Interview with Jude Austin, Author of Homecoming

21 Apr 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, Homecoming?

It picks up where my debut novel, Project Tau, leaves off. While Project Tau focused purely on human rights and the ethics of cloning, Homecoming tackles these issues while also bringing others – mental illness, emotional abuse and eating disorders – into play. Like all my work, it’s also not typical sci-fi; I don’t use AI or robots (explained in-universe) and there are no epic space battles or alien diplomacy/wars. It’s about normal people trying to live normal lives. In the book universe, people are just beginning to create clones (called Projects) who are legally viewed as livestock and usually treated accordingly. Homecoming follows former college freshman Kalin Taylor/Kata who – in the previous book – was illegally imprisoned and gaslighted into believing himself to be a Project and his friend Project Tau after they escape from the scientists’ brutal treatment at GenTech. As Project Tau deals with Kalin’s desperate attempts to win back his freedom, Homecoming deals with his struggles to keep it and to deal with the trauma of everything he was subjected to in the lab, along with Tau’s experiencing the outside world for the first time.

That said, there’s enough background information in Homecoming for it to be read as a standalone novel.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

Honestly? Nothing and no one. I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pen. When I was a kid, you could get these huge blocks of post-it notes with a hole in one corner to put a pen in; I used to grab a chunk and use them to write my own “books” as a young child. I sold my first story to a magazine when I was twelve (kind of; they were running a contest to write the next episode of a serial, and I won) and completed the first novel of a sci-fi trilogy when I was 17-18. That one’s still sitting on my PC, along with the other two books. I might dust them off one day, but they need a lot of work doing to them.

Anyway, the simple answer is that I’ve always been writing, and I always am 😉 Little scenes, alternate scenes between characters, AU versions of my own stuff, fanfic, articles – I work as a proofreader and writer for a bilingual travel magazine in Tokyo – and, of course, novels.

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

Ooh, that’s hard. Let’s see…
1. The Apple and Percival books by Anthony Armstrong.
2. Bosom Friends by Angela Brazil.
3. Christine by Stephen King.
4. The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. Actually, anything he writes about the Greek gods and demigods is great.
5. The Dorothy Dainty series by Amy Brooks. I know they’re for kids, but they’re a decent length and there’s something so sweet and innocent about them. It’s like detox for my brain.

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

If I can pick anyone, it would be Sir Pterry Pratchett. I’ve always loved his work, particularly Discworld, and I would love to know what other books he’d had planned before he passed away.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Everything! I love seeing my characters change and evolve (often in surprising ways) and I love being surprised by where the story goes. I don’t plot out my books – I have a vague idea of how they’re going to end, but this can change several times during the process – and developing worlds. I have files of maps and local flora and fauna of every planet in my books. Sometimes I spend more time world-building than I do actually writing.

What is a typical day like for you?

I’m a night owl, so I tend to get up quite late by other people’s standards (9:30-ish). I spend about 30 minutes on my phone, checking emails and gaming, then head downstairs. I have one of those reclining couches, which is wonderful as it lets me sit and write on my laptop for hours without putting any strain on my legs and back. So I stretch out in front of my smart TV, load up a series of something on Hulu or Netfllix or Youtube, and write all day!

What scene in Homecoming was your favorite to write?

Most of them. I had a lot of fun working on this book. If I had to pick just one, it would be any of the scenes between Kata and Alan. It’s the first time in the series where we really start to see the kind of kid Kata used to be before he was kidnapped and dehumanized. His own father isn’t exactly the best parent, he’s always had a difficult relationship with his parents, and so once Alan manages to get past Kata’s barriers, he’s basically the father figure that Kata’s always wanted and becomes the first – and so far only – adult that Kata learns to trust. Pretty good going for a character who wasn’t even slated to appear in the first place!

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

There’s one I learned from my old physics teacher: “You don’t need to know the answer. You just need to be able to think about it.” I didn’t learn a great deal from that school for various reasons, but that lesson has stuck with me all my life.

Jude Austin is the author of the new book Homecoming.

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