Interview with Edward Hochsmann, Author of Engage at Dawn: First Contact

15 Sep 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, Engage at Dawn: First Contact?

Engage at Dawn: First Contact is the first in what I hope to be a series centered on the characters of Ben Wyporek and Sam Powell and their crew aboard the patrol boat Kauai. I love “everyman” science fiction stories, so I created one involving a typical Coast Guard crew, nudged into a very unusual and dangerous mission. It’s as true to life as I can make it in the sense that I imagine how they might react and pull together in the face of situations they’ve never experienced or even conceived of before. They make some interesting discoveries, not only in the sci-fi frame but about themselves and the genesis of their team. It’s very clean in terms of language compared to what you might expect in a military unit, but preserves the humorous banter you will always find.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I have been writing reports as an officer and later an analyst for decades. These were all non-fiction, of course, but I had a lot of comments from a lot of people to the effect that I made the math interesting. I thought if I can make math interesting by framing it as a story, I might have some success with actual fiction. So last fall, I decided to give it a try, and here I am.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

That’s a hard one because my tastes have changed over time, and the list might fluctuate with different moods. I am a big fan of history and historical fiction, as well as sci-fi. Honestly, it isn’t easy to pull out five books that stand apart from the rest, but I can point out some authors whos’ work always gives me pleasure. In Sci-Fi, it’s Robert A. Heinlein and Ray Bradbury. In historical fiction, Jeff Shaara and C. S. Forester top the list. In non-fiction history, I would recommend Stephen Ambrose.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

Jeff Shaara. My question would be: “In your novels, you deliver history as a story unfolding before our eyes through the actions and dialogue of historical figures. How do you research your dialog to make it sound so natural and believable?”

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Writing to me is both a road and a destination, and each has an evolutionary impact on the other. I love puzzle-solving, and the story is a puzzle that I have to solve to get to the destination. Of course, as I’m building the story, I might find that the destination shifts just a little (same zipcode, different address) to make the journey more enjoyable. It’s this mutualistic relationship I find the most rewarding.

What is a typical day like for you?

Well, I’m a new writer and self-published, so I have a day job. I typically hit the gym first, do my defense analyst gig over the course of the day and then answer the mail when I get home. I may write or edit a bit after that, but most of my authorship comes on the weekend. I try to get some downtime every day through reading or watching a mystery on TV. I know, boring – it happens when you get on in years.

What scene from Engage at Dawn: First Contact was your favorite to write?

The battle scene was my favorite as everything and everybody came together in an extremely delicate choreography. A close second was the scene featuring the showdown between Sam and Simmons when the latter is forced to reveal the true nature of the mission.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

It’s OK to be angry, sad, or scared, but think before you inflict those moods on others – remember they’re usually doing their best.

Edward Hochsmann is the author of the new book Engage at Dawn: First Contact.

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