Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blog Tour: Other Sides - Author Interview

If you haven't already read my review for this book, you really need to! This is an amazing anthology and it now has me hooked into Webfiction.

Today I'm pleased to welcome MCM, one of the many amazing authors featured in this anthology, for an interview!

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1) Can you explain Webfiction for those who may not have had the opportunity to explore it yet?

Web fiction is actually a very broad term that applies to a lot of types of writing. At its most basic (and obvious!), it means fiction that was written for the web. The key word there is "for", because there's a difference between writing that is put on the web, and writing that is written for the web. There's a kind of audience awareness in web fiction that other writing styles don't have. Sometimes it's serialized stories, sometimes it's on-demand stories, and sometimes it's full-on interactive fiction that just doesn't work anywhere else. Web fiction tends to be about tying the writer and the audience closer together, as opposed to the create-and-consume model that exists elsewhere.

2) What do you find to be the benefits of writing Webfiction?

One of the best things for me is experimentation. I write for TV as my "day job", where it's 99% stick-to-the-rules. That can be a lot of fun, but it also leaves you with a strong desire to do something crazy and new. In my web fiction, I started writing kids books, then switched to hard sci fi, then comedies, mysteries, horror stories, spy thrillers... whatever comes into my head — whether it's plot, theme, genre or execution — I can just do it. The only restriction is whether or not I can pull it off. Some of my best work has come from pushing the boundaries and doing something any rational person would say is impossible.

The other big benefit, again, is interactivity. Traditionally, a writer would scribble their thoughts down, pass it through an editor, and have it come out the other end months or years later. There'd be reader feedback, but it's so long after the fact that it's almost irrelevant. But with web fiction, the reaction is immediate and essential, because more often than not, you haven't even finished writing the next chapter yet. The way people react to the story affects what you write, whether you intend it to or not. If a side character is really popular, you find ways to bring them back. If a mystery is looking too obvious, you can add a twist to obscure things again. It's like you're field testing your creation as you go, making it better and more targeted based on the reactions of your fans. That kind of connectivity doesn't happen anywhere else, and that's what makes web fiction one of the best outlets out there for creative writers.

3) Speculative Fiction leaves a lot of possibilities open for stories. Would you say it is your favorite genre to write?
That's a tough one. I think my favourite right now is the barest-bones version of "speculative", meaning stories that happen in a world not too far removed from our own (in time, or politics or what have you), dodging the fantastical for blunt almost-reality. My "Dustrunners" series is like that: 30 years in the future with no amazing new technologies (voice recognition is so flawed it's a wonder anyone uses it) and a state of affairs so plausible it's actually been shocking to see world events play out the way I predicted them. I love the restrictions it puts on you as a writer, having to carefully measure the world around you before you write something new. Cars in thirty years... what do they look like, sound like? They're not flying, obviously. We've been down that road before, conceptually. So what are the changes? They're largely electric or hybrid, so they're silent, and maybe people can customize the engine noises with sound files, like they're ringtones almost. Traffic on a busy highway would be like a symphony of chaos in half-second bursts. There's something about imagining the world as a not-much-better place that really excites me. A little depressing, but I'm Canadian, so I'm an expert at mundane fatalism.

On the other hand, I have another series, "The New Real", about a human cop joining an intergalactic narcotics control police force. My story in "Other Sides" is about those characters, and it really is one of my favourite concepts, despite the fact that it's full of space opera nuttiness. Writing that series, you can create an obstacle (or have one given to you by the audience) and just create an explanation for why it works that way. It's a lot of fun, though it does create an overlapping domino effect sometimes, where you create a rule and have it bump into another rule, and then another, until you have no idea which way is up. And that's when you blame it all on a post-singularity super-species pulling all the strings from the sixth dimension. Because that's what sci fi is all about.

4) What advice would you give to those thinking about writing Webfiction?

Write something you're passionate about. As crass as it sounds, traditional publishing is all about writing for a spot on a shelf, which means you may be giving up some of your passion along the way. Web fiction works best if the readers feel you loving your work every step of the way. Don't worry that a story beat is going to turn some people off, or might be too harsh for others. Do what needs to be done, and make sure you enjoy it while you do. What I said above about letting the audience influence what you do... that's part of it. If you love your story, your readers will love it too, and pretty soon you'll find yourself in a conversation with a bunch of strangers, talking about a crazy twist you just imagined that you KNOW everyone will love, and you'll be clapping giddily like a little girl on a pony... and that's when you know you've done something right. Or very, very wrong.

5) Other Sides is quite the anthology! If you had to describe it in a tweet (140 characters) what would you write?
Fantastic stories by some of the best web fiction writers still alive, compiled to maximize enjoyment & let y'all see how insane we all are!

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Thank you MCM for stopping by!

Once again my friends, you need to check this anthology out. Honestly, what else are you doing today? Go have a good read and enjoy!


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