Spotlight on Steve Tomporowski
By Nancy Bielot
Steve Tomporowski, an Engineer II in Middletown, recently wrote and published a book on Amazon.com called, “Raven: The Call from Central (Raven of Iskandar Book 1).” We thought it would be interesting to find out a little bit more about Steve and his writing. (Steve’s answers are in italic text.)
Give us a little background info… Where do you live… Wife & children’s names… Do you hold any degree… Where did you grow up?
I was born in the middle of last century (I always wanted to say that) in New Haven and was raised in New Haven until I spent 5 years in Boston for college. Northeastern University is where I earned a BS in Electrical Engineering. Spent some time living in West Haven and moved to Meriden shortly after I was married to Tarie, and have lived there for 32 years. I subsequently went nights to earn my MSEE. Two kids came with the marriage, Pamela and Donald, and we adopted three other kids—we did fostercare—Alyxandra, Juliet, and Jacob. Only Jacob, the youngest, is still living at home. He’s 23. We also have 8 grandkids so far, 7 boys and a girl.
How long have you been writing?
Technically I’ve been writing since high school, although I have gone back to read some of the stuff from my 20’s and cringe. Prior to this book, I’ve had two analytical articles published in “Doctor Who Magazine” and a couple of technical articles for “EDN” and “EETimes.”
This book is my first published fiction. I’ve had stories rejected before, maybe 2 or 3, but I wasn’t very diligent at writing or developing my ability. Rather ironically, I believe that writing test procedures is what helped develop my ability. It lead to me being detail oriented.
What prompted you to write, “Raven: The Call from Central?”
Originally I was just writing this for myself. The original inspiration is the computer game, “Unreal Tournament 2004.” I play the game with bots, that is, computer controlled players. As I formed my team, I began imagining personalities and stories behind each bot on my team. I started writing this just after meeting, online, Yvonne Marrs. Yvonne is a rather prolific author,
having published 22 books with 5 more ready to be published. She’s Scottish, originally from Inverness, and lives in England just north of London. When I mentioned that I was writing this for myself, she asked to see it. After reading the first chapter, she asked to see more, then asked for more after each section. She was the one who encouraged me to make a book out of it. She’s also my editor and stepped me through the whole publishing process.
How long did it take you to write this book?
When I started writing this series, about a year ago, I did not have a definite aim to create a book or series. I wrote a jumble of situations and incidents that now span the first 3 books of the series. It was at the end of June that we decided to start a book and, from what was written so far, I had to define how much would be the first book. Then there were 2 months of filling in the gaps and fleshing out the book and characters. The last month consisted of editing. The toughest part was finding and removing contradictions.
What is “Raven: The Call from Central” about?
It is Sci-Fi in the fact that the background is the future, and civilization is spread over thousands of worlds. It follows the first few months in the career of Raven in the Tournament. The Tournament is the computer game, “Unreal Tournament 2004,” blown up to stadium proportions where it is played, in lifesize simulation in front of thousands, with millions on other planets watching broadcasts in 3D. Although it is mostly from the perspective of Raven, the story centers around the team, how the players react to each other—there are different species—how
they react to management and to their opponents. The idea was not to create a super-strange future or a dystopian society, but rather how people would have to live in a future society. For example, with different species, no matter where they go, there is always the question of ‘Special Dietary Needs.’ It’s not pompous or preachy; the book has lots of action scenes and lots of humor, because people in the future will love to laugh as much as we do now. In concert with that idea, the characters deal with all the advanced features and equipment very casually
without really questioning how it works… just like many people do today. The biggest part of this is the simulation technology itself where the line between simulation and reality is blurred.
Is it based on any particular event in your life?
Not one particular event in my life, but as you write, what you have experienced in life always ends up in the story. Rather inadvertantly, the book explores what makes a great team, how they work together with each other and with their management.
Who was the biggest influence on this book?
That would be Yvonne. If not for her, these stories would just be a bunch of files only on my computer. Yvonne is very much an inspiration. I’ve mentioned that she’s written and published 22 novels, but what doesn’t come out is what she had to overcome to accomplish that. She has glaucoma, fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and she usually stops there so that you won’t get bored.
Some authors base characters in their books on people they know… did you?
Three of the characters are actually parts of me. Names of people at Kaman do pop up in the book in various minor characters. Tricia Blanks’ laugh does find its way into the book, although the character is not like Tricia. It is hard to tell if you are really using someone’s behavior in your character. As you write, the characters tend to create their own story, and many times do things you never expected. For example, and this may be a bit of a spoiler, the friendship between Raven and Chaoschick was never planned and just sort of happened.
Since this is “Raven of Iskandar Book 1,” I’m presuming there is a Book 2 in the works. How far along with it are you? Any idea when it will be published?
The second book should come out next year, although with the material and ideas I have it may split into 2 books. I have about 1/3 of Book 2 done, probably half of Book 3, and the final ending to the series already written. The ending is so good, I’m going to have to finish the series so that it gets out there.
The working title is, “Raven: The Tour.” The team goes on the Inner Circle Tour, visiting several other planets, including Earth. There are quite a few loose ends in the first book that I tied up in the second book, and probably I will create a few more loose ends to lead to the third book.
I’ve mention this on Facebook, but the universe I created in this book has origins many years back in another totally different story I had started writing. So even after this series, this universe may live on in other tales.
What did your wife say when you told her you were publishing a book?
The first thing she said was, “Should I change my name now?” I purposely released the book on our anniversary.