My name is David Lee Summers and I’m an author, editor, and astronomer who lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico, near the site of Billy the Kid’s trial. Every other week, I commute to Kitt Peak National Observatory outside of Tucson, Arizona where I operate the two largest optical telescopes on the mountain, the Mayall 4-meter and the WIYN 3.5-meter. I’m also the author of eight novels of various speculative genres, editor of three anthologies, and I edited a magazine of speculative fiction for twenty years.
My mom’s family settled in New Mexico before statehood and my dad’s family moved to the state just before World War II. So I have a deep connection to the region and this no doubt explains my interest in Southwestern United States history. My dad worked for Santa Fe railroad and as a consequence, I was actually born and raised in California, but I moved to New Mexico for college. I attended the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics. I continued on into graduate school, but was soon lured into a career of telescope engineering and operations.
My development as a writer went in parallel with all this. I met Ray Bradbury in high school, who encouraged my interest in science fiction. I wrote all through college. In graduate school, I joined a critique group that included several people in the community along with several professors. I made my first short story sale in 1995 and my first novel sale in 1997. That was a science fiction novel called The Pirates of Sufiro. The original publisher went out of business, but I was able to get the rights back. The book is currently published by Lachesis Publishing. You can learn more about the novel HERE.
The Pirates of Sufiro ended up being the first book in a trilogy that tells the story of a group of pirates who are marooned on a distant planet and how they get involved in a struggle between the forces that rule our galaxy and mysterious force from outside the galaxy. The fourth book in the series, called The Solar Sea, is a prequel that tells how humans discovered the galactic civilization.
I started work at Kitt Peak National Observatory in 1992. In 1995, I moved to Las Cruces, where I took on the job of helping to commission to a 1-meter telescope at Apache Point Observatory. The telescope had a number of problems, but we were finally able to get it to a point where graduate students at New Mexico State University could use it for research. At that point, I left astronomy to pursue writing full time.
I returned to astronomy eight years later when management at Kitt Peak called me up and said they were having a difficult time finding applicants qualified to operate the facilities large telescopes. I wasn’t in the market for a job, but I decided to talk to them and they made me an offer. I’ve been back ever since. The job basically is one-week on shift working from sunset to sunrise, then I get a week off. The schedule allows me to continue pursuing my writing. It’s not without its challenges, but it works out pretty well.
I mentioned that I have an interest in history. I think history is important when it comes to science fiction. It’s through understanding where we’ve been that we can make any attempt to predict where we might go. That combined with my interest in science and technology comes together in my early science fiction novels.
As it turns out, my love of astronomy and history also come together in my love for steampunk. When I was an undergraduate, one of my first jobs was working with a nineteenth century clockwork-driven telescope. With that instrument, I was able to discover a variable star in 1987. That has always stuck with me. Living in an area my ancestors helped to settle, near the site of Billy the Kid’s trial, and with an appreciation of nineteenth century technology both through my dad’s career that started with steam locomotives and my own experience in astronomy, it’s no wonder that I would eventually write steampunk novels.
My latest novel is Lightning Wolves. It’s the second novel in my Clockwork Legion series, which starts with Owl Dance. I’m currently working on the third novel, The Brazen Shark. These novels tell the story of an alien called Legion, which comes to Earth and foresees a fractured world where the United States and Russia will one day be at each other’s throats. It persuades the Russians to invade the United States to create a single unified world government. Of course the Americans resist and our protagonists, Sheriff Ramon Morales and the Persian healer Fatemeh Karimi, work not only to stop the invasion but to understand the reason for the invasion. You can learn about Lightning Wolves and read the first chapter HERE.
I also have two vampire novels, Vampires of the Scarlet Order and Dragons Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order which tell about vampire mercenaries who fight the forces of evil. As it turns out, astronomy played a role in my interest in vampire fiction as well. Back in the 1990s, one of my co-workers used to refer to the telescope operators as “the vampires of the mountain” because you never saw us during daylight hours. Over time, I began to wonder what it would be like if a vampire actually was a telescope operator. Answering that question led me to the first Scarlet Order vampire tale, which in turn led to the two novels. You can read more about the first book in the Scarlet Order vampire series HERE.
Thanks for taking the time to learn a little about me and my books. Here’s where you can find me online:
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