When and how did you first notice that you had a talent for writing?
At the age of nine, I began my first novel, about a little orphan girl living in the American wilderness. I frittered away my school years composing poetry and short stories, and my dream was to grow up and be a writer. Well, I never did grow up, but the other half of my dream has come true.
How do you come up with ideas for your novels? And what inspired you to write WATERMIND?
We all share certain archetypal myths that help us make sense of our lives, and these themes inspire my fiction. Current events give me specific story ideas. While the conflicts and troubled economies around the world make me pessimistic at times, the astonishing pace of scientific advance gives me tremendous hope. I believe our species is capable of greatness. The idea for Watermind came from my long years of environmental activism to protect rivers and streams. Earth is the Water Planet. Life evolved from water. Our bodies are mostly water, and everything we produce ends up in the water. So you might say the idea evolved naturally.
WATERMIND is brilliant. Everybody who reads it will believe that something like this could – and will – happen soon. But what about you: Do you REALLY believe in that?
Yes, indeed. I do believe our cavalier treatment of Earth’s resources will lead to an unforeseen and planet-altering result. Whether it takes the form of the Watermind, who knows?
Did you write WATERMIND to entertain … to warn … to push the genre of speculative fiction into a new direction … or to do all of that?
I believe the foremost requirement of fiction is to entertain, so I do my best to write thrilling adventures. Good fiction goes farther. It explores the human experience and seeks understanding. I try to do that, too.
Bad fiction gives answers. I have no answers. Of course, my opinions and judgments influence what I write, but Watermind is not meant as environmental propaganda. My hope is that it satisfies the reader as a creative story.
As for pushing genres, I believe our new technology-based lifestyles are changing the kinds of stories we need. Fiction has always been a steady collaboration between readers and writers to keep the art lively. So the bending of genres is a spontaneous emergence – in which I’m happy to play a part.
You could have chosen the WATERMIND to be some big monster, something that would also look good in a Jack-Arnold-film. Why didn’t you?
One, others have done that before. Two, I find silent invisible threats more chilling.
Let’s be considerate, though, with the word ‘monster.’ Each reader gets to decide what the Watermind is. Personally, I see him as a gentle, patched-together Frankenstein who’s trying to make sense of the bizarre place in which he springs to life. A bit like you and me.
Why do you think people should read WATERMIND?
Read Watermind for fun! Also, you’ll find a couple of tasty Creole recipes.
If you could meet one character from WATERMIND in real life – who would it be? And why?
Easy answer. I want to meet the Watermind. The first sentient Earthling to evolve since humans, who would miss that? Of course, I need CJ there to keep him gentle, and Max to translate his language, and Roman to prevent him from accidentally killing me. And I’d probably want the news reporter, Hal Butler, to snap my picture.
What music do you listen to on your iPod? Zydeco?
I enjoy music from around the world, the more diverse, the better. Zydeco fits that bill. It’s lusty and rousing. Caribbean salsa is also wonderful. To relax, I listen to jazz and classical music. To write, I listen to the quiet.
If you were allowed to cast a role in the movie version of your book – who would you pick and why?
When this movie is made, I hope all the main roles are filled by gifted young actors whose names we don’t yet know. Watching new talent emerge gives me pleasure. One exception, I think Jim Carrey would make a terrific Hal Butler.
Describe yourself with three words.
Carbon-based word lover.
If you could take breakfast, lunch and dinner at three different places in the world – where would you go?
Only three places? That’s hard. Here’s day one:
Breakfast at dawn in the Imperial Park at Kyoto, Japan.
Lunch in the Isalo National Park in Madagascar, watching the lemurs play.
Dinner in the Plaza San Martin in Buenos Aires, where Jorge Luis Borges used to hang out.
Any plans for the next project?
Yes, I’m just finishing my fifth novel, THE GRAVITY PILOT, which I hope will appear in the US in 2009.
THE GRAVITY PILOT tells the story of an exceptionally gifted skydiver who loses his girlfriend to web addiction. To save her, he must leave the open air he loves and delve into the dark surreality of web space, which he knows nothing about. Two characters stand in his way – the ruthless master of the wikiverse where the girlfriend is trapped, and the master’s deceitful daughter, who exploits the skydiver for her own ends but also falls in love with him.
As you might guess, THE GRAVITY PILOT is a futuristic retelling of the Orpheus myth, in which Orpheus seeks to rescue Eurydice from the underworld. Instead of playing a lyre, my hero plays the sky. There are lots of dramatic skydiving scenes, and as part of my research for this novel, I made a skydive myself. What a rush!