New Author Spotlight: David Austin
What drew you to writing stories that move across genres? Is this a new direction for your writing?
No, this isn’t really a new direction for me. I try not to worry too much about the genres a story is working in. I don’t want my idea of what constitutes each genre to interfere with the story unfolding naturally.
The theme for this issue is Time Travel. Please talk a little about how your story reflects that. Did you write it for the theme, or was it something that you’d already completed that seemed to fit?
I had already written “Static,” actually as a Valentine’s Day present for my fiancé (cheap or romantic, you decide!), and it seemed to fit the theme pretty well. It’s set in the future, but the characters are thrown back into something like the present. The biggest change the time travel in “Static” brings is to perspective.
You used a less conventional definition of time travel as the basis for “Static.” Why? Do you think the technology you imagined is more realistic than the sort of tech we usually read about in time travel stories?
Well, I’m an English major so I have only very vague ideas about what is scientifically possible, but mapping out someone’s memories does seem much more doable than sending me back to meet, and be eaten by, a dinosaur. I wanted to explore the value of different memories – it stemmed from the thought of a unique night, when it snowed in Alabama. I wondered whether a night like that really matters, and the pseudo-time-travel gave perspective to the characters on that point.
Without spoiling the ending, why did you have the main character, Sarah, make the potentially historic choice she made at the end of the story?
Sarah felt that the memory was private and that sharing it might somehow cheapen it – which is ironic, now that I think about it. She felt that what she experienced was a memory, not history, if that makes sense.
“Static” hinted at recent catastrophic changes in Earth’s climate – both socially and ecologically – yet the story itself stays focused on the characters. This story could have been set in any number of different potential futures. Why did you choose this one?
The captain’s memory is something that might never happen again, to anyone. The future I created, or something like it, also seems possible. I can imagine a day in the distant future where people don’t immediately recognize snow, especially here in the South. And a day when our planet is all used up and humanity has to migrate. But I chose this potential future because it made his memory unique.
Tell us something about your future writing projects. Are you developing more short stories? Do you have a novel in the works?
I am currently trying very hard to complete my first novel. The project is titled Remnants and is an epic fantasy work focusing on the world after a stereotypical fantasy storyline falls off the rails. The Chosen Hero has met with the Dark Emperor and got cut down in about ten seconds. All his friends and allies run from the battlefield, and the novel begins with the victorious ‘bad guys’ marching towards the hero’s former homeland and the hero’s best friends drinking heavily under false names in a hostel.
Where is your favorite writing place? Can you draw us a visual picture of the kind of space you create for yourself when you write?
My fiancé has a monstrous twenty-five pound Maine Coon (cat). Our apartment has a bunch of windows on one side, facing towards a hillside and a few trees, which is nice because I can kind of pretend I’m in a hobbit-hole. But when I’m writing, the cat will, at some point, crawl onto my laptop and demand I pet her. And I’m too scared to refuse. So my writing is lots of staring out the window, a few shaky keystrokes, and a wary eye out for the jungle cat. Then petting. I have the best ideas when I can’t get to my keyboard.
What’s the question that you wish someone would ask, but no one ever has?
Hmmm…. Do heroes need to be victorious to be heroes?
What’s the answer to the question in number 8?
I’m not sure. You’d think I would know the answer to my own question, but, well, I’m no pushover interview. I’m a journalist, dang it. This question is a major focus of the novel I’m working on and it’s a critical determination for the fantasy genre. With the rise of Game of Thrones as a mass cultural phenomenon, the question arises of what is a hero? Flawed, of course. But can a hero do evil? Can a hero fail? I think Tim Howard was heroic in the World Cup, but there won’t be a statue made of him because the USA lost. His efforts won’t be discounted, but there’s always going to be a caveat – it wasn’t enough. I’m far more interested in the Tim Howards than in the Supermen. One is much more real than the other.
Is there anything I didn’t ask that you think is important or that readers might want to know?
I can’t think of anything we missed. I can be reached at DavidAustinFiction@gmail.com, for questions, comments, pictures of my fiancé’s cat, or any writing-oriented discussion. Or book deals. Especially book deals.