Today's interview, is with Philip Reed and Michael Hammes, the minds behind this project.
ME: How would you describe your style to someone who has never read your work?
PHIL: Lots of descriptive text, way more words to cover scenes than I really should use . . . especially in flash fiction. But I love stitching words together and should probably try my hand at poetry one of these days.
MICHAEL: Efficient. I like to cram as much story into as little space as possible, a necessity in flash fiction.
ME: Cyberpunk, how would you describe this concept to the uninformed?
PHIL: About the simplest way I can describe cyberpunk comes down to: Speculative fiction based on today's technology and society and accelerated into the future which has a greater divide between the haves and have nots.
MICHAEL: It's an attempt to suss out what effect ongoing technological advancement will have on society in the relatively near future. Oh, and it's gotta have chrome (cybernetics).
ME: This is a rather interesting concept, what were your inspirations?
PHIL: Obviously, cyberpunk fiction (especially after a reread of Paolo Bacigalupi's Pump Six and The Windup Girl), but what really inspired this particular project was the desire to write some cyberpunk fiction and not really having time for anything of significant length. But once I remembered the flash fiction books in my collection I realized it would work just fine to marry the cyberpunk genre with the flash fiction concept.
MICHAEL: Visual media such as Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell, and believe it or not Spybotics: The Nightfall Incident along with various cyberpunk role-playing games, especially Cyberpunk 2020 and Interface Zero.
ME: What books are you currently reading? Any authors you would say most influenced you?
PHIL: At the moment I've been reading Charles Bukowski's novels, which is as far from cyberpunk or flash fiction as anyone can get. I've also been reading some older cyberpunk works as inspiration: When Gravity Fails, Burning Chrome, Hardwired, and more have been sitting on my nightstand and traveling with me on business trips. Authors I'd recommend include Paolo Bacigalupi, William Gibson, and Philip K. Dick (I've only really started getting into his work this year).
MICHAEL: Sadly I haven't made time to read recently. As for authors, I'll point to Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs specifically, but I'm sure there are traces of so many others.
ME: If you could work in any other genre of literature, what would most interest you?
PHIL: Would "Literature" be an option? Not fantasy, or sci-fi, or horror . . . just fairly straightforward literature. Maybe something inspired by my trips to Hong Kong or other bits of fun and experience I've lived through. I've also thought about writing a collection of essays about toys, but that wouldn't be fiction.
MICHAEL: I like fantasy in all its forms and at the same time I wish I could write something like Anne of Green Gables - that is one well-written book in so many ways.
ME: Any of the stories in this collection stand out as your favorite?
PHIL: Michael's got a few great works, my favorite of which is titled "A Day in the Country." We've got story samples up on the Kickstarter project for anyone who wants to get an idea of what's being written for the project.
MICHAEL: Gotta second "A Day In The Country", also "Of Rabbits and Hawks" I thought turned out pretty well. I had a lot of fun editing our most recent sample, Phil's "Revolution in Shadow".
ME: Are you eager to write more in this genre?
PHIL: I am, yes. I just need to find time of my own and a very quiet place to work. I've thought a few times about checking into a hotel and locking myself away for three or four days and just write, write, write.
MICHAEL: I'd better be, we've still got many more stories to write ;-).
ME: What were the biggest challenges of writing this book?
PHIL: Time. My day job -- I am Chief Operating Officer at Steve Jackson Games -- eats a lot of my time and I only get an hour or two each day to spend working on my own projects. To make the most of my time I've been writing on my phone while walking; Google Drive is pretty awesome since I can work on the same stories on my computer, phone, iPad . . . I continue to be amazed at how much technology has changed everything I do each day.
MICHAEL: Real life.
ME: Working in a sci-fi/cyberpunk setting, are there any of the standard tropes that just annoy you to no ends?
MICHAEL: Any genre is going to create tropes and, at least in my opinion, the line between annoyance and comfort can be very thin and very personal. That being said, I enjoy taking tropes in unexpected directions. In fact, I've found tropes very helpful in flash fiction because if the trope is going to be generally familiar to your audience you don't have to spend a lot of time explaining it; when you've only got 1,000 words, every little savings helps.
ME: Any advice for aspiring authors?
PHIL: Sit down and write. Read. I used to read "how to" books on writing fiction, creating plots, designing characters, and all that kinda garbage. But I never felt like I was learning anything. It wasn't until I started writing -- daily! -- that I started to get comfortable with my work. So maybe launch a blog and update it daily; even if you're not writing fiction you'll still benefit if you write 500 to 1,000 words every day.
MICHAEL: So much advice out there just for the reading and asking, but as with any creative endeavor, do it because it is fun not because you expect (or heaven forfend count on) to make money at it.
Thanks again to Phil and Michael for their time. Now back their project!
The image above is from their Kickstarter, and is being used to promote said Kickstarter.
To read the previous post that lead to this interview, click HERE