Interview: Patrick Todoroff, Science Fiction Writer
Meet Patrick Todoroff
Patrick Todoroff currently lives in Cape Cod, MA. His science fiction world of the near future depicts a society in which corporate entities hold all the real power, with national governments cowering in the shadows of those corporations.
Running Black, the first book set in this chilling political landscape, was one that resonated with me, as you can see from my reviews here and here. Because of the interest I took in Running Black, I thought Todoroff might be a fun victi... er, subject to interview for readers here at HubPages.
So, let's get to it...
SB: How old were you when you first started writing? What got you into it in the first place
PT: Long story short, an automobile accident at a young age left me unable to play sports, so I drifted to other pursuits. Some good, most bad. I started writing as a teenager, mostly poems and short stories.
SB: What made you decide to pursue the writing of science fiction instead of something more "mainstream"?
PT: I grew up watching the original Star Trek and remember seeing Star Wars three times when it first came out. My parent's attic was full of books, including Tolkien, Kipling, C.S. Lewis and Lloyd Alexander.
SB: Where did the ideas for Eshu International come from? When you'd finished the piece, did you find the vision of the future even more chilling than you'd realized?
PT: The Eshu International universe is based on current events, emerging trends in military and science, and general military history. I find the prospect of the future sobering because it bears a strong resemblance to the past.
SB: Who are your top five favorite novelists? What is your favorite book by each?
PT: Tough Call... I'll limit my answer to Spec-Fiction: William Gibson - Neuromancer, Steven Pressfield - The Gates of Fire, Bernard Cornwell - The Winter King (the entire trilogy, actually) Iain M. Banks - Consider Phlebas, Jeff Vendermeer - Finch.
SB: A college class is going to include your writing on the syllabus. Is it most likely to be a course in: philosophy, biology, astronomy, linguistics, ethics, or psychology? Why would your work be appropriate for this course?
PT: I won't hazard a guess at this one.
SB: How has the growth of electronic publishing affected you as a writer? How do you think it will shape the future of the industry?
PT: Research, e-publishing and marketing are literally at the new writer's fingertips now. I currently average 40: 1 ebook to hardcopy sales, so the ebook revolution has had a tremendous impact on me. I don't think my work would have gained the same traction even a decade ago. I do think rumors of the paper book's demise are exaggerated however. Ebooks will certainly gain a larger share of the market, especially among mass-market paperback titles, but I don't think hard copies are going anywhere soon.
SB: Which of these is most important to you as a writer (please rank in order of importance):
a. creative uses of language
b. manipulation of established genre norms
c. strong dialogue
d. characters readers love (or love to hate)
e. profound ideas
f. strong imagery
PT: Another good question. Those are the prime factors to good writing... how can you rank them?
One portion of that list deals with a story's foundation, the other with its expression. In my opinion, you have to have strong characters and solid ideas to build with. Period.
Fancy prose is no substitute for a feeble plot or cardboard caricatures because a trope by any other name... That said, if the writing is simply functional, without any spice or edge, there's nothing to engage the reader''s artistic sense.
I think I personally enjoy when a writer re-imagines the convention yet holds true to that genre's foundational principles, like with Joe Abercrombie's excellent fantasy novels, or Richard K. Morgan's noir-cyberpunk, so 'manipulating established genre norms' gets high marks on my list.
SB: Generally speaking, what is your starting point for a new piece of writing?
PT: Usually a single scene that won't leave me alone. It's like the tip of an iceberg or the glint of a vein of gold. I sense there's more just out of sight, so I start digging. Weird, I know. But there it is.
SB: What is one thing you think your readers should know about you, and that you've been waiting for me to ask?
PT: Hmmmmm... Like the syllabus question, I've got no idea for this one either. Some people are surprised to learn I'm a grandfather. That help?
SB: Would you care to give readers an idea of what to look for next from Patrick Todoroff?
PT: I'm finishing the second installment of Eshu International now. It's titled SHIFT TENSE and - God and editors willing - will be out before year's end. I've got the plot-seed for a third Eshu novel. (set on the Moon)
I'm also working on a collection of short sci-fi stories all set in a single setting. A number of those stories are posted on my blog under the DROP CITY tab. There's a fantasy trilogy bouncing around in my head, as well as a Supernatural Horror novel called DEAD SAINTS. All that means is I've got plenty to keep me busy.