Wednesday, June 25, 2014

S. Elliott Brandis Talks About How He Writes

Original Post
1. What are you working on?

I just published my debut novel, Irradiated. It's a dark post-apocalyptic novel set in Brisbane, Australia. Now, I'm working hard on the sequel, Degenerated. I have recently finished the first draft, and am now in the process of tweaking and refining. I'm quite a slow, deliberate writer so my first draft tends to be the bulk of the work. Degenerated is set five-years after the events of Irradiated. In my series, the environment has degraded severely and the sun's radiation has the power to mutate the genes of our children. Thousands of people live underground, in a road tunnel that runs under the Brisbane River. Irradiated focuses on the struggles of two sisters, one of them irradiated, living outside of the tunnel, scavenging to survive. With Degenerated, I wanted to explore life in the tunnels, so I've introduced a new character, Flynn, who lives in their depths. Flynn is a closet-irradiated, living with abilities he doesn't know how to explain, and in a world where difference means death. It also sees the return of Pearl from Irradiated, and her quest for a better life amongst all the wildness.


2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?

I'd define my main sub-genre as 'post-apocalyptic fiction'. When I sat down to write in this genre, I asked myself a number of questions.
  • Will the fall of society be fast or slow?
  • How do you think it's most likely to happen?
  • If it's slow, will people in the future even know what happened?
  • In Australia, is it reasonable to expect that the post-apocalyptic landscape will be filled with cars and guns?
The result? A gritty, low-technology post-apocalyptic novel. Environmental degradation has worn down the city, leaving most of it inhospitable. No petrol, no guns, no easily won resources. There is no focus on what happened. When you're struggling to survive, only the now matters. Welcome to Australia. I am also proud to feature two sisters as my protagonists. Science fiction is historically quite chauvinistic, and we've seen over the past couple of years that sexist ideas still exist. I wanted to write two characters that refused to be the victim. They're strong, gritty, and goddamn bad-ass. We should refuse to accept stereotypes, and open up fiction to the stories of all. The love the two sisters have for each other ties the whole story together, and provides a counterpoint for the harsh realities of the world. I also focus heavily on the words that I use. I want to write intelligent, literary fiction. It's all too easy to look down on us as mere 'genre' writers, but I think the best literary fiction has always been Speculative Fiction. Slaughterhouse-Five, Oryx and Crake, The Road, and now Wool. Writing style matters, and I strive to make my novels the best they can be.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I write the stories that I want to write, and the stories that I'd want to read. When I write a character, I have a few rules:
  • Everybody has reasons for doing the things they do. The more extreme their actions, the more compelling the reasons.
  • Nobody sees themselves as the villain. If they act in ways that we see as 'bad', that's only because their motivations compel them to. Everybody is the hero of their own story.
  • But, there are no real heroes. Everybody makes mistakes and has weaknesses. Even the best of us sometimes do bad things, no matter how much we strive not to. The greater the pressure, the more we err. Fortunately, to err is human.
In this way, I want to create complex and interesting characters. I find my 'villains' as interesting as the protagonists. In fact, my favourite character in Irradiated is the worst of them all. So why do I write what I write? Because it's the type of fiction I think needs to be written. Readers are incredibly smart. We don't need easy answers, simple characters, and clear-cut Hollywood story lines. Readers deserve better than that.

4. How does your writing process work?

This is quite a simple question. I wake up at 5:15 in the morning, before the sun. I make a coffee, and sit down on the couch with my laptop. Then, I write. I'm a real person. I work a full-time job, live with my partner, and do all the things that us real people have to do. Waking early gives me the space and time I need to write my stories. Doing it every day gives me the structure I need to follow them through. My morning brain is uninhibited, creative, and a little bit twisted. All in all, it works quite well.
Original Post
~ Giveaway ~

No comments:

Post a Comment