Hello people of the digital aether! I’d like to welcome sci-fi author Stant Litore back to the Bag of Good Writing Blog once again, and this time he comes bearing some high-cool-factor gifts. Stant has just begun a free offer promotional tour of his haunting, fantastic ANSIBLE STORIES (Ansible 15715, 15716 and the soon-to-be-released 15717) sci-fi horror series and that’s what we are here to discuss today. I’ve read these tales of brave new worlds and they are amazing in their imagination, emotion and scope. Stant is always a great interview, so let’s take a peek inside the Ansible crucible and other things Stant Litore.
Oh, and Stant’s first Gift of the Terrible Fantastic is here: get the first Ansible (15715) on Kindle FREE at this link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JTJVRPK
“Please hear me. We are all in danger, the most terrible danger; we are all going to die terrible deaths. If you can hear me, if anyone can hear me, remember these words. Please. Pass them on to your children, and to theirs. You are our one hope…” (Ansible 15715)
Q) Welcome back to A Bag of Good Writing, Stant. Since you are offering free downloads of your Ansible books in succession, plus close to bringing out a new installment in your Ansible short story series (Ansible 15716, perhaps the best of the amazing installments so far), I thought we’d focus on that for a bit. I’d like to ask you about the inception of the series: what was the idea, thought, image, etc. which first lit up your brain as to the possibilities of creating the world and characters of Ansible?
A) My brain is a place of strange, random connections. I was reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At the Earth’s Core (which is nothing like Ansible); it was my first time reading it. The species of predatory pterosaurs fascinated me, and my brain took off on a random chain of brainstorming about predation and predatory species, and that started me imagining the world that we visit in Ansible 15715. Below the surface, I was probably haunted by images and ideas from William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, a work of weird fiction from the very early twentieth century. Around the same time, I was bothered by the way that my countrymen and countrywomen are deeply fearful of Islam and yet seem to know nothing about it other than a few media stereotypes. Religious studies is my passion, and that always feeds my fiction.
Those three things – the concept of a predatory species living off humanity and what that might actually look like; creepy images from The Night Land; and a subconscious thought that scifi should be doing more to grapple with our neighbors in the world and their legacy in the future – that all boiled together into one infernal brew and produced Ansible 15715, the first of a series of stories about twenty-fifth century Islamic explorers who become marooned in alien bodies on alien worlds, and have to wrestle with that experience.
In this future, the wheel of history has spun round again, and as in Europe’s early Middle Ages, the center of knowledge and learning and science in the world is once again the Near East, not the West. The world is slowly recovering from environmental devastation, and a research facility known as the Starmind Project is sending humanity’s first explorers out by transferring their minds across time and space. What they encounter out there is always stranger than they expect, and in these encounters, our intrepid explorers have to face how strange they are becoming to themselves.
Q) Do you have a finite structure for the Ansible series? Do you know how many stories it will contain and exactly what pieces of the puzzle they are? Or is Ansible open-ended and now, once the scenario is set, you write about whatever stories and characters come to you from the creation-mists?
A) The series is open-ended with several future plot points and ideas that I will keep carefully secret. I know where it is going in broad outlines, but I am discovering along the way what strange worlds we will visit as a part of that. Like the Ansible teams, I am groping in the dark. But it is marvelous. I don’t know how many stories there will be; certainly more than ten, probably more than twenty. We will find out together!
Q) Without spoilers, what new element(s) does the latest story 15717 bring to the Ansible universe?
A) A fierce rain forest planet that truly will astound you; an array of characters – unlike our previous explorers, the heroine of Ansible 15717 is among other survivors of her team; a haunting look at loss and change, both cultural change and environmental; some really beautiful vistas; and a deeper portrayal of a strong Muslim woman.
Q) Have you considered writing a novel set in the Ansible universe? Was that something you considered early before deciding to attack it as a short story series? Or was the short story series immediately suited to what you wanted to do from the beginning, because of Ansible’s episodic/mission-based structure—it certainly works well in that format.
A) I love short fiction, and that form is well suited to Ansible, but I certainly have some interest in a possible longer story. I don’t know what that story will be yet, but this is a distinct possibility. I actually started, though, with just one brief story in mind; a story that I wanted to make so unnerving and so beautifully horrific that it would crawl inside the minds of its readers and live there for a while. I’m afraid it was so much fun, though, that once I started I couldn’t stop, and I was thinking up more stories.
Q) You have become a member of the online Patreon program. Can you tell the readers a bit about that, and how they can support you if they so choose?
A) Patreon is a huge part of my writing career. Patreon members see all of my work first, they get copies of everything I write, they get to participate in early conversation with me about new stories and new ideas; they also tip me on a monthly basis (at an amount they each choose) for my fiction. Royalties are, for most writers, a very tiny flow of income; Patreon allows me to reimagine what it means to live and work as a writer, it provides the funding to try riskier (and more worthwhile) stories, and it allows me to connect more closely with my fans. That’s hugely important to me. Storytelling is a communal act. If you are interested on joining me in this adventure, come take a look at: http://www.patreon.com/stantlitore
Q) If you can pick one writer—and I know this it tough—but pick one name of a writer whose work has amazed and inspired you.
A) I’ll just pick the most recent, then. Jeff Vandermeer. His Southern Reach trilogy is honest, bold, breathtakingly beautiful. He is one of several living writers that I go to when I want to really learn what you can do with a story. And his Southern Reach really affected me emotionally as a reader, with its sad beauty and its inescapable reminders of how much of our ecosystem we are losing or will lose or will risk losing.
Q) As you know I am a huge fan of Jeff VanderMeer as well. Tell us a bit about Mr. Stant Litore. What is your favorite drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)? What is your favorite local restaurant? What/where is your sanctuary from the world?
A) Sangria. I drank a glass of sangria up in the Pyrenees Mountains talking with good people and watching the mists, a long time ago. Ever since, that drink has been special to me.
My favorite local restaurant is the Little India, because it has such good food – they bring you plates that steam and kill you with anticipation – and because I met my wife there and I fell in love there.
Q) The new Ansible 15717 is about to be unleashed upon the cosmos. What’s next?
A) More Ansible stories! There are some dangerous things happening in that universe, and my readers are anxious for more. I also have in mind a couple of projects in the world of The Zombie Bible, my series of novels and novellas retelling biblical tales and church legends, placing periodic zombie epidemics in our distant past. (Think The Walking Dead, 3000 years ago, and you will have some idea.)
The Ansible Stories will be my playground for a while. Discovering unexpected worlds, watching an array of characters wrestle with the vastness and the strangeness of our universe, and putting on the page some of the creepiest, most unnerving experiences I can imagine … with each story, I get to find new things and try telling stories in new ways. I’ll do it until I run out of ideas. I never want to tell the same story twice.
End of Interview
*(All of the Ansible series book cover art was created by Roberto Calas)
Stant Litore Biography
Stant Litore is the author of The Zombie Bible series, Dante’s Heart, the Ansible Stories, and the novella The Dark Need (part of the Dead Man series). He has an intense love of ancient languages, a fierce admiration for his ancestors, and a fascination with religion and history. He doesn’t consider his writing a vocation; he considers it an act of survival. Litore lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters and is at work on his next book.