Friday, May 04, 2012

Interview with author Joe Vasicek

1.) Joe, you've written mostly speculative fiction so far, mainly science fiction and fantasy. What draws you to those genres?

There's a saying that the golden age of science fiction is about twelve, and that's definitely true in my case. I fell in love with the science fiction genre when I saw Star Wars for the first time as a young boy, and I haven't looked back since. I read all the books by Timothy Zahn and Kevin J. Anderson, then discovered the Corellian Trilogy by Roger MacBride Allen. His descriptions of the enormity of space and the age and evolution of the universe really captivated me, and I took an interest in astronomy which eventually led me to more classic works of science fiction by Orson Scott Card, Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ursula K. Le Guin. But it was Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time that made me realize that I would one day be a writer.

As for what draws me to speculative fiction, it has to be the sense of wonder and possibility. Writing is an exercise of imagination for me, and I find it almost impossible to write anything that takes place in the "real world" because my creative mind thrives on that sense of wonder. At the same time, I often feel drawn by the depth of character that can be found within the genre. Because the setting of the story is often completely alien, you have to ground the reader by making the characters' reactions believable and true to life. My favorite books, like Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed, are the ones that use the alien and the fantastic to show more clearly what it means to be human.

2.) You have also written a travel book about a trip to Jordan. What brought you to travel to Jordan?

I traveled to Jordan over the summer of 2008 as part of a study abroad program with Brigham Young University. I studied Middle Eastern Studies & Arabic in college, and my main reason for being there was to take the 300 level Arabic classes required for my major. However, I had a fantastic cultural experience as well, traveling all across the country and making a lot of friends among the local people. The book is based largely off of the blog that I kept while I was over there.

Since graduating in 2010, I've decided to spend a few years traveling more extensively. Currently I'm in the south Caucasus region, teaching English in Georgia. After I'm done here, I'll probably make my way back to the Middle East, either to Jordan, Egypt, or somewhere in the Gulf (depending on the political situation), or maybe head out to Eastern Europe to explore my family's roots. Either way, you can expect to see more travel writing in the future.

3.) There has been a lot of talk, arguments not being uncommon, concerning the future of books and e-books. What is your take? Have any predictions for the future?

I have to admit there are a lot of people who know much more than me about this subject. However, I think it's safe to say that there will always be a demand for books, no matter what form they take.

The way I see it, the e-book format is an amazing technological revolution, on the order of the Gutenburg press. Imagine a world where books never go out of print, where you can find just about anything you could ever want to read at the click of a button. That world has already arrived! And because the marginal costs of e-book production are so low, writers and readers can connect directly, making possible an explosion of innovation and new voices the likes of which we've never seen. This is the best time in the world to be a reader, and because of all the new opportunities that have been opened by e-publishing, I believe it's the best time to be a writer as well.

4.) Can you tell us a little about your next writing project?

Sure! I'm currently working on a revision for Heart of the Nebula, a direct sequel to Bringing Stella Home. I finished the rough draft a few months ago, but I feel it needs a lot of work before it's ready to go out, so I won't be publishing it until probably the end of this year. I've also finished the draft of another novel set in the same universe, Stars of Blood and Glory, but that one also needs a lot of work.

As for my next publishing project, I've got a novel that I'm really excited about, but I can't say any more about it because it's currently on hold with the Writers of the Future contest. I hope to publish it in four parts, and the first part is ready to go as soon as I hear back from WOTF, but obviously I can't do anything until I hear back from them first. Check out my blog for more details!

5.) What is your favorite number, and why?

Twelve. It's divisible by 2, 3, 4 and 6, which makes it beautifully symmetrical. It's the number of hours on a clock, the number of months in a year, the number of bagels in a dozen, and the number of colonies in Battlestar Galactica.

However, the number 60 is also quite interesting. It's divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 20, and 30. The Babylonians used it as the base for their counting system, which is why we have 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and 360 degrees in a circle. All things considered, though, I'm glad we switched to a base 10 system -- high school math would have been torture in ancient Babylonia.

6.) An ancient Mayan spirit comes to you and informs you the world will most definitely end in 2012, either through earthquakes, a giant asteroid strike, or zombie dinosaurs. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), this spirit says you are the individual who must decide which form the end is going to take. So, what's it going to be?

A mysterious blight infects all of humanity, killing anyone older than 25 and making that the maximum age that most of the population can hope to live. After a mass exodus from the urban centers and a brief period of Mad Max style anarchy, a new society of small, decentralized farming villages arises. In this society, older children raise their brothers and sisters, while self-trained specialists scour the ruins for lost treasures like canned foods and abandoned server racks. And in a land far far away, rumor has it that a tyrant king has discovered a cure and is amassing a fearsome army ...

For more on Joe Vasicek, check out his blog: One Thousand And One Parsecs.


Charles Gramlich said...

I find it hard in writing to keep speculative elements out of my writing. I feel like I want to cut loose. I've done it but it isn't easy and the speculative stuff is so much fun. I'll check out your blog

Joe Vasicek said...

Thanks! I'm a firm believer that writing should be fun--it should also be work, of course, but the best kind of fun also takes an amount of work too. Best of luck!