Jul 23, 2009

Keeping an Eye On... David Moles

In this weeks installment of Keeping An Eye On... David Moles was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding what he has been writing recently and what you need to know about him as an author. He even provided genuine Japanese characters (not sure what they say) for his writing style haiku. Hopefully he refrained from anything offensive.

David Moles has had short stories published in several magazines including Strange Horizons, F&SF, and Asimov's as well as a few original anthologies, including the most recent Eclipse anthology from Night Shade Books. His work has also been reprinted on a frequent basis in the range of Year's Best SFF Antholgies published in the last few years. David Moles was nominated to the list by the likes of Johnathan Strahan, Niall Harrison and Gardner Dozois mostly for on the potential represented in his short work. I've only read a little of Moles work due to a lack of novels and/or anthologies but he provided plenty of places for me to jump on the bandwagon.

SoY: So, if we are keeping an eye on you, what should be looking for in the near future? What have you been working on recently?

DM: Lately I've been stuck in novel hell. The near future is looking pretty grim, but late this year or some time next my novella "Seven Cities of Gold" should be out from PS Publishing. It's an alternate history, post-9/11, post-Katrina Conrad / Coppola homage about a Japanese relief agency doctor going up the Mississippi through a war between invading European Muslims and mestizo Catholic indigenes. If Jonathan Strahan and Gardner Dozois get the green light for a The New Space Opera 3, I might have something for that, too -- if I can extricate myself from this novel in time.

SoY: If a reader has never heard of you before reading this, what is the one single piece of work of yours (novel, short story, cave painting, etc.) would you like them to read? (This can be for whatever reason you would like)

DM: That depends on the reader. "Planet of the Amazon Women", on Strange Horizons and "Finisterra", in F&SF give a pretty good idea of what I'm about as a writer, I think, or what I've been about up to this point. But I'd like "Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom", from Eclipse 2, to find more readers, particularly Gen X and younger readers who (like me) grew up post-cyberpunk.

Readers with short attention spans should dip into the "Irrational Histories" I wrote a few years ago -- there's only nine of them and none is more than a thousand words long.

SoY: Describe your writing style in haiku-form.



SoY: To date you haven’t published any full-length novels but you have written several excellent shorter works. Will we see a full-length novel from you some time soon? Or perhaps a small press anthology?

DM: I'd like to answer yes to the first question. I have a novel I'm working on, a loose sequel to "Planet of the Amazon Women", but after getting to 70,000 words a couple of years ago, I've been stuck in rewrites ever since. Sooner or later I will extricate myself.

As for the second question, I have enough material to fill a collection, I suppose, but I'm not sure I'd want to just throw everything in there. Maybe when there's a bit more to select from -- and an editor who's enthusiastic about doing the selecting.

SoY: What sub-genres are you most interested in? Is there a difference in what subgenres you read and the ones you write?

DM: I keep hoping that one day I'll find a doorstop fantasy I can enjoy as much as I enjoyed Eddings and Feist when I was fifteen, but so far no luck. It looks like being fifteen may have been a crucial part of that experience. I may yet write one some day, though.

I have a love/hate relationship with space opera, broadly defined -- with exploding spaceship fiction in general. I grew up on stories from the 60s consensus future history, our Glorious Future in Space, mercantile interstellar civilizations exploring and colonizing and turning themselves into colossal galactic empires -- Asimov's Foundation, Niven's Known Space, later C.J. Cherryh's Alliance/Union universe. Le Guin's Ekumen. Even the New Wave guys like Delany believed in it for a while; I think Ballard was the only one prescient enough not to. I still read and enjoy the occasional Iain Banks or Alastair Reynolds or Ken MacLeod, and I guess some of what I write is in the British New Space Opera tradition -- but I don't think I believe in those futures any more. If you read between the lines of stories like "Finisterra" or "The Third Party" you can see the special pleading, me making excuses to myself.

I admire the near-future madness of Cory Doctorow and Bruce Sterling, but I'm not clued-in enough to the contemporary world to write it. Maybe some day, if I quit my day job.

I'm also a huge admirer of what I have no choice but to call infernokrusher fiction -- which I would hazily and negatively define as slipstream that can't be pigeonholed as contemporary fantasy, and that lacks the 80s, Thomas Canty baggage I (probably unfairly) associate with interstitial. Stories like Meghan McCarron's "Tetris Dooms Itself" or Alice Sola Kim's "We Love Deena", that combine a lit-fic, post-Raymond Carver engagement with raw human feeling and a Dada bricoleur willingness to take from anywhere and work with anything, subgenre pissing matches be damned. George Saunders with a heart, Aimee Bender with a knife. I don't have the necessary courage or spontaneity for that, yet.

SoY: You’ve been blogging over on chrononaut.org for several years. How do you balance blogging with writing that you don’t intend on publishing for free?

DM: Blogging and writing fiction are very different head spaces and very different physical processes for me. Writing fiction mostly happens on paper, in cafes, in the morning. Blogging mostly happens at home, at night, or over my lunch hour. There are occasional exceptions, but in general, I find blogging -- for me -- has a lot more in common with answering email or even just surfing the web than it does with fiction.

SoY: What are your writing habits like? Do you have any peculiar writing habits that somehow work for you but everyone else would find quirky (and/or insane)

DM: My physical writing habits are pretty basic. Weekdays, before work, an hour (give or take) in a cafe with a notebook and pen. (Rediform 8x10 narrow-ruled, spiral-bound for preference -- at least when I can't get Japanese stationery -- and any gel-ink roller that won't bleed through the paper.) Weekends, type up the week's product. I don't think anyone would have a real problem with those, though I know plenty of folks who won't write longhand and go straight to the keyboard.

My conceptual writing habits are maybe a little more idiosyncratic. I have a lot of friends who write to find out what happens next, who say that if they knew what was going to happen before they wrote it they'd lose interest. Me, I need to know what's going to happen before I can write it -- I don't write to find out what happens, I write to tell what happens to other people.

The down side of that is that I have to know what happens, which can be tricky. And if I decide partway through that I'm wrong about what's happening, there's a lot of backtracking to do. I like to think this is saving me time in rewrites, but I could be deluding myself. It's worked well for me up to about 20,000 words, but it may not scale much farther.

SoY: An incident occurs resulting in your removal from the list of up-and-coming genre stars. What is the most likely cause of that incident? Who do you nominate in your place?

DM: Neurological trauma resulting in damage to the arcuate fasciculus with concomitant associative aphasia, and/or chronic generalized idiopathic disenchantment.

"Nominate" implies a power I don't have and probably wouldn't want. Among writers I know who aren't on that list, I'd vote Meghan McCarron and Alice Sola Kim -- mentioned above -- as most likely to shake up the place. If they don't, it'll be because the world beyond the genre walls got to them first and made a better offer.

I'm also surprised -- looking at the list again -- not to see the name of Christopher Rowe. He's been quiet since "The Voluntary State" was up for the Nebula a few years ago, but he's got a couple of books coming out and I think when they do folks will pay attention.

SoY: What will the short fiction marketplace look like in 5 years?

DM: Like the poetry marketplace 5 years ago, only without the academic support.

SoY: Every writer has a favorite word. Mine’s plethora. What’s that unique word that tries to find its way into everything you write?

DM: If I have one, someone will have to do some frequency analysis and tell me what it is. Out loud, I use too many basicallys. On paper, I suspect my tics have more to do with sentence structure and rhythm.

I bet I use "some" more than most people, though. And "maybe".

SoY: Rumor has it you were once formally censured by the SFWA. Care to elaborate?

DM: So, you may have heard about Harlan Ellison groping Connie Willis during the Hugo ceremony at the Anaheim Worldcon in 2006. (If not, google "Harlangate".) A number of people who should have known better said some indefensible things in Harlan's defense. I made a blog post excerpting and linking to some of these.

As it happens -- I suppose it's not accidental -- the venue for many of these indefensible defenses was the SFF.net SFWA Lounge, a closed newsgroup accessible only to SFWA members and known for studied unpleasantness. Suffice to say that to a lot of SFWA veterans, my breaking the SFWA code of silence by reposting from a closed newsgroup was much worse -- and much more worth talking about -- than anything Harlan might have done, or anything the Anaheim incident (and reactions to it) might highlight about sexism and sexual harassment in science fiction.

That I wasn't expelled from SFWA outright is thanks to then-SFWA president Robin Bailey, who fought the rest of the SFWA board to get my expulsion reduced to censure -- a new process that had to be invented for the occasion.

SoY: You get to choose a single SF/F author (can be living, dead, or zombie) to write one additional book. Who do you choose and why?

DM: Roger Zelazny. Of the great SF writers who died before I got into the field, he's the one I most regret not having the chance to meet. He died in 1995, having not written a standalone, solo novel in more than a decade. I like to think that if like so many of his characters he were to be resurrected, he'd write a good one.
Dead writers aside, I'd like to finally see Samuel Delany's The Splendor and Misery of Bodies, of Cities; and if Maureen McHugh could be dragged away long enough from the alternate reality game industry, I'd like to see any new novel of hers at all.

SoY: What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?

DM: You're lucky, this year I've actually been keeping track . (I'm a couple of months and seven books behind on the posts, though.) I'd say the best so far is Jeff VanderMeer's Finch, which I was lucky enough to read in advance electronic copy, but for which the rest of you will have to wait till November or so. He asked me to write a blurb for it, and I gave him a selection for his publisher to choose from.

Here's one:

"Finch is a revolution disguised as a police procedural, an unholy wedding of hard-boiled Hammett noir and Ballardian catastrophic landscape, presided over by the ghost of Philip K. Dick."
Sounds worth reading, doesn't it?

SoY: [Obligatory pimpage] Is there anywhere online that readers can follow you and your work? [/obligatory pimpage]

DM: My website, bibliography included, is at http://www.chrononaut.org/, and my blog is at http://www.chrononaut.org/log/. If there's news, it'll be there.

I'd like to thank David for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions. I'll definitely keep an eye out for his work in future Best Of anthologies and hopefully David will send me an update when Seven Cities of Gold is available from PS Publishing. I'm catching up on a ton of reading right now but I hope to have some reviews up of selected stories from both David as well as Ted Kosmatka.

2 down, 19 to go. Come back next week for Part 3.

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