09-19-13 UPDATE:Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 121: Jojo Moyes, 'The Girl You Left Behind'
Click image for audio link.
Here's the one hundred and twenty-first episode of my series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. Hitting the two-year mark, I'm going to make an effort to stay ahead, so that podcast listeners can get the same sort of "sneak preview" effect that radio listeners get each Friday morning.
With 'Bitter Seeds,' 'The Coldest War' and now 'Necessary Evil,' Ian Tregillis managed to set a new standard for speculative fiction. When I sat down to talk with him, I felt a bit in danger of coming unstuck in time. But Tregillis is the most grounded, down-to-earth physicist I have ever met.
The real problem with discussing The Milkweed Triptych is that having read it, one wants to keep it as much a mystery as possible for other readers, so that they can enjoy the machinations of the both the author and the characters. The power of these books is that the reader feels that the characters are enough their own men and women to have their own plans, independent of the whims of readers or author.
Apparently one does not achieve that effect by guesswork or improvisation. I spoke with Tregillis about the import and participation of the community of science fiction and fantasy in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives and works. Tregillis has a fascinating story in this regard. These books got some help from those he worked with in the writing world.
One of the aspects of the creation of these books that we could talk about without ruining the story was the research that he did to bring the books to life. Here, he has some really great stories about the real inspirations for his imaginary world. To my mind, some of them sound like something from his imaginary world.
I was also curious about Tregillis' day job as a physicist at the Los Alamos Lab. As the source of much power — and terror in this world, these Labs might have played a key role in the books, and Tregillis has a great take on this as well.
I suppose it comes as no surprise that Ian Tregillis is smart and well spoken. There an air of informality in our conversation that I really liked. I'm already looking forward to his next novel and set of novels — yes, he works that far in advance — a well as our next conversation. I'm just hoping that I'm still in the timeline when the books come out.
09-17-13 UPDATE:Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 120: Ian Tregillis, 'Necessary Evil'
Click image for audio link.
Here's the one-hundred twentieth episode of my series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. Hitting the one-year mark, I'm going to make an effort to stay ahead, so that podcast listeners can get the same sort of "sneak preview" effect that radio listeners get each Friday morning. This week, delays due to the fact that "this is how the world ends, not with a bang but a splinter," intervened. I am hoping to stay back up and running.
"...the girl forever in the bottom half of a chicken-fight..."
— Margot Leitman
Margot Leitman's description of herself is in fact an alternate subtitle to 'Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase.' It's amazing then, to see her and hear her speak in person. She's so much at ease with herself that were she to be eleven feet tall and have two green heads, you probably wouldn't notice anything odd at all. Until she made a joke about it.
Leitman is a regular on The Moth, and her storytelling ability shows as we talk about how she crafted 'Gawky' in the empty tower room of a San Francisco skyscraper that looks as if it would be the centerpiece of a cop-shootout movie. Listeners can groove to the smooth sounds of whatever the hell music they were playing the background. In retrospect, it's practically inaudible, but in the moment it sounded like I was sitting in front of a loud rock band.
Nothing got in the way of Leitman's easy wit, however. She's really a smart writer for both spoken word live shows and for the printed page. Her incredible skill is evident in that there does not seem to be any daylight between the two experienced versions of the stories. She manages to convey her own easy-going, sort-of hyper tone in print. The book is just a hoot to read.
One of the things we came around to discuss was the audience for the book. I am probably about as far from the target audience as you might imagine, but I enjoyed the hell of out 'Gawky.' The shock to me was that this book is not being aimed like a cruise missile deep into the heart of American girl culture. This seems like an absolutely perfect book for that group.
One of the most interesting aspect of this book is the contrast between how "ring of truth" and natural it feels and how actually written it is. Leitman had to do a lot of work to make this all seem so seamless.