As our editors are working on the second instalment in the unique sci-fi short story series, Idea War, we had author Abi Godsell answer 10 questions on why she writes science fiction and where her inspiration lies:
|Abi Godsell, author of Idea War: Volume 1. Fresh faced indeed.
Why do you write in the sci-fi genre?
Well, I'd classify myself as a Speculative Fiction girl mostly. Sci-fi is one of the genres I do a lot of work in at the moment, mostly I think because it combines story and science, future and fiction. It gives the distance that we need to say the things that are too painful and close, but never-the-less need to be talked about. It's also fun!
You have very interesting female characters in your books. Are they inspired by real-life people?
Absolutely. Not directly, but, bits and pieces are borrowed and extrapolated from the incredible girls and women I grew up with. I had the good fortune to be in monastic schooling, so got to see girls playing a lot of the roles that stories and media often relegate to the male realm. It took me a while to learn to write boys, though!
What was the book that inspired you to become a writer?
by Garth Nix. It wasn't the first book I fell in love with, or my favourite book of all time, but it came at a time when I was verging on wanting to tell my own stories. It had everything, spooky setting with solid, chunky, believeable magic, a cross-over into a world much like our own, a strong and complex and very relatable female protagonist, military themes, and delicately handled romance. Part of it was also set at an all-girls' school. It was the first text that made me say, not just, 'This is so cool!' but 'This is cool ... I wonder how something like this would go down here?' And that was it, I was sold, and staring out of the window during a boring economics class was never quite the same again.
What is your favourite character of all time?
Wooo. Tough call. It changes, of course, every day, sometimes more than once a day, depending on I don't know, mood, weather, how annoyed I am by traffic. But there are staples, characters I like and respect and relax into reading about, like putting on a familiarly worn jersey. Merriman Lyon from Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising
. The Maid, from William Morris' Wood Beyond the World
. Karl from FreakAngels, Vol. 1
by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield. Coraline
and The Sandman
from Neil Gaiman's book and comic of the same names respectively.
Steampunk or dieselpunk. Why?
Neither! I'm a Junkpunk fan. Junkpunk out of Phillip Gross's Psylicon Beach
. I guess that would mean I lean more towards the dieselpunk in that I like noise and mess and rust and oil. That great towering cement factory that you see coming along the N3 into Joburg, that's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. But, to be serious, it depends on the execution, and the story itself. With so much variety, so many voices and so many views coming into genre fiction lately, because the internet is a wonderful, wonderful thing, its hard to talk about homogenous genres, especially ones that are already so close.
How do you envision Johannesburg in 30 years' time?
Greener, quieter, good public transport. In 30 years time I hope we'll have solved the fragmentation along economic, and, still, racial lines that is this parting gift to this city from the Apartheid Government. We have some wonderful talent and passion in our local government and planning departments. So I envision good and exciting things.
If you could make one change to Johannesburg, what would it be?
Just one? Another tough call. Actually not as tough. Free, high-speed internet access city wide. First step along a difficult and slow road that ends with all of us being able to see and talk to each other.
Do you think South Africans should read sci-fi, why?
Absolutely. We are governed, in a small way, by a truly exquisite piece of science fiction: The poem that is the pre-amble to the National Development Plan. It talks about a hopeful, accessible vision of our country in 2030. We spend quite a bit of time talking about what isn't working in the country, which is required, yes, but maybe it's also time to start dreaming of a future that does. We are a country in the process of re-writing our own future. I think sci-fi is essential.
Why did you include a map of the future Johannesburg in your book?
I like to work with very specific locations when I write, ones that I can visit and draw, map and study. Not so I know them, but to try and capture a little of the richness that is living in Johannesburg, and weave it into my work. I liked the idea that maybe, someone would look at the map and say, 'Hey! That's my house, there in the middle of this disaster zone!' or 'I know this road on which this firefight is taking place, I drive it to work everyday.'
Three books you suggest everyone to read?
Something your kids are reading, for school or otherwise. Something that someone your grandmother's age talks about fondly, and something, anything on a subject that you didn't even know existed before!
About Idea War: Volume 1