Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am best known as the author of Rocket Boys, the #1 NY Times best-seller which was made into the movie October Sky. Rocket Boys is now considered a classic and is studied in many school systems across the country and the world. I am also the author of many other books, including The Coalwood Way, Sky of Stone, The Keeper's Son, Back to the Moon, Red Helmet, and The Dinosaur Hunter among others. I am also an avid amateur paleontologist, a scuba instructor, a Vietnam veteran, and a retired NASA engineer. My wife and I are members of the Monte Sano United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Alabama.
What is your favorite Bible verse? (translation please.) Why?
2 Peter 3:13 - Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Although the verse in context promises Christians a world that reflects their values, I take it to also mean that we are promised truly new Earths in the heavens where we can live. Essentially, it's a promise of a vibrant space program right there in the Bible!
That’s an interesting title; is there a special meaning behind the title?
The location of the story is on the moon and I thought it would be fun to name my main character after a major feature there. After being adopted as an unnamed newborn, Crater receives his name from his foster parents because of the thousands of craters the couple pass as they journey across the moon. The publisher liked the name enough that it evolved into the title of the novel.
What inspired the concept for the Helium 3 Series?
A discussion with my editor Ami McConnell and publisher Allen Arnold at Thomas Nelson about what my next novel should be worked its way around to the idea of writing a Young Adult novel set on the moon. After I fleshed out the idea of setting it 120 years in the future where a brave people are carving out an existence by mining Helium 3, they were enthusiastic about it, enough that they suggested a trilogy with the same characters.
How did you choose the setting?
I've always been a Lunaphile. I think the moon should be part of our future. I wrote another novel titled Back to the Moon which was set in the early 21st Century. Although not exactly a sequel, some of the characters in Crater are related to those in Back to the Moon. So I guess I've been quietly planning another book set on the moon for a long time.
Is any part of Crater factual?
Crater is fiction, of course, but it is based on several underlying facts. Among these are:
• Fusion reactors are feasible and, if constructed, would provide vast amounts of clean energy for the world.
• Helium 3 is acknowledged by scientists as being the perfect fuel for fusion reactors.
• The moon has vast deposits of Helium 3, which is an isotope placed there by the solar wind.
• Helium 3 can be mined and shipped to Earth, its value such that the construction of Lunar mining towns and a transportation system would be economical.