, not a military vessel. The biggest aspects that come through are the technical details associated with identifying, tracking, and engaging other ships.

Q: I know part of your approach to writing is to have the complete story arc laid out before you begin writing a word of narrative, but do you ever find that the story itself pushes you in a direction you hadn’t anticipated? Do the characters ever wrest control of the narrative?

A: Oh absolutely. The outline will only get you so far, and you really don’t know who your characters actually are until you get to the next part of your outline and say “No, she wouldn’t do this.” Or “this arc can’t happen here”. Invariably my outlines at the end of the book are 50%-60% of the original plan and 40%-50% new additions.

Q: Before we let you go, what’s next for you? Do you have a sequel to Vick’s Vultures in the works? A new Sorcerous Crimes Division novel? Something completely different, perhaps?

A: As I mentioned, the rough draft for Sorcerous Crimes Division Book 2 is already complete. Vick’s Vultures book 2 is underway.

Good to hear. Thanks again to Scott for stopping by, and check out my review tomorrow!


About the Author

Scott Warren got his start in writing while living in Washington during the summer of 2014 when he entered the world of speculative fiction by writing Sorcerous Crimes Division, followed shortly by Vick’s Vultures.

Mr. Warren blends aspects of classic military fantasy and science fiction with a modern, streamlined writing style to twist tired tropes into fresh ideas. He believes in injecting a healthy dose of adventure into the true-to-life grit and grime that marks the past decade of science fiction, while still embracing the ideas that made science fiction appeal to so many readers.

As a UAV Pilot, and former submariner, Scott draws on his military and aviation experiences to bring authenticity to his writing while keeping it accessible to all readers. Scott is also an artist, contributing his skills to board games, role playing games, and his own personal aerial photography galleries.

Mr. Warren currently resides in Huntsville, AL.


About the Book

Vick’s Vultures by Scott Warren
Parvus Press
Publication date: 10/4/2016

In the far future, alien technology captured by the Union Earth Privateers has fueled Earth's tenuous expansion from a single planet to a handful of systems across the Orion Spur.

Victoria Marin, captain of the U.E. Condor, and her crew of Vultures have been running dry for months. In danger of losing her command and her credibility if she can't locate fresh salvage, she locks onto the distress signal of an alien ship in hopes of valuable cargo. What she finds instead is First Prince Tavram, the heir apparent to one of the largest empires in known space. Tavram's ship has been crippled after narrowly escaping an ambush and his would-be assasin is coming to finish the job.

The Vultures launch a high risk mission to rescue the prince and recover every last scrap of xenotech they can before the hunter catches up to his prey. But there are more dangers than notorious interstellar assassins when it comes to ferrying alien princes across the stars, and Victoria must contend with dangerous alliances, old grudges, and even her own government if she means to bring her crew home alive. Whether she succeeds or fails, the consequences of her choices will affect the path of all humanity.