Author Interview: Gustavo Bondoni on speculative fiction, horror and science-fiction.
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Would you like to introduce yourself to readers, please?
My name is Gustavo Bondoni, and I'm an author from Argentina who writes exclusively in English (although I sometimes translate my own work to appear in Spanish-language publications). I currently reside in Buenos Aires, where I enjoy the relaxed attitude and incomparable nightlife. I've sold over sixty short stories, and my first reprint collection is due out in 2010, as is a short humorous magic realism novel.
Could you describe your work, please?
I concentrate mainly on the speculative genres, with quite a bit of science fiction, fantasy and horror published in different countries, but I also write a certain amount of mainstream work and even some more literary fiction. Most of my work is serious, but I do enjoy writing some comedy every once in a while - and I am willing to try any subject matter and any tone, if only for the pleasure of creating something different!
How did your interest develop? Did you take formal classes or join related groups?
Like many (most?) writers, I am a voracious reader. The earliest memory I have of my reading habit was when I was about six or seven. I used to attend a tiny school in Switzerland, where I'd spend a surprising amount of time in the library.
I never took any formal writing classes at all. I write by feel, and rely on my instincts to tell me what works and what doesn't (of course, when those instincts fail, many editors will be happy to show you the errors that might have popped up!).
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What do you consider to be your main successes so far?
Having scratched my way to the top of fifty slush piles has been enormously satisfying! But I truly love the fact that my novel The Curse of el Bastardo is in the copy-edit phase of prodution, and cover art is being developed. I just love that novel, and can't wait to see it available to readers (coming from Daverana in 2010!).
What project are you working on right now?
I have two novels in the works at present: a mainstream novel of the Sidney Sheldon meets Dan Brown type, and a humorous fantasy novel about ancient Greeks and a short SF story. I am also outlining another story for an open-call antho.
How do you plan to develop your work in the future?
Lately, I've been getting more requests from publishers to see my work as opposed to having to sub unsolicited material to the slush. I've had people requesting short stories and collections. If this trend continues, I will definitely be focusing on these markets a little more. One thing that won't be affected, though, is the novel writing. I will continue to write novels and look for publishers for them at the same rate as today
Have there been particular books, paintings or films which have influenced your work?
Asimov's Foundation books got me hooked on serious SF (as opposed to more juvenile Space Squids from Venus stuff) while my humorous work has often been accused of suffering from a little too much Douglas Adams influence (which I consider a compliment).
Would you like to talk about your other interests?
I would love to say "hunting, bullfighting and whisky" but, sadly, that isn't the case. Apart from reading, I enjoy sports (almost any sport, at any time, the more competitive the better - though a blown shoulder means I've recently abandoned rugby) and antique cars. I also sing in a choir, though theater audiences everywhere will be relieved to learn that I have no intention of returning to the stage.
What is your personal philosophy?
Enjoy life to the fullest, but don't hurt anyone along the way.
What advice would you offer to someone hoping to take up a similar interest to yourself?
There's so much writing advice online - and I disagree with most of it! I would tell a potential writer that the most important thing is to write a distinctive, professionally presented story. To do this, you need to read extensively and then read some more; this will give you a feel for what has and hasn't been done.
Also make sure the spelling and grammar are up to par; only the truly clueless will say things like "don't look at the spelling, look at the concept".
Finally, and here's where I disagree with nearly everyone else online, you should rewrite only upon editorial command. This is Heinlein's phrase, not mine, but I sill think it's valid. Your voice is unique, do not dilute it.
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