Monday, March 24, 2014

(Interviews) Interviews: The Carnage Report Interviews James E. Parson

It's been a long time coming and now it's here. We haven't carried out an interview a while but rest assured this won't be the last as we look to delve into as many inventive and creative minds as possible. This week we put the talented James E Parsons under the microscope. 

What got you into writing?

I studied art and design, then film/animation production at university but was always reading through my teens and twenties. In the last few years, after film projects, I was writing screenplays, then tried short stories and eventually moved onto trying novels. I wanted to challenge myself.

It is often said that the best thing about Science fiction is that it’s not about the future or science, would you agree?

There are many different ways to view science fiction, many reasons to enjoy it. You can take a tale just as it is on the surface, or dig a little deeper. Some of the classics like Dune, Foundation, 2001 can in ways take some contemporary issues of culture and society and speculate and where they might go in years, decades, centuries. Often a tale can be symbolic, or explore serious ethical and moral issues but in a very inventive, creative and entertaining way.

Do you have a writing process?

Now that I am working on my forth novel, I am finding that some elements are repeating and helpful and other things are disappearing from habit.

Yes, I initially make a good deal of notes, play around with ideas for a while, then go further with that, explore them more until I think I have a good starting point and just go ahead. The first draft can be hard work; it can be really exciting and interesting. I then to take a short break, and later do another three or more drafts, but it is more about looking at the whole piece of work in different ways very seriously.

What’s comes to you first, story or character?

With Orbital Kin, and the new one I am writing now, I probably did think of a strong concept or idea first. This can be the regular way with sci-fi, and it can often be an accusation that with science fiction it is worlds and themes over character and people. In other genres and literature, it is very often the characters leading the writing. I am aware of this issue, this view. I as a writer in all of the things that I write try to really get into the characters, get to know them, explore them.

With this new SF novel now, I do think that I tried to start with a balance of good concept and equally good lead characters to move ahead with. As I also write horror and others kinds of fiction and screenplays, the tale can often just be inspired by something I read in the news, in a newspaper, in an article, non-fiction book, anything like that as well.

Your new book, Orbital Kin, is your first full release, tell me what’s it about?

My first published science fiction novel Orbital Kin was published August/September last year. It focuses on two university science student friends and their work. Some unusual events start to take place around them, as their research reveals some powerful results; they are tempted to explore what it could lead toward. Some family issues also open up, friendships are tested. An epidemic soon spreads across the UK, and space exploration seems to lead to a possible solution. The two friends and the research group are trapped, chased, through space and ruined violent streets as they look to end the deadly disease ravaging the land.

What inspired you to write Orbital Kin?

With it being my first science fiction novel, it was difficult to decide what would be the main story to go with. I already had at least half a dozen good concepts in basic form ready, I think I took one of those. There was some pressure with it being the first, but I see It was the first of many, so the rest will follow in time.

The book is in three parts, and each part does explore a sub-genre of science fiction to some degree. The first part is like science thriller, the second set on a space station, the third part goes for the post-apocalyptic dystopian direction. It was a good challenge to took the same characters through each part in the story.

Some of it is my reaction to the many zombie and post-apocalyptic dystopian movies, tv series, novels that have endlessly poured out over the last few years-many I like but it can seem like they repeat after a while.

In some ways I wanted to step into science fiction with Orbital Kin, so it begins with a normal, everyday setting, and gets increasingly epic and wild. It was also influenced by some of my favourite science fiction authors, books and films.

In your opinion, what makes a great writer?

A good or great writer reads and writes always, very regularly and challenges themselves with what they read and write.

For you, what’s the worst thing about writing?

I don’t know if there is really a bad part of writing, though some parts can be frustrating for sure. It can be challenging, but I enjoy it all. The editing and checking of final work can take time, and is not as creative or inventive.

What advice would you have for a new writer?

I would say to new writers, or people thinking of writing anything- don’t be afraid, what you write is just the start. You write something and rewrite, and rewrite again until it is the best that you feel it can be.

You should read a lot, read what you enjoy, but also challenge yourself to read some books or stories that you would not usually go for, or some classic works, or work in other genres. Read some books on writing, editing, plotting (such as the great Stephen King book ‘On Writing’) but they can teach you everything, and you should really learn more as you do your own writing and try to make it better. Write whatever you want to write, not what you think people might want.

Much Has been about self-publishing, what’s your take?

Looking at self-publishing, I did almost go down that road, but finally I got the offer of a publishing contract. I was submitting two books to many suitable publishers, but was thinking that in time, self-publishing might be a sensible route.

There have been a number of surprisingly successful authors in the last few years who self-published their first few books. Right now, with the internet changing how we shop, promote, sell and buy books, and even how we read them with ebooks, the publishing industry is changing and the means to sell and get your own book out to readers is evolving regularly. Is self-publishing right for all kinds of books and authors? That is questionable.

I would say to some, yes do consider self-publishing, it might be the right path for your own book and career.

You’ve written novels and screenplays, which form do you enjoy the most?

I studied film production at university, and so learned quite a bit about screenplays, writing films and story in general and so it felt fairly easy to go ahead with writing a few screenplays. But as I have always been reading, I just had to go further and try writing actual short stories and novels.

I did intend to sell my screenplays or produce or use some of them myself to begin with, and now I would still enjoy writing them, with having a film in mind as I write, but am not really interested in actually making films personally now.

Right now, writing is the bigger thrill personally, and writing many different kinds of tales and stories, exploring characters and tales.

Everybody can name their favourite book, can you name the worst book you’ve read

Good question. Worst book I have read…I really am not too sure. There are some books I may not have finished reading, but that is rare. It is like films-there is some that are not too great, but usually I find parts that are still good, interesting. There are some authors who do not often get respect but have great books, and at times some really hyped up books are sometimes not really too great.

Final question, on your website, you named an awful lot of influences on your work from Ren and Stimpy to Philip K Dick. All of all these cited influences, which one would you most like to meet in person (the dead and the animated nonwithstanding)?

If I could meet some of my own personal writing influences or favourite authors, I think it would be like meeting some great film actor or legendary musician. You get star-stuck, lost for words. I would probably want to ask questions, advice, and their thoughts on writing and more. But the mystery of them might be lost then. Ultimately yes it would be great to sit down with possibly Clive Barker, Arthur C Clarke, Philip K Dick; one at a time and just chat about writing or life in general.

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