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Interview with Thomas Doscher

He is a retired Air Force journalist living in Illinois in the United States. He has been writing most of his life but only began to write and publish books in the last few years. He is married and has two sons and a golden doodle.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I spent a considerable amount of my life writing anime fanfiction.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
I am currently writing the fifth book of The Vixen War Bride series. Once the series is complete, I’ll move on to other science fiction and fantasy books.

Q.3 What inspired you to write The Vixen War Bride series?
I love to learn about history. About ten years ago, while researching the Pacific War, I found an anecdote about a U.S. officer on occupation duty in Japan who met a Japanese woman who came up to him and demanded that she be arrested for her role in the war. That role was that she ran an inn that catered to kamikaze pilots on their last night before their final missions. This, of course, was not a reason to arrest someone, but the woman insisted. So, he “arrested” her and put her in their jail for a few hours. Afterward, he released her, and she went about her business. 

The story inspired The Vixen War Bride series, but the war and the occupation of Japan inspired the universe where the story takes place. At that time in history, the world was nowhere near as connected as it is now. Most Americans had not even seen a Japanese person, let alone spoken to one. With no common culture, language, or even a standard alphabet, the Japanese, for most American soldiers, may as well have come from the moon.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
The most difficult part about writing female characters is that for a female character to be strong, she has to be just like a male character. She has to be able to beat up men three times her size or swear excessively. I don’t think that’s true. Men and women are different, so their strengths manifest differently. I want to be able to show strong women who are strong in their own way, not mine.

Q.5 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I usually don’t have any set formula. I usually know where I want to start, how I want it to end, and the specific set of pieces that I come up with sprinkled in between. Then I draw the line connecting them all. As for characters, a lot of them are based on people I’ve known, while others have attributes based on my own struggles through life.

Q.6 How do you see the future of science fiction literature? Will sci-fi maintains its independence or intertwines with other literary genres?
I think it already intertwines with other genres, but that doesn’t make it less sci-fi. Rick and Morty mix sci-fi and irreverent comedy. John Carpenter’s “The Thing” mixes sci-fi and horror. “The Time Traveler’s Wife” mixes sci-fi and romance. 

What kind of concerns me is the move away from what people would call “hard sci-fi,” the science fiction stories that focus on the science itself instead of an action plot. 

People don’t seem to have the patience or tolerance anymore for a story about regular people in an irregular time. There has to be explosions or lasers, and if there aren’t any, it’s not considered any good.

Q.7 How do you see the relationship between science fiction and culture? How about the boundaries between science fiction and reality?
I think a culture’s science fiction can show you what that culture cares about, what they fear most, and what they’re most hopeful for. You can tell how bleak their outlook is by how many dystopian movies and books appear. Are we afraid of what could be coming, or are we excited by it?

Q.8 To what extent can science fiction effect or improve the developments in science and technology in human life? Is it right to say that science fiction can change what human life looks like in the future?
I think science fiction can inspire people to work for those developments in science and technology. How many people in the world are out there right now trying to make working lightsabers? Or full-dive MMORPGs? Would people even be trying if sci-fi hadn’t first shown them how awesome they could be if they were real?

Q.9 Is classic science fiction literature different from modern science fiction literature? Have the critical aims of the genre changed considerably or not?
I think science fiction changes with the audience. It still entertains and inspires; it just does so in different ways. As technology and knowledge advance, science fiction has more avenues open to it for exploration.

Q.10 What do you think are the main reasons for the popularity of science fiction? To what extent has the film industry helped popularize the genre?
I think science fiction shows people what could be or what will come, that things won’t just be the same as they ever were. The film industry helps by showing these things in the most spectacular way possible, ways that even our imaginations aren’t able to come up with.

Q.11 Humans have long been looking for immortality at all costs. Do you think this will lead to our eventual dehumanization?
I don’t think so. I think technology will allow us to remain more human. People think cyborgs only exist in some dark future. Meanwhile, you have people walking around with pacemakers that allow them to keep living long after they would have died otherwise. 

Our eyes go bad, and we invent eyeglasses. Our hearts go bad, and we find a way to replace them with other human hearts, pig hearts, or even machines. If we ever attain immortality, it will most likely be as a result of solving a problem humanity already has.

Q.12 Science fiction has a long history. Which era do you consider the most influential period in the whole history of the genre?
I don’t know if it counts as an era, but I would say it is just after the original Star Trek went off the air in the 60s. Up until that point, science fiction highlighted technology and spaceships and aliens, and possible world destruction. 

Star Trek highlighted a world that was united peacefully. It wasn’t the Enterprise that was the star; it was the crew, facing the galaxy on a united front despite the conflicts their own countries had once endured. 

Having a Russian serving on the same bridge as an American in the sixties sent a big message. It wasn’t until the show went off the air that it actually started to become popular, and people realized what they were missing.

Q.13 If your book will be made into a movie, whom would you like to play the role of Caption Ben Gibson?
A. Geoff Stults
, though I admit he’s a little old for it. I always loved him in The Finder and Enlisted. He has the ability to go from quirky to serious very quickly.

Q.14 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
I’ve written four books, all of which as part of The Vixen War Bride. Each one is a different writing experience than the last. As the characters grow, I love them more and more.

Q.15 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
I only write when my Goldendoodle, Mimsy, allows it. When she grabs my arm while I’m at the computer, it’s time to stop.

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
The way I see it, if something were to occur to a person, they would very likely not be someone with a heroic name. The main character in that old movie, Scanners, is “Jack Deth.” So I just find average names that would fit within the culture of the character.

Q.17 What do you want readers to take away from your books?
I just really hope they entertain people. I’m asking people to spend their money to read a story I came up with in my head. I want them to enjoy it.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
I honestly can’t think of any.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. The Videssos Cycle
by Harry Turtledove. I love the characters and the story. It’s a perfect mix of historical fiction and sword-and-sorcery fantasy.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
I started writing when I was 13. When I was 21, I dropped out of college and enlisted in the Air Force, where I spent 20 years as a print journalist and media specialist and almost gave up on writing completely. When I retired in 2021, I took it up again and haven’t been happier.

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