December 7, 2015

Prime Meridien: an interview with S.H. Jucha, author of "Meridien: a Silver Ships Novel"

The Méridiens are fleeing to their far colonies—and they have reason to run. Over the course of decades, they have lost hundreds of ships, billions of people, and seven Confederation colonies to an alien enemy: an advancing swarm of silver ships transported in the bowels of a gigantic, spherical vessel.

Alex Racine, who once enjoyed the solitary life of an explorer-tug Captain, is now an Admiral and responsible for the lives of a quarter million Librans. Further complicating his life, Alex’s Librans have made it clear they don’t want to settle on his home world. They want a new home, and he must secure them one.

The silver ships await Alex’s makeshift flotilla at Libre, the last colony they consumed. Thus far, Alex’s people have succeeded in skirmishes against the enemy’s fighters. Now, though, they’re preparing to attack the entire alien fleet and halt the devastation of the colonies.

To the surprise and chagrin of his officers and crew alike, Alex concocts a new plan, because he believes humanity faces not one but two alien species, and one may be enslaved to the other. If so, Alex believes slaves should be liberated, not obliterated.

To test Alex’s theory, his people must capture a wholly intact silver ship—a feat never before accomplished. The crew remains doubtful, but their Admiral is determined to communicate with the aliens before he’s forced to destroy them, and his wish is their command.

Gef: What was the inspiration behind Méridien

S.H.: The original outline for the book The Silver Ships was so long, I cut the story into three novels. Méridien is the conclusion of the three-novel story. The story originated from a desire to counterbalance the gloom and doom, military sci-fi themes that I had encountered lately. I believe that most humans, given the opportunity, can build a better world. Call me optimistic!

Gef: What was it about this book, if anything, that you approached differently from the previous titles? 

S.H.: Within each of these three books, I wanted to focus on people, their lives, and how they treated one another. In the third book, Méridien, I took on the challenge of how humans might view aliens, who had been their adversaries, once they learned their story. It’s a twist on how people view other human cultures that are quite different from their own.  

Gef: How have you found your progression as a writer thus far? 

S.H.: It’s been challenging and exhilarating. As with any endeavor, you begin as a novice and slowly develop your skills. I have been amazed and pleased by the development of my own techniques, both on a broader scale and in the minutiae.  

Gef: Who do you count among your writing influences? 

S.H.: My favorite writers span many generations from Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. Le Quin, and James White to more recent authors such as C.J. Cherryh. The more intimately the stories dealt with their characters, their relationships, and the worlds they inhabited, the more likely I was to enjoy the story.

Gef: How much of a balancing act is there with backstory in writing the third book in a series? 

S.H.: When I wrote my second book, I wrestled with how much to summarize the first book since where one story ended the other story began. I decided to walk the line and interspersed the previous book’s elements within the second book’s first two chapters and then continued forward with the story. The balancing act appears to have been well received based on my readers’ comments. I must admit my compromise stemmed from my own reading preference. When a new book comes out in a series, five to twelve months following the previous one, short reminders in the first chapter or two of the previous book are well appreciated.

Gef: What do you consider to be the greatest appeal to the sci-fi genre? 

S.H.: Sci-fi has several audiences. Setting aside the sub-genre that focuses primarily on military conflict, I think most sci-fi fans seek imaginative stories of unique worlds, the futuristic technological innovations that shape the societies, and how humans have adapted in these worlds.

Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

S.H.: “If you’re smart, you’ll write for the broadest audience possible. Look at what’s selling and target that audience.” I couldn’t write, telling the stories I enjoy, if I followed that advice.

Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?

S.H.: My wife, Peggy, and I are suckers for almost any BBC detective series: DCI Banks, Inspector Morse, Inspector George Gently, Vera, Death in Paradise, and our favorite, Foyle’s War. These stories are so very well written, acted, and directed. In almost every manner, they are the antithesis of Hollywood-made stories.

Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

S.H.: Alex and company, the protagonists of my series, are alive and well. I’m nearing completion of the first draft of Hellébore, the fourth book in The Silver Ships series. The outline for this story had to be separated into two novels. The second half of the story will follow in Sol. Recently, I sat down and outlined what I consider to be an adjacent series. It came from my two-drawer collection of half-finished stories. I will tell the tale of a third Earth colony ship and the colonists rocky start on a new and unwelcoming home world. For more information on my novels, readers can check out my website,, my blog,, and ask a question via my contact form.

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