MEET J. D. SANDERSON
J. D. Sanderson is a newly-published author and a Solstice Publishing colleague. With the release of A Footstep Echo, J.D. takes his first foray into the world of serialized science fiction storytelling. He hopes to continue developing the characters and universe that he created in A Footstep Echo, a three part sci-fi mystery.
J.D. lives in Central South Dakota with his wife, daughter, and miniature poodle.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK.
A Footstep Echo is a time travel mystery told in three parts. It starts out with Bernard, a 70-year-old widower whose life is saved by a young woman who can throw him into anoher point in time. The young woman is unable to speak, and can’t tell him who she is, how she can time travel, where she’s from, or what is chasing her. Along the way Bernard meets several people who each have a different version of her backstory and her importance to the future.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE FOR THIS BOOK?
There are a few scenes where the actual echoing of footsteps is mentioned, so I guess that’s part of it! I wanted something that sounded mysterious, ominous, and made the reader imagine a solitary figure walking into the unknown.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK? IS IT PART OF A SERIES?
I was inspired by a few things. I’ve wanted to create my own science fiction world ever since I first discovered X-Minus One, a sci-fi radio play series from the fifties. I loved the way their stories were told through dialogue, and always left a ton to the imagination. I got a collection of stories on tape when I was 10. That was the first thing that really made me want to create worlds of my own.
The second thing that inspired me to actually sit down and write an original novel was this new wave of serialized sci-fi series on streaming services. The OA and Stranger Things blew me away. I loved the idea of telling a multi-part story, which is why A Footstep Echo is in three parts.
HOW MUCH OF YOUR BOOK IS BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES OR THOSE OF SOMEONE YOU KNOW?
One of the minor players in the book is Maverick, a Springer Spaniel my wife and I rescued years ago. Other than that, the book was mostly an exercise in catharsis for me.
WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH WENT INTO WRITING YOUR BOOK?
I spent hours reading scientific papers, listening to podcasts on physics and gravity. I also had to read a few medical studies online. I didn’t want to half-ass it. I may not be a professional scientist, and I consider my book a character piece more than anything else, but I wanted to put some actual science in my science fiction book.
WHAT CRITERIA DID YOU USE WHEN SELECTING THE COVER FOR YOUR BOOK?
I was allowed to pick out a few different images and submit them to my publisher, Solstice Publishing. They did the rest!
WAS THERE A MESSAGE IN YOUR BOOK THAT YOU WERE TRYING TO CONVEY?
I wanted to focus a lens on topics such as climate change, terrorism, radicalization, artificial intelligence, and ethics. Since its inception, science fiction writers have used the genre to write about how humanity deals with adversity. I wanted to tell a story about how we deal with progress. No matter how far we advance, there are always some who push back.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOUR BOOK?
Not that I can think of, no.
IF YOUR BOOK WOULD BE MADE INTO A FILM, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY THE LEADS?
Ooooh, I’m ready for this one. One thing that helped me out during the writing and editing process was fan-casting the story. It helped me to picture the story in my head a bit. For the character of Bernard, I’d cast Bernard Hill. The Mystery Girl would be played by Sarah Snook. Marie would be played by Helen Mirren. Calev would be portrayed by Matthew Goode. Tal would be played Emma Watson, and Adelaide would be portrayed Danai Gurira. For the characters of Razlen and Donner, I’d cast Riz Ahmed and Jonah Hill. Ruth would be Margot Martindale. Finally, the character of Kiers and Niocla, I’d cast Rehka Sharma and Parker Posey.
WHEN AND WHY DID YOU BEGIN WRITING?
If you’re referring to this story, I started writing it in January 2017 after we finished binge watching The OA. If you mean writing in general, I started writing stories when I was 10.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST CONSIDER YOURSELF A WRITER?
I’ve alwasy wanted to be a writer. I started writing professionally for marketing companies in 2011.
DESCRIBE YOUR WRITING STYLE.
My stories live and breathe in dialogue. I describe things when I have to, but I enjoy leaving things to the imagination.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST LESSON YOU HAD TO LEARN AS A WRITER?
Finding my own style. I tried to write this book in 2016 and failed because I was trying too hard to copy the styles of authors and storytellers I grew up loving. This time around I purposely tried to write things I had never heard of or seen before. It worked!
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A WRITER?
Finding the time!
NOT INCLUDING FAMILY, WHO SUPPORTED YOUR EFFORTS TO BECOME A PUBLISHED AUTHOR?
My friends were always supportive!
WHO WAS YOUR FIRST PUBLISHER AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THEM?
I published this story with Solstice Publishing. They had an amazing team of editors to help me through the process.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR NEW WRITERS?
Do it your way and don’t compromise you vision.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS?
Richard Adams, Charles Sheffield, Clifford D. Simak, and Bill Watterson.
WHAT ARE YOU READING NOW?
I always have three or four books on the nightstand. Right now it’s The Ganymede Club, one of my all-time favs!
WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Animal abuse. Yeah, I’m that guy.
IF YOU COULD MEET ANYONE WHO EVER LIVED, PAST OR PRESENT, WHO WOULD THAT BE?
Ron Serling, Bill Kane, William Moulton Marston, and Charles Sheffield.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOWS AND MOVIES?
The OA, The Flash, Doctor Who, and Star Trek: Discovery are my current favorite TV shows. I would say that my favorite movies are Arrival, Contact, Spotlight, and Blade Runner.
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC TOUCHES YOUR SOUL?
Blues is always fun.
WHAT DO YOU WANT WRITTEN ON YOUR HEADSTONE?
“He laughed at all of it.”
DO YOU HAVE A BLOG OR WEBSITE READERS CAN VISIT FOR UPDATES, EVENTS AND SPECIAL OFFERS?
Who is the Mystery Girl? Bernard Abbey’s life was routine, stagnant, and lonely. That all changed the day she entered his life. To save him from being killed, a mysterious young woman transports Bernard to another point in time. As he comes to grips with what has happened, Bernard realizes his new friend is unable to speak. She cannot tell him who she is, where she came from, or how she can travel through time. Even worse, she’s unable to tell him what is chasing her.
As she takes him back and forth in time, they cross paths with strangers who claim to know his new friend, each with a different story of her origin. The only thing he knows for certain is that the fate of humanity’s idyllic future is somehow connected with his new companion.
“Sanderson blew my temporally-frazzled mind multiple times as the battle ranged from past to present ... and even in-between.” - William F. Aicher - Author of 'The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks'