La Mesa, California, October 2011
- RoboDoc is a very interesting concept. What made you choose to write about it?
The need for a way to effectively treat wounded soldiers without further endangering their lives or still other lives has been an active research project for years, from the first reasonably mobile robots, in fact. I briefly worked on a small part of one of the early efforts to build a field medical robot in the mid-1980s. Before that, in the late 1970s, I worked for a time on the hardware implementation of some of the then promising artificial intelligence concepts. The two areas have been an interest of mine ever since.When it came time to write RoboDoc I needed a way to discuss and describe the development of a baby. What better way than to draw the analogy of the growth of Jerry and Sarah’s baby in Sarah’s womb, and the growth and development of a robot in the lab? From there, it was natural to have the two of them become directly connected at the conclusion of the story.
- Teenage pregnancy written about a lot over the years. Why another book about it?
It is true that there have been several good books written about teen pregnancy, but I couldn’t find any written from the boy’s point of view, at least about the period of the actual pregnancy itself. Furthermore, the girl oriented books seldom, if ever, allude to the heroic things that boys do, much less get into any detail. Of course, much of that is because most of the time the boys totally disappear from the girl’s lives. I hope that by showing that a boy can become a hero to his baby and his girl, I can give boys a role model that will help them through the problems and horrors the pregnancy period.
- Jerry seems to be a pretty sold fellow. How did you choose his Character?
Jerry is an engineer, it is in his genes. At the time the story takes place he doesn’t yet have his degree, but he is an engineer none-the-less. I am an engineer. I went to school with engineers. I worked with engineers. I lived in neighborhoods where many of the families were engineer’s families. Jerry’s character is a youthful composite of most of the engineers I have known. It’s just the way they are.
- A boy’s first real job is always a traumatic experience, yet Jerry does very well in his. Why did you choose to make him so successful?
Of course the major reason is that Max can’t grow and develop unless Jerry does a pretty good job. More importantly, doing a good job often requires motivation. Jerry certainly has motivation, and he responds to it in a positive way. Another factor in doing well in a first job is to be lucky enough to have a mentor to provide guidance. Jerry has a great on in Hank. Too often those who could go on to be mentors, don’t. I’m hoping that some of those who read RoboDoc will take Hank’s example to heart and become mentors themselves when given the chance.
- Jerry is an exceptional young man. Do you think the young adult reading audience will relate to him?
Jerry is an exceptional young man, in his way. I believe that anyone and everyone who stands up to adversity, that has to rise to meet a challenge, is what society considers to be exceptional. I hope Jerry’s actions can inspire others to do the same. Of course, not many can be good at video games, enjoy math and science, and work on robots. But everyone can use whatever talents to meet, not shirk, from whatever life might throw at them.
- The subject matter of the book can be depressing, yet RoboDoc is upbeat. Why did you choose to do that?
Teen pregnancy can be scary, there’s no doubt about that. But, new life is exciting and success is exhilarating. You have to work hard and change, sometimes change quite a lot, to get through it all. In the end, it is worth it. One person can change the world, or at least a little part of it, for the better. And that’s what RoboDoc is all about.