Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fantasy Chat: Interview with Michael Offutt, author of SLIPSTREAM


Everyone, please welcome Michael Offutt to the blog today! He's here to tell us about his fantastic science fiction novel Slipstream.

Michael, tell us a little about yourself.  I work for the government. I read a lot of fiction.  I’m a slow writer.  It’s difficult for me to focus on things for very long because my attention is prone to wandering.  I’ll usually read four novels at a stretch because I get bored of one and move to another. Cycling through them keeps them fresh to me so that I can finish them.

In two sentences, describe your novel Slipstream.  Jordan Pendragon is a 17-year-old boy that undertakes a journey that not only unravels the mystery of his own birth, but one of the darkest secrets of the universe. It’s a story with hockey sticks, crystal spiders, and monsters from the Id.

Slipstream incorporates a lot of science in it. How much research did you do for this novel? I’m a science and math nerd. I read Hawking’s book called “The Grand Design” and had read a book called “Einstein’s Relativity and the Quantum Revolution”. I read those for pleasure, so I don’t count them as research, but they helped quite a bit to refresh my memory from college. I read a lot of science journals in-between bouts of fiction.

I love the mythology represented within Slipstream. Why did you decide to use Mesoamerican mythology? Jordan’s abilities are all dependent on him being able to see what’s going on. So absolute darkness is kind of his Achilles heel. This led me to research on the “Lords of Night” which are meso-American gods. The evil people in SLIPSTREAM are trying to bring the meso-American gods to life using a fusion of technology and flesh.  It’s pure madness, and a nod to Aztec mythology where they believed humans arose from the shattered bones of dead gods.

The humans of Avalon are living in a post-apocalyptic world.  Outside the realm of the book (but in my notes) there are people who claim their survival was foretold in Mayan pyramids and interpret the survivors as a stand-in for “the shattered bones of dead gods”. The trope of Life Green makes immortality a distinct possibility. So those in power have come to think of themselves as new gods instead of as humans (having far exceeded a normal life span) and they go about encouraging this belief.

Some even go so far as to claim that Avalon is in fact the underworld and that people who don’t see this, are hiding from the naked truth. I should also point out that Ian Gooding (the central bad guy) was born in the area of Guatemala. So he is of Mayan descent (again not in the book) and is also a minor archeologist (having found and translated the Popol Vuh). I know all of this isn’t in the book, but I cut some 60,000 words from the finished manuscript to come in at the highest acceptable word count. So yeah, Ian wants to become a god because he rightfully feels that he has been chosen to summon back into the world the nine Lords of Night because of something he read on the wall of an ancient Mayan city lost within the jungles of Guatemala (look up the lost city of Mirador sometime using Google).

I had to cut huge swaths of text from my book. No one was going to publish a 180,000 word monstrosity. Background not essential to understanding the plot got cut.

How did you go about creating the two different worlds (ours and Avalon)? My long story is allegorical. You are picking up on that in just this book but it becomes even more clear in the sequel. It’s completely intentional and yes, has to do with Arthurian stuff.

What are you working on now? Is there a release date yet for book two in the series? (Yes, I want to read book two now.) There is no release date. I’ve got half of the book to rewrite based on feedback from betas. I have no idea how long that will be. I’m slow…like a snail…when it comes to writing.

If you could recommend one book, what book would that be and why? Neuromancer by William Gibson. I love that book and it won the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Philip K. Dick award all in the same year. It is what drove me to write SLIPSTREAM.

Thanks Cherie for the interview. You ask tough questions.

You're welcome! I loved the book and do look forward to book two.

Isn't it pretty? And very perfect for Michael's SLIPSTREAM!
I have a contest for the release of my book.  I will pick one random person who comments on this post to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card and a SLIPSTREAM jeweled spider (the same person wins both prizes). The jeweled spider really sparkles in the sunlight. I hope whoever wins it really likes it. Also, please make sure that your email is linked to your signature in some way. And yes, the crystal spiders play an important role in my book.

1)      Mark my book “To Read” on Goodreads.
2)      Comment on this post.
3)      Tweet this post if you have twitter. You don’t have to sign-up for twitter. It’s the “honor” system.

That’s it. I will choose a winner on Saturday, May 19th.  And thank you, Cherie, for having me on your fine blog.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Don't think of it as slow writing - think of it as precise, careful, and meticulous. (At least that's what I tell myself.)
Good interview!

Spanj said...

Great interview. I agree with Alex, and it's nice to see there are other writers out there who aren't churning out 6 books a year (those people scare me!)

Good luck with the sequel!

Christine Rains said...

That was an awesome interview. Neuromancer is a great recommendation. Good luck with the sequel!

Brinda said...

Cherie had some interesting questions for you. I love the plot intricacies and think Alex is right. Meticulous is good.

PT Dilloway said...

Reading all that science would probably make my head explode.

Morgan said...

Oh my goodness! I love Michael! Yay... great interview. So fun. :D

M.J. Fifield said...

You're not slower than I am, Michael. Embrace that fact...

My copy of Slipstream is sitting on my Kindle. I'm looking forward to diving in.

Elise Fallson said...

Hello Cherie Reich! Great interview. I really like reading the history behind stories and parts that got cut. Who knows Michael, maybe one day you could release the unabridged version!

Andrew Leon said...

Okay, now I'm going to do my Donkey impersonation and jump up and down yelling "pick me! pick me!"

Thank Briane for making me think of Shrek.

Callie Leuck said...

Everytime I read something about Slipstream, I get excited to read it. I have yet to find my power cord for my Kobo, though. I gotta get on that!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Great interview!
I can understand the difficulty of focussing on one thing at a time. I also read multiple books at the once, lol.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

@Alex: LOL

@Angeline: I'm a very slow writer. Cherie is taking a look at my sequel which I started on two years ago while writing the first novel. When I got tired of one, I went and worked on the other.

@Christine: I really like Neuromancer. It's better sci-fi than that bigoted anti-gay trash called Ender's Game.

@Brinda: They were tough questions! It took me a while to think about the answers.

@P.T.: I enjoy it for some reason. Science relaxes me.

@Morgan: Thank you red-head.

@M.J.: I hope you like it. Thanks for the support.

@Elise: I kinda deleted it since I figured I'd never use it. The deleted scenes were bad anyway. Stuff like Kathy and Jordan stuck in a mine shaft with a monster.

@Andrew: I like Shrek. I'll have to remember to thank Briane for that.

@Callie: Oh no. I hate losing power cords. Best of luck in finding it and thanks for the support.

@Lynda: Great minds think alike.


Helena said...

Wonderful interview. You really thought out the backstory of Slipstream, which no doubt has given it a lot of depth. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Ciara said...

This book sounds SO fantastic. I'm excited because I'm hoping to finish with my last major deadline in two weeks. Your book is top of my TBR list.

Jay Noel said...

So much insight in this interview.

Love the mix of science and mythology in this book (two of my most favoritist things).

Slipstream is next on my TBR list, and I can't wait.

M Pax said...

Great interview. It was great to learn more about Michael's book.

I feel I'm slow, too, Michael.