Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Word Reclaimed: An Interview with Author Steve Rzasa

Today we're featuring an interview with Steve Rzasa, author of "The Word Reclaimed," which was released by Marcher Lord Press in October 2009. The book is available from, Amazon, and Barnes& And now, let's hear from Steve:

Welcome, Steve. Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in South Jersey, and fell in love with books—especially science fiction novels and historical volumes—at an early age. I earned my bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University’s College of Communications in 2000, and then spent seven years as a reporter and assistant editor at weekly newspapers in Maine.

My wife Carrie and I moved to her home state of Wyoming in 2007 with our two boys so I could take a job as editor of a weekly newspaper there. Now I work at the Johnson County Library in Buffalo, Wyoming.

I read in your Marcher Lord Press interview that you're proud that "not only does my oldest son read the Bible, but he also knows the difference between an X-wing and a TIE fighter." Let me just say that I do, too! What fun for me to interview a fellow Star Wars fan! Reading the synopsis of your book, I seem to catch a bit of the Star Wars influence. I'm picturing a boy finding the remnants of Christianity (when he stumbles upon a Bible) rather than the remnants of the old Jedi religion. Am I on track at all?

Pretty much, though I did not intentionally pattern the book after “Star Wars.” That said, I am a child of the 1980s – “Star Wars” informs much of what I like to read and create. The idea came when I asked myself, “What would a guy do if he found a Bible floating in space?” The idea expanded into a universe where all print materials are illegal, and a secret police force oppresses any and all religions that claim to have the sole route to salvation or paradise or what have you. This puts Christianity at the top of their hit list. But “The Word Reclaimed” is also an adventure tale that touches on politics, combat and family.

In your interview at Marcher Lord Press, you mention how hard it is to find science fiction with redeeming spiritual themes. Why do you think that is?

I think some of that comes with the territory. Science-fiction generally appeals to an audience that has given up on God, and looks to the stars for answers. I should know – I was one of those people. Science-fiction allows you to dive into a world where science and technology can solve mankind’s ills, both literal and spiritual. But it is a genre that also makes a wonderful setting for great adventures. It is ripe for spiritual redemption.

Are there other current SF books or movies or even TV shows that you're excited about?

Well, the one show I’m most excited about is long-cancelled – “Firefly” by Joss Whedon. Cowboys and pirates in space – need I say more? I am also very much looking forward to James Cameron’s “Avatar” this winter and am still reeling from the eye-popping “Star Trek” from this summer.

Wow, you're definitely at home on this blog! My co-blogger and niece, Kristi, has a Facebook group called something like "Joss Whedon Should Hire Kristi Israel." (Kristi, correct me if I got that wrong.) And I did a post last summer about the new Star Trek movie.

Do you think a writer may accomplish some things better through speculative fiction than other types of fiction?

Speculative fiction offers a better setting for adventures than other genres, in part because the authors can feel free to create a new world. I also think speculative fiction is more entertaining because it is far removed from everyday life, and that makes it easier to tackle themes on a grander scale.

What do you hope to accomplish through The Word Reclaimed? Sheer entertainment? Warn us of a possible, grim future? Or something entirely different?

I hope to do a little of both – entertain with a tale of adventure, danger and space battles, but also warn of a future in which all information is controlled through electronic monopolies. There is no substitute for the printed word.I also want the reader to see the power the Word of God has in people’s lives. It draws people to its pages but also leads them to raging extremes to destroy it. Or perhaps I should say, try to destroy it.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? And is The Word Reclaimed the first book you've written?

I have always wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t until high school and college that I really settled on that as the thing that I wanted to do, however. “The Word Reclaimed” is the first published novel I’ve written, and is actually the first half of the manuscript reviewed by Marcher Lord Press. The second half is the sequel, tentatively titled “The Word Unleashed,” is due out this spring from MLP.

I did also self-publish a short Christian sci-fi novel called “This Stirring Strife” shortly after college. It was kind of an experiment – I had a story I wanted told, and wanted to see it in print. So now there are a few used copies out floating around on and Barnes & Noble somewhere.

How did you go about creating the world of your novel? Do you have a science or technology background that helped out?

I have next to zero background in those subjects – beyond public school education – but I usually read any space/future tech-related article in news magazines I come across. I spent a lot of time over the years putting together the future tech for “The Word Reclaimed,” figuring how it would impact their society, and knowing how it works. I also wanted to give the universe a feel of realism, so I made the effort to research foreign languages and put them into the book.

Tell us a little about your journey to publication.

I had little time to write fiction when I was a reporter. When you spend all day writing for a living, the last thing you want to do when you get home is park yourself in front of a keyboard. So my book proceeded slowly. In 2008 however, I changed jobs and my writing took off. Within a year, I’d completed the book and send out submissions. Jeff Gerke from MLP picked it up in the summer of 2009, and the rest, as they say, is history. It was quite a whirlwind ride.

Do you have any words of advice for other writers--especially those struggling to find that first publishing contract?

Yes – keep trying. I know that’s terribly cliché advice, but it’s true. I had several rejections along the way, but thankfully MLP was right there as the perfect fit for “The Word Reclaimed.” Do not give up on your writing, if it is a story for which you have an undeniable passion. And don’t be afraid to take the advice of others and change your work. It’s very hard for the writer’s ego, but the end result will be worth it.
Anything else you'd like to tell us?

By far, the coolest sci-fi characters in existence are Han Solo (Star Wars), Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Sandor Kreja (Merchanter’s Luck by C.J. Cherryh). Coolest ship ever? The USS Defiant from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!

Thanks again for being our guest today. And best wishes with the book!


  1. I can't wait to check out this book! It's such an interesting connection- the dangers of abolishing the printed word entirely. I'm sure many of us have pondered where the "tolerance" movement may be an eventual threat to Christianity, but I never considered the loss of the printed a connected danger.

    Also, KUDOS on being a fellow Browncoat! I actually work my Jayne shirt today that says "public relations", and it sparked an entire conversation in Starbucks with two fellow fans who just went on and on about the show. It's amazing how that show still has such a passionate following. There is something to be said for commeraderie and the fight against tyranny, and you're right. Sci-fi/ fantasy is such a great context within which to explore those themes.

    Thanks for the interview!

  2. It is late, and the above comment has many typos. Sorry. I meant I "wore" that shirt today.

  3. Nice interview! Having read Steve's book, I can testify that it is alot of fun. Well worth the price of admission. Looking forward to the next one.

    And the fact that Firefly was cancelled so soon...still boggles the mind.