A Little History: The Story Behind Writing Moonracer

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I’m a sucker for a good love story, mostly because it’s the most basic yet powerful human emotion. This force inside each of us reaches much farther than how we feel about other people, its wound into the fiber of our beings, driving how we react to sports, hobbies, jobs, and even how and where we live.

I love science fiction, and the more grounded the story the better. I’ve never been a huge fan of extreme stories that push the edge of fantasy and magic, nor am I thrilled over the recent trend toward post-apocalyptic dystopian societies. Granted, I believe these stories have their place, and they are cautionary tales based on some of the more horrific things mankind has done to itself over the centuries, but I prefer a vision of the future where the human race gets its crap together and moves forward without almost wiping ourselves out.

I was indoctrinated into Star Trek at a young age, and Gene Rodenberrys’ vision of mankind reaching out to find other worlds and races of beings was interesting, especially given the United States was in the midst of trying to land on the Moon. Many years later, Joss Whedon would produce a single season of a show called Firefly, and little did he know the far reaching effect it would have.

Firefly

Whedon depicted a scenario where we survive but with our fair share of growing pains, and that was wonderfully realistic to me. His blending of frontier life on outlying planets where the bulk of modern technology had yet to reach created a unique dichotomy of old west/space age action.

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, screenwriter Ronald D. Moore breathed life into the Klingon culture and penned some of the most in-depth episodes of the show, filled with rich and complex characters. Years later, he re-imagined the television series Battlestar Galactica, and the transformation from the popcorn 80’s show into a dramatic, darker, and more intense story was nothing short of amazing. Mr. Moore’s work on Star Trek: TNG remains as one of my earliest inspirations to write

We’ve all seen stories about people in dangerous professions, from police to fire and rescue, as well as the military in various stages of war, but the great story about the dangerous sport of auto racing has yet to rise to the top. It certainly hasn’t been for lack of material, and Ron Howards’ recent film Rush was a great period piece about two legends of the sport, but there are so many more yet untold to a wider audience.

Rush

If you were to ask an auto enthusiast to name his favorite film about racing, the list would be short. There have been many good documentaries, with Audis’ Truth in 24 probably the best and most recent of those along with Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans, but for a fictional story aimed at pure entertainment the choices have been scarce.

Many would still say Steve McQueens’ classic Le Mans is the best, but let’s face it, for all its stunning action photography, the story is napkin thin. In addition, even with all its attributes it was still released in 1971, and given the Hollywood propensity to reboot anything over ten years old, I’d say the time is ripe for something new.

220px-LeMans

Another highly regarded racing film was Grand Prix that released in 1966. This film certainly delivered a much more in-depth story, and its action was certainly realistic, but once again, we’ve seen very little since. Days of Thunder attempted to tackle the world of NASCAR in 1990, and Driven tested the waters of Formula 1 in 2001, and while both were good stories, neither were great, nor will they probably still be talked about and revered thirty years later.

You’ve probably noted all of my references so far have been about films rather than books, and that would be because the literary choices are even slimmer than those of the theater. Once again, you can find great biographies and history of the various men, machines, and time frames, but very little in the way of literary fiction.

GrandPrix

So with a great love of both the automotive world and the realm of sci-fi, I felt the racing novel suffered from two things. Historical fiction would be difficult since winners and champions are well documented and contemporary fiction for some of the same reasons, but you have to basically brush aside the modern greats and rising stars in order to create a new character. It was here I felt science fiction had an advantage, because a futuristic story can pay fitting homage to the legends of the sport while writing its own current state of being. Then the all-important suspension of disbelief can be achieved without displacing a team or driver who may have won their first race last week.

With all due respect (and a lot of it) for those who pen screenplays, even some of them will say great films come from great books, so I set out to write the great film that was playing in my head. Something that had the hopeful vision of the future, characters that were flawed and driven by their passionate emotions, and the concept of a dream that would be chased to its eventual outcome, no matter the cost. A story that would take the infancy of modern auto technology and launch it forward, showing that even the depletion of fossil fuel would not stop intelligent, inventive people from competing at top speed.

The sport of racing has been with us since mankind found ways to go faster than our own two feet would carry us. From chariots to the winged, wheel bullets they ride today, racing has been in our blood since before the first wheel was hewn from raw material, and I have every reason to believe it isn’t about to die off.

These were just some of the inspirations that drove me to write Moonracer, and it’s my sincere hope that so many others out there who share my passions will find it as entertaining to read as it was for me to write.

– T. August Green

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