1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Right now Simon Laramie is my favorite. Simon’s the 15-year-old narrator of “Lifeline,” “Crucible,” “Colossus” and “Inferno,” the first four books in “The STARLING Series,” set in the year 2045. I love Simon because he often surprises himself. Simon’s my most complex and developed character to date. He’s a bullied kid, trying to survive in a dystopia in which pilotless, supercomputer-controlled drones capable of using “shock waves” on citizens rule the skies over towns and cities. Because Simon wants to express himself freely, he finds a way to circumvent the tight controls of the future SUPERNET. But Simon’s not just about tech. He also loves playing guitar, writing poetry and songs. Simon’s the youngest of the four teenagers who rebel against the system. Simon has the most to learn from his experiences at Briarwood Public High School.
2. Tell me about your travels.
I was born in South Carolina, but grew up mostly in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. In 2000, I sold most of what I owned, including my car, and took an Amtrak across the country with only a manual typewriter and a duffle bag full of clothes/poems. My typewriter and I landed in Eugene, Oregon, a town with wonderful bike paths and a connective bus system. I bicycled most of the time I lived in Eugene. Shortly after 9-11, I joined the Army. The Army took me to Oklahoma, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina. I was deployed twice, the first time in Iraq in the central area south of Baghdad. Second time I deployed to Kuwait. I’ve also been to Canada, England, Scotland and France. I’d love to visit Japan, Germany, Italy, Greece and Egypt and also see Australia and South America. My friend and fellow writer Stephen Earley Jordan II keeps trying to talk me into visiting him in Puerto Rico.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
I drink coffee with “Paul Revere” every day. “Mr. Revere” is the copper-clad stainless steel 1930s-style stovetop percolator with a cool art deco glass top. I caught up with “Mr. Revere” scouring the vintage scene over the course of the summer. The brand stamped on the bottom of the coffee pot says, “Revere Ware,” and there’s actually a picture of Revere’s likeness. So that’s why I call my coffeepot by his rightful name. (Whispering: Don’t tell anybody this. But “Mr. Revere” actually does talk to me when he percolates. Sometimes his words are inspirational, even insightful. But most of the time he just says “Drink more coffee.”)
4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
I’ve always been inspired by other writers, artists and musicians, along with all the mysteries in Nature. Regularly attending writing groups is a huge motivator. These include Morgantown Writers Group (MWG) coordinated by authors George Lies and Patricia Patteson and the groups which meet at Monongalia Arts Center (MAC): Morgantown Poets hosted by author Scott Emerson and the playwrights’ group organized by playwright Donald Fidler, whose work has been performed via M.T. Pockets Theatre Company, among others. Writers across the region such as the members of West Virginia Writers, Inc. have also been incredibly supportive (particularly I’d like to mention Eric Fritzius, Cat Pleska and T.W. McNemar). I also savor the energy of poets I know such as Neil Donnell Ray of North Carolina and Joe Limer, currently living in California. Enjoying community is important fuel for the writing process.
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I try to walk/bicycle regularly for commuting/exercise. For example, I often walk about a mile one way to the downtown library in Morgantown. I strive for the recommended 30-minutes a day of exercise—although I often get caught up reading or writing and don’t always reach this goal. Generally I try to walk or bicycle as much as possible to get exercise, save money and to reduce my burning of fossil fuels. My poem, “STAR BUS,” which was featured in the Morgantown/Monongalia County bus system’s “Poetry on the Move” program, talks about my love of bicycling and walking.
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
My sister and I grew up in the 1980s with records handed down to us by our parents, mostly 1960s-70s rock such as The Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd, Neil Young and others. We had stacks of 45s and a beat up “vintage” record player. We’d play the 45s all day (flipping them over frequently) jumping around to the music of each song, having fun. My mom also played piano in rural churches, so I grew up listening to gospel too. Songs like “I’ll Fly Away” still speak to me. When I was in middle school, my grandfather gave me his eight-track player and his tapes, so I started listening to bluegrass and country. I listen to everything from Kris Kristofferson to Moby, from Billie “Lady Day” Holiday to Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” I’ve recently been listening to Patty Griffin and continue to be inspired by Garth Brooks’ song, “We Shall Be Free.” I’ve also heard a number of local musicians during my travels (Mike Morningstar of central West Virginia is one of my favorites—particularly love his song, “Buffalo Creek”). I’m inspired by live, local music most of all. Like other area writers and artists, I support the local music scene as much as possible.
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Theodore A. Webb is the author of Lifeline, Crucible, Colossus and Inferno, which comprise “The STARLING Connection,” the first four books in The STARLING Series, available for Kindle on Amazon.com. Webb posts daily updates to his blog, www.theodorewebb.com, which frequently features authors and other artists, events, writing tips, news, ideas and thoughts about the arts and other subjects. Journalists, book reviewers, teachers, publishers, etc. may contact Webb directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other ways to connect are Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theodorewebbauthor and Twitter: Theodore Webb @STARLINGCONNECT.
The STARLING Series:
Does true friendship exist in the year 2045? Fifteen year old "hacker" Simon Laramie is trying to survive high school and a world where supercomputer-controlled Drones patrol the skies, where massive Reconditioning Centers rule the land, and PATRIOT SECURITY constantly watches everyone. As one of the “invisible kids” left out of everything at Briarwood Public High School, Simon faces life-threatening bullying. At a critical moment in his life that seems without hope, Simon crosses paths with Jaya Ceyes (“Keys”), a rebellious, hard-charging senior with a mysterious burn scar on her face. Despite the deeper scars crossing her spirit, Jaya has survived determined to place her life on the line for what she believes in.
Teenage "hackers" Jaya Ceyes, Simon Laramie, Flower Wildwind and Peter Arnold dig in deeper in the fight for their rights at Briarwood Public High School, giving STARLING its wings. Their special code launches STARLING front and center into the tightly-controlled SUPERNET, for all the world to see. See what Pete does when the maiden flight of STARLING doesn’t go as expected.
Teenage hackers Jaya Ceyes, Simon Laramie and Flower Wildwind journey deep into the colossus that is TEMPLE to confront their friend, Peter Arnold. The teens are targeted by TEMPLE's chief executive and high priest the Rev. John Falcon. Hear Falcon's boiling sermon about STARLING’S migration and Falcon's utopian plans for the future of “humankind.”
Jaya Ceyes and Simon Laramie journey into an epic struggle to take Prom for the People from dream to reality. The big shots in the Briarwood School Committee finally decide what to do with the "problem" of Jaya. Unexpected results lead to a surprise ending after the Briarwood High seniors graduate and Simon meets a mysterious stranger in a giant ULTRA SUV limousine.