“Clever, and fun. Maybe witty. But Shakespeare it ain’t,” said Nate Streeper, librarian at the Braille Institute Santa Barbara and UCSB alumnus, about his recent novel, Murder on the Orion Express, the futuristic tale of Alan Blades, a deadbeat detective on a backwater planet, faced with the task of solving a murder. An avid reader and science-fiction enthusiast, Streeper is a go-getter, having self-published his novel, which he hopes will be just the first in a series of Alan Blades adventures. I met with Streeper last week to discuss his new book.

So, why science fiction? For me, if it’s far enough in the future, then you don’t have to worry as much about accuracy, you can kind of make it up …. Then you don’t have to guide the reader all the way, step by step. Like the beauty of Star Wars is that it’s a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, and that’s all you need, and then George Lucas has free reign to do whatever he wants …. I love Star Wars.

What was your inspiration for the character Alan Blades? He is basically my Philip Marlowe on a backwater planet. I try to give the reader a familiar, almost clichéd character; it’s very intentional …. This book is not supposed to be taken too seriously; it’s rather tongue-in-cheek.

Is Alan Blades at all based on you? His sense of humor is all me, because you can’t really punk a sense of humor.

Did you feel the need to put a new spin on Alan because of the trope of the down-on-his-luck detective? Maybe not so much with regard to the character as with regard to the plot. The idea for the plot came to me much later than the character. I had originally written this character into a different book …. Then one day I was shelving books in the library, and I got to [Agatha] Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, and it occurred to me, “Wouldn’t it be cool if this happened on a spaceship instead of a train?”

Murder on the Orion Express can be found at The Book Den, Chaucer’s Books, and Mesa Bookstore, and on Amazon.


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