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But if Clark sprouted from seeds of reality, he quickly became his own thing. Very little of what happens in the novel actually happened to me— my own life was really pretty dull. So when I started putting Clark in tough situations, he had to start figuring his own way out. Each time he did, he did so in a way that was slightly different from what I might have done myself. (Case in point: Until I started writing this book, I had never, ever considered the possibilities of strategic regurgitation.) By the end of the book, he’s definitely his own man. In my mind. You can tell that he became threedimensional to me by the fact that I refer to him in the third person. It used to annoy me when writers did that. Not anymore.  Shelf Unbound: This novel is an homage to nerds generally and Star Trek/Star Wars nerds in particular. I assume you’re a sci-fi fan? Merschel: Yes, but with some qualifications. You’ve heard that saying that “the Golden Age of science fiction is when the reader was 12?” That was very much me. For several years, sci-fi and fantasy were not just my favorite type of reading, they were my only type of reading. In



my late teens, I began to read more broadly. The result being that to people who don’t read science fiction, I am an absolute geek. To people who actually read it regularly, I am absolutely clueless.  I mean, I have friends who collect movie props and decorate their cars Mad Max-style. Who drove for hours to appear as extras in Starship Troopers. A guy I went to college with now is an actual writer of Star Trek novels. A junior high friend has organized major conventions. Where the people go to talk about shows I have barely heard of. If you were assembling a Zombie Apocalypse team and needed a guy who would be able to bail you out of any situation requiring knowledge of sci-fi trivia—you would pick me last.  But I do still own one Spock ear (part of a set I wore to a convention in high school), and I repeat the story of the time I interviewed William Shatner as often as I can get away with it.  And the book is, in many ways, a love letter to the power of science fiction to inspire. And unite. Which I hope helps me maintain my nerd cred. 

Shelf Unbound August-September 2017  
Shelf Unbound August-September 2017  

Special 7th Anniversary Issue