Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Joshua David Bellin Author Interview

Photo Content from Joshua David Bellin

I’ve been writing novels since I was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). I taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to writing fiction. SURVIVAL COLONY 9 (2014) is my first novel, with the sequel, SCAVENGER OF SOULS, published in 2016. A third book, the deep space adventure FREEFALL, releases in 2017.

I am proud to be represented by the fabulous Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency.

I love to read (mostly science fiction), watch movies (again, mostly sci-fi), and spend time in Nature (mostly catching frogs and toads). I’m the world’s worst singer (just ask my kids), but I play a pretty mean air guitar.

Oh, yeah, and I like monsters. Really scary monsters.


Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I’ve done a little reading on this, and one theory is that human beings are innately storytellers because we’re innately problem-solvers. We like mysteries, unanswered questions, surprises—all the things that stories give us. There’s more to it than that, of course—we also love the sound of language, and we’re curious about others’ lives, and we enjoy sharing knowledge with our friends and families—but I think at the root of it, stories are one form of what makes us human.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Well, based on my previous answer, they won’t be surprised to find out that I’m a complete nerd. But they might be surprised to discover that I’m one of the world’s leading authorities on Henry David Thoreau’s relationship to Native American people. (Seriously.) That doesn’t make me any less of a nerd, but for those who’ve read only my science fiction, it might come as a surprise that I’m interested in real-life history too.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
I’ve been a Tolkien geek since age 12, when I first read THE LORD OF THE RINGS. (That’s forty years ago, if anyone’s counting.) I was blown away by the scope and depth of his imagined world, and now that I’m older, I also appreciate the themes of endurance, sacrifice, and quiet heroism that are so prevalent in his great trilogy.

And, having said that I’m a Thoreau scholar, I have to confess that another of my favorite books is WALDEN. I re-read it all the time, and I still believe it’s one of the wisest books ever written.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
In high school, I had an English teacher who gave me a “D-minus” on a paper, and when I asked him why, he told me it was because I’d written a lazy paper that didn’t challenge either my reader or myself. As a writer and a person, I’ve tried to carry that lesson with me throughout life.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
A teacher of mine in college told me once that you shouldn’t “write what you know,” but “write what you want to know.” I thought that was great advice for a fiction writer, because if you stick to your own life—what you know—your fiction will be too limited. But if you write what you want to know, the whole world opens up to you and your readers.

Can you tell us when you started FREEFALL, how that came about?
Back in 2013, I tried National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time. I’d read some YA space operas just before then, and I had an idea for one of my own. I didn’t complete the novel during that month, but I did get my 50,000 words. Unfortunately, since I seldom plan before I write, I had some major revising to do before the book took shape!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Cam?
Cam was an interesting character to write. He’s a guy who has no reason to care about anyone else—he comes from one of the richest families on Earth, he’s been sheltered from the world’s problems all his life, and he’s about to leave the planet anyway. But he chooses to care. At considerable risk to his own status (and his own life), he involves himself in the lives of others who lack the freedom to make the choices he can. With Cam, I wanted to make sure he had no super-powers like so many YA heroes have, that he couldn’t do anything beyond what a normal person could do. It’s entirely his choices, not his abilities, that define him.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d love for Cam to meet Frodo, another guy who willingly takes on a burden he isn’t obligated to take. I think they’d learn a lot from each other and probably help each other along the way.

What part of Sofie did you enjoy writing the most?
I love characters who change as I write them, who seem to be pushing against whatever limits I might unconsciously be imposing on them, because those characters seem most real to me. Sofie was that kind of character. When I started writing, I didn’t know much more about her than her name and the fact that she and Cam would somehow meet on Earth before the colonization of space. But as I started writing, she took control and insisted on becoming this very vocal, passionate leader. There’s a lot of talk in YA fiction about “kick-butt heroines,” and I think Sofie fits that description—except she fights not with her fists but with her mind, her voice, and her faith.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Read generously. Writing is hard, and most writers are doing the best they can. That doesn’t mean you have to love what they wrote, and it doesn’t mean you can’t voice criticism. But so many reviews I read are nasty and mean-spirited, as if the reader went into the book wanting to get back at the author for some unexplained injury the author committed against the reader. I think that’s a bad way to read, and probably a bad way to live too.

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
That would have to be the summer I worked at a day camp. Not only was it a fun job, but it’s where I met my wife (who was also working as a counselor that year), and she’d kill me if I answered any other way!

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heartbreak, or having never loved at all?
Definitely the first. There are lots of things in life that break your heart—losing a love, watching your children leave home, seeing the unmerited suffering that takes place among so many people—but you can’t shield yourself from those things. You have to face them, experience them, and, hopefully, involve yourself in them.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I’m happy with the 70s and 80s, which were my actual teen decades. But I’m fascinated by the first decade of the 20th century, and I’m working on a historical novel set during that time. So I guess I’m vicariously living the life of a teen in 1908!

Who was your first girlfriend?
Her name was Naomi, and we dated for a few months in high school. It was the first relationship for both of us, which meant it was totally exciting and totally confusing at the same time. But she did teach me something very important, which leads to the next question.

Tell me about your first kiss.
I had no idea how to kiss someone when I started dating Naomi. I mean, the only people I’d kissed to that point were my mom and my grandmother and my aunts (and maybe the occasional family friend). So how would I know how to kiss a girl? But Naomi, I guess, had practiced or studied movies or something, because she knew. I was definitely her first boyfriend, but she was way beyond me in the kissing department, and she showed me how it’s done.

What is your greatest adventure?
Raising my two sets of children: the biological ones that my wife and I have helped guide toward adulthood, and the fictional ones that I’ve helped face challenges of their own. I’m proud of both sets and what they’ve been able to accomplish.

If I came to your house and looked in your closet/attic/basement, what’s the one thing that would surprise me the most?
I’m generally a neat person, who needs a tidy environment to think and work and write. So if you were to visit my attic, it would surprise you to discover how much junk is up there. But then you’d get lost among the junk and never be able to leave, so you’d have no chance to report your surprising discovery.

Where can readers find you?

If they’re planning a trip to Pittsburgh, they should get in touch so we can hang out. But if they can’t make the trip, they can settle for finding me online:

  • 1. I’m seventeen Earth-years old. I’ve survived a journey more than fifty times that long. And all I get to do at the end is choose how I’m going to die.
  • 2. Too many things can change in a thousand years. You can lose your best friend. You can lose your way across the galaxy. You can lose the girl you love.
  • 3. I almost laugh. But laughter, I’m pretty sure, isn’t on tonight’s agenda.
  • 4. I can’t believe the universe can go from so big to so small in a single moment.
  • 5. At last I have a plan, even if it’s insane.
  • 6. I feel totally alone, the entire universe my ocean, and me one small ship in an endless sea.
  • 7. In Sofie’s words, I heard the sound the stars make.
  • 8. I’m not sure I can trust him, but I’m not sure I can find a more trustworthy person I’m not sure I can trust, either.
  • 9. I watched my dreams crumble as she vanished like a fallen star into the ashy sky.
  • 10. “The fall into love is deep,” he said. “But the soul’s thirst for freedom is a well without bottom.”

In the Upperworld, the privileged 1% are getting ready to abandon a devastated planet Earth. And Cam can’t wait to leave. After sleeping through a 1,000-year journey, he and his friends will have a pristine new planet to colonize. And no more worries about the Lowerworld and its 99% of rejects.

Then Cam sees a banned video feed of protesters in the Lowerworld who also want a chance at a new life. And he sees a girl with golden eyes who seems to be gazing straight though the feed directly at him. A girl he has to find. Sofie.

When Cam finds Sofie, she opens his eyes to the unfairness of what’s happening in their world, and Cam joins her cause for Lowerworld rights. He also falls hard for Sofie. But Sofie has her own battles to fight, and when it’s time to board the spaceships, Cam is alone.

Waking up 1,000 years in the future, Cam discovers that he and his shipmates are far off-course, trapped on an unknown and hostile planet. Who has sabotaged their ship? And does it have anything to do with Sofie, and the choices—and the enemies—he made in the past?

Praise for FREEFALL

Brings new meaning to “star-crossed lovers”—read it for the intriguing concepts that play out behind the romance. —Kirkus Reviews

Completely new and unique dystopian/light science fiction. The story shifts from present to past and back again in a way that reveals a little at a time, keeping the reader completely hooked. This book will appeal to teens and adults alike. —Entrada Book Review

Bellin created a fantastic world, one highlighting social, racial, and economic inequalities that you see today, but translated it into a very dystopian-esque setting, where corporations run the world. —Lauren, from YA Bookers

Another engaging novel from master world-builder and storyteller, Joshua David Bellin. I am a fan for life, and I look forward to reading his next story. —Margo Kelly, YA author of Who R U Really? and Unlocked

[Bellin] has all the chops to turn such a dystopian scenario, where the world is firmly under the thumb of greedy, soulless corporate overlords, into a page-turning space opera that is pure pleasure from start to finish. —Kat Ross, YA author of the Fourth Element series

You can purchase Freefall at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JOSHUA DAVID BELLIN for making this giveaway possible.
2 Winners will receive a Signed Copy of FREEFALL by Joshua David Bellin.


  1. "If you could go back and change one day, what would it be?" A bad point in someone's life....

  2. If I could go back and change one day in my life, I'd change where I parked last Saturday to avoid an accident.

  3. I would change a day in my childhood. I'd honestly like to go back and beat the crap out of my childhood bully. I was always so scared to stick for myself and that made me a constant target.

  4. I wouldn't.

    Things happen for a reason, and I try not to dwell on the past.