NCU Podcast #006: Noah Knox Marshall on his Non-dystopian Sci-Fi Book Series and Building a Better World Through Story

Most of us want to not only express ourselves creatively but also make a positive impact on the people around us. We want our work to not only entertain but also make a difference. This is what motivates Noah Knox Marshall, and it’s why his work is so inspiring.

An established film, television, and video game writer, Noah has recently devoted his time to a nine-book non-dystopian sci-fi series that paints a hopeful picture of the future—a future where mankind is compassionate and driven by the desire to help all of life, on our planet and beyond.

In this episode, he discusses his adventures screenwriting in Hollywood; what’s helped him become a stronger writer; his series, Dax Zander, Sea Patrol; and how he’s helping make math and science cool for kids again so they can help create a better world.

Episode Highlights

2:33 How Noah got into writing in Hollywood

4:12 Noah shares a story of a Hollywood pitch gone bad and what helped him discover what he’s good at/what work he wanted to do

11:13 What’s helped Noah become a better writer

12:55 The best money Noah has ever spent as a writer

15:17 What inspired Noah’s hope-filled, non-dystopian young adult sci-fi book series, Dax Zander, Sea Patrol

24:21 Why Noah decided to take on a nine-book series as his first undertaking in novel writing

27:51 Noah shares who he tries to emulate with his storytelling, and why

30:51 Noah shares the most difficult scene he wrote in his Dax Zander series

36:29 How screenplay writing differs from book writing

42:03 Noah shares why he’s declined to sell the film rights for Dax Zander

44:18 Noah discusses how his partnership with Purdue Agile Strategy Lab is helping make math and science cool for kids

49:27 The most difficult part of Noah’s artistic process

53:07 Noah’s advice for anyone who wants to be a better writer

59:54 The lightning round! The questions aired in this episode:

  • What’s the most important part of your creative routine?
  • What’s something you do to ignite your creativity?
  • What part of your creative process do you find most satisfying?
  • When the going gets tough I _______?
  • I get my best ideas when…
  • When I’m hard on myself about my work, I remind myself…
  • I needed to learn _______ to be where I am today
  • Do you believe in being creatively blocked?

Noah Knox Marshall Quotes Worth Remembering

“At a certain point it was just this lovely little light bulb that went off and went, you know what, this is where I should spend more time thinking because I’m happy here, and if I’m happy in this place I will create better work.”

“You have to develop a general dissatisfaction with your current state of craft so that you read better writers and you keep reminding yourself that you are far from that place and that there is always room for improvement.”

“Everything was always, the aliens are gonna come and kill us. Except for ET, they’re usually gonna kill us or hurt is or infect us or take us over as pod people or whatever. And suddenly this thought hit me: We go there to protect them. We go there to save their lives. That’s why were patrolling their oceans—because they’re in danger. And it just exploded. I thought holy cow, that makes humanity the good guys again, we actually do something compassionate and wonderful. As a race, we up our game. When that idea hit me, it was like, holy cow, this is a whole other thing. It could be really special.”

“A good idea feeds itself. That’s how you know it’s something you should keep pursuing because it’s like a seed that keeps self-germinating.”

“It was very daunting and very scary. And the very fact that it was scary that I knew I should do it.”

“This is transient and passing. Fear doesn’t last, it’s something you live through and will encounter, but it doesn’t defeat you.”

“I think a lot of prejudice is based in ignorance—and willful ignorance—that we don’t test, that we don’t challenge.

“Fear is not what drives my writing, but it is a great catalyst to becoming stronger, to testing yourself, and laying the foundations for hope.”

“Exposing our faults and living in those places, that’s what makes real characters.”

“Dystopia sells because it’s sensationalistic and painful, but on almost every metric the world is in a better place than it was 100 years ago. Almost every metric. And for every crisis of the environment or energy or medicine or health that you can name there are probably a dozen different fairly well funded groups working on solutions. People are living longer around the planet, there’s less poverty around the planet, there’s less starvation, there’s more prosperity. These things don’t sell in the media, but there are people who are taking responsibility for making a better future. And imagine what we could do if we started emphasizing those people and lauding those people and giving more awards to teachers and scientists instead of the Grammy’s, the Oscars. Those are great. We need those for our spiritual and cultural enlightenment. But we need to celebrate people that are coming up with these solutions and making them the superheroes so that kids start putting on their super suits and getting ready to step into their place to build the future that is already in construction.”

“Every artist goes through crises of self-doubt, and the way through is to simply knuckle down and work.”

“Not everybody will like what I’m working on or create, and that’s okay.”

“Discipline breeds opportunity. You just have to not walk away when you’re confronted with writer’s block. You just have to plow through somehow.”

Mentioned in the Interview

Connect with Noah

Noah’s book (Dax Zander) site
Agile Strategy Lab

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