Bob Boan has been a member of the space community for more than 25 years, developing systems for communications and sensing satellites. He has multiple patents and publications in his field. Previously, he served in academia. He earned a BS from Campbell University, a master’s from the University of Mississippi and a doctorate from Florida Institute of Technology. He’s with us today to talk about his latest novel, Bobby Becomes Bob, published by Twilight Times Books.
Visit the author’s website to find out more about his work.
Thanks for being my guest today, Bob. From space scientist to literary author… will you share with my readers how this came about?
Mayra, I first flirted with the idea of being a literary author as a young teenager. I wondered if I could tell tales as well as some of my favorite authors. Being the confident optimist that I have always been, I’m sure that it was more like “I’ll bet I can write a story every bit as well as they can.” Nonetheless, I put that thought aside for more traditional teenage activities. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I revisited the concept of becoming a writer. I made several unremarkable attempts at writing over the next dozen or so years. Frankly, looking back, what I wrote wasn’t very good. I found I needed concentrated blocks of time that were unavailable to me in order to write partially because I am severely typing challenged. If I were going to be a successful writer, I was going to have to overcome my time constraints. I flunked retirement several times, continuing to delay the fulfillment of my desire to be an author. I finally got retirement about right, I think.
You were a voracious reader as a child. Were you also a young writer or did writing come later?
As I think back to my youth, I wouldn’t say I was so much a writer as a verbose user of words much of the time. When I wasn’t being unnecessarily wordy, I was blunt and brief. Neither of those is a highly desirable trait for an author. Good thing I didn’t have to rely upon income from writing to live during my youth, though it probably would not have afforded a much more Spartan existence.
Your enthusiasm for literature was somewhat blunted when you took high school and literary courses. Can you tell us why?
As I mentioned before Mayra, I never lacked confidence. I have been told that I successfully demand to be different. Perhaps there were those who needed the teacher to tell them what a passage or a story meant. That was not me! Maybe I was being a brat but I wanted to get from my reading that which I wanted to get. I wanted to be the one to fill in the bandwidth as opposed to some instructor telling me that when I read the snow was accumulating in deep drifts really meant that the author was in a dark mood. I didn’t see and didn’t want to see the instructor’s interpretation. I pretty much shut down and left the printed word behind except for required reading.
Interesting. I’m sure many students can identify with that. Let’s move on to your latest novel. Bobby Becomes Bob is a coming-of-age literary story set in a rural town. What was your inspiration for it and what themes do you explore in the novel?
More than once, I had heard the advice, “write about something you know.” That sounded reasonable to me so I chose to follow that advice. I grew up in a rural North Carolina town quite similar to St. Umblers during the time frame of the story — the 50s through the 70s. Bobby Becomes Bob is a story of real-life. When I started planning the book, Bobby was going to approximate a superhero. It was only after one of my daughters asked me to tell her about my life growing up that I decided to change the tone of the story partially to answer the questions she didn’t know how to ask. I found Bobby more likable after I made him invulnerable. He was certainly much more realistic. I made Bobby an Everyman. The hero could have been almost anyone from a large number of rural towns across the country. I focused on the ups and downs of life to which any one of us might have been exposed during that period of history.