Bo Boswell is the Director of IT at Warner/Chappell Production Music in Nashville, TN. He used to enjoy lots of free time before starting a daily writing practice, which quickly absorbed all of that respite and resulted in The Century Cube, a time travel science fiction book meant to entertain young folks and warn adults about what might happen if kids found a magical Rubik’s Cube.
Bo lives in Brentwood, TN with his wife, two sons, and a smallish, rescued dog. Aside from reading and writing, he enjoys photography—he’s meticulously taken a photo every day since 2004 and has posted them on his website—and being in the outdoors, whether going for a walk, riding a bike, throwing football at the park, watching the sunset, or relaxing on the screened porch.
1.What is the most fascinating thing about your main character?
He’s a young boy with a wild imagination who can solve a Rubik’s Cube faster than anyone he knows. He tries to act cool and confident, but he’s naturally more timid than his younger brother, who is the braver and bolder of the two.
2.If I were stuck in a room with your main character, what would we be doing?
You would probably be watching Turner, a 9-year-old boy, speed-solve his Rubik’s Cube. He’d get you to time him, then he’d try to teach you to solve it. He’d get frustrated when you fail to catch on after 10 seconds, so he’d swipe it from you and resume practicing on his own. If Weston, his younger brother, were there, they’d eventually start fighting until something was broken or someone was in tears.
3.You have unlimited money to buy a gift for your main character. What would you buy?
He’s big into cars, especially exotics. He’d love to have a Lamborghini or a Bugatti. If money wasn’t a factor, then he’d probably want a Bugatti Veyron.
4.What character from your work frightens you, makes you feel dirty to write?
It would be Titus, an android police officer called a sentry-bot. The idea of a humanoid robot that is constantly surveilling humans is unsettling, even if it states its purpose is to protect.
5.What character from your book fills you with hope?
Definitely Yui. He’s the first person that my characters meet in the future. He is willing to go out of his way to help these kids who have mysteriously arrived at his door. He has courage and an ambition to help others.
I liked the idea of a puzzle like a Rubik’s Cube being the mechanism for unlocking a door to a new world. The traveler would be required to perform a practiced, skillful task in order to start the journey. As in The Century Cube, the cube becomes harder to turn as you get closer to the solution, so the boys have to work together to solve it. Additionally, similar to The Chronicles of Narnia, the book is about a group of kids who go on an adventure without the need for adult language or situations that are inappropriate for younger audiences. My goal was to tell a fun story that’s suitable for young and old, but that might mean different things to different ages.
7.What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
What I like about science fiction time travel, in which you go to the future, is that it’s fun to speculate about what the world will be like in 100 years, as I did for The Century Cube. Imagining how things are going to change and evolve, from technology, to the environment, to human population. I love thinking of ways that technology, specifically artificial intelligence, might advance over the next century and what opportunities or challenges it presents.
8.When you are writing, tell me about the emotions that are running through you and what it takes to work alongside them.
Since I’m writing about young kids, I got to return to my childhood when I was growing up on a small farm. There’s a sense of nostalgia as I revisited the games I used to play with my sister and cousins. Conversely, I have mild claustrophobia and have been in situations that have made me extremely uncomfortable. There’s one scene where the main character, Turner, is stuck in a small, cramped space. I tried to capture that sensation from personal experience.
9.How do you police your production? Do you have a word quota, or a page goal, maybe you work for a set amount of time? Do you place demands on yourself when you’re working? How do you meet those demands?
I’m a big fan of having a daily practice. When I started writing, I wanted to set a target that was achievable each and every day. Since I’m a father of two kids and have a full-time job, I knew that my time was limited. So, I decided to set a minimum of 30 minutes each day. Preferably all at once, but if it was broken into two 15-minute sessions or three 10-minute sessions, I’d do whatever it took.
So, I make myself wake up early in the morning and get my writing done first thing. I’ve found if I put it off until later in the day, my willpower fades as the day wears on, and it’s much harder to make myself sit down and write. Waking up early is not easy, and it means I have to get to bed early. This obviously has taken a toll on my nightlife, but my writing is much more important to me. I make sure I don’t do anything during the night that will negatively impact my ability to wake up early and write.
My current routine involves waking up at 4:00 am, taking our dog for a short walk, making some coffee, then settling down on our couch and writing for at least 30 minutes. It took me a long time to finish the book, but my routine is something I have sustained for over three years now, and that’s important to me.
10.Let’s talk about tools. Do you have a word processor that you would tell us to use? Is there a certain computer that has become your favorite? What do you look for in a keyboard? What would you absolutely have to have if you were to sit down and write your next book?
I wrote this book using Scrivener on a MacBook Pro, and I got to really appreciate how easy it was to break the chapters down into separate documents within the application. It’s easier for me to tackle the story in chunks, and so laying it out visually with separate documents for each chapter was really nice. It’s harder for me to navigate around in Word, which is why I abandoned it. Another nice thing about Scrivener is that I can use it on my MacBook or my iPad, whichever is more convenient. And since I synced it with Dropbox, then I never had to worry about carrying the story around on a thumb drive.
11.What piece of art, that is not writing, moves you?
The first that comes to mind is a digital painting by Simon Stålenhag called Fjärrhandske, which I think translates to “remote glove.” It shows two young boys in the middle of a field operating a remote-controlled robot and confronting a police van that has arrived on the scene. This painting immediately reminded me of my boys and the first time they saw the painting hanging in my office, my youngest asked, “Is that us?”
Another piece that comes to mind is the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip that is also hanging in my office. The strip shows Calvin wanting his dad to go play in the snow with him, but his dad has a lot of work to do. Ultimately, the dad leaves his work behind and goes out to play in the snow with his son. The end of the strip shows him sitting at his desk with his pile of work before him, and Calvin kissing him goodnight. There’s not a word in the strip, but it conveys such a heavy story, and reminds us as working fathers what’s really the most important thing.
12.You have a chance to hang out with any literary character for one day. Who would it be and what would you do?
This is a hard one. Part of me would want to have a palaver with Roland Deschain from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, and learn to aim with my eye, shoot with my mind, and kill with my heart. Or I could have an inspiring and intellectual conversation with Jubal Harshaw from Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, trying to grok the meaning of life. Or maybe Crowley from Good Omens, and get into some devilish trouble.
13.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
Keep it up. Keep reading, keep writing, keep striving to improve.