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/