Rogue Angles is the ninth stop in my virtual book tour.
Hi Allana, Amber, Cinnamon and Sable Angel, thank you very much for this interview.
Hello, everyone. The Angels put some interesting questions to me.
1. What or who inspired you to start writing?
A silly competition with my sisters made me write “Can Machines Bring Peace? Hope in a Post-Apocalyptic Age”. More than ten years ago now, I wrote a professional book on how to do stakeholder analyses. I had designed an expert system, and wrote the book to assist the users. My younger sister then wrote a novel. My elder sister wrote a non-fiction book about Argentina (she lives there). Then my younger sister wrote a second novel, and a third! So, you get that I couldn’t lag behind for too long. If I finish the trilogy, I may actually win 🙂
2. What elements are necessary components for this genre?
The story I wrote is about the future. After a Final War, surviving people lived in vaults. Because the vaults had been made quickly, the technology inside starts breaking down after a time, reverting to older mechanical machines.
The science in science fiction is obviously important. It needs to be solid.
One of my main characters, Kira, designs the Thinking Machine using old electrode tubes. She also gives the system a name: Kirisu. That’s the name of the engineer who saved the vaults when the air filtering started breaking down. Kirisu developed an oxygen-assisted aluminum/carbon dioxide power cell that uses electrochemical reactions to both sequester carbon dioxide and produce electricity. In one amazing swoop, air filtration systems kept working and also became efficient energy producers.
My research on this science makes it possible to write sentences like: “It can generate 13 ampere hours per gram of porous carbon at a discharge potential of around 1.4 volts—just as much as high energy-density battery systems.”
3. How did you come up with your idea for your novel?
There were three or four ideas floating in my mind that I was trying to combine. There was a Japanese setting and a 1930s vibe. The protagonists had to be young people who needed to find a way to make peace in an impending war. They also had to work together to be successful. And in the first few pages I started writing, I introduced an artificial intelligence.
When I set down to actually write it, the story moved from a galaxy spanning conspiracy, to a more down to earth wish to make sure peace missions don’t fail. The AI got promoted from a cute side idea to the main goal. And somehow, two of my protagonists decided to fall in love. That wasn’t part of my first ideas at all.
4. What expertise did you bring to your writing?
My current research on AI is concerned on how it can support negotiations. So, that obviously played a part in my story. And I’m a student of public administration. And one of my own heroes is a Dutch professor called Arend Lijphart. He came up with the Pacification Theory that tries to explain how divided people can still find grounds to work together to govern a nation. His teachings are still useful and valuable to me today.
5. If you could be one of the characters from this book, who would it be and why?
Wow, nice question! I think I’d like to be Kira. She designs and builds the Thinking Machine. There is a sequence where she locks herself in her room for three days to re-design it. Those are feverish days and she ends up writing her thoughts on every part of her wall. That flash of genius would be very cool to have.
6. Can you give us a sneak peek into this book?
Two of my main characters surprised me by falling in love. I think they were surprised themselves as well. And they also both seem to think that it’s a bad idea. There is a scene when Mizuki, the admiral’s daughter, asks Kazimir, who works for the admiral, out to lunch. She actually believes it’s an innocent invitation. But the lunch is so awkward that they are both not so sure. And they enjoy each other’s company very much. So, they end up happy and confused.
7. Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Definitely outline! Randy Ingermanson’s snowflake method helped me start and finish my novel. It’s a very rigorous system that worked very well for me.
8. How do you maintain your creativity?
Not to sound too smug, but I really need to find ways to keep my creativity in check. Once I finished “Can Machines Bring Peace?” a little door in my brain opened demanding that I write a lot more. So, now I’m trying to not write four novels at the same time.
9. As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?
The second part in the Thinking Machine Trilogy is what I’m working on now. And it’s a new voyage of discovery all over again. In part 1 we got to know the characters, and that gives a freshness to them. Now that we’ve met them, they need to develop in new ways to keep the readers reading. The Machine is still central to the story–it’s the Thinking Machine Trilogy, after all. So, it needs to carry the next adventures in another way than it did in part 1. I’m really enjoying writing it.
10. Anything else you might want to add?
If you read online suggestions on how to write your novel and how to market your novel, naturally you are encouraged to think about your readers. But this confuses me. When I started thinking about my book, I had no clue who my readers might be. I just wanted to write a story that I was carrying around. And when it came to the blurb and the cover, I got suggestions to look at other books in the genre and make it sound and look like those. Apparently, marketeers believe that readers keep reading the same thing all the time. I wonder if this is true. It’s certainly not true for me. And I am still puzzled on how this advice conflicts with writing, hopefully original stories. I’m still not sure. So, I just write what comes to me.