Please welcome Steven Gould to the blog! His brand new entry in his fantastic Jumper series (more on that soon), EXO, just came out a few weeks back, and he kindly stopped by to answer a few of my questions. Please give him a warm welcome!
Exo is the fourth book in your Jumper series and tells Cent’s story. She was also featured in Impulse, but how do you think she’s grown since that book? Why do you think readers will root for her, and also, for Cory, who she teams up with?
She’s loved and been burned in love. She has more competence than in IMPULSE but a little less confidence. She has a burning need to distract herself right now and that, plus a life-long interest, pushes her down a new path. I think her desires and insecurities are familiar to most of us who are or have gone through their teens, but with a substantial dose of wish-fulfillment. Cory, while an important new character, joins a whole group of the characters with whose different and shared goals drive the story.
For those that haven’t read the series, will you tell us a little more about “jumping” and the science behind it?
Jumping is teleportation, the ability to go from one place to the next almost instantly. It’s a classic trope in the genre: Alfred Bester’s THE STARS MY DESTINATION, Phyllis Eisenstein’s BORN TO EXILE, Star Trek’s transporter beam, lots of television. In the series, I expand its uses but never beyond the parameters set forth in the first book, JUMPER. When jumping, a portal is opened between two different locations. If you jump back and forth quickly enough, you can leave this portal open. When you jump from one location to the other, you are matching frames of reference, so you can jump from a speeding car to the sidewalk without rolling down it at 60 mph. If you think about it, you can add velocity at your destination that doesn’t match the frame of reference.
In Exo, Cent is ready to take jumping to a whole different level. Did you have to do any additional research for the book, or did you just draw on research done for previous installments?
I’ve been a space exploration buff ever since I watched Neil Armstrong step down onto the lunar surface on a B&W 4” tv in a Honolulu kitchen when I was 14. I did revisit some of my previous research and I made sure I was up to date on others. A lot of this book involves some respiration physiology that I’ve known from diving. Other stuff is newly learned.
Exo features some fabulous baddies, who are complex in their personalities and motivations. What are a few of your favorite bad guys or gals in books or film?
Though I understand he doesn’t like the movie, I love Gary Oldman’s bad guy in Fifth Element: Jean-Batiste Zorg. Another great one is Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber from Die Hard.
You’ve undoubtedly influenced many writers with your work, but who have been some of the biggest influences in your work, or in life?
Early Heinlein, particularly HAVE SPACESUIT WILL TRAVEL which EXO is clearly “in dialog” with. I’ve read nearly everything Lois McMaster Bujold has written. Out of genre, I adore the four Lord Peter Whimsy/Harriet Vane novels by Dorothy Sayers and Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD.
What do you like to see in a good story? Is there anything that will make you put a book down, unfinished?
Characters acting out-of-character for plot reasons rather than plot arising out of the conflicting needs and motivations of realistic characters.
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
There are so many… How about GOOD OMENS by Pratchett and Gaiman.
What’s next for you?
Last year I was working with James Cameron and the other screenwriters on the next three AVATAR movies. I am working on a novel based on the first 2008 movie and I will be writing a novel for each of the three movies to be published as they come out. I also hope to work on a sequel to my book 7th SIGMA and another JUMPER book.
Cent can teleport. So can her parents, but they are the only people in the world who can. This is not as great as you might think it would be—sure, you can go shopping in Japan and then have tea in London, but it’s hard to keep a secret like that. And there are people, dangerous people, who work for governments and have guns, who want to make you do just this one thing for them. And when you’re a teenage girl things get even more complicated. High school. Boys. Global climate change, refugees, and genocide. Orbital mechanics.
But Cent isn’t easily daunted, and neither are Davy and Millie, her parents. She’s going to make some changes in the world.