Goodreads Author Post Virtual Book Tour

Candrel Interview’s Floor Kist

Candrel’s Crafts, Cooks and Characters is the seventh stop of my virtual book tour for “Can Machines Bring Peace?”.
Read the interview here.

Candrel’s Crafts, Cooks and Characthers is the seventh stop of my Virtual Book Tour.

Today author Floor Kist is taking us behind the scenes of his new science fiction novel, Can Machines Bring Peace? with an excerpt and an interview.

Describe your book in one sentence or fewer than 25 words.

Hi everyone,

Hi Andi, thank you so much for this interview.

The one sentence about my novel is: “A young diplomat builds a Thinking Machine to bring peace, but instead it discovers a plot for war.”

To write “Can Machines Being Peace? Hope in a Post-Apocalyptic Age”, I used Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method. And it requires you to start the writing process with one sentence describing the story. It was probably the hardest sentence I had to write! But I’m glad I did.

What kind of research did you have to do for it?

The setting is Japanese with a 1930s vibe. And I really had to research all sorts of aspects. I needed a fairground for the Marvelous Thinking Machine, so I checked out Japanese festivities. I settled for the Tanabata festival.

One of the leading ladies, Mizuki, wears beautiful kimonos. I spent hours finding nice patterns and descriptions.

I think I invented a Japanese word. Someone with other than Japanese roots are ‘continentals’. And I used the literal word ‘tairikusei’. But I don’t think it’s really used that way in Japan.

For the energy sources and some backstory about failing systems in the vault after two hundred years underground, I researched hydrogen fuel cells.

The 1930s setting means there are no microchips, so I had to read up on the first computers using vacuum tubes. And only so I could write sentences like this: “By using field emission rather than the thermionic electron emission, the vacuum-channel transistors don’t require a heat source. And they don’t really need vacuum either. Instead, they use helium.”

I wanted a solid system of currency, so I made sure all the prices made sense. Using the current yen would seem odd for the US readers. The Japanese price their products in the thousands.

I researched the wonderful kamon, something like a family crest. It plays a minor part in the story in the dynamics between Kazimir and his father. I had to find out how they are made, what the artists are called who create them. Really great!

Several readers complimented me on the great depiction of Japan – I have never been to Japan…

Which character was your favorite to write?

Ouch! What a terrible question. OK. (deep breath) I think Mizuki was the most interesting character to write. She was also the most difficult.

Mizuki is the daughter of Kazimir’s admiral. In traditionalistic Japan, her independence isn’t always appreciated. So, she makes use of her social charms to get things done. I wanted Mizuki to change from a somewhat frustrated, and therefore childish, young woman to a more liberated person who becomes more aware of her talents and creates her own person.

She falls in love with Kazimir, but I didn’t want that to be a girlish kind of smittenness – it had to be a mature and serious choice. A real relationship with mutual respect and admiration, and of course, physical attraction.

I really hope I got that right.

What was one of your favorite scenes?

Let me choose a scene with Mizuki. A scene where her talents help others, instead of only herself.

Mizuki visits an Imperial Councilor. The team needs protection against her father. The Councilor is not at all prepared to get involved in this affair. But before he dismisses her, Mizuki apologizes for dragging the councilor into some silly family tiff. Then talks about something else completely. She finds common ground, then uses that discussion to recruit him for her cause. Mizuki does so charmingly and innocently. The councilor can’t believe he fell for that.

I really like how that moment is pivotal for her and for the main story as well.

Will we see these characters again?

Most definitely! I’m working on Part 2 right now. And it’s a daunting task. Even more so than the first book.

Sometime my kids do something great, say land a ball in a net at a good distance. I always tell them it’s wonderful, but it’s the second time that counts, that proves talent.

Now I’m using that quip on myself. There is a whole new dynamic in sequels. We already know the characters. So, the freshness of the first novel is gone. We know what the story is about, so there is no surprise about that either.

If my readers are interested in what’s next, I have to figure out what they want to know. Are they interested in more romance between Mizuki and Kazimir? Or what happens to Kira?

I have re-written that first sentence for part 2 several times. And I have restarted the story at least four times. Some of the main and secondary characters changed places. Some characters even disappeared, because each character has to contribute something of value to the story.

For the moment, I like to think I’m almost there.

Let’s say I’m coming for a visit to your area. What are some must-see places?

Near The Hague in the Netherlands, there is a town called Voorburg. That’s where I live.

There are three really worthwhile places: we have a view with three honest-to-goodness Dutch windmills in a row. Even in Holland that is quite unique. We have a very cozy, old city center along a canal, complete with a working sluice. And we have the family home of Christiaan Huygens, the 17th century scientist who discovered the rings of Saturn. His father is a renown Dutch writer, poet, diplomat and secretary to the King. Come one, come all!