jueves, 27 de septiembre de 2012

Interview with Katy Stauber

Spin the Sky is one of most surprising and enjoyable books I've read recently (you can read my review and enter a giveaway to win the book). Hence, I'm really honored to have Katy Stauber today on Sense of Wonder answering some questions about this wonderful novel and her work in general.

Odo: Spin the Sky can be described as a science-fictional retelling of The Odyssey. How did you come with the idea of setting Homer's poem in space?

Katy Stauber: When I first read The Odyssey, many years ago, I was caught by the story of Penelope.  Her husband of only a few years leaves her with a newborn and does not return for twenty years. While he is gone, she is left to rule an island nation. Although it would be far easier for her remarry and hand the job off to someone else, she fights hard against remarriage. She tells everyone that she cannot remarry because she loves her missing husband, but when he reappears, she resists him as well. It seemed to me that the woman liked ruling and didn’t want to go back to being some man’s property.

Over the years I read many translations and interpretations of The Odyssey story, but none focused on Penelope and her tale. I wanted to share her in a futuristic version of the original story. Personally, I try to write science fiction because I don’t think there is enough of it. Science fiction is fundamentally a vision of the future and I just think people need to spend more time thinking about the future.  Unfortunately, science fiction is not exactly a hot genre so I have to content myself with small books sales.

Odo: Many of the characters and situations in your novel come from The Odyssey. We have Penelope, Ithaca, the sirens... But none of them are exactly analogous to their classic counterparts, they all come with a twist. How did you decide what to keep and what to change?

KS: I tried to keep as many of the classic characters and plot devices as I could, but when you are reinterpreting a classic as a space opera, things get weird fast. Some elements of the classic were changed to give them at least the veneer of a science fiction explanation. Other parts I changed because I just thought it would be cool to add in a big space battle or an evil pirate moon base.

Odo: What other authors and works have influenced your writing? When I was reading Spin the Sky magic realism (especially Laura Esquivel) came to mind, am I right?

KS: Oh yes.  I am a big fan of Laura Esquivel.  I've read all her books and even tried out a few of the recipes in Like Water For Chocolate. I also like Gabriel García Márquez. Magical realism is a fascinating genre and there definitely isn't enough of it out there. It reads very much like the classic science fiction stories of Jules Verne and H.G.Wells. Obviously I read plenty of science fiction as well. I tend to like the Golden Age style authors like Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. And while I did not try to consciously include it, the many times I watched Firefly and Serenity must have come through in the book as well.

Odo: In Spin the Sky you use different points of view, some fragments are in first person, others are in third person, certain parts are in the present tense and others in the past tense... How did you approach the structure of the novel and how did it influence they way of writing it?

KS: I was trying to capture that sense of the oral tradition that permeates The Odyssey by varying from first to third person and switching viewpoints. The Odyssey does intersperse the narrative with essentially short stories from previous exploits, so I tried to do the same thing in Spin The Sky. I admit, switching between storytellers can be hard on the reader, but I wanted to show how the classic story translated into a modern novel format.

Odo: What would you say is different and what is similar between Spin the Sky and Revolution World, your first novel? Which one was easier to write?

KS: When I started Spin The Sky, I thought it would be easier since I planned to use The Odyssey’s  plot and the characters as a road map, but actually it was much harder. I spent much more time researching their characters, rereading translations, trying to make everything both adhere to the original story but still make sense as a novel. In Revolution World, I was free to take my story wherever I wanted and to rewrite the characters as often as I pleased.

Odo: What are you working on now? Can you give us a sneak peek at your future projects?

KS: I finished a young adult science fiction novel called The Department Of Cautionary Tales and that is making the publishing rounds right now. I am also working on a picture book for kindergarteners with a friend tentatively titled The Littlest Robot. At this point, we are waiting on art. I recently independently released two novelettes, The Day The John Smiths Died and Gene Punks, on Amazon because I wanted to try out independently published electronic stories. I am always working on one story or another, but none of the novels are quite close to done at this point. Real life can be quite distracting.

Odo: Where can our readers learn more about you and your work?  

KS: I have a website and I also contribute to an online writer’s blog by Night Shade authors called the Night Bazaar.

Odo: Thank you very much for your answers!

(You can also read this interview in Spanish/También puedes leer esta entrevista en español)

2 comentarios:

  1. Interesante entrevista aunque debo decir una cosa:

    "Over the years I read many translations and interpretations of The Odyssey story, but none focused on Penelope and her tale"

    Sin ánimo de criticar. Para empezar está la "Penelopiad" de Margaret Atwood que se comentó el lunes pasado en www.leemaslibros.com, que mencionas y tengo muchas ganas de leer. Por poco conocida, Atwood está nominada al nobel de literatura. Y ganó el Príncipe de Asturias de las letras, que es una cosa que dan por España.

    Otra que se me ocurre es una obra oscura y poco famosa, igual no suena a nadie: el capítulo final del Ulysses de un tal James Joyce. Que también haya leído personalmente está el "Ulises y Penélope" de Inge Merkel y "Taking her seriously" de Richard Heitman", aunque son más bien ensayos sobre la mujer de Ulises. También hay quien intepreta "To the Lighthouse" como la versión femenina de Woolf de la Odisea, donde Mrs Ramsay sería una Penélope independiente y luchadora.

    Y sin buscar mucho: "Penélope" de Enda Walsh (que es teatro); "Penelope's Daughter", de Laurel Corona; "Ithaka" de Adele Geras y "Waiting for Odysseus" de Clemense McLaren.

    No sé si me explico.

  2. Gracias por el apunte, Carlos. La mayor parte de esas obras no las conocía.