Thursday, August 30, 2012

Interview: AB Potts

Today's interview is with AB Potts, author of the science fiction novel Imperfect Weapon. Born in the 1960's AB was considered an academic child but was more likely to be found daydreaming than studying. The daughter of a publican, she was left to her own devices of an evening, so the TV played an important part in her childhood. Documentaries, films and dramas alike fueled her imagination, from Journey to the Centre of the Earth to The Man from UNCLE, Tomorrow's World to James Bond, each only served to encourage her. When the first episode of Star Trek hit the small screen in 1969, it didn't just spark her imagination, it set it ablaze!

Michael K. Rose: What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

AB Potts: Without it, we'd invent nothing and go nowhere. It inspires us to create and embark upon voyages of discovery and adventure. Leonardo de Vinci brought us the hang glider and helicopters, Jules Verne the television and spacecraft, and Columbus sailed to the Americas. As writers, we may not be able to unravel all of the technical details—that's what scientists are for—but the creators of speculative fiction certainly play a part in putting the ideas into their heads. Have you never noticed the similarities between the flip phone and Uhura's communications headset, the eReader and the datapad? Transparent aluminium was introduced to us by Gene Roddenberry in 1986. It became a reality in 2009.

But it's more than that. Just like the annual vacation, a little trip into the world of fiction is just as therapeutic. When we read, we become immersed in the story and are transported to another world. How often do we finish a book and, rather like the end of a great vacation, wish it hadn't ended? We yearn for a sequel, a return trip to that little bit of escapism that gave us so much pleasure the first time around.

MKR: Why do you write in this genre?

ABP: It wasn't a conscious choice. I didn't just sit down one day and say to myself, 'I know, I'll write science fiction'. It's just that is where it was set when the story was born.

As for the stories themselves, they amaze me. Again, I don't make conscious decisions about the storylines; they're just there, waiting to be told. As I write them, they unfold before me. I can be in the middle of a chapter, something will happen and I'll suddenly stop and say, 'Wow! I didn't see that one coming!' Then I'm really worried because I can't see a way out of the situation for the character, but there's no need. Strangely, the story continues to unfold, almost flawlessly, to a resolution. It's an amazing process!

What I will say is this, though: it is nice to write science fiction because all sci-fi has a secondary genre. It could be a children's story, a romance, crime, horror or whatever. Science fiction merely states... well, it depends who you ask... set in another time or place, maybe a world of high technology or a prehistoric alien world. As I often say, at what point does the alien monster with a wingspan of over forty feet become a dragon or, for that matter, a pterodactyl?

The world of science fiction is far closer than you think, anyway. Mountains in vivid hues of yellow, blue and red exist in China, barren deserts turn purple with scorpion weed when they flower, and the Namib desert golden mole doesn't look upon the world at all. It looks like a little eyeless hamster. Our world is already a world of science fiction. How do I know that what I am writing is not already science fact?

MKR: How did you come up with the idea for Imperfect Weapon?

ABP: In all honesty, I have no idea! They just come to me. I have memories of Kylem going back to when I was just five years old. Every night I would fall a sleep and dream a new adventure. I don't know where he sprang from or why. He just came to me and then he stayed.

Over the years, Kylem's adventures have grown and the stories have evolved; he, though, has changed very little over the years. It's just that the detail has become more vivid. His tales are many and varied and I'm about thirty years ahead of the rest of the world in his adventures. That's why it is the first book in a series; the tale just doesn't end there. Just like life, there are many twists and turns and there are no happy-ever-afters. That sounds really sad, but it's a fact. Even as a child, I questioned that closing sentence at the end of every story—and they all lived happily every after.

My favourite faerie tale was Cinderella, but I always wondered what happened after the wedding. I just couldn't accept the concept that they married and that was it; that life went perfectly for them from that day on until their deaths. My mind was plagued by questions like, did they stay happy, did they have children or was she barren? And as I got older, the questions got wilder.

Was Prince Charming really that charming? Was he a wife beater? Did he stay faithful or did he abandon Cinderella for a younger woman? If they had children, were they perfect or did one get in with the wrong crowd and end up with a criminal record? Did Prince Charming smoke pot? Was their son gay?

I was about ten years old when I asked my mother some of those questions and told her about my stories. I can't remember the exact response but I did learn one thing: that, for the time being at least, I should keep such things to myself.

MKR: What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

ABP: Time! It's not just the writing, but the proofing and editing that's necessary in order to present a product that's as polished as one produced by a bestselling author. Needless to say, there's also the marketing, blogging, Tweeting and Facebook statuses that need attention. Add to the mix that I'm the senior partner in a business, a full-time bookkeeper, a wife, mother and dog owner, not a minute in the day can be wasted. Every second is precious.

MKR: What are you working on now?

ABP: The second book in the series. Entitled Black Dog, Kylem has arrived on Earth and he's causing as much mayhem here as he did on the DaerkStar! It's a little more light-hearted than Imperfect Weapon because he's not under the constant threat of death, and he's still finding himself. Remember, he may look like an adult but he's still just a kid, really. The third book is also taking shape, but I shan't say too much about that for fear of spoilers!

MKR: Thank you for your time! Readers, if you would like to read Imperfect Weapon, you can get it at the US Kindle store, the UK Kindle store or Barnes & Noble's Nook store. You can connect with AB Potts via her website, Facebook or Twitter. Imperfect Weapon will be tomorrow's Book Feature. (Edit: read it here.)

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