Today’s interview is with Mark Oetjens, author of the science fiction novel, The Staff of Rahgorra.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Mark. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Staff of Rahgorra, is all about?

The Staff of Rahgorra is a science fiction action-adventure. The crime lord Thrull wants to rule galaxy but he knows he must first find the mythical weapon known as the Staff of Rahgorra. Cam and his apprentice Kayo, agents of the Galactic Security Bureau, are determined to stop Thrull by finding the Staff first and avoiding the war that Thrull threatens. Along the way there’s space battles and firefights and all sorts of questionable aliens and unsavory allies.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Thrull is absolutely driven to build a galactic empire. Thrull’s supporting characters are mostly young disciplined military officers that he trained himself, though there are a few rogues among them. Cam, on the other hand, is about to retire. The last thing he wants to do is stop Thrull, but he knows he must. His apprentice Kayo, his old Galactic Security Bureau friends, and a host of questionable characters support Cam.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Thrull is loosely based on the character Toranaga from Shogun. I think Cam is more me (or what I’d like to be) than I care to admit. A lot of the supporting cast is based on friends, family, and acquaintances. As far as the aliens in the novel, most are loosely based to on real animals or things I’ve seen in movies.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

As an author I think you have to know the general plot and how a work is going to end before you start writing. That being said, you definitely have insights into characters and revelations along the way. I always know where I’m going, but exactly how I get there is anybody’s guess.

Q: Your book is set in another galaxy.  Can you tell us why you chose this galaxy in particular?

I wanted the novel to be completely fresh. By fresh I mean having none of the history or assumptions or hang-ups of humankind. What better way to do that than to start from scratch.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely. Having a brand new galaxy to play in gave me the freedom to create a history and a mythology that was vital to the development of the story.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Cam and his crew have just escaped from an attack by a bounty hunter. Cam’s Darkmoon has been damaged in the attack. The Darkmoon‘s copilot, Mook, is discussing their options with Kayo.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Thrull did not react as a side door of the observation lounge hissed open. He continued to watch the shuttle’s approach as the sound of boots striking the cool marble floor echoed through the lounge. His visitor finally came to a halt two meters behind and just to the left of him. After more than a minute, when the shuttle had almost reached the landing bay’s magnetic doors, he glanced up to see Tok’s reflection in the glass.

“You have news for me,” he said gruffly. It was not a question.

Tok seemed to stiffen his posture. “We just received word that the transport has arrived,” Tok said.

Thrull nodded. “Has the rest of the trap been set?” he asked. This he phrased as a question.

“Yes, Sire,” he said. “Linu contacted us an hour ago. She and the Talon should be here within the hour.”

Thrull turned to face Tok. “Good,” he said. “Tell her I want to see her as soon as she gets here.”

“Certainly, Sire.”

Thrull paused, looking the young man up and down. Hard to believe it was almost fifteen years ago that he had first taken them under his wing. Tok had been the youngest, only nine. He taught them everything he knew. They became his family, his thirty children. And now, after just fifteen years, he had gone from a mysterious upstart with a band of teenaged commandos to the verge of taking over the galaxy. “Would you please escort our guest up here. I’ll be in to see him shortly.”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Mark.  We wish you much success!

Thank you for having me.

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