My Interview with Steve Poling

1.  Where did the idea for Finding Time come from?  Have you always been interested in science fiction?
I was a kid watching TV when they were launching rockets for the Gemini and Apollo projects. That was so cool I started reading any book I could find that had a rocket on the cover. I devoured everything in the school and small-town libraries I had access to. It didn’t hurt that I was good at science and math.
I read Brenda Clough’s story /May Be Some Time/–that she expanded it into a novel here. (You should read it.) Her premise is that polar explorer Titus Oates of the doomed Scott Expedition to the South Pole is rescued by time travelers. He is brought to the near future and adventure ensues.
I loved her story so much that it captured my imagination when I latched onto a historical tidbit: The Nazis set up clandestine radio broadcasting stations in Greenland to spoof the radio navigation systems of aircraft being ferried across the Atlantic. This resulted in at least one lost squadron. I told her about this, but she didn’t want to write the story.
So I did. “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains” turned out pretty good. I liked the time travelers, Sid & Nell–and how they bickered. This got me thinking about the knowledge lost when the Library of Alexandria was destroyed, so I wrote “Book of Life and Book of Glory. ” After that I was hooked. Anything I found in history that I wanted to rescue had me writing a Sid & Nell story. I loved creating the love-hate relationship between them.

2.  Why did you decide to self-publish?  Would you recommend it?
When I finished “The Aristotelian” I looked at markets for Sherlock Holmes stories and wasn’t satisfied with any of them. So, I put it out on the Kindle. And I was pleased with what I learned and decided to see if I could collect my Sid & Nell stories and make a market for an anthology of them.

3.  If you could speak with any historical figure (without changing the future) who would it be and why?
Of course, the list is very long. I have every intention of looking up Michael Faraday after I leave this world. Isaac Newton would be a lot of fun to talk to because he reinvented Calculus and used it to figure out how the planets move.

4.  Can you give any hints about future writing projects?
You have to keep me away from shiny objects. They might distract me from my unfinished novel, “Steamship to Kashmir,” wherein Mycroft Holmes and the beautiful Rachel Stearns chase a murderer in the Diogenes Club’s secret nuclear-steam airship piloted by Baron Nemo.
I also have an asteroid mining story wherein a West Virginia coal-miner’s daughter hooks up with a Moscow-subway railroad engineer beyond the orbit of Mars. But that’s just a shiny object distracting me from Steamship.
If there’s sufficient interest, I am thinking about rescuing Amelia Earhart. And picking up some antiques burnt as firewood during the siege of Leningrad.

5.  What advice would you give any aspiring writers out there?
Write. Write every day. Bradbury said everyone sucks until s/he’s written a million words. Get started. Pay attention to what you’re writing and what folks say about what you’re writing and write. Write. Write. Write.
Read. When you are a kid riding in your dad’s car, you look out the window as a passive observer. Once you get your driver’s license, you look out the window differently. You notice road conditions. You notice how he takes the corners. You think about how he navigates to the destination. You are a non-passive observer.
After you start writing, you should read as a non-passive observer. How did Heinlein handle the problems that arise when conveying a narrative in words? Make yourself aware of what he’s doing and why.

6.  Do you believe time travel could ever be a reality?  Why or why not?
The case for “Why not”: I read someone, Larry Niven perhaps, say that time travel stories are pure fantasy. He’s probably right. Given the nature of the universe, any change of anything as large as an electron will change history. So, there’s a problem that I used “strange attractors” and hand-waving to get around in my story.
The case for “Why”: That said, I think there are particles that can move backwards in time. This mean they can probably be modulated at some point in the future where they can be demodulated in its past. Thus we could send messages back. If you find out about some physicist making a killing in the stock market, or in cattle futures, that will be highly suggestive.


    • Carrie Slager

      Haha, so true! Steve Poling sure does know his science. Although, talking to Isaac Newton about calculus would not be my first choice. Then again, I don’t particularly like math.

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