Daily Archives: July 15, 2008

An Interview with Chris Rettstatt

Today I’m pleased to host Chris Rettstatt, author of Kaimira: The Sky Village. He’s on a Blog Tour this week, and this is his second stop. So, welcome Chris!

What tends to inspire you (situations / works of art / places / foods / people)?

Music inspires me. Sometimes I’ll hear a song that strikes a deep emotional chord with me, and I’ll listen to it over and over, dozens of times, and then I’ll try to write a scene that strikes the same chord.

The other thing that inspires me is losing myself in cultures very different from my own.

What inspired you to write The Sky Village, and to create the Kaimira world? Did you just wake up one morning thinking, “Hmmm, perhaps today I will write about a flying city and teenagers who can conjure demonic creatures and communicate with each other using a magic book…”?

I was thinking about science, how it’s racing toward places that would seem to us to be magic. Once we pass through to the other side, and we’re faced with a post-scarcity world (at least for those with access to advanced science), where will we find meaning and structure? So much of the structure of the world we know now is tied to limitations. When those limitations vanish, my feeling is that we’ll look to mythology of various sorts for meaning and structure. So Kaimira emerged as a hybrid of science and mythology.

The best Fantasy (or Sci-fi) book of all time is…

This is impossible to answer. If Lord of the Rings had been published as a single volume, as originally intended, I’d have to choose it, simply due to the impact it’s had.

If you could live inside a kids’ book, which book would you choose?

Where the Wild Things Are. Every day a wild rumpus and back home in time for dinner.

How tough was it to create a rich, realistic fantasy world that would appeal to hard-core, Sci-fi/Fantasy fans, but that would still be accessible enough to engage typical readers too (i.e. those unaccustomed to enjoying books about biotech chimera)?

Putting it that way, it sounds really tough. But from the beginning I wanted the book to be a Sci-Fi story that feels like a Fantasy. I felt like this approach would fit best with the science-meets-mythology themes in the story.

If this approach also makes the book appealing to a wider range of readers, I’ll be very excited about it. I never thought Kaimira would appeal to everyone, but I do know the sort of person I’m writing for, and there are a lot of us.

How do you hope that the online aspect of your work, at www.kaimiracode.com, will enrich readers’ experiences of the world you’ve created?

The website currently has short pieces I wrote that provide glimpses into different parts of the overall Kaimira story, from stories about Dragonfly and Breaker as they would appear in the Tree Book to journal entries written in the Kaimira Code.

Once we’ve rolled out the more interactive elements of the site, readers will be able to help build out the storyverse in a number of ways, from fan fiction to gaming.

Can you imagine this sort of cross-media initiative working as effectively in other genres, not just Sci-Fi or Fantasy?

It does work for other genres until you start getting into gaming. Sci-Fi and Fantasy tend to have pretty solid building blocks for gaming, but there are other genres that have it as well, such as thrillers and military action.

But I think there’s just something about Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans that attracts them to big, immersive stories. Maybe there’s a Sci-Fi gene we haven’t discovered yet.

I think that The Sky Village has the potential to appeal to both teen boys and girls because of the strong male and female characters, awesome action sequences and rich thematic elements. However, I can imagine some might think the series is pitched more towards boys (gaming tie-ins, focus on weaponry, fight sequences etc). I’m interested to hear your thoughts concerning “boy vs. girl” stories. During writing, were you consciously working to keep the narrative as gender neutral as possible?

It’s true that some have said the series seems to be skewed more toward boys, but there are others who say it’s more girl-focused. The truth is that I didn’t think much about gender when I was writing The Sky Village. I thought more about the kinds of readers I was writing for, the ones who love to get lost in a story and who, once it’s over, find creative ways to keep that experience alive.

What part of The Sky Village are you most proud of, because you think it’s the most creative or dramatic or just plain fun aspect of the book?

The chapter where the Sky Village encounters a storm. This was a late addition. I met with a group of students who gave me feedback on an earlier draft of the story. One of the students asked what would happen if the Sky Village ran into a storm. I thought it was a great question, and it lead to the creation of that chapter. And I had so much fun writing it.

This first novel in your series doesn’t present science and technology in the most positive light. What drew you to write about the destructive potential of these fields?

It’s true that science isn’t shown in the best light in The Sky Village. But Mei’s and Rom’s powers, and the Tree Book, are all products of the same science. With the right wisdom and balance, this wonderful and terrible technology might be put to more harmonious use.

And finally, a little randomness:

If you were forced to engage in a little gladiator-style fighting yourself, which element – human, beast or mek – do you think would likely dominate in you?

People who know me would probably say mek because I tend to stay very calm and focused. But in truth, I’d have to say human. When logic fails, there’s nothing like human instinct to carry you across the finish line.

Thanks so much to Chris for stopping by Shelf Elf. Tomorrow’s stop on the tour is at a wrung sponge. On Friday, you can read my review of The Sky Village at Guys Lit Wire.