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Chasing the Modronovich

R.L. Dean Author Interview

R.L. Dean Author Interview

The Modronovich Incident starts with a missing ship and dives into a cover up 250 years in the making. How did you want to start this book that was different from your other works?

I felt that I had to open up with the mystery itself. We see the Modronovich fleeing from a pursuing ship: who are they, why are they chasing the Modronovich? My hope is that the reader will become interested enough to join the search.

I appreciated the balance between story telling and science fiction elements. How do you find the right balance of these things in your novels?

At its core all good sci-fi is a human story. As a reader, I want to experience the characters’ lives, I must in some way empathize with them, you do that through ‘story’. As an author, I pulled a fast one: I transposed a mystery to a space-opera. I could have as well wrote about a missing wagon in 18th Century America that was rumored to carry Humphry Davy’s first light bulb. If I didn’t dive into the lives of the characters it would have been a bland documentary in fiction format.

The mystery and backstory in this book were well developed and something I really enjoyed. What were some challenges you faced when creating the backstory?

The passage of time was the biggest challenge. I think it’s difficult for a modern audience to relate to things that happened ten years ago, let alone two-hundred fifty. This is no slight to them, but simply the reality of our progressive environments. There is always an upgrade … bigger, better, faster, etc. Yet, I needed a way to ‘shroud’ the incident in ambiguity, and time has a way of doing that. If you search the internet you can find three ways that the German Reformationist, Martin Luther, died. That’s what I needed for the Modronovich … but that just makes a dead end. So, enter longevity. Humans can now live about 160 years, this means that there is a relative, if tenuous, connection to the Modronovich. I used that connection to propel the story.

This is book one in your Thomas Spaulding Mystery series. What can readers expect in book two of the series?

Bea, aboard the Isaac Brin, chasing down the Sagan Artifact … whatever that may be.

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The Modronovich, a cargo ship testing a prototype Newtonian drive, loses contact on its shakedown cruise. It was briefly seen, overdue and far off course, and then never heard from again.

Two-hundred and fifty years later, Penelope Middleton walks into Spaulding Recovery Services with a copy of a garbled transmission recorded by her grandfather, a communications technician serving aboard Capella Station during the Modronovich’s voyage. Haunted by childhood memories of him as a paranoid, broken man that spent the last century of his life in depression, and the enigmatic partial transmission, she hires Spaulding’s pilot and wreck diver, Beatrice, to unravel the mystery of the Modronovich and answer the questions surrounding her grandfather’s breakdown.

Chronicled in Bea’s diary it is the story of a cover-up decades in the making. What she finds leads to the disturbing details that caused two generations of PTSD and depression, the divorce of Penelope’s parents, and the truth about what happened to the ship and her crew.

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