January 30th, 2007

International Kittens of Mystery

Virtual Book Tour: Chris Roberson at the Astraldome

Today the Astraldome welcomes award winning author and publisher of Monkey Brain Books, Chris Roberson.

So, same format as before, with the help of two mediums strapped to a supercomputer we are going to astrally project Chris to a place very close to your computer screen. Warning: there may be ectoplasm.

Ready? Okay, Windows ESP is loading. Concentrate on Chris's picture below. Will him across the astral plane. And hold that image. The astral plane is a time-slippery place and he may snap back.

Can you see it? Chris's spectral form? Then let the interview commence...

Q1. Who is your favourite X-men character?

It’s sad, but if I’m honest my favorite X-Man is none of the cool ones. No Wolverine for me, with his cigar-chomping machismo and hairy chest. And that strange glowing-eyed Cajun who throws playing cards didn’t come along until after my time, so I don’t even have an opinion about him. No, my favorite characters are the staid, the boring, the blatant reader-identification figures for nerdy teenage boys. It’s a toss-up between Cyclops, who seems to have no identifiable personality traits of note, and Cypher, the teenaged New Mutant whose only super-power is the ability to translate things into and from foreign languages (only very, very fast). It’s certainly no accident that I just wrote an X-Men novel for Pocket Books in which the ability to translate things was of vital importance to the plot...

Q2. If a genie from the Justice League of America offered to make you into a superhero, what powers/mutations would you choose? And what name would you take?

Does the JLA have a genie on staff? Sheesh, they’ll take *anybody* these days. (If you ask me, when they lowered the standards far enough to let Firestorm on the team, the salad days were over.)

But powers? At the moment, I’d like the mutant ability to jump ahead in time to a point just after I’ve finished writing whatever book I happen to be writing at the time, to save the muss and fuss. Wouldn’t it be so much easier that way? I always enjoy the moments leading up to writing a book, and I love the warm afterglow of having finished one, but the time in between is muddied up with all of this damned *work*.

As for names, I’ve always been partial to God Emperor. It has nothing to do with my requested superpowers. I just like the sound of it.

Q3. The God Emperor receives a phone call from a serial killer. He asks you the same question he asked his previous victims. "You have 150 words to sell me your book. 150 words exactly. If I like what you write I'll buy the book. If I don't you die." What would your 150 words be for Paragaea?

Paragaea is that familiar old story of girl launches in rocket, girl falls through hole in spacetime, girl meets boy, girl meets jaguar man, girl and boy and jaguar man fight monsters and pterosaur-riding pirates, girl meets ancient android, girl falls through another hole in spacetime and loses boy. It’s a planetary romance in the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett, but with an underpinning of real science. A female cosmonaut, a timelost British naval officer, and an outlaw prince of the jaguar men have adventures the length and breadth of the posthistoric world of Paragaea, pausing frequently for suitable alcoholic refreshment. Along the way they encounter a merman, an ancient android, and an Amazonian warrior, take a trip in an airship, go on a sea voyage, walk long distances, ride on horseback, and travel crosscountry by indricothere (look it up). It’s the same old, same old, really.

A glance towards the silhouetted serial killer, he's thinking - or maybe he's looking up indricothere in his serial killer dictionary - and ... yes, the chainsaw can be put away for another day, it's a mass-murdering thumbs up from the Man in the Ironed Skin Mask.

Q4. It's been rumoured for quite some time that the success of Monkey Brain Books is down to the use of small amounts of real monkey brains impregnated into the fabric of each page. Is this true or do you use synthetic monkey brains?

I take deep umbrage at the scandalous suggestion that we would use anything but the finest in free-range farm-fresh monkey brains in our publications. Lies! All lies!

Q5. Was there a moment in your career when you moved from 'I think I can be a writer' to 'I know I can' and if so what, other than alcohol, precipitated that change.

I was foolish enough to “know” that I could be a writer long before I actually should have. I wrote my first novel in college, then finished another before I graduated, and between then and the time that I actually started selling fiction I managed to write another seven novels and a few dozen short stories, none of which anyone will ever see. It was that complete lack of any realistic expectations, I think, that helped me weather those long years in which I completely sucked as a writer, to reach the point where my suckiness dropped to tolerable levels.

Of course, once I reached that point, and started selling novels and short stories, I became immediately convinced that I was a fraud, with no business writing anything at all, and that it was only a matter of time before I was found out. And it’s in this latter state that I persist, to this day.

That said, alcohol certainly didn’t hurt, in either condition.

Thank you, Chris. The mediums power down, Doris falls down, and the God Emperor's ghostly presence returns to whence it came.

Now for feedback - did anyone see any ectoplasm? Did anyone sober see any ectoplasm? Did Chris's astral form billow out and grasp anything? And if so, is it anything you can talk about? Enquiring minds need to know.

Meanwhile, Paragaea can be bought from all good bookshops including Amazon in the US and UK