So, I was tagged for this Next Big Theme writer meme going around. Twice in fact, by Bernie Mojzes and then by Lee Mather. And finally, I slouch into action and answer!
Essentially, this meme is ten questions about one of one’s work-in-progresses. I’ve got two at the moment: a mad science novel tentatively titled This Island Monstrous and a biopunk novella I’m just starting on second-drafting, The Morpheist. TIM will take a long time to finish, never mind find a publisher for, while I’m hoping to get The Morpheist to a good home sometime early next year. So I’ll make The Morpheist the subject of this here thing.
1. What is the title of your book?
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
In the late nineties, when I was making my first stabs at writing short stories, I wrote a short called The Morpheist, set in a vaguely cyberpunkish future, wherein my protagonist and a techno-dream-eater entered a relationship for reasons that were especially sketchy for the techno-dream-eater. It was not a good story, exactly, but there was the kernel of a good story there, rooted in ruminations I’d had at the time about the nature and value of dreams.
So, casting about for something to write last year (after Brutal Light was published and my idea for Entering Cadence went to pot), I looked it over and decided there was Something I Could Do with it. I decided to recast the future it was set in as more of a biopunk-esque setting, as so much of what I read of future science these days points to a convergence of the technological and the biological. I didn’t want to expand the short story, though, so I came up with a new situation and set of protagonists, with the protagonist from the old story showing up as another character (which also allowed me to break up and include the old story, rewritten heavily, in interludes).
3. What genre does your book fall under?
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The only one I have a clear idea for is my main protagonist, Cal. As I was writing it, I thought increasingly of a youngish version of Adrian Brody. It wasn’t until I saw Skyfall, though, that I realized Ben Whishaw (Q) was close to ideal.
5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?
“In a world dreams and the technology to make them real have all but merged, Cal Silen seeks to rid himself of his ability to dream by hiring a rogue dream-eater with a tragic past, a hidden agenda, and enemies determined to expand their hold on millions of minds.”
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Of course these are the only two possible options, aren’t they? Pffft.
Being as it’s a novella, I don’t see this as something to shop to an agent. I’m also not keen on self-publishing, given my low visibility as an author right now. So, I’ll look for a small publisher for which this kind of material will be a good fit.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About 2-3 months.
8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
I’m sure there are comparables, but I’m drawing a blank right now as to what they would be. The world it’s neither dystopian nor utopian, exactly, but rather a sort of collision of a number of dystopian and utopian trends. The story itself is about the place and function of dreams, and what might be lost if the ability to dream is given up.
As far as influences go, there are several, starting of course with Paul di Filipo’s Ribofunk, which both started the biopunk subgenre and attempted without success to give it a less derivative name. William Gibson’s Neuromancer is up there, particularly as regards the ‘original’ short story. Probably also a few volumes from Philip K. Dick.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
As is usual with me, it’s a confluence of things. I follow futurist news with great interest, and find myself caught up in speculation about how trends in nanotechnology, biotechnology, virtual reality, social interaction, body modification, and climate change might play out. I’ve long had an interest in dreams, lucid dreaming, and nightmares, and their value in our lives, beyond being a purge of subconscious detrius.
10. What else might pique the reader’s interest?
Despite the subtext of dreams and their meaning, it’s not weighted down with metaphysical speculation (unlike, say, Brutal Light). It is science fiction, and while I’m only a layperson in my understanding of the science I delve into, I do try to be true to it as I can. I also embrace, as much as I can, how effing weird and perverse I think the future is going to be.
So… now it’s my turn to tag some hella-talented writer folks whose next big things are things I would love to hear more about. There’s some what I know have already posted their answers, or at least been tagged to do so, so I’ll try not to be duplicative. I hereby tag Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Eric A. Burns-White, Greg Fishbone, Su Halfwerk, and Emmy Jackson. (Which in no way obligates, as I didn’t ask beforehand, and even if I did, it still doesn’t obligate, so I don’t know why I even brought it up.)
Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and a contributor to the dark fiction anthology Fading Light. His blog originates here. Photo: Andres/Bigstock.com.