Author bio: Ted Cross is from Arizona and has spent the past two decades traveling the world as a diplomat, all the time dreaming about writing fantasy and science fiction. He has visited nearly forty countries and lived in eight, including the U.S., Russia, China, Croatia, Iceland, Hungary, Azerbaijan, and the Bahamas. He’s witnessed coup attempts, mafia and terrorist attacks, played chess with several world champions, and had bit parts in a couple of movies. He is married with two sons and currently lives in Nassau, Bahamas.
Ted had vague dreams about being an author for about 25 years but always suspected he’d never get around to it. “At that time the story percolating in my mind centered around my teenage love for Dungeons & Dragons. One day, while living in China, I was thinking about A Game of Thrones–not the story but the manner in which it was told–and it suddenly struck me that Martin’s way of telling the story by rotating point of view chapters between a variety of characters would work perfectly for the story I always wanted to tell.” Ted immediately sat down and typed out a chapter which ended up becoming the third chapter in his fantasy novel The Shard. “From that point on I was hooked.”
Although Ted tried for years to go the traditional route, he watched what was happening in the industry–”the focus on only a limited type of success, the gutting of the mid-list authors–I realized I wouldn’t fit with what the publishing houses and the literary agents were currently looking for. So, I went the indie route and haven’t looked back.”
Ted’s writing style involves letting the the story work itself out in his mind before he gets started with the actual writing process. “Friends are always stunned when they sit and talk with me about a work in progress and I tell them everything I know about the story. But I will go into the writing of a chapter knowing little more than a couple of plot points and which characters need to be in it, and I vanish into a zone; and emerge with a new chapter that often has things I never anticipated in it, including new characters and new plot points.”
Although, Ted thinks through entire stories before diving into writing, he prefers writing novels to short stories. “I do try to write short stories now and then–and I have a small collection of short stories published called Lord Fish–but I’m by nature a novel writer and find it awkward to write short stories. I think the only one I’ve ever really been happy with was one called Dragon Play that was first published in Samuel Peralta’s anthology, The Dragon Chronicles.”
Why do you think people feel drawn to the Science Fiction genre?
I imagine it’s highly individual. For me, I’ve always loved the “story” of who and what we are, meaning that I love history…and that extends in both directions. I want to know the why and how of our story so far, but I also love to imagine what our story will be going forward in time. I also love the excitement and even fear of what the future may hold for us.
What scientific advancement do you feel is right around the corner?
There are so many things I see coming, but many are too obvious, such as self-driving vehicles. What I prefer to focus on is the digitalization of mind data, as it plays a central role in all of my sci-fi. There are already rudimentary mind-data interfaces being used today, so such interfaces will naturally progress rapidly until they are doing things that seem almost magical to us now. Immortality has always been a holy grail for humans, and I foresee digital immortality as our first step toward making this happen, and I play with this idea in all of my science fiction stories.
Do any of your characters represent you as a whole or someone you know? Or do they have qualities you admire in others?
Mostly no, though I guess the closest I come to having a character represent me on some level is my first main character, Midas, from The Shard. He is humble and empathetic in a type of medieval world that typically punishes such people rather harshly. And his main drive is his love for his children and his desire to keep them safe in a dangerous world, and that is certainly a constant with me as well.
Are there any genres of literature or movies that you won’t read or watch? What’s your favorite genre to read/watch?
I won’t read romance novels, though I’m not opposed to romantic elements occurring naturally within a story. I’m also not a fan of certain genres like steampunk, urban fantasy, and many elements within the current YA fad. There are exceptions, such as Harry Potter, that are truly good, but most of these that I have read have been so so at best, at least to my taste.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Patience, I suppose. When we first start off, we have so much excitement about our creations, and of course we believe in ourselves. We believe our work deserves an audience and we don’t see why it should have to take ten or twenty years to gain that audience. Unfortunately, no matter how talented you may be, unless lightning strikes, it is going to take time and a lot of effort to build an audience. You need tremendous patience and the ability to compartmentalize and move on to your next work in progress.
Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
I’m slowly working about on my next two novels, a duology. The first is tentatively titled Penthesilea. It is set about six centuries in the future on one of the first colony planets. It was colonized by a group that wishes to build a small utopia consisting only of women. That alone is a fun topic to play with, but in the first chapter I get to introduce two huge conflicts that will either destroy the colony or bring the bickering colonists back together again.