Author Interview: Patrick Chiles

Stranded in orbit, with no way home before the air runs out…

At hypersonic speed, Polaris AeroSpace has become the premium choice for rapid travel around the world. When a veteran crew’s flight is marooned after a series of baffling malfunctions, they must try to stay alive knowing that help may never arrive.

As they struggle with dwindling life support and increasingly desperate passengers, their colleagues scramble to mount an audacious rescue. In a race against time, they will face shocking betrayals in a fight to save their friends. Unraveling a web of industrial espionage, they learn the truth to be worse than imagined. And one man will discover that escape may demand a terrible sacrifice.

PERIGEE opens the next chapter in air and space travel, where ordinary people must sometimes accomplish extraordinary things.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve worked in aviation for over twenty years, pretty much across the whole spectrum: military, airlines, charter, and corporate. I’ve been writing off and on during that entire time, most recently for an industry magazine and a piece for Air & Space Smithsonian.

I’ve pretty much been an airplane and rocket geek since early childhood. Sleek machines that fly really fast and make lots of noise doing it have always been addictive to me. So when I went off to college, my obvious choice of majors was English. Yeah, go figure…

What are your pet peeves (dislikes) in life?

Adults, particularly those with children, who still carry on like hormonally-challenged adolescents. I take family pretty seriously and have a low tolerance for people who don’t but elect to have children anyway. Once you bring a kid into the world, it’s time to stop acting like one yourself.

If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?

These are some buzzkill questions! I’m alarmed by the growing number of people who behave without any sense of reason, propriety, or common sense. Whether it’s undue influence from reality TV, the Internet, or fluorinated drinking water…in the end it doesn’t matter. Too many people have surrendered their ability to think rationally and/or control their temper.

Why do you write?

Because the voices in my head won’t shut up!

I’ve always had an active fantasy life; for some reason my mind is constantly playing out alternative dialogue to everyday occurrences and I think cinematically. So once I’ve worked out the plot details, the storytelling kind of handles itself.
Bottom line, not enough writers are producing the kinds of books I enjoy reading so it’s up to me to fill in the gaps. That’s probably what drives most of us.

What is your writing routine (if you have one!)?

Routine is everything when you have to balance writing against a family and a day job. It starts at oh-dark-thirty each morning, which is the only time the house is quiet. I put on some coffee and have a couple hours of uninterrupted “magic time” before the wife and kids are up. Evenings are for editing, which doesn’t require as much mental isolation. I can do that in the living room with the family.

In one sentence, what is your book about?

A passenger spaceplane is stranded in orbit, with no way home before the air runs out.

What gave you the idea for this story?

It had been percolating for a long time and really gelled around 2003 when Virgin Galactic was established as the first “spaceline”. Anyone who reads SF probably knows all about them. Their eventual goal is to offer point-to-point suborbital service to just about anywhere in the world, which I think is a lot more feasible than most people realize. If they found enough people to pay $200K for a quick hop out of the atmosphere, they can probably find a lot more who are willing to pay for a longer trip that actually gets them somewhere. And over time, the operating costs will come down to the point where ticket prices may be something like Concorde’s were. So not cheap, but not impossible either.

My aviation jobs have all been variations on figuring out how to avoid the “worst case” scenarios. So I mulled over what might go seriously wrong on a high-energy suborbital flight, and realized it could make for a pretty good story while remaining believable…especially if I could weave my airline experiences into creating a fictional spaceline. This was going to be more of an “Airport” for the 21st century than a space opera.

What have people said about your writing?

The reviews have been really good, which has been tremendous gratifying. I think writers fret about that more than actually getting paid for their work.

For the most part, readers are finding Perigee to be exactly what I’d hoped for: fun, realistic, down-to-earth (despite the setting), with well-developed characters and a compelling story. My favorite so far: “A real barn-burner”.

How do you want your readers to feel when they finish your book?

Like they have to catch their breath because they’ve been holding it for the last three chapters.

What’s your next writing project?

The sequel’s working title is Apogee, but I’m also considering Terminal Velocity. Same setting and characters, but now they’ve started tourist flights around the Moon…which again, is not that far-fetched. Space Adventures has already sold one ticket for a Soyuz-based lunar flight.

It won’t be a fictional Apollo 13 as I’ve no desire to try and one-up real life. But there will be problems…big ones, with the potential to affect the entire planet. And they’ll be orchestrated by people with motives that have nothing to do with greed, but everything to do with fulfilling religious prophecy and the power they can derive from it. Our heroes will possess the only way to get to them before it’s too late.

I don’t want to give away too much, but if you’ve already finished Perigee, you’ll recall quite a few main characters are former military. They won’t be allowed to stay “former” for long.

Quick fire:
Favorite place? The Pacific Northwest, when it’s not raining. I like mountains.
Favorite book you've read this year? The Things That Keep Us Here, by Carla Buckley.

Find Patrick at his Blog and find PERIGREE at Amazon and GoodReads.


Today, Friday, February 17th is Patrick's birthday! (Happy Birthday!) Today, you can get PERIGREE for FREE on Amazon! So go download a copy for your Kindle or a friend's Kindle!