A: I actually dabbled a bit in Science-Fiction as a kid, but I never went far with it until I was in my late teens. It was then that I began to run a game of Dungeons and Dragons. From there it just went crazy. I began creating my own fantasy setting to play in, which even led to the writing of some short fiction pieces.
Before long I began thinking about what sort of a Science-Fiction setting I might be able to create for a Role-Playing game. This grew primarily out of some thoughts I had about cliches in Science-Fiction, but evolved into an ever more complex fictional universe. Being the ever stubborn guy I am, I at first insisted, to myself and others, that this would not go beyond a Role-Playing setting, but I think we all knew that wouldn't last. While watching a favorite movie, I had an idea for my Sci-Fi setting, crammed
onto a single sheet of paper, and then within the month it had grown into a rough outline for a novel. From there I found there were more and more ideas I wanted to explore and share.
And the rest, as they say, is psychohistory.
Q: Has science fiction always been of interest to you?
A: Yes, pretty much since I was old enough to watch television. Early favorites were the various Star Treks and many 90s cartoons (anime to follow). And then before long I was reading Science-Fiction as well.
Q: Are there any themes you feel should be explored more in genre
A: The Information Age has been one of the most rapid bursts in technology since the Industrial Revolution, but it has been even more unpredictable. New communication technologies, social networks and media formats are changing the world every year and every month. All this has happened so rapidly that the possibilities of information technology have not yet been fully explored in fiction, but I hope that will continue to change.
However, there is more to genre writing, especially Science-Fiction, than technology (although I do love it). World views on religion, freedom and democracy are in a state of flux which lends itself as a setting for fiction, either set in the modern world or using it as inspiration (rule 1 of fiction writing: you can't get sued for ripping off of reality).
Q: What is your most recent novel about?
A: My latest novel is called, and stay with me here, Aer Mutatio: How Environmentalism Fixes The Roman Empire. Aer Mutatio is coming out in April and is a globe trotting satire set in a version of the year 1010 where Rome is the peak of modern advancement. However, even the Emperors and Legions of Rome are baffled by global warming and climate change. The story follows Joe Body, a Spanish reporter who crosses the Earth to follow stories of environmental confusion and mayhem.
I hope it will amuse your mind and also entice it to thoughts about social policy.
Q: Do you have any tips for writers just starting out?
A: If they're starting out, I must just be a few steps ahead. Maybe I'll be qualified to talk about writing technique in another decade, but I will give this piece of advice about helping with creativity: writing is a
solitary art, but reading isn't. Get feedback. Give it, all of it, to friends, family, pets, and get them to be brutal. And not just after writing. Some of my best story developments have come while talking through a story idea with a friend. Or even if you don't have any friends (not that I'd know about that) or they are all out for coffee together (who needs them, right?), just say it to yourself. I like to pace outside my house, with a nice view I can totally ignore while I ramble to myself like Gollum on a bad day. Verbalize to conceptualize.
Q: What films are great examples of sci-fi writing in your option?
A: Oh, good lord. I know so little about movies. I usually have to make myself analyze them. But, I guess I'd say some good examples are Galaxy Quest, Dr. Strangelove, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, and The Astronaut Farmer.
Q: What are your three favorite genre books?
A: At this moment? Ender's Game, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and The Forever War. But don't hold me to that next week.