Saturday, April 28, 2012

Rob Tiffany: The IAN Interview

A bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction books, Rob Tiffany has spent the last decade combining his military past with his high-tech present to take readers from the depths of the ocean to the world of mobile apps. Rob served with the Navy SEALs on a special ops delivery vehicle and patrolled the seas on a Trident submarine. As an Architect at the world’s largest software company, he’s in-demand as an advisor to executives and a speaker at conferences all over the world. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and three kids.

IAN. Please tell us about your latest book.
RT. My book is a 30,000-word, middle-grade/YA adventure novel – with fantastical elements - called Submarine Warriors > The Enemy Beneath.  The fathers of twelve year-old Caroline Connery, Nick Wyatt, and their friends mysteriously disappear during a top-secret submarine mission. Not long after, Caroline receives a secret text message revealing the government’s story that their fathers died in an accident was actually a cover-up. The two kids enlist the help of Caroline’s grandfather – a retired Navy Admiral - and their friends to rescue all of the dads. A daring submarine theft results in the entire Pacific fleet chasing down the children with orders to sink them on sight. Upon finding their fathers, Caroline and Nick are confronted by an even greater terror when they come face to face with the Underworlders, a previously unknown species living beneath the ocean floor that are bent on the complete annihilation of mankind.

IAN. How long did it take to write Submarine Warriors?
RT. I spent the past 4 years working part-time, off and on, whenever I could spare a free moment.

IAN. What inspired you to write the book?
RT. Believe it or not, it was during a large family gathering where everyone had to perform, or otherwise show off a particular talent.  While others sang, danced, performed skits, or told jokes, I quickly wrote the original premise for the novel in 20 or so minutes.  I stood up and read the beginnings of what would become Submarine Warriors to the amazement of everyone in the room.  I won the contest and had siblings, cousins, parents, nieces, nephews urging me to turn it into a book. 

IAN. Talk about the writing process. 
RT. My “day job” in the computer business keeps me busy with a heavy travel schedule around the world.  It’s safe to say that I stole time to write the book on airplanes and in hotel rooms.  I never wrote in the morning because my brain just doesn’t function during that time of the day.  I’m also happy to say that I wrote some of it sitting outside at cafĂ©’s in Paris.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft? 
RT. It was actually a combination of both.  I knew the initiating conflict and outlined high-level bullet points for many of the events in the book.  Sometimes I sat down intending to outline and would suddenly find myself getting carried away writing content.  I was a very unorthodox approach to say the least.

IAN. How is your book different from others in your genre?
RT. While my book targets tweens and teens like the Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson, it brings a level of military realism that you don’t see in other action/adventure novels in this category.  Many readers have found the world of submarines and Navy SEALs I’ve created to be reminiscent of Tom Clancy novels.  Spy Kids meets The Hunt for Red October.

IAN. Is Submarine Warriors published in print, e-book or both?
RT. Yes, it’s published in print and the e-book version targets the Kindle and Nook.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Submarine Warriors?
RT. I want my young readers to know that with resourcefulness, persistence, teamwork, and courage, they can accomplish anything.  I want them to reflect on the power of being bold.

IAN. Where can we go to buy your book?
RT. will get you the paperback and Kindle versions.  A trip to will also get you the paperback as well as a version for the Nook.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
RT. I am currently working feverishly on the sequel.  I’m constantly asked when the next book is coming out by the young adults who just finished reading my book.  Needless to say, I won’t have the luxury of taking four years to write the next installment. The new war with the Underworlders is definitely a multi-book affair.  

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?
RT. Readers can learn all about the world of the Submarine Warriors at  It includes maps of where the adventure takes place, information about the characters, and volumes of educational information about all things related to submarines and ocean.  
The Submarine Warriors Facebook page can be found at My personal blog is and you can follow me on Twitter at

IAN. How did you learn so much about the workings of submarines?
RT. I’m asked this question a lot.  Most people assume I did intensive research to gain the depth of knowledge of submarines that I write about in my book.  I actually served on two different submarines when I was in the US Navy.  My first sub was part of SOCOM and was a SEAL Team Delivery Vehicle used for special ops which was very exciting.  The second sub I served on was a Trident ballistic missile submarine where we spent our time waiting for a special message from the President. This is a message you never want to receive.

IAN. How did you ensure that the dialog in your novel had the right “voice” for young readers?
RT. I have the three kids at home and all of them are tweens or teens.  As I would write new chapters, I would often read passages to my children as bedtime stories.  My kid’s friends would also participate in some of my readings and provided lots of feedback on what they liked and what they thought I should change.  This constant feedback loop with my target audience ensured that the book never sounded like an adult pretending to be a teenager.

Submarine Warriors > The Enemy Beneath by Rob Tiffany
143 pages
Hood Canal Press

       Just as the Omaha Beach was about to land on the ocean floor, the strange radar dish reversed its magnetic beam and pushed the DSRV toward the pyramid. The sub eventually settled down next to the glowing structure with its occupants shrouded in darkness, due to the electrical disruption from the magnetic beam.

An accordion-like tube extended from near the tip of the crystal pyramid. It reached out to the Omaha Beach, arched over the top, and sealed itself to the upper escape hatch. The sailors onboard watched in disbelief as the hatch slowly opened and an infrared light washed into the main compartment. Several humanoid creatures dropped through the open hatch and landed on the main deck with a thud.
They looked like astronauts in black, spacesuit-like outfits and helmets. Peering out at the sailors from behind the curved, glass face-shields were ultraviolet, glowing eyes.  

This turn of events quickly put the crew of the Omaha Beach on the defensive and everyone took slow steps backwards away from the intruders.

“This was definitely not in the Navy recruiting brochure when I signed up.” A nervous Petty Officer Love tried to make light of this new situation.

“I think we just made first contact with an Alien civilization,” added the Weaps.

“If you want to live, you’ll come with us and you won’t try anything stupid,” one of the strange humanoids announced to the group.

“I guess they don’t come in peace,” uttered Petty Officer Grant.

Without warning, the Pilot pushed through the group towards the Aliens. “I don’t take orders from freaks like you!” shouted the Pilot. He hit one of the creatures over the head with a fire extinguisher, knocking it to the ground.

Without skipping a beat, one of the other humanoid creatures reached out and clutched the Pilot’s face with its hand. Intense heat shot out from its fingers and seared his skin.  

The Pilot screamed in anguish as his face began to burn.  

“You’re killing him!” the Captain shouted.  “Stop, and we’ll do what you ask.”

“It’s a little late for that, Overworlder.” The creature released his grip and the Pilot’s lifeless body collapsed to the deck. “Consider yourself warned.  Now get moving!”

“Oh my God, he’s dead.” The Weaps picked up the smoldering remains of the Pilot. “We can’t just leave him here.”

“Oh, you will,” remarked one of the creatures with an outstretched hand.

The Weaps suddenly felt an invisible burning sensation, causing him to drop the Pilot on the deck. 

“Okay, okay, I’ll do what you want,” the sunburned Weaps muttered to the creatures.

The terrified crew climbed out of the upper hatch, and the creatures forced the sailors through a translucent tube into an opening in the pyramid.  After walking down a short corridor, the sailors were pushed into an airtight compartment and sealed inside. Everywhere they looked, they saw the red glow of infrared lights being used for illumination. With the crewmembers locked in their new underwater prison, the humanoids removed their suits and helmets to reveal their bald heads, hairless bodies and translucent skin. 

“You’re being quarantined in this containment cell to ensure we don’t become infected by your Overworlder diseases,” barked one of the humanoid creatures.

“Who are you and what right do you have to capture our sub and hold us prisoner?” Captain Connery shouted.

“We have every right, Overworlder scum!” A new creature with an ancient Egyptian headdress emerged from the shadows. “Did you think you were the only intelligent life on this planet? Did you really think you had this whole place to yourselves? We’ve lived under the continents and the ocean floor for centuries. We were once like you until our ancestors were pulled underground several millennia ago when the waves of the Red Sea crashed in all around them. They believed they had descended into Hell. But our surviving forefathers learned how to thrive deep beneath the Earth’s surface. Our advanced race adapted to this subterranean world in a way that none of the Earth’s other primitive cultures ever could. Over the centuries, our bodies and eyes evolved to better suit our underground surroundings. Constant exposure to radioactive elements has mutated our genes so that we have the power to project heat from our hands. Today, we are one billion strong and we control the world beneath your feet!”

“Why show yourselves now, and why did you sink the cruise ship and kill all those innocent people?” Captain Connery retorted.

“That’s simple,” replied the Underworlder. “Your technology is becoming advanced enough to threaten our civilization. You may not realize it, but we’ve been closely monitoring you for the last hundred years. We’ve tapped your undersea phone lines and fiber optic cables. We’ve watched you create great societies and technologies, only to destroy them with greater and greater ferocity. I only wish your barbaric cultures would have wiped each other out by now. Like some kind of runaway virus, you keep multiplying and consuming all the Earth’s resources. Your world and ours are linked by a few miles of rock and ocean and we want those resources for ourselves. To that end, we’ve decided that your civilization has forfeited its right to exist on this planet. Consider the dead Overworlders on the cruise ship your first casualties in this new war. But for now, I have something different in mind for you.”

“Commander, begin the wrapping process on the prisoners!”


  1. Hi, Rob. Congratulations on your book. It sounds like an exciting adventure kids will enjoy. I was on a submarine once at Charleston, and got claustrophobia. Too close for me. :) My publisher recently published a book from a former Navy Seal, I think he was. This seems like a popular subject. Best of luck to you with your writing.

  2. Very impressive interview, Rob! Your book and the upcoming series sounds great. Best of luck and success with your writing!