Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Graham Storrs Answers

Graham Storrs is the author of the time travel adventure TimeSplash, which I reviewed back in November. He's recently put out a short story prequel to TimeSplash called "Party Time" describing events leading to the discovery of time travel, and even better, he narrates it himself.

You can enter to win a copy of TimeSplash and the short story "Party Time" through December 27 at my Midwinter's Eve Blog Hop stop.

Graham was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer some of my questions about TimeSplash and his new short story "Party Time."

Chris: I enjoyed your reading of “Party Time.” How did you decide to record it yourself? What did you find to be the hardest part of the recording process?

Graham: Thanks, I'm very glad you liked it. I wrote the story because the idea came to me while I was writing the novel and I thought it didn't really fit there. Then I wondered what to do with it! It didn't seem like the kind of thing a magazine would be interested in - it really only comes alive if you've read the book, I think. Then the idea of an audiobook was mooted. My friend, Emma Newman, who narrated the novel is always recording her own stories and it inspired me to have a go. Technically, it turned out to be very easy, but I'm not a great speaker (like Emma) and I tend to stumble over words. So the hardest part by far was reading it all the way through without tripping over my own tongue. I almost, almost managed it, and the kind folks at Iambik Audiobooks edited out the last few stammers.

“Party Time” reminds us that side effects can be more important than the original action. While listening, I thought of the movie Primer, which also follows brilliantly destructive PhD students. Can any good come from time travel or is it something students should be dissuaded from pursuing? Its discovery doesn't seem to have improved the TimeSplash world.

In film and literature, there is hardly a single instance where time travel actually turns out well. You'd think that would be a warning to us all, yet people keep on trying to make it happen! There are physicists who believe that the Universe must somehow forbid paradoxes from happening, even if time travel was allowed (no matter how hard you try, when you pull that gun on your grandmother, something will stop you). I'm sure there is a great comedy novel in there somewhere. But, even if Stephen Hawking now believes that time travel might just be possible, the mind-bending technologies and staggering energies involved mean it won't be happening any time soon - unless somebody comes back and shows us how. The thing is, humankind has explored just about everything within reach and we crave that next big adventure. The only places left to go now are Time and Space. And I don't think any amount of dissuading will stop people trying to go there.

In most time travel stories, the ability to travel is either a fluke or part of the military-industrial complex. However, in TimeSplash, it is a relatively simple underground activity. What about the Timesplash world do you find most fascinating?

When that idea first struck me - that time travelling could be an underground movement and the basis of a worldwide party scene - I was bowled over by it. I love time travel stories myself but, you're right, it's almost always in the hands of The Man. The world of TimeSplash is one struggling back to its feet after these decades of endless growth we've been living through have come to a shuddering halt. Big science is gone, the military-industrial complex has disintegrated across most of the globe, but, just before the end, there was a breakthrough... I really love the idea that the inventors of something as monumentally important as time travel feel the need to exploit it in the most mundane way because they're sick of poverty and scared they don't have the money for the dentist.

I was glad to hear Doctor Who mentioned in both TimeSplash and “Party Time.” Who is your favorite Doctor?

I grew up on Doctor Who. I still watch it avidly. I must say, though, I'm not keen on the latest crop of Doctors. I liked the second, third and fourth Doctors (Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, and Tom Baker). More than that, I liked the way the show emphasised the triumph of intelligence and reason over brute force and superstition. I remember one show (can't remember which Doctor) where, to save the day, the Doctor had to solve the Towers of Hanoi problem. This might be considered a little dull for modern audiences, but it really impressed me and has stayed with me for decades! And that's what I call good television. I'm such a fan-boy I once wrote a Doctor Who screenplay - for my own amusement.

You are very active online with your blogs and Twitter account. How has participating in social media influenced your writing?

You know, I don't think it's influenced my writing at all. However, I've had a lot of fun, met some great people, and had some intense discussions on subjects I love. The thing that I think has most influenced my writing is reading. I read a lot of sci-fi, from H. G. Wells through Asimov, Windham, Aldiss, le Guin, Vonnegut, all the Bs (Bradbury, Ballard, Bear, Bova, Brin, Baxter, Benford), Egan, McAuley, Tepper, Gibson, Reynolds, and a hundred more. And I also read the classics (I'm a big Jane Austen fan), crime fiction, thrillers, and even a little fantasy. I like to think I soak up a little from this ocean of goodness. I like to read popular science books too - especially physics and cosmology. It is just so inspiring. I think a lot of writers - even sci-fi writers - find real science either too daunting or too restrictive. I just find it all awe-inspiring.

Having said that, while social media has not necessarily influenced my writing, it has definitely influenced the direction my career has taken. For example, I met Emma Newman through her blog and it was through her that I became involved with Iambik Audiobooks. I met Jodi Cleghorn and eMergent Press online, and they will be bringing out the print edition of TimeSplash next year. It's not the only influence - I meet people in the flesh too, sometimes! - but it has been a big one.

In the movie version of Timesplash, where would you put your cameo appearance?

Ha! Like XXX you mean? Oh there are so many cool places! Maybe the waiter that Sniper and the team spook at that cafe in Ommen. Or how about the one-time brick, who has rebadged himself as a small-time gangster who Sandra tracks down while hunting for Sniper? Holbrook himself is too big a part (although I can do the accent) but maybe one of the SAS guys in the team that goes back to try to stop the London splash would be about right. I can look cold.

What can we expect to see from you next?

Good question. I recently found myself a literary agency, and my agent has a number of books of mine which she is using to approach a number of publishers. One is a near-future thriller in which the unlucky hero is trying to stop a terrorist virus that might enslave the world, while at the same time fighting a powerful and ruthless group of transhumans who want the virus for their own ends. Another is a present-day story about a group of information-based alien parasites who live in the brains of other creatures and have come to colonise the Earth. The hero in this story is one of the parasites who finds his people have been deceived and that there is something very fishy about the colonisation. The third is a comedy - also about an alien invasion - but a very inept one. The invaders crash-land here, knowing nothing about the place, but decide to conquer it anyway in the name of their goddess. But humans all look alike to them so they choose a body-form at random from the Internet and all end up looking like a famous movie star. The fourth is another time-travel book about a guy with a lot a problems who is visited by an immoral jerk from the distant future who says he wants to study our hero. Sadly, although the visitor seems to be helping at first, it all goes very badly wrong. Bad things start happening and then escalating towards a complete catastrophe.

I have no idea which might sell first - if any of them do. Thankfully, I don't have to do the selling part myself any more.

Thank you very much for your time. I’m looking forward to your next work.

Thank you, Chris. It's been great fun chatting. Anyone who wants to keep in touch can follow my blog or talk to me on Twitter

Timesplash has it's own website. It's available at through Iambik or

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