Beautiful, heartfelt poetry from international poets
What’s your background, what compelled you to start writing?
I’ve always been obsessed with telling stories. I used to travel around doing stage and street theatre with workshops when I was younger, but I’ve always written as well. Because of moving around a lot and not really being settled. I wasn’t getting things finished and sent to publishers. This year I decided to treat it like a proper job rather than a hobby and start sending stuff to publishers. Surprisingly, they seemed to like them.
Did you always want to be an author?
Um…I did when I was younger, then I kind of convinced myself that it would never happen. It just goes to show how wrong you can be and how powerful the self-doubt monster can be.
Were you an avid reader while you were growing up?
Oh yes. I loved reading as a kid and listening to my many story cassette tapes. I lost interest a little, I think, in years 5-7, in part because I didn’t understand much of the vocabulary, so reading became a bit of a chore, though I still loved all the guided reading we did at school—Shakespeare, the Greek classics the Epic of Gilgamesh, The Divine Comedy, El Cantar del Mio Cid. Then at 17 I read Herman Hesse’s Demian, and it changed my life…it unlocked something. I understood everything I read from that point forward, so I wanted to read…and read everything… Then I slowed down again for a few years but watched movies instead—art house and commercial—and was more into music, art, and parties.
I started reading avidly again when I had kids…children’s stories, nursery rhymes, etc. And now I’m back into my books…with a never ending to-be-read pile beside me.
So yes. Yes! Because I’m still growing up.
What’s your most favourite under-appreciated novel?
I love old school sci-fi, and there are few more talented writers than John Wyndham. Everyone’s likely to have read or seen an adaption of Day of the Triffids, but The Kraken Awakes is, for me, a far more entertaining story. An apocalyptic alien invasion tale, it could be easy to dismiss it as a watery War of the Worlds, but that would be to dismiss a real page turner. With its theme of alien driven climate change, melting ice caps and rising water levels, in 2020, it does feel strangely prophetic. My short story, “Thorn in my Side,” is in part a nod to this classic.
What’s your writing Kryptonite?
C. Marry Hultman
Procrastination. Meaning letting other things writing related get in the way of actual writing.
Besides hard work and talent, what other traits have led to your success?
Good question. Consuming relevant media as it gives your imagination more fuel. But also for me I find being educated in psychology really useful. Knowing how different people think and act allows you to embody them when writing. If you always know how someone will react, then it doesn’t matter the situation you throw them into.
And on a more general note, other authors. Having the understanding and support of fellow authors is a blessing.
What kind of research do you do?
For any piece, I research geographic details—especially if I include a real landmark, town, etc.,—as well as things like what sort of food fits the time period, or major events that may have occurred at the time so I can reference them in the story for added realism.
For Zero Hour 2113 I specifically researched what sort of material my main character, Okimi’s, pyjamas and desk would likely have been made of, given her background, as well as which pistols were commonly purchased by females. Additionally, I needed to look up some medical terms for my doctor character, which is where the colour of the sterilisation fluid came from.
What sparked the idea for this book?
I was coming up with ideas for another Black Hare Press anthology named Wetware and while having a discussion with the erstwhile Dean Kershaw of BHP got onto the subject of the 13 projects. Passenger 13 was just coming to a close, and I thought one of my ideas may suit—I pitched it to Dean and he seemed pretty excited, little did I know he’s well into cyberpunk and sci-fi in general so we fired situations at each other, and before I knew it, I was assembling my tribe!
I’m a fan of the genre in other mediums than writing, mainly film and video games, with the Deus Ex series being a massive influence on me. I sometimes find the novels set in this genre can become overly technical and can mask the story and humanity (or loss of) that is inherent to the genre, and we worked hard to keep this at the forefront of Zero Hour 2113.
What’s your favourite scene in your chapter?
Ohhh…that’s a hard one. I was really happy with the whole story, but I think the part that I like best is the scene with LiQiang and Norcal. I knew going into the scene that I wanted Norcal to really embody the privilege that the money of the Mile could bring. I also wanted to show with LiQiang a man who felt powerless against that. He was willing to sell his soul for his daughter, and in this scene we see just how far he’s gone.
Did you base any of the characters on people you know?
Sort of. Elis is loosely based on a gay friend of mine, and his friendship with Talia is much like our real-life friendship.
He was saddened by the story’s events as he felt very close to the character. The inspiration for Keanu is my own dog, Ren.
How did you come up with the stars of your story?
Sometimes an image will flash into my head of what I want to write about after hearing the pitch for an idea. Unfortunately, that image usually rattles around in there until I find the right combination that works for me, writing and rewriting until the character says, “Hi, I’m ready for my closeup.”
My tale usually always starts with a male lead who needs an unusual sidekick—much like Indiana Jones and Short Round, or Will Robinson and Robby the Robot. I’ve done old characters with dogs, young girls in space with dead voices in their heads, I even tried virtual tour guides talking directly into readers’ heads. My head literally becomes an X Factor lounge for auditioning sidekicks—like The last Action Hero police station scene.
This time it was the huge Repo-vehicle that popped into my head first, and it needed a driver and a gunner. The big lumbering logging vehicle, kitted out with all the tech required to recover any punter trying to flee the city limits.
So, I thought about Tank Girl and Imperator Furiosa—somebody tough but demure, streetwise yet cocky. I thought about the old eighties movies I used to watch like Cherry 2000 and SpaceHunter where the girls were always the butt of the jokes.
August Oggy is a combination of all these women, but unlike her counterparts, she takes no shit. Her shotgun rider, Rooster, is a sidekick who thinks he is the lead in this tale, but he really hasn’t got the brains. He is to Oggy what Jayne is to Captain Malc Reynolds, Mr T to Hannibal—nothing but the hired muscle with his hands on the equipment.
That’s his job.
I pictured him from the start; big and dumb, but hard as nails. Don’t mess with the dumbass.
The rig they drive, Oshy, well that’s just my idea of a cyberpunk wet dream—like the Snow Crash pizza delivery vehicle, The Deliverator, mixed with a sprinkling of B.A. Baracus’s A Team van…complete with tail fin.
Is there a particular message that you hope readers will take from the book?
In my particular chapter, I wanted to convey that no matter how bleak the environment and how damaged the character, there is always hope. I think that this faltering optimism weaves through many of the stories in the book.
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