Friday, 9 March 2012

Author Interview: Tobias Buckell

Novels: Crystal Rain
Sly Mongoose
Halo: The Cole Protocol
Arctic Rising
The Apocalypse Ocean (forthcoming, kickstarter project)

Short Stories: Lots, listed here

> What is Arctic Rising about?

The future is hot, and getting hotter. The polar ice cap has all but melted, and the resource rush in the icy north is in full swing. The Gaia Corporation has a plan to roll back global warming, but the solution may be worse than the problem if it ends up in the wrong hands. In the middle of all this is Anika Duncan, an airship pilot caught up in a hunt for a nuclear weapon that's gone missing. One that she's sure has ended up in the Arctic...

> Arctic Rising is different from the other books you've written. What persuaded you focus on global warming for this book?

It came out of reading some declassified US military documents and Navy memos about the changing geo-political situation of the Arctic that needed addressed at current warming rates. I've often joked that the US military is more of a green, hippy organization than the rest of US government, as it's one of the largest investors in alternative energy research, adoption, and climate change modeling. Reading this stuff just began to spark ideas about a near-future thriller set in this environment.

> What made you want to be a writer?

I love telling stories and making things up. As long as I can remember I've always dropped everything to pay attention to narrative. As a kid my mom would leave me on the floor with a matchbox full of slips of paper with words on them and I'd construct sentences. It's been bubbling inside of me my entire life. I'm also rare in that I grew up without TV, living on a boat, for the most part. So it was all books most of my life.

> How did living on boats for much of your youth impact your writing?

It impacts a whole outlook. I grew up on a home that was both cramped, and yet open. Space was used efficiently. You had to adopt a zen minimalist approach with belongings. We generated our own electricity and caught a lot of our own water, and we often moved our home to different places to explore. As a result I grew up with a different view of national boundaries, what a home meant, and with a different relationship with consumerism. I'm grateful for it.

> In the books you’ve written, who is you favourite character and why?

I've always enjoyed writing the popular character of Pepper from my novels Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose. He's powerful, dangerous, a wild card, and as a writer that's fun because it brings a chaos and unpredictability to hand that spices things up.

> If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

Very few of my characters rich, in a stable place, and free of drama in their life. I grew up in the middle of a war and in the remains of its recovery, and had a tough childhood. I've been through some of the sort of drama that makes for good literature. It's not really for me anymore.

> Beyond the matter of length, do you find it easier writing short stories or novels?

Each has its benefits and downsides. For me personally, it's a wash. I do wish short fiction paid better so I could do more of it!

> What was the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?

From high school to college I had this perpetual novel I was always 'working on.' Best thing that ever happened to me was a hard drive crash my sophomore year of high school that killed it.

> When and where do you write?

That always changes depending on the mix of freelance and fiction work I'm doing. But I prefer to do my more creative, first draft work just after midnight until I get tired.

> What’s the best/worst thing about writing?

As I mentioned, I really enjoy the act of creation. Losing myself in other worlds. Keeping my own hours is a nice perk, though.

> What is something you didn’t know about the publishing industry before you had your first book published?

Just how many people are involved in the entire process. Sales reps, marketing, publicity, art, proofreaders and copyeditors and your editor, the finance people, and so on.

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Write is the biggest part of the word 'writer.' Write often. Read often. They're the two basics!

> Any tips against writers block?

It could be a sign you're bored of the work, or that your subconscious recognizes a problem it is trying to untangle. How you choose to react to that is up to you. Some push through, some take a break, some work on something else, some take the time to try and untangle what is holding things up. All are valid ways through.

> How do you discipline yourself to write?

I leave my house and go to a local coffee shop more often than not to get in the right frame of mind for productivity. After midnight I find there are fewer interruptions, I get a lot more done.


Paul Weimer said...

I do think that Toby's outlook and background does give him a unique set of life experiences that influences and informs his writing.

Jessica Strider said...

I imagine so. I've always wanted to sail on a proper ship (as opposed to a ferry or tour boat), not sure how I'd handle living on one though.