1) Tell us about your current or last science fiction novel. What is it about and how did you come up with the concept?

My most recent release, Water to Water, is set on a planet that has had no contact with humans or other such aliens:). In fact, none of the sentient species there have sufficient knowledge of astronomy to conceive of that possibility.

The book has to do with how members of the Vushlu species die, and whether what the Vushla believe about that process is in fact the whole story. Two of the main characters are young enough for the book to be, in part, a “coming of age” story. Either the idea or a vision (I don’t remember which) of how Vushla die – by swimming or wading into the ocean and dissolving – came to me in a dream. The rest of the story came together gradually. My husband contributed a key plot point.

2) How did you get started writing science fiction?

I’ve been reading SF since my teens (a very long time ago). So I tend to view current events and other info that comes my way through a science-fiction lens. Once I returned to writing long fiction after a hiatus of some decades, SF was the natural form for my storytelling to take.

3) What specific sub-genres within science fiction do you write in and why?

I write near future SF, usually examining unintended or otherwise adverse consequences of possible new technology. I try to do this without appearing to endorse a retreat from the pursuit of advances in science and technology.

I also write SF with aliens. Besides Water to Water, I’ve written a series (three books so far) – the Twin-Bred series — focusing on human-alien communication and interaction.

The near-future plot ideas pop up when I read about scientific or technological discoveries. The ideas involving aliens probably come from my preoccupation with certain themes: communication difficulties, the nature of personal identity, unintended consequences.

4) Do you prefer to write in first or third person and past or present tense?

I’ve never written in first person or in present tense. I very much like some stories using one or both, such as the Hunger Games trilogy, but it’s never felt like what one of my stories needed.

5) What is your favorite part about being a writer?

Hearing that one of my books has moved a reader. (Also up there: rereading something I’ve written and either laughing or crying; holding a paperback copy for the first time.)

6) What is the hardest part about being a writer?

Finding readers, or rather, making it more likely that they’ll find my books. I am not naturally gifted at self-promotion. I’ve learned a good deal about the process since I started, but I still fall short.

7) What stories or authors influence your writing?

I’ve read so much for so long that it’s hard to say – but Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow made a huge impression on me. Further back, I read most of Heinlein’s novels, many Asimov novels and stories, many Robert Silverberg ditto, and several of Ursula K. LeGuin’s novels.

8) Recommend a great science fiction book or movie that we might have missed you didn’t create?

How about Way of the Pilgrim by Gordon R. Dickson? It’s a very good SF novel I read recently, and it’s gotten surprisingly little favorable attention.

Here’s my review.

“This is an absorbing, suspenseful, sometimes moving, and highly original tale of an Earth and humanity conquered by aliens, the genesis of a resistance, and what comes of it.

“It is hard to say how much the POV character changes, and how much his original self-assessment was inaccurate; but his perceptions and his actions grow in directions and in magnitude far beyond what he would have believed at the beginning.

“The ending is an interesting blend of conclusive and inconclusive. I found the last sentence unsatisfying in its vague not-quite-profundity, but on the whole, I enjoyed the book and was impressed by it.”

9) Anything else about you or your novel that you would like us to know?

When I try to describe my author “brand,” I come up with something like “thoughtful fiction in varied genres.”

I hope that my work shows my affection and compassion for the human race, whatever the SF ideas and settings.

10) What’s the best way to find you online?

I’m most active on Twitter, where my handle is @KarenAWyle. I also post on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KarenAWyle , mainly about writing and publishing, occasionally about one of my books.

I have a neglected website at https://www.KarenAWyle.com . I give it more attention when I have a book coming out soon – but the best way to keep abreast of my new releases, aside from following me on social media, is to sign up for my email list at http://kawyle.wufoo.com/forms/z7x3k7/ . Subscribing gives you early access to occasional goodies like (most recently) commissioned drawings of key characters in an upcoming novel. (Disclosure: that novel isn’t science fiction, but rather my first foray into historical romance.)

Parzival Sattva

1. Tell us about your current or last science fiction novel. What is
it about and how did you come up with the concept?

I’m working on a few books at once, all of which are centred on a self-aware AI. The idea started when I read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to my wife and she started asking me if I’d written it (apparently Douglas Adam’s humour is quite close to mine). I began writing something that was in the same vein but as I worked with the story, it morphed into a creation story for the previously mentioned AI and its relationships with its creator and others it comes into contact with. I’ve done a couple of short pieces for submissions and those have been written within the same universe but at widely different periods of time – and so the AI and humanity have developed in parallel. I find that writing for several time periods at once helps ideas flow across the stories – for instance, if I want the economic system to be one way in the distant future, I can start the process of it becoming that way in the earlier book.

2.How did you get started writing science fiction?

I should first note that I don’t write solely science fiction. I think the most important thing is the storyline – and using whatever setting is best to convey that story. For instance, look at the movies Outland and High Noon – they are essentially the same story set in two very different environments.

All that said, I like science fiction because it allows me to look at the world around us all and decide that, if I can’t change a certain something, I can at least imagine it that way. For instance, I’m not a fan of capitalism – it sets up the “golden rule” (those with the gold make the rules). And so I do away with it in my stories. I can introduce story elements that are based in science and technology to make things go the way I want them to. It’s a bit of ego but I think a healthy ego is needed to write sci fi convincingly.

3.What specific sub-genres within science fiction do you write in and why?

I had to look up what sub-genres there are! I think, or at least I try, to write within Soft Sci Fi. I’m far more interested in the characters being interesting and relatable and far less interested in providing and explaining hard science to justify my story decisions.

4. What tropes do you think are important for that sub-genre?

Character development is vital (and, in fact, is necessary by definition of Soft Sci Fi). Understanding who each character is and why they are that way makes for a more engaging story. And it can help decide where you’ll start a story – the creation story of the AI came about because I kept moving the time frame back until I got to “birth”. Beyond that, however, I don’t think there are standard things or ways of writing that are necessary, and in fact, I think it can be really interesting to “break rules” in the telling of a tale.

5.Do you prefer to write in first or third person and past or present tense?

I really like third-person limited. It gives me the ability to tell a story from a character’s perspective but allows for slippage into first-person (from writing about how a character feels about something, I can slip in a thought or feeling straight from the character that adds a bit of “show don’t tell”) and also into third-person universal (I can slip in an explanation within a situation that gives certainty instead of the character speculating on something).

I also prefer to use past tense. I’ve played around with present tense and while it gives a sense of immediacy, it can be hard to work with.

6. What is your favorite part about being a writer?

My favourite part of being a writer is expressing ideas so that readers are engaged (and occasionally educated). And my favourite part of that is collaborating with my wife, Aleesha, fine-tuning ideas so that they have the best chance of entertaining.

Can I do two? The other part is that I like experimenting with perspective, voice, etc. I write a 100-word story daily (based off a 3-word prompt) and simply let the story emerge. I can play with different elements, try things out, and see what feels right.

7. What is the hardest part about being a writer?

The hardest part of being a writer is finding an audience to read my carefully crafted stories! Seriously, there are so many writers using so many ways to attract attention to their work, it’s hard for yet another writer to raise a hand and entice people to give your work a go. Marketing is not my strong suit.

8. What stories or authors influence your writing?

I can’t say that I have authors or stories that directly influence my writing. I do know that I’ve written a lot of educational material (I used to contribute on a site called http://www.Socratic.com – which is now a read-only site) and I’d explain the reasons for things before getting to an answer. Why is it that parallel lines have the same slope – let’s talk about graphing and line equations. Why is it that the probability of getting a certain poker hand is calculated this way – let’s talk about combinations and probability. I think that helps inform my writing – I dislike jumping into discussions. I far prefer to get everyone on the same page first, then move into more interesting stuff.

9. Recommend a great science fiction book or movie that we might have
missed you didn’t create?

I’m a big fan of Flatland by Edwin Abbott. And it’s available for free online! Abbot is brilliant in how he describes different dimensional worlds and the result it has on the residents of those worlds (and this may be an influence on how I’m writing my stories… )

10. Anything else about you or your novel that you would like us to know?

I think the most important thing I can add about myself is that I eat a carnivore diet (I eat meat and pretty much nothing else). One of the things that allowed me to have the brain clarity to write (and, at least in my opinion, do so well) was eliminating the brain fog I suffered from when I ate carbohydrates, vegetable oils, and wheat-based products.

11. What’s the best way to find you online?

I can be found in a few different ways. On Facebook, my 100-word story group is One-Hundred-Words (everyone is welcome to join). I also have a fan page on Facebook, Parzival Sattva. I write on http://medium.com , at https://medium.com/@parzivalsattva . My twitter handle is @PSattva. Lastly, I’m on Blogger at https://100-wordchallenges.blogspot.com/

Robert Edwards

1. What is your science fiction series going to be about?
Before I get into specifics, I have to preface this question.
My sci-fi trilogy is part of a more extensive series set within the fantasy universe known as Ephalon, which spans the genres, fantasy-epic, urban-fantasy and sci-fi fantasy.
This trilogy is the final part of a larger ongoing story, but can also be read standalone.
– Book one follows a group of scientists who travel to the deepest part of the planet known as the Eye of Ephalon (22 km deep). Almost fifty years prior an alien metal was discovered which drastically advanced technology. The metal is now being mass produced for space and marine technology. The Arcturos submarine which is the culmination of a long project is now ready and will dive to uncover Ephalon’s secrets at the absolute bottom of the ocean.
– Book two and three are direct sequels, so I’ll only highlight the sci-fi elements that’ll be explored. The Ephalon Space Pillar, which is a massive structure that allows people to go into space without the use of a rocket. This structure is loosely connected to a space station in orbit. The station possesses a massive railgun which is used to fire small spacecraft from the space station into a capture net on one of the nearby moons, which has a colony. The final book will be a wrap up of all the story arcs and back story I’ve presented up until that point, the culmination of 8 books prior, and the finale to a thing that happens at the very end of the first sci-fi entry.

2. What specific sub-genre within science fiction will it be?
– Sci-fi fantasy

3. What tropes do you think are important for that kind of story?
– I intend to avoid tropes as much as possible. Throughout my entire series, I’ve maintained the stance that things are presented in a realistic/believable fashion when taking the setting into account.
But I suppose having the series star a team of scientists is tropy, although I’d argue that without them it wouldn’t be as interesting. Everything else I can assure you will not be.

4. What are some of your favorite tropes in the science fiction genre?
– An AI gaining sentience and wanting to get rid of humanity. That’s a solid one.
– Faster than light travel scenario’s. Ironically I’ll not include either.

5. What is your all time favorite science fiction story?
– I have to confess I’m an absolute lover of Stargate.
– More so than anything else, I love stories that include genetically modifying people/creatures to create horrible abominations. (My love for sci-fi horror probably shone through a little there.) My current urban-fantasy book explores this, as the progression of technology is quite different on Ephalon when compared to earth.

6. Which science fiction author is your favorite and why?
– Gene Roddenberry, the man opened my eyes to the possible future we as humans ‘could’ achieve. He was great, and very much ahead of his time. Although by today’s standards maybe not so much.

7. Recommend a great science fiction book or movie that we might have missed.
– The movie Sunshine. I liked this one, a solid alone in space with a crew movie.

8.Anything else you would like to say about your plans goals or science fiction in general?
– Expect to see my sci-fi novels released sometime during 2020, and finished around 1st quarter of 2021.

9. What is the best way to find you online?
Twitter @ephalon_series or my website

Helen E Slater

Current novel is about AI. I came up with the idea after seeing a commercial for Alexa and realising how dependent people are on it. Don’t really adhere to a sub-genre. I prefer to write in the third person and past tense and my favourite part of being a writer is when the idea starts to develop and take hold. I literally just love to write. The hardest part is finding the time to actually write. I am a teacher and that takes up a hell of a lot of time, so I am relying on school holidays and weekends as evenings are taken up marking. I have been influenced by John Wyndham but also take inspiration from Lee Child, Disney Costeloe and Stephen King, even though they don’t write sci fi. A great sci fine book is The Martian by Andy Weir. People have probably seen the film, but I love the style of the book. Best way to find me online right now is Twitter. Hopefully once the book is published I will have a website

S.E. MacCready

  • Tell us about your current or last science fiction novel.  What is it about and how did you come up with the concept?

My most recent novel is called Talented, which is the first book in a trilogy. It is about a young woman who discovers she’s been turned into a biological asset for the military. I actually came up for the concept of the book when I was in high school, right around the same time I started being insanely interested in superheroes. I wanted to explore what would happen if someone tried to make their own heroes and what the consequences would be.

  • How did you get started writing science fiction?

There is so much freedom within the genre. If something doesn’t exist, I can invent it. If I want a new planet, I can go there. If I want to make a normal girl Telekinetic, it’ll happen. It’s a “what if” genre, and that has appealed to me more than anything.

  • What specific sub-genres within science fiction do you write in and why?

I like dystopian/utopian. Like I said, I am a big fan of “what if” within the genre. More specifically, my novel “Talented” isn’t a standard dystopian. The characters within the novel play it off as Utopian and it’s through exploring this civilization that they realize it’s closer to a dystopia.  With that, I get to explore different definitions of what a dystopia is. It doesn’t necessarily have to be post-apocalyptic. But rather, a civilization that is failing.

  • What tropes do you think are important for that sub-genre?

I think it is important to show the aspects of the civilization that aren’t working. Without the examples, the world just isn’t believable. It has to feel real. Like it could actually happen.

  • Do you prefer to write in first or third person and past or present tense?

I definitely prefer first person. It feels more personal. I can connect with my MC better, get a feel for what she’s going through. I generally write in past tense, unless the situation arises where I need to write something that’s happening right now. It depends mostly on what the story calls for.

  • What is your favorite part about being a writer?

Writing! I love that I can create all these stories that people enjoy. I’ve always been an immensely creative person but writing is the only medium that actually works for me when I try to get the idea out of my head.

  • What is the hardest part about being a writer?

Finding time to write. I always have the urge to write, but don’t always have a chance to. I have a very young daughter and I can usually only write when she’s sleeping, and that’s if I ignore other things that need to be done. For example, I have to choose between writing and chores, or writing and taking a nap myself. It can be difficult to juggle it all.

  • What stories or authors influence your writing?

Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series was my first introduction to Science Fiction. I read those books when I was in High School and I loved them so much, they really shaped my love for the genre as a whole.

  • Recommend a great science fiction book or movie that we might have missed you didn’t create?

I watch a LOT of movies. I try to be a very visual storyteller, so movies are my best source of inspiration. Europa Report is a movie I watched on Netflix that I loved. It’s not a very high budget film, and didn’t seem to be too popular, but I thought the story was so original and intriguing that it’s one that always sticks with me.

  • Anything else about you or your novel that you would like us to know?

Like I mentioned earlier, it’s going to be a trilogy. The trilogy name is The Legacy of Cameran Monroe. The next novel in the series, Gifted, will be released early next year.

  • What’s the best way to find you online?

Facebook is the one I check most frequently, and my page can be found at facebook.com/semaccready. I am also on Twitter (@sarahmaccready) and Instagram (@semaccready).

Talented (The Legacy of Cameran Monroe Book 1)

Thomas S. Barnard

  1. 1) Tell us about your current or last science fiction novel. What is it about and how did you come up with the concept? The novel I’m currently writing is called ‘Arcane Lights’. It’s the first novel in a planned trilogy called ‘A Shadow Among the Stars’. I say trilogy, but in truth it’s going to expand far beyond that. I have a solid plan for this trilogy, and then some vaguer ideas about the expansion that need some fleshing out. The idea is to create a self-contained trilogy that will belong, and compliment, a larger series within the same universe. So, while this is quite an intimate, neo-noir take on the sci-fi genre, it will eventually open up in to something wider and more expansive. ‘Arcane Lights’ itself is set on Earth, at a distant point in the future. The planet has been invaded and ravaged by an alien race called the Varden. The war with the Varden happened 150 years before the start of the novel, and Humanity were only able to drive the alien forces away with the creation of their human / cybernetic hybrid warriors called Psions. The war left nearly the whole planet irradiated and the remnants of Humanity living in the two-tiered country of New America, ruled by the ARC Government. This country is heavily defined by a gulf in social classes, with the richest of the population living on Upper New America, while the lower classes struggle to survive in the cramped darkness of Lower New America. Seeing the crippled state of Humanity, the Varden return and plan to use the social injustice to make Humanity turn on itself. Coaxed by the subterfuge of the Varden, the gangs of Lower New America begin a conspiracy to bring down the ARC government, and only the Psions have the ability to stop this from happening. The concept for this series started as early as my teens, born from my love of the tech-noir films from the 1980s and 1990s, such as Blade Runner, Brazil, Dark City, et al, and more prominently the dystopian novels that are so fundamental within literary history, such as Nineteen Eighty-Four, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, A Canticle for Leibowitz, and so many more. I had nurtured the ideas for this series for nearly two decades, and last year decided that I had a fully formed plan of what I wanted it to be. Using the influence of these quite intimate novels, I created my own world, very different to what they envisaged, but held up with the same backbone. Eventually, this story will build momentum, evolving from that intimate tale of a planet on the brink, to a vast, encompassing sci-fi odyssey that will question the very nature of Humanity’s avarice.
    2) How did you get started writing science fiction? Speculative fiction has always been at the forefront of my passions. As you can see from above, everything I love, be it books, films, or games, are based around this single, fundamental idea. And of all the media, books have always been my favourite. When in school I had a natural propensity for the extravagant nature of writing, managing to dredge some truly expressive stories even though I didn’t have the skill required to properly elucidate on them. I had always wanted to write a novel, especially when I was younger, based around science fiction and fantasy, but never truly believed I had the skill to do it. And, in all honesty, at that time I didn’t. I was an impatient person, who liked to be able to do things straight away, and my first attempts at writing were truly awful. To this day, I still look back on some of those earlier excerpts (I keep them for those periods of self-reflection that I think every writer has at one point or another, where they think they are not progressing at all) just to see how far I’ve come. And so, for a few years, I gave up. It was only in university, when deep in to the plague of a hangover, that I found myself planning my first novel. The more I planned, the more it escalated. I had created a detailed synopsis for a series of novels so deep that I knew it would take me decades to even finish them. Then I taught myself to write. This was the hardest, most gruelling and demoralising thing I have ever done. The basics confounded me at first. Simple things like weaving metaphors naturally in to prose. Constructing speech that was not stilted. Even creating characters that were not an insulting cliché. But I kept at it. I would say it took me eight years of practicing before I wrote a chapter that I was actually happy with. And once you get that good chapter under your belt, you feel empowered to continue. When riding on that writing high, there is little that can stem the flow of ideas. The first book I wrote is a complex fantasy epic that is currently for my eyes only. Its big, and its daunting, and at the moment its not ready for the rest of the world. Then I decided, fuelled by that personal success, to write a story that has been lingering in my mind since I was young. So, I digressed from fantasy, and took on a stance of hard science fiction. This was, at first, harder than I imagined. Such a shift required extensive research. To create a world based on scientific fact, as well as scientific potential, especially when you aren’t necessarily of a scientific mind, took a lot studying and research. I was fuelled by the inspiration of novels I love, and that literary adrenaline kept me going, sometimes until early hours of the morning. When all that was done, the words came easy. As it stands, I am just adding the finishing touches to my novel, and then it will be ready for querying. Even typing those words is both daunting and invigorating.
    3) What specific sub-genres within science fiction do you write in and why? When it comes to sub-genres, it can be quite hard placing my novel in to one specific trope. I would say that ‘Arcane Lights’ is a mix of neo-noir and dystopian science fiction, or more specifically a dystopian tech-noir. It’s dark, it’s grungy, and it’s not a happy tale. At risk of repeating myself, the main reason I swayed towards this sub-genre is because it is what I love in modern and contemporary media. I grew up adoring the stories that fall within this grim remit and have been enamoured with it ever since. There’s something morbidly enticing about the darker side of humanity that coaxes further delving. And that’s what I have tried to do in my novel – to delve in to that darker side of humanity and tell a story that I hope people will love as much as I do.
    4) What tropes do you think are important for that sub-genre? In the tech-noir subgenre, I think it is crucial to build that link between man and machine. That relationship has to be crucial to the overall narrative because it drives the motivation of the characters. Especially building that idea of body modification and the stigma of man being more than what it is, expanding beyond the physical limitations that are bestowed upon us at birth. It forces the characters to question what it is to be human. Are they really human if most of what they were has been taken away from them? Is mere consciousness enough to contain the soul? This trope, this delve in to that relationship, especially from a limited view, can express such a subjective and emotive experience that drives not only the story, but also the readers’ interest in the characters. That covers the ‘tech’ side of the novel, but there is also the ‘noir’; the darkness. With these sorts of novels there is a proclivity to lean towards the grim countenance of society, to set the world under a dystopian rule. Recently, there has been a lot of criticism towards this dystopian tendency, trying to sway things more towards a utopian, positive narrative throughout the stories, giving readers a more upbeat experience. Personally, I think there is room in current literature for both these types of novels, but if you are trying to create a grim tale, which is very much what my story is, then that dystopian aspect is crucial. When we look at the world with modern eyes, we see the downward spiral it is in, which only ignites the idea of a less than happy future. Add to that an external factor, in the case of ‘Arcane Lights’, an alien invasion, that will only add to the dire situation our planet and, ostensibly, its inhabitants, will be in in a couple of hundred years’ time. I’m not one of these writers who is going to make the statement that they are going to re-ignite the science fiction genre and take it in new directions. We are fortunate enough to live in a time where we have seen generations of writers who have lovingly developed their craft and laid before us a path of ideas that have become mainstay in the literary world. There are so many stories, developing and reinforcing so many tropes. It would be arrogant to say that I could do something that nobody else has thought of before. Instead, what I can say is that I can lean on those tropes that so many incredible writers have created and use them to support my own personal story. I can use the foundations of that literary blueprint to create a new world that I have become both enamoured and saddened with. It’s a grim tale, and one that exists only because so many incredible minds have fuelled me with ideas that I can use to help in my own craft. Report this message sent from Thomas S. BarnardDelete this message sent from Thomas S. Barnard
  2. 5) Do you prefer to write in first or third person and past or present tense? My preferred method is to write in third person limited. I like to put myself in to the shoes of that one character, delve in to their psyche, and see others from their, albeit subjective, perspective. I think it adds an element of mystique to those around the main character; as to what their motives are, their outward character versus their deeds, their actions and reactions, and seeing all that from a biased point of view. I also write in past tense. I have no real reason for this, other than it is what I taught myself to do, and it’s how I feel comfortable writing. That’s not to say that, at some point in the future, this won’t change. I like to challenge myself and teach myself new techniques. As I have grown older, I have learnt that there is little victory in immediate gratification. The best things are those that you work at and learn to evolve. It’s for this reason that I will one day, sometime in the not so near future, write a story that is a complete paradox to my usual style. But for now, for the immediate novels that I have planned, I will maintain this style because I think it works best for the overarching story.
    6) What is your favorite part about being a writer? It has to be the cathartic nature of it. I suffer from quite bad social anxiety, and when things are at their worst I retreat to my writing. It’s an outlet and a reprieve. It allows me to engross myself in to a world that’s so very distant and different from my own. It’s also a hobby. I curse wasted time, and without the hobby of writing, I think I would have so much wasted time in my life. It’s as if it is a purpose to drive you forward. As long as you have your stories to write, there is no opportunity to look back and say that you have wasted time that you regret.
    7) What is the hardest part about being a writer? For me, it has to be time. I have so many ideas running through my mind, but I don’t have the time to craft all the stories I would like to tell. I’m not yet published, and writing is definitely something that I am not able to do full time. I work a full time job, so trying to create time to write can be a struggle. I do it though, usually at the expense of a social life (which is a great excuse for someone with anxiety). Often, on weekends, I am up until 4am writing. I don’t begrudge this because writing is not a chore. It’s a hobby. And for me it is a release. Never do I feel so free as when I’m losing myself in the stream of my story. Obviously, I wish I had more time to write, but even if I did write full time, I don’t think there would be enough hours in the day to sate my literary hunger.
    8) What stories or authors influence your writing? Wow. There are so many. Philip K Dick, while not someone who is wholly inspirational, he created stories of such wonder that it’s hard not to admire his great imagination and creativity. I’ve also always loved the bleak visions of George Orwell, and his stories are ones that I have admired since I was first shown Animal Farm in school. Then there’s Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos, which is a must read for any hard sci-fi fan, where he crafts a world full of questionable characters, with questionable motives, thriving in a vivid and complex environment. Another main influence is Edgar Allan Poe. There is not a writer who can compare when it comes to the visceral macabre and the way he dissects and lays bare the human psyche. So yeah, all in all some morbid influences there! I do also take delight in the decidedly strange. Last year I read most of Neil Gaiman’s novels, and spent most of Anansi Boys genuinely laughing out loud – helped largely by Lenny Henry’s narration on Audible. When it comes to the tone of my writing, I think those are my main influencers, but there are so much more, both old and new, that it’s hard to mention them all.
    9) Recommend a great science fiction book or movie that we might have missed you didn’t create? House of Stairs. This is a science fiction book that I think has wrongfully drifted under the radar for nearly thirty years now. This is one of the books that got me in to science fiction to begin with. I remember the day I found this, in my school library (my school library was very odd. I genuinely have no idea where they got half of their books), just gathering dust. It’s not a long book, and within a couple of days I had finished it, I was that hooked. Objectively, this is a great novel, especially for younger readers who are just finding their footing in this very obscure and vast genre. It has a unique concept about a group of children who find themselves trapped in a room full of stairs, very similar to Escher’s lithograph print, and gives a very surprising unfolding of a social dynamics experiment from the point of view of a diverse group of children. When it comes to films, there are two that I have recently discovered that I instantly fell in love with. The first one, Strange days, has slipped under my radar for years. As a massive fan of neo-noir, especially in a science-fiction context, I really don’t know how I haven’t seen this before. The film doesn’t shy away from its strong themes and takes the genre in a very different direction. Then there is Midnight Special. It’s like a grown-up version of E.T, but better, and carried by some truly mind-blowing performance from Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst and Joel Edgerton. It has a narrative full of mystery and real warmth. Saying all that, there is one movie that I have always held dear. I think it’s incredibly underrated and has a gothic aesthetic and visual style that is unlike anything else. Dark City is one of my favourite movies and has heavily influenced the tone in my novels as well as the standard to which I judge any gritty science fiction movie, even today. 10) Anything else about you or your novel that you would like us to know? Mainly that this novel is just the beginning. There is a whole world, no, a whole universe, that is waiting to be discovered. I can’t really call the story concise when it is going to be over four hundred pages, but it is intimate. The aim is to expand, with each novel introducing more of that universe. Just be prepared, this is not a happy story.
    11) What’s the best way to find you online? The best way is probably Twitter. I’m quite active on that. I’ve also got a website, http://thomassbarnard.com , but I don’t update that as much as I’d like to at the moment because most of my time is spent writing.

Blackburn Books

1) Tell us about your current or last science fiction novel. What is it about and how did you come up with the concept? The last and first SciFi I ever wrote is Piercing Heaven. Safely it can be called abstract and juvenile. Which is a result of the National Writing Month (https://campnanowrimo.org/ ); I set myself a goal of 10.000 words and hacked away, wrote down the next thing that came to mind every day. Thus, it has some worth from a psychoanalytical perspective, but maybe not so much regarding good storytelling, character development, and such things.

2) How did you get started writing science fiction? I read a lot of Science Fiction as a teenager and found the freedom it provides pleasing. Removing the limitations of not only physical space and time but the mental correspondents to these external factors, I found liberating. 

3) What specific sub-genres within science fiction do you write in and why? Regardless of genre, I prefer explorative works. Exploring usually leads to titles lacking the refinement of art striving for the universal, but are honest and revealing on a subjective level. 

4) What tropes do you think are important for that sub-genre? None, as exploration is done in the unknown. But given my background, I do not fail to include aspects of voidness. Space itself, without its objects, represents and allows access to it which, in my mind represents the void we carry inside us and need to explore via introspection or meditation. The Nothing is the source and the equivalent of the Something.

5) Do you prefer to write in first or third person and past or present tense? The past and third person, as this adds a layer of abstraction and reflection suitable for science fiction. Direct immersion is facilitated by the first person and present tense approach, but that implies an inescapable confrontation and identification with the objects and thus limits of the mind, whereas science fiction is meant to remove these restricting aspects and strive for the limitless.

6) What is your favorite part about being a writer? Ideas flow out of me, no problem there. And not trying to find acceptance with my writing, the right people will understand, the others will read other stories.

7) What is the hardest part about being a writer? Editing, as I am not a native English speaker and I strive for a simple but meaningful style, which some may find to be overly simplistic or difficult to read. One hour of writing needs over one hour of editing. Next to that, writing daily is the most important thing.

8) What stories or authors influence your writing? Over the years I have become a more visual person. 2001 – A Space Odyssey and Solaris come to mind. Regarding books, Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card influenced and changed something in me. Recently I stumbled upon it again, and many memories came back.

9) Recommend a great science fiction book or movie that we might have missed you didn’t create? I’d like to recommend Gateway by Frederik Pohl, but that is a classic.

10) Anything else about you or your novel that you would like us to know? Abuse, Psychosis, Love, Meditation. 11) What’s the best way to find you online? Not much available online, but: Web: http://blackburnbooks.net  Twitter: @blackburn_books