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By Patrick (2007-08-09)
Q: For those of us not familiar with your work, what can you tell potential readers about both Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin?
I call Crystal Rain my Caribbean steampunk novel. It's full of airships, steam powered trains, brass dials, flintlocks, that sort of thing. The world its set on is a lost colony settled by people of Caribbean background that has also lost its technology, and is working its way back up. Ragamuffin is my Caribbean space opera. Space opera is that genre of great big outer space adventure. Merchant ships observing great civilizations clash on a big scale, strange inscrutable aliens manipulating humans, that sort of thing. Only my heros in this book are Caribbean space merchants, branded and outcast as pirates. Both are picked with a lot of high octane adventure and fun. And explosions.
Q: Are you happy with the way Crystal Rain was greeted by the SFFcommunity?
Gosh yes, it was very well received and exceeded my grandest hopes for it. It got on the Nebula semi-final ballot, on the Locus Award for Best First Novel final ballot, and it got lots of great reviews and reader praise. I'm excited that the paperback is out, I'm hoping a whole new set of people get their hands on it!
Q: Will you be touring to promote Ragamuffin this summer? If so, arethere any specific dates that have been confirmed as of yet?
I'll be in Greensburg, PA at the end of the month, at Flights of Fantasy in Loudonville, NY August 22nd, and for now, that's about it. I'm really focused on finishing book three, and once that is done, I'm going to try and set up fall activity and touring.
Q: What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write both Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin in the first place?
I really wanted to try my hand at the tropes and traditions of the genre that I loved so much, but with a fully Caribbean flair and background. I felt that in the future all people would be in the future, not just the typical cast of Westerners.
Q: When crafting the dialogue for Crystal Rain and for Ragamuffin, howdid you go about deciding which Caribbean dialects to use?
I used bits of Grenadian and stuff from the Virgin Islands that I was familiar with. It was a tough enough gig finding the right balance, and something I still agonize over how to represent and pull off. I didn't want to use apostrophes and differently spelled words, so I focused as much as I could on the grammar and unfamiliar word combinations to try and get it across.
Q: One of the themes of both novels seems to be how conflict affects even the bystanders. Was this a conscious decision?
Yes. I grew up in the middle of a revolution and an invasion, and it always occurred to me that action novels do pass over the side effects and impacts of war on everyone. Heros run around offing people left and right, but what impact does that ever have on them? In the real world they suffer PTSD or develop elaborate self-stories to cushion that impact. Or they're pyschotic and like doing it. And the people whose lives they pass through are tremendously affected: friends, families, bystanders. In either case, the follow up is that there is more to it than just target practice.
Q: What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?
Gosh, I like it when other people analyze my stuff like that. I'm a bit bashful there. I think my sense of fun is a strength. I'm really devoted to not boring people. I feel like, no matter what, you'll whip through my books quickly and have a good romp.
Q: Were there any perceived conventions of the SFF genre which youwanted to twist or break when you set out to write both novels?
Sure, I wanted to feature characters who were of Caribbean descent in a prominent action adventure, genre-iffic novel, and do it well. I think the world is becoming more multi-cultural and diverse, including our own country, and that we needed more books that reflected that on our shelves if our genre is to survive and gain new readers and remain relevant.
Q: Given the choice, would you take a New York Times bestseller, or a World Fantasy Award? Why, exactly?
NYT, in a heartbeat. Don't get me wrong, I'd be an enormously happy author to get, well, any kind of award. But on the practical side of things, I want to make more money so I can write more books. About half my income is SF/F writing related, the other half is freelancing and blogging. If I could entirely focus on books all day, I would be one chipper author. Secondly, I really love the books I've written and poured my heart into them. Being a bestseller would mean more people were getting exposed to them, and that would mean a tremendous amount to me.