I see science fiction as a form of thought experimentation, a way of speculating about the way certain alternate scientific realities might play out. Scenarios where humanity comes in contact with an extraterrestrial species have always interested me, but more than that, I'm in the way we would be perceived by such a species. “Planet Song” is written largely from the alien point of view. As a writer, I’m quite theme driven. This comes not from a conscious decision to write to a specific them but often, when I begin a story, I will find elements within it that suggest the exploration of a deeper idea. In Planet Song the Fahr have corporate entities that dominate their culture. For years I’ve been thinking about the way that business interests and behaviours shape our culture and our environment, for better and for worse. With the Fahr these business interests are feeding an addiction that is threatening to destroy their society. That addiction is to song. The Fahr react to song with a combination of sexual arousal and intoxication that leads to addiction. The various Fahr corporations launch intergalactic expeditions to find singers that will feed that addition and generate profit. Unfortunately these expeditions are usually bad news for the planets they visit and for any sapient species they might encounter. This novel centres on what happens when the Fahr—an aquatic species—find humpback whales on the Earth. The protagonist is a member of the Fahr crew who wants to protect humanity from the destructive behavior of her own species.
The book—and more broadly the Fahr Trilogy because “Planet Song” is the first book in a trilogy-- shows how difficult it is to resist a powerful corporate entity. What I'd like the reader to come away with is how dangerous it is to allow profit-driven business interests to drive culture and how difficult it is to reign them in once they’re in that position.
That would depend on what the writer's goals are. How you would counsel someone who wants to make a lot of money writing might be very different from the way you would counsel someone who wants to write well without being overly concerned about creating a marketable product. I do think that every writer should choose a specific genre to write in. I have chosen science fiction because I know that science fiction fans will be potentially interested in what I do. I find it helps to have a specific readership in mind when I write.
5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I’m also a former professional musician. The music industry underwent a vast change when artists decided to go around the major labels and use the internet to release their music independently. Something similar is now underway in publishing. Many authors, including established ones, are choosing to self-publish. But there are a few differences, the major one being the nature of the respective art forms. Musicians need audiences and perhaps more importantly performances to do their art. This means that most musicians that release their work independently have previously tested that material in front of a live audience. Such is not true with writers. Most of us work closeted in front of our computers, and because our stuff is not being tested in front of an audience, it often gets released without the necessary feedback. The cost of using professional editors often in results self-published authors foregoing that crucial step when releasing a book. As one of my fellow writers put it recently, “reading a self-published book is often like reading someone's first rough draft.” There is a lot of junk out there and this is driving readers away from self-published writers.
I write a science fiction. I'm not scientist. This means that I have to do a great deal of research for every project. I enjoy the research but it’s is time-consuming.