jueves, 20 de diciembre de 2012

Interview with Tim Pratt (Part 2)

As promised, here it is the second part of my interview with Tim Pratt (be sure to check out the first part if you missed it yesterday).

Odo: The Multiverse and the idea of parallel universes is featured in many of your stories and novels either explicitly (The Nex, Briarpatch, "Impossible Dreams"...) or implicitly (the Marla Mason series). Do you think of your stories as happening in different universes that are, somehow, connected to each other? 

TP: It is an idea that fascinates me, and always has. I'm obsessed with the way lives can change utterly based on very small decisions -- deciding at the last minute to attend a party where you meet the person you end up marrying, deciding to dash out to the store and getting hit by a bus -- and fascinated by the notion that in some other world you made a different decision, and things changed in significant but different ways. I like personal alternate histories.

I
do like having little cameos, too, connecting my work -- characters from lots of my contemporary fantasy short stories appear in the Marla Mason novels in small or large roles, for instance, implying that they all take place in the same cohesive universe. But other stories are mutually exclusive. The superhero universe of Captain Fantasy and the Secret Masters obviously isn't in the Marla Mason universe (though one has a prison-hospital complex called The Black Wing, and the other has a mental hospital for the criminally insane called The Blackwing Institute, so I do have my little jokes), and obviously the world of The Constantine Affliction is wholly separate too. With Briarpatch, I opened up the possibility of a multiverse connecting all my worlds... but I don't know whether I'll ever explicitly connect them, the way Stephen King brought much of his work together through the multiverse of the Dark Tower series. Sometimes that kind of connectivity can make the vastness of the universe seem a little too cozy -- it should be a big world, not a small one! -- so I don't expect to write Pimm & Skye teaming up with Marla Mason anytime soon.
 
Odo: Two of your most recent novels, Venom in her Veins and City of the Fallen Sky, are set in shared worlds. What were the main differences between writing these novels and those set in worlds created by you? Did you need to do a lot of research before writing these novels?

TP
: It was a bit like writing historical fiction, actually -- I had to write things set in existing worlds, with their own cultures and continuities and famous personages and gods and heroes. Unlike with real historical fiction, though, there are a lot fewer books to read, and if I had a question about anything, there were people I could call up and ask who could give me answers that were absolutely and incontestably true, with none of the subjectivity and nuance of dealing with real history.

That said, for
Venom in Her Veins, I was mostly writing stuff set in the remote jungle and terrible underground caverns, so I didn't have to worry too much about messing up the continuity. The Pathfinder Tales novel -- and the two others I'm writing set in that world! -- required a little more research and consultation of reference material. But I'm a roleplaying gamer from way back -- I use to run campaigns in high school -- so I like digging into that stuff.

It wasn't radically different from writing my own stuff, I have to
say. They require a bit more back-and-forth with the editors about plot and character, but both editors I worked with gave me a fairly free hand. I tried to write books you could read without any prior knowledge of the game worlds -- just good sword-and-sorcery adventure with some snark and humor and scary bits.

Odo: You have explored the concept of "magical shop" in stories such as "Antiquities and Tangibles" and "Impossible Dreams". Why do you think this is such a a fascinating topic? What stories of this subgenre are your personal favorites?

TP
: I wrote another (less successful) story about such shops called "Straight Trade," too.

As for why... oh, I loved
Needful Things by Stephen King as a kid (King's always been a big influence). As a child I also loved that objectively not-very-good show Friday the 13th: The Series, about a store full of cursed antiques. I read pretty uncritically as a kid, and one book I loved was Amityville: The Evil Escapes, about cursed household objects sold from the house in The Amityville Horror. I worked in an antique shop full of weird folk art for a while. I love wandering around giant used bookstores with whimsical approaches to organization. I went to lots of flea markets and yard sales as a kid, and the thrill of finding something wonderful by total happenstance is very familiar to me.

I have a complex relationship with objects: I don't actually believe
things can make you happy, ultimately, but I like surrounding myself with things (my decorating aesthetic is "clutter"). So I try to explore that.

As for other stories in that vein, I like
William F. Wu's "Wong's Lost and Found Emporium" and Harlan Ellison's "Shoppe Keeper." I'm interested in everyday objects that do odd things, too, so I quite like the mini-series from a few years ago, The Lost Room, about scores of objects with bizarre magical properties.

Odo
: You are quite prolific: you've written dozens of stories, poems and novels. What is your secret? And what do you prefer to write: short fiction, poetry or novels?

TP
: My secret is pretty simple, but not useful to anyone else: I like writing. It's one of my favorite pastimes, and has been since I was in third grade. If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't do it. (I'm a lazy hedonist; I mostly just do things I enjoy, unless forced by circumstances to do otherwise.)

I think I'm pretty clearly
better at short stories than I am at novels -- so far -- but it's hard to say what I like more. They offer different pleasures. I love writing poetry, but have fallen out of the habit in recent years, producing only a few pieces; I don't know why, and keep thinking I'll come back to it someday.

Odo
: Maybe I should refrain from asking this one but I'm just too curious. I've read somewhere that you worked as a "porn reviewer" for some time. Come on, is that even a real job description?

TP
: Oh, I don't mind talking about it. I got paid to write reviews of pornographic films, so it seems like a fair job description! My wife was working as a buyer for a sex toy company at the time, and they needed a good, reliable reviewer for their videos -- they had a commitment to only carrying quality material -- so I offered my services. (It's a point of faith for me that I can write anything.) It was an okay job. There's a lot of terrible porn out there, of course, contrived and artificial and unsexy, but there's also some really great stuff, especially in the independent porn scene. And the jokes pretty much write themselves, so reviewing them in a breezy, light way is easy.

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

TP: Books that are done and coming out in the somewhat near future include:

Short novel/novella called The Deep Woods, from great British small press PS Publishing in 2014;

Another Pathfinder Tales novel, a funny fighty quest adventure called Liar's Blade, next spring;

Anthology, Rags & Bones, co-edited with the great Melissa Marr and featuring stories by Gene Wolfe, Kelley Armstrong, Holly Black, Saladin Ahmed, Carrie Ryan, Garth Nix, Rick Yancey, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, and Neil Gaiman (plus Melissa and me), with illustrations by Charles Vess;

My collection Antiquities and Tangibles and Other Stories should be out early next year too.

Things in progress include another Pathfinder Tales novel and another Marla Mason novel. And there are a couple of other possibilities I can't talk about yet. Plus, always, new stories.

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

TP: My work is more interesting than me.

I have websites!
www.timpratt.org, www.marlamason.net

Lots of free/cheap stories linked to from both those places.


Odo
: Any other thing you'd like to add?

TP
: I think you pretty well covered it!

Odo: Thank you very much for your time and your answers!

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

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