07Oct2010: MilSciFi.com interviews Walter Knight,
author of the military science fiction novel, America's Galactic Foreign Legion.
MilSciFi: "Welcome. Please tell us a little
something about your novel."
Knight: "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" Is a 14
book military science fiction series about a compulsive gambler who joins
future America's Foreign Legion to avoid debts, and
ends up fighting aliens on a distant planet colony. At least, that is how it started.
The future world I created is the terra-farmed
planet of New Colorado, where after several wars, humanity and spider-like
aliens are forced to live with each other across a DMZ. Although the tow species often fight it out
in true military science fiction tradition, America's most potent weapon turns out to be our
culture. The aliens have fits with the
Americanization / contamination of their culture and hatchings.
The devious Americans bring in the heavy
artillery: Satellite TV, casino gambling, drugs, alcohol, football, baseball,
Nike sports products, Walmart, McDonald's, Taco Bell, KFC, money, democracy,
freedom, poker, sports betting, the Mafia, and interspecies sex and porn
Americanization progresses to the point where alien shoppers camping
outside Walmart on Black Friday riot after human shoppers already inside taunt
them by holding up discounted electronic items, and giving them the one
fingered salute. The aliens try to pass
laws against Nike sports products and baggy pants, scate boards, and even
American cheese, but are already too hopelessly addicted to Starbucks coffee
and American TV. Resistance is futile."
MilSciFi: "Is this part of a large series or
Knight: "The world of New Colorado I create evolves from small
new colony where initial combat is with nukes and combatants are forced into
underground tunnels, to a frontier with gold rushes and land grabs, to a
divided planet with large cities and immigration problems. With 14 books I have
plenty of room for world building and character development.
My main Character, Joey R. Czerinski,
starts out as a desperate compulsive gambler and small time thief who does not
plan more than a few moments ahead.
Czerinski changes as he acquires more responsibility and experience in the
Legion, but still retains a lot of his bad straits. Readers either love or hate Czerinski."
MilSciFi: "What inspired you to write this
Knight: "I have a passion for science fiction, military
history, and gambling. "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" started
out being a traditional military science fiction story based on those
themes. However, it soon changed. I have a funny bone that won't stop, and so
AGFL evolved in to a humorous parody. I
make fun of everyone I write about. I
can't help it. The final result in quite
unique. There is not a lot of humorous
military science fiction out there.
There is also political humor. In a series about culture clash between
humanity and aliens that cannot be avoided because the contemporary events
unfolding now worldwide. Today you have China and Iran trying to outlaw or control TV and the
internet, and push back American culture.
They will fail, just as my aliens fail.
Watch the news closely. Even
rioters in Egypt professing to hate America often wear American T-shirts and tennis
shoes. As I said before, resistance is
I love that phrase, 'resistance is
futile.' I also have a passion for
movies and TV, and spoof both often. If
you read AGFL closely, you will find much media, history, and humor snuck in.
Some, including my editor, call AGFL
politically incorrect. I suppose a
science fiction story about a future strong America flexing its muscles against E.T. Is
considered politically incorrect, but it should not be. Stories about a failed America, or the Apocalypse, irritate me, as do
stories about evil corporations and a united Earth effort to reach the
stars. If humanity ever reaches out to
conquer the galaxy, it will be on American starships. No one else can do it. If that is politically incorrect, so be it."
MilSciFi: "Does science and technology play
an important role in this story (or in your work in general), or is it
secondary to the story telling and characterization?"
Knight: "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" is
character driven, in the tradition of "Battle Star Galactica," except
with less females. Oops, sorry, slip was
At one point my editor suggested more
science and technology, as have some readers.
However, my formula seems to be working.
The series has sold over 20,000 books (mostly Kindle) and we are just
starting. That is not bad for a new
author. Kindle ownership is expected to
increase to *20,000,000 this Christmas, and AGFL will ride that wave."
MilSciFi: "Do you have plans to expand upon,
or write other works based on this novel?"
Knight: "America's Galactic Foreign Legion is a 14 book
series, so far. I may continue the
series forever, or not. The first 11
books are published, and I hope to get the rest edited before Christmas."
MilSciFi: "Most authors we encounter write
novellas/novels, do you write short stories, and if so do you find it a
Knight: "I love to write short stories. I add short stories to the end of most of my
books. I call it 'bonus humor.' All of the short stories are based on AGFL
themes, but are apart from the main story lines.
I have two favorites, one about an alien
lawsuit accusing fat female human pestilence shoppers of running over and
crushing alien shoppers during the Black Friday Walmart riot, and the other
about a Legion swat team surrounding a literary critic. The critic dies slow and painful. It's funny stuff."
MilSciFi: "Since time is of the essence for
getting a read up to speed in a short story, do you have a strategy, or
preferred method for doing this?"
Knight: "When I get writer's block on my main story lines, I
write short stories. Sometimes I can
incorporate a short story into the new plot, or sometimes it just gets added to
the end as bonus humor. It help other
authors at Penumbra, I have even added their short stories or sample chapters
to the end of my books (kindle;E-books).
We live in a funny world, so I have no problem finding something to
MilSciFi: "What advice would you give the
aspiring military science fiction writer?"
Knight: "No matter what you write, it is the nature of
military science fiction that you are going to upset someone. Even the word 'military' upsets some
people. Me? I tend to piss off liberals. I do not intend to. I try to be fair and balanced. But to some, any voice that dares to joke at
the establishment is not tolerated. Most
science fiction writers and their books are liberal, so hopefully my books will
be a breath of fresh air to the genre. "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" has
certainly got some attention and ire.
So my advise? Write with no concern about what you think
others want you to write. Dare to upset
people because it will happen no matter what you write. The only restrictions I put on me writing is
I keep swear words to a minimum, and do not use racist or anti-gay humor. I have no desire to be the Andrew Dice Clay
of science fiction. I ask myself, would
I be proud to show my book to my mother or neighbor?
I did upset a lady with my alien / human sex scene. I think she had a problem with my main
character having commitment issues.
Humor can be a difficult thing."
MilSciFi: "Who is your single-most influence
in science fiction and what impact have they had on our own work?"
Knight: "My science fiction heroes are Harry Turtledove and L.
Ron Hubbard. Turtledoves' 'Colonization"
series about aliens attacking Earth during WWII inspired me to write a long
series military science fiction series that deals with human / alien culture
L. Ron Hubbard's "Battlefield Earth"
and "Mission Earth" series are great.
My favorite scene of "Battlefield Earth" is when the aliens
observe starving humans eating rats, and assumes rats are a natural part of our
diet. The alien does not understand why
human prisoners are not more appreciative when he provides an ample supply of
rats for dinner. L. Ron Hubbard has off
the hook humor that I love.
World famous science fiction writer Piers
Anthony wrote a nice book review of "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" saying, "It's
wild, improbable, but great adventure."
MilSciFi: "What is the one thing you find the
most difficult about writing military science fiction?"
Knight: "Space combat.
I avoided it as much as possible, and stick to the infantry. If you want to read about space combat, go
read Star Trek or Star Wars."
MilSciFi: "Is military science fiction the
only thing you write, or is there something else out there we should be looking
Knight: "I also wrote "Vampire in the Outfield"
about a minor league baseball player who discovers he can play baseball and hit
better after being bitten by a Vampire.
He still has a problem with day games.
'Johnny Black' tries to lead the Seattle Mariners against the Evil
Empire (New York Yankees). It's a fun
read, and humor abounds.
For now I am concentrating on finishing
the "America's Galactic Foreign Legion"
series. AGFL-12 is being edited now, and
13 and 14 will be out before Christmas."
MilSciFi: "Please tell us about your
publisher, and how did you came to chose them?"
Knight: "Penumbra Publishing is new, about four years
old. Their catalog is growing. I broke all the rules when I contacted
Penumbra. I attached 11 novels to my
E-mail query letter, rather than the sample chapters most publishers
request. I figured Penumbra could press
the delete button at any time.
Penumbra sent me back a complementary
cursory edit of my first book. That was
quite a difference from the form responses I had been getting from
publishers. Penumbra editor Patricia
Morrison did not realize at first I wrote humor, and got a bit irritated at
first. She did not like my alien lawyer
wearing glasses and carrying a brief case.
Pat thought that was not realistic.
When Pat realized I was poking fun, she read my manuscript in a different
I insisted on AGFL being a package
deal. Penumbra asked me about
marketing. I am a new author, and knew
marketing would be a tough sell. The
best promotion for a book, is to write a 2nd book. The best promotion for the 2nd
book is to write a 3rd, and so on. Pat liked
my first book, so she read the others to make sure of their quality. My series passed muster, and Penumbra agreed
to write the entire series. I have
continued to add to the series since 'first contact.'
MilSciFi: "Do you have any other projects in the
Knight: "Just short stories with AGFL themes."
MilSciFi: "Do you have any upcoming author
Knight: "No. I have
done interviews for local newspapers, but promotion is most cost effective if
done online. Amazon does a great job of
promoting one a novel has been noticed.
Fortunately, I AGFL has noticed a lot.
I am even selling well in the UK, and have a few German sales that I
Sales of my paperbacks and E-books are
all online. New authors published
through a small press cannot get on bookshelves at traditional brick and mortar
bookstores because we cannot afford to take back unsold books. That effectively locks out authors who do not
publish through the Big 6 Eastern New York publishers. That's fine, I am still selling a lot of
books, and the future looks great.
Kindle sales are the savior of new authors, and the future of the
publishing industry. Now is an exciting
and historical time to be a new author, and I am fortunate to have written "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" at right
place and at the right time.
I blog some, mostly at writer's blogs,
but no longer have to promote much. AGFL
mostly sells itself now. I enjoy doing
this type of online interview. It is
great to be able to give a shout out to my peers and readers."
MilSciFi: "Do you have a website?"
Knight: "I have a five page website at www.waltknight.yolasite.com
where I post cover art and sample chapters for all my books, along with bio
information and updates."
MilSciFi: "Thank you, for your time."
Knight: "Thank you for the interview. My dream is for "America's Galactic Foreign Legion" to be
coming to a theater near you."