Interview with G J Ogden, Author of The Star Scavenger Series

12 Jan 2021

What can you tell us about your new release, Star Scavenger: The Complete Series Books 1-5?

The Star Scavenger series follows Hudson Powell, an ace pilot and lost soul with a strong code of honor who unwittingly rekindles a deadly conflict with an ancient alien threat. Disillusioned with his job working for the corrupt Relic Guardian Force – a police force that protects alien wreck sites found across the galaxy – Hudson quits and enters the seductive world of relic hunting. Think Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider combined with the planet-hopping action of Firefly.

During his adventures, Hudson stumbles upon an ancient relic that awakens an alien killing machine that has been dormant for millennia. And now this entity aims to finish what it started and wipe out all corporeal life in the galaxy…

The five books in the series cover Hudson’s journey from reluctant RGF cop to hopeful savior of the human race, taking in numerous alien worlds in the process. It’s an action-packed series full of twists and turns and some obnoxious bad guys. One reader even quit the series because he was so angry that one particular character didn’t die in book one! All I’ll say is that the reader should have persisted to find out what happened to him…

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I don’t think it was one thing in particular. I’ve always loved science fiction and the idea of creating my own stories appealed to me from an early age. I used to do a lot of fantasy role-playing as a gamemaster, so I think that was my first experience of crafting stories and adventures for others to enjoy.

I’ve also always loved writing. I worked as a technology journalist and actually started writing my first novel almost twenty years ago, but gave up because – well, it’s hard, and life gets in the way. However, getting older gives you some perspective and I finally realized that writing books is what I’ve always wanted to do.

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

It’s a lot of classic science fiction, often with an apocalyptic angle. That might sound quite bleak, but I’ve always been drawn to the post-apocalyptic setting. There are hardships and dangers, but it’s a fresh start and a chance to do things differently. There’s hope and hope is a major theme in most of my books.

For example, I love On the Beach by Nevil Shute. It might have aged in the fifty years since it was first published, but its impact is undiminished. I am Legend is another of my favorites in the apocalyptic mould, though perhaps this is more along the line of Zombie Apocalypse, rather than sci-fi.

On the military sci-fi / space opera front (which is a lot of what I write), I think the Forever War by Joe Halderman is a must-read. My two favorite sci-fi books, however, are both by Alfred Bester. I flit between whether The Stars My Destination (Tiger Tiger) or The Demolished Man is my top, but at the time of writing it’s probably the latter. Both are amazing books that get better on re-reads.

Hudson Powell – the protagonist in The Star Scavenger Series – is named after Lincoln Powell, the Prefect of Police in The Demolished Man, though the characters share few similarities!

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

I’d love to talk to sci-fi authors new and old about where their ideas come from. So maybe Alfred Bester, since I’ve already mentioned him, but I’d love to ask the same question of a host of authors and see how their answers differ.

For me, a lot of the time, my ideas come while I’m out walking or quite often in the middle of the night. Sometimes I’ll wake up with the nugget of an idea, and I’ll have to grab my phone and email it to myself, otherwise I’ll forget and it will be lost.

For example, for one of my other series – The Contingency – it all came from an article I read about how lava tubes on other worlds could be large enough to house entire cities. I thought nothing of it at the time then woke up in the middle of the night with the story idea in my head! For Star Scavenger, it was a mash-up of all sorts of things that were floating around my head at the time, but the email I sent to myself (so I didn’t forget) had the subject line “space relic hunters”. In three words, that sums it up pretty well!

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

It sounds corny, but for me it is escapism. It’s like watching your favorite TV show, but you’re the writer and director, the star of the show and the villain. You can be evil and ruthless one moment, heroic and inspiring the next. It’s certainly harder than probably most people expect or realize, as it requires a lot of commitment, but it’s incredibly rewording and enjoyable too.

What is a typical day like for you?

I aim to write a chapter a day (roughly 2,000 words) every day. The only day in 2020 where I didn’t write was Christmas Day! The rest of my time is spent editing other works-in-progress and managing the admin and marketing side of publishing. I’m hybrid-published, so some books I publish and manage myself and some are published by a specialist Sci-Fi small press (Aethon Books).

If I get time in the evening, I’ll spend a little bit of time on Rimworld (amazing game!) and then watch an episode of whatever TV show / boxed set is flavor of the month. I wish I could forget what happened in season two of The Mandalorian so I can watch it and be surprised all over again!

What scene from Star Scavenger: The Complete Series Books 1-5 was your favorite to write?

That’s hard – it’s like asking which is your favorite child! I think there are moments in each book where I sat back after finishing a scene and just blew out a heavy sigh. Sometimes it’s because it’s a sad moment and sometimes because it’s a cathartic moment, where someone or something gets what’s coming to them.

I spend a lot of time building storylines through the books. They all spider off in different directions, but come together at the end. I love endings, even though they’re hard and bittersweet as a writer. In Star Scavenger the ending (as is often the case with my books) has elements of sadness, but also hope. Always hope. There can be sorrow, tragedy – planets literally exploding – but always there is hope. Hope is so powerful, especially in science fiction where the odds can seem insurmountable. The characters have to believe they can win the day, and the reader has to be along for the ride.

So the final scene in book five – The Last Revocater – where the heroes are all together on the cliffs above Alamere Falls outside San Francisco was very satisfying. I think in general the Star Scavenger series builds to a really satisfying end. Though I also love the cheeky little Epilogue. I think readers who make the five-book journey will enjoy that too!

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

I don’t, though my characters often do. Hudson Powell from the Star Scavenger series is a ‘by the book’ guy. He won’t break his code, even if that means leaving an enemy alive. Some people find that concept maddening, but it makes for a more interesting character. And, ultimately, as the series shows, you can be a ‘good guy’ and win the day, so long as you never give up hope.

So I’ll just steal John Cena’s motto and say my motto (or at least the motto of my stories) is, ‘Never Give Up’.

G J Ogden is the author of the new book Star Scavenger: The Complete Series Books 1-5

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