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Interview with Wayne Santos, author of The Chimera Code


Please welcome Wayne Santos to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Chimera Code was published on November 10, 2020 by Solaris.







TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Wayne:  The first story I ever remember making myself is one I told myself. As a kid, I had narrated album of The Empire Strikes Back, but I also had the orchestral soundtrack, so I imitated the narrated record by playing back the soundtrack, to a tape recorder, and telling my own stories to the music.

The first time I ever tried writing actual fiction was probably in Junior High, though. That was a recollection trying to make a stain glass window for art class, getting high on the fumes and chasing out elementary school kids at the same time.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Wayne:  ¾ pantser, ½ hybrid, so pantsbrid? I usually have a few key events for the story in mind by the time I sit down to write it, but how the characters get to those points is entirely up to them. For the most part, it’s like just sitting back and popping a movie into my mental player, watching the events unfold and then making sure I write it all down.

I’m really bad at outlines, and every time I try, it ends up being a sort of disaster that the story itself ends up not following anyway when it gets written.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Wayne:  Two things, probably. The first is the constant struggle for lyrical language. I really, really love reading books with beautiful language, thoughtful word choices, and literary style. People that can put entire novels together that sound like poems blow me away. I have nothing but jealousy for them, but every time I try to write like that, it’s kind of a single flower blossom in the middle of a lot of explosions, since the stories usually devolve into high octane action scenes.

The other thing is intricate mysteries in plotting. People who put together good whodunits amaze me. The way you have to make sure all the pieces fit together in a plot, so that they all make sense in the end, but feel “fair” to the reader who goes back and sees the clues were there all the time if you’d just been clever enough to put it all together is also amazing. I don’t understand how people do that.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Wayne:  I’ve got a mix of literary and non-literary influences. On the literary side is, of course, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and a lot of other writers in the cyberpunk genre. If you want to get less literary, but still in the written word zone, comics were also a huge influence, since I grew up reading stuff like Chris Claremont’s X-Men and Marv Wolfman’s New Teen Titans as a kid, graduating to the crazier, more ambitious stuff like Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, or just about anything crazy by Grant Morrison, like The Invisibles.

Then there’s a lot of stuff that’s not literary at all. When I wasn’t devouring Robert Heinlein, or Isaac Asimov as a kid, I was plugged into video games. To this day, stuff like Mass Effect or Horizon: Zero Dawn makes as much of an impression on me as the newest Gibson novel. Anime is another big influence, as I inhaled giant robot extravaganzas like Gundam, and of course, more cyberpunk, via Akira or Ghost in the Shell. Even table-top role-playing games made an impression on me as I’m sure eagle-eyed readers will see a Shadowrun influence in The Chimera Code.



TQDescribe The Chimera Code using only 5 words.

Wayne:  Mage, hacker, blow shit up.



TQTell us something about The Chimera Code that is not found in the book description.

Wayne:  The United States in its current incarnation no longer exists and fractured into smaller, regional nation-states. The Brazilian Real became the dominant form of global currency for trade and economy, computer operating systems have been replaced by true personal digital assistants, only instead of being tablets or disembodied voices, they can be fully interactive agents that you deal with via neurosimulation. Also, gold is now worthless, because alchemy can produce infinite amounts of it.



TQWhat inspired you to write The Chimera Code? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Wayne:  I’d always loved the idea behind the tabletop role-playing game Shadowrun of a world where magic and cyberpunk coexisted together. But Shadowrun took magic influences all over the magic map, including elves, dwarves, dragons and other creatures of myth.

I was always just fascinated by the idea that magic itself worked, and wondered how that would interact with combat cyborgs, or slot into a global economy that had no business model for it, but could certainly whip one up quick if there was a buck to be made. I kept not seeing that world, so I decided to write it myself. What do you get when you combine a hacker, a military-spec cyborg and a mid-to-close range combat mage with a certification in elemental thaumaturgy? No one would tell me, so The Chimera Code is the answer.

But general appeal of science fiction has, to me, always been about worlds I’ve never seen before. That’s what Dune is. Or Foundation. Or Neuromancer, or Bladerunner or Mass Effect. When you grow up as a visible minority in mid-western Canada, you get tried of the everyday world where you’re just getting picked on as a nerd, and not even a white one, and you wonder what it would be like in those future worlds where apparently that doesn’t happen. It’s hard not to see the appeal in that.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Chimera Code?

Wayne:  It wasn’t really a matter of research, so much as selective osmosis. I’ve made a habit of squirreling away cool but useless scientific facts and findings on all kinds of things, from materials research to the lifespan of black holes and what happens after they run out of juice. Some of that stuff worms its way into stories, while other things have to be actively researched, like the administrative structure of a university. Once I’d decided on my own version of a magic school, I realized I had to make it run the way an actual university would and I had no clue how management worked in those organizations.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Chimera Code.

Wayne:  The cover went through a few iterations, but final version that Rebellion settled on was done by one of their own, Gemma Sheldrake, an artist and graphic designer for 2000 AD, on the comic/publishing side of things. The original cover was one that depicted the characters, but the current version is more stand out with the bright yellow, which is very cyberpunk, since even the video game Cyberpunk 2077 uses that color, and the more graphic design approach lets it sit just about anywhere on a book shelf.



TQIn The Chimera Code who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Wayne:  The easiest character was probably Zee. I’m not nonbinary, but Zee’s attitude, the distrust of authority, and the impulse to poke holes in systems and see what could be exploited or broken were all things that I found very easy to get into. Zee’s sarcasm and insecurities around others was also kind of giving myself a freebie in terms of writing.

The hardest character to write was probably the villain, Acevedo. I think villains in general always give me trouble, because I just don’t like those people, and don’t want to spend a lot of time with them. I’m kind of jealous of people that enjoy their villainy and like writing villains running around doing horrible things, because I always just want to get away from them.



TQDoes The Chimera Code touch on any social issues?

WayneThe Chimera Code doesn’t go all “a very special episode of The Chimera Code” and make the point of the story dealing with any specific issue, but a lot of them are scattered around is “flavor text” or accents to the ongoing story. The United States as a contiguous nation from the Pacific to the Atlantic no longer exists, and that didn’t occur for any happy reason.

Although probably the biggest thing is Zee as a nonbinary character. I wanted to show that the world had moved on, and some things had more of a place in the 22nd century, but that didn’t mean they were completely accepted or welcomed. Zee was a good conduit to showing some of that.



TQWhich question about The Chimera Code do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Wayne:  I want someone to ask me, “But what are video games like in this world?”


I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED…

While there are a variety of different video game formats, the dominant playstyle in the world of The Chimera Code is first person games via neurosimulation. In other words, it’s still the first person shooter or role-playing game people are familiar with today, but rather than 4K graphics at 60 frames per second, the experience comes from direct stimulation of nerve impulses.

So there is no longer any complaints about realistic or unrealistic graphics, since everything is generated by your brain and is interpreted as more or less real. It’s a natural evolution of the virtual reality headsets we’re messing around with today, but nowdiv it’s expanded to every genre of gaming imaginable.

That’s not to say that every game is a first person experience, but neurosim games have made the technical requirements of “graphics” irrelevant, and the only arbiter of how good a game looks is art direction.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Chimera Code.

Wayne
“Have fun.”


“Oh, I will.”


“Not the kind that explodes.”


“That’s the only kind.”


“Give me the sword back.”


TQWhat's next?

Wayne:  I’m diligently plugging away on my next work in progress, but in the meantime, you can probably expect some announcements soon about other things I’ve written that are going to be coming out very soon. That’s about as much as I can say right now, I think.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Wayne:  Thank you!





The Chimera Code
Solaris, November 10, 2020
Trade Paperback and eBook, 500 pages
Neuromancer for a non-binary age: an action-packed techno-thriller with a side of magical realism.

"Fun, fresh cyberpunk!" - Publisher's Weekly

Everything’s for hire – even magic.

If you need something done, they’re the best: a tough, resourceful mage, a lab-created genderless hacker and a cyborg with a big gun.

But when they’re hired by a virtual construct to destroy the other copies of himself, and the down payment is a new magical skill, Cloke knows this job is going to be a league harder than anything they’ve ever done. "A full-throttle, magical cyberpunk superhero thriller!" - Peter McLean
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Bookshop : Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Google Play : iBooks : Kobo





About Wayne

Over the years, Wayne Santos has written copy for advertising agencies, scripts for television, and articles for magazines. He’s lived in Canada, Thailand and Singapore, traveling to many countries around South East Asia. His first love has always been science fiction and fantasy, and while he regularly engaged with it in novels, comics, anime and video games, it wasn’t until 1996, with his first short story in the Canadian speculative fiction magazine On Spec that he aimed towards becoming a novelist. He now lives in Canada, in Hamilton, ON with his wife. When he’s not writing, he is likely to be found reading, playing video games, watching anime, or trying to calm his cat down.

Website  ~>  Twitter @waynepsantos

Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, Godhunter


Please welcome Suyi Davies Okungbowa to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. David Mogo, Godhunter was published on July 9, 2019 by Abaddon.



Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, Godhunter





TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece that you remember writing?

SDO:  Thanks! I think the first thing I remember writing was a retelling of some stories from the Christian Bible. I found some of them quite interesting, and wondered what it would be like to be a fly on the wall. So I rewrote a lot of the popular stories from the point-of-view of lesser characters: the owner of the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem on, the guy who owned the room where the last supper was held, etc. It was fun while it lasted, which wasn't very long.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

SDO:  Hybrid, or plantser. I tend to plot the big "waypoints" of a narrative and then write my way between waypoints. This gives me a loose structure to work with, but also the freedom to surprise myself.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

SDO:  Finishing things, which I believe is a problem for many other writers too. There are always so many ideas to explore, so many directions to go in, so many things to say. Finishing something I'm working on is something learning to do now--it used to be so bad that I'd have lots of uncompleted drafts and not one complete story. But only writers who finish get published, so I'd say things are looking up now.



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

SDO:  My history, for one. Both that of the people from which I'm descended, as well as my experience as an African caught between the demands of tradition and modernity, of history and the future. Writing about existing in the middle is important to me--most of my characters are always caught between things. I'm also fascinated by What If questions within the context of the African continent.



TQDescribe David Mogo, Godhunter using only 5 words.

SDO:  Demigod sparks war in Lagos.



TQTell us something about David Mogo, Godhunter that is not found in the book description.

SDO:  There is a scene where characters watch an El Clasico football match between Barcelona and Real Madrid. It makes little sense that one would tell a whole tale about Nigerians and not feature football. It's almost impossible.



TQWhat inspired you to write David Mogo, Godhunter? What appeals to you about writing Urban Fantasy?

SDO:  I never quite thought about writing Urban Fantasy when I wrote DMG. I only wanted to tell a story about someone caught between two parts of themselves, and that character, David Mogo, was born. I also wanted to explore at least one of Nigeria's many myths, legends and cosmologies, and being set in Lagos, the story yielded itself best to the Yoruba of the Nigerian west. However, yes I do write more contemporary fantasy than anything else, and the main reason is that I like to explore how the otherworldly interacts with the...worldly, and how people change and adapt in order for them to coexist.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for David Mogo, Godhunter?

SDO:  Since I'm Nigerian, and grew up within proximity to the Yoruba-dominated west of Nigeria, I already knew about some of these deities, pantheons and myths. My own ethnic group also shares some history with the Yoruba. So, basically, it all started with first-hand experience. Then, I asked questions: talked to a few people who were well versed in Yoruba and Nigerian history. I left library and online research for last because, as I've learned over time, these are usually in danger of containing diluted versions, especially when written from a Western perspective. I was picky, but I sifted enough to find what I wanted.



TQ Please tell us about the cover for David Mogo, Godhunter. Does it depict something from the novel?

SDO:  The cover artist is Yoshi Yoshitani, and they're amazing! I think Yoshi just went with interpreting the vibes they got from the parts of the novel they read, and I'd say it captures the gritty nature of the tale itself. The meteor-like things falling from the sun likely represent The Falling, the event that brings the gods to Lagos in the first place--but you already knew that.



TQIn David Mogo, Godhunter, who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

SDO:  The easiest was probably Eshu. In large parts of Yorubaland, Eshu is placed at par with the devil, which is clearly wrong. Eshu is closer to a trickster deity, like Loki or Puck, and subverting the common narrative to reflect this was easy. The most difficult was probably the god Ogun, who I changed up in so many ways that the character could've easily become unidentifiable. I had to ensure I kept the balance between what people expect from the god Ogun, and what role I wanted the character to perform in the book.



TQDoes David Mogo, Godhunter touch on any social issues?

SDO:  Migration was a big one for me: the mass arrival of the gods was to mimic the immigration into Lagos that has left the city overpopulated (probably the most populous in the world after 2050). Then, there's gentrification and political elitism, issues plaguing the city today, where the poor and severely affected are left to fend for themselves while choice spaces are reserved for the more affluent, something which also happens in its own way in the book. And lastly, colonization, with a faction of the gods trying to decide between integrating or conquering the "lesser beings" they have encountered.



TQWhich question about David Mogo, Godhunter do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

SDO:  No one ever asks about the fictional Lagos State Paranormal Commission (LASPAC) which, if you know Lagos and its penchant for coming up with new government agencies every now and then, would feel right in place. (Heck, they might even have one right now!) In the book, they're tasked with dealing with the city's deity infestation, which they do a shitty job of, because that's the most Lagos way of things. I reckon it'll take an interviewer who's also a Lagosian to ask about the LASPAC, though.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from David Mogo, Godhunter.

SDO:  Hmm. I'd say the first is: "The thought makes me shiver, and when a demigod shivers, you know what that means." The second will be: "He is perfect in every way, except for one tiny thing: he looks exactly like a mirage, like a mirror reflection without a subject. He is either an old man or a young boy, or both at the same time; it feels almost as if his identity is a choose-your-own-adventure game, where you decide what you're seeing."



TQWhat's next?

SDO:  Well, my agent and I are working hard on my next thing, which at this point, I can only reveal is fantasy as well (but not urban fantasy) and also inspired by West Africa (but a different time). We're looking at possibly more than one book, but nothing is set in stone yet. You'll hear more as the days go by!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

SDO:  Thank you. Always a pleasure.






David Mogo, Godhunter
Abaddon, July 9, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 360 pages

Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, Godhunter
LAGOS WILL NOT BE DESTROYED

The gods have fallen to earth in their thousands, and chaos reigns.

Though broken and leaderless, the city endures.

David Mogo, demigod and godhunter, has one task: capture two of the most powerful gods in the city and deliver them to the wizard gangster
Lukmon Ajala.

No problem, right?





About Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, Godhunter
Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of stories featuring African gods, starships, monsters, detectives and everything in-between. His godpunk novel, David Mogo, Godhunter, is out from Abaddon in July 2019. His internationally published fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside, Podcastle, The Dark, Mothership Zeta, Omenana, Ozy, Brick Moon Fiction and other periodicals and anthologies. He is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, where he teaches writing, and has worked in editorial at Podcastle and Sonora Review. He tweets at @IAmSuyiDavies and is @suyidavies everywhere else. Learn more at suyidavies.com.





What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 9

What are the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Authors up to in 2013?  This is the ninth in a series of posts.

See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 7 here.
See Part 8 here.
See Part 10 here.
See Part 11 here.
See Part 12 here.




Lou Morgan

Rebellion
Blood and Feathers 2
Solaris, July 9, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 9
This is the thrilling follow-up to Blood and Feathers, one of the most highly-regarded debuts of 2012. The battle between the Fallen and the Angels has turned into open warfare, on the streets of London.

"This is a war. The war. There is no stopping; no getting out. You're in this - just like the rest of us - to the end." • Driven out of hell and with nothing to lose, the Fallen wage open warfare against the angels on the streets. And they're winning.• As the balance tips towards the darkness, Alice - barely recovered from her own ordeal in hell and struggling to start over - once again finds herself in the eye of the storm. But with the chaos spreading and the Archangel Michael determined to destroy Lucifer whatever the cost, is the price simply too high… and what sacrifices will Alice and the angels have to make in order to pay it? • The Fallen will rise. Trust will be betrayed. And all hell breaks loose…




Nancy Northcott

Guardian
The Protectors 3
Forever Yours, July 2, 2013
eBook, 394 pages

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 9
A POWER TO KILL

FBI agent Camellia "Mel" Wray is no stranger to violence but when an old friend is brutally murdered, she takes it personally. The case hits even closer to her heart when the best person to help with the investigation is Dr. Stefan Harper, the only man she ever loved-and lost. One look at the gorgeous medical expert and Mel realizes he's still impossible to resist-and still harboring a secret after all these years . . .

A POWER TO LOVE

Afraid Mel wouldn't accept him, Stefan never revealed his study of magical medicine or his abilities, instead allowing her to believe he'd been unfaithful. Now she's back in his life-and their mutual attraction burns hotter than ever. But when something dark and otherworldly threatens humans, Stefan must summon his mage powers to keep everyone safe. Will Mel be able to trust him again? Or will their love cost him even more than it did the first time?




Melissa F. Olson

Trail of Dead
Scarlett Bernard 2
47North, June 4, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 297 pages

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 9
As a null, Scarlett Bernard possesses a rare ability to counteract the supernatural by instantly neutralizing spells and magical forces. For years she has used her gift to scrub crime scenes of any magical traces, helping the powerful paranormal communities of Los Angeles stay hidden. But after LAPD detective Jesse Cruz discovered Scarlett’s secret, he made a bargain with her: solve a particularly grisly murder case, and he would stay silent about the city’s unearthly underworld.

Now two dead witches are found a few days before Christmas, and Scarlett is once again strong-armed into assisting the investigation. She soon finds a connection between the murders and her own former mentor, Olivia, a null who mysteriously turned into a vampire and who harbors her own sinister agenda. Now Scarlett must revisit her painful past to find Olivia—unless the blood-drenched present claims her life first.




Cecy Robson

A Cursed Embrace
Weird Girls 2
Signet, July 2, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 9
Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other twentysomething girls—with one tiny exception: They are the products of a curse that backfired and gave each of them unique powers that made them, well, a little weird.…

After Celia Wird and her sisters help master vampire Misha save his family, their powers are exposed to the supernatural community of the Lake Tahoe region. But fame comes at a price, and being “weird” isn’t always welcome.

To make matters worse, Celia desires the love of Alpha werewolf Aric, but his pack is bent on destroying their relationship to preserve his pureblood status. And once weres start turning up dead—with evidence pointing to the vampires—she must face the prospect of losing Aric forever. But the chaos only masks a new threat. An evil known as the Tribe has risen—and their sights are set on Celia and her sisters.




Jillian Stone

The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter
Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator 3
Brava, June 25, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 9
From steam-powered bunkers to steamy boudoirs, paranormal detective Phaeton Black knows his way around Victorian London. But sometimes, when you slip down a rabbit hole, there's no turning back. . .

If The Portal's A-Rockin'

Phaeton Black is missing. Sucked into an alternative universe--courtesy of Professor Lovecraft's Trans-Dimensional Injection Portal--the illustrious investigator is nowhere to be found. Even the bewitching Miss America Jones, who's pregnant with Phaeton's child, has no clue to his whereabouts. But when a spy fly's microphone picks up Phaeton's voice in the parlors of Paris, she enlists his dearest friends to track him down--before his deadliest enemies find him first. . .

Don't Come A-Knockin'

Accompanied by the dashing Dr. Exeter, his delightful ward Mia, and a trusty duo of Nightshades, it's off to the City of Lights for the determined Miss Jones. Unfortunately, there is something about Paris in the fall that brings out the devil in Dr. Exeter--and the beast in mild-mannered Mia, whose animal urges transform her into a gorgeous panther. With physical reality unraveling on both sides of the cosmic rift, the good doctor must extract Phaeton Black from the clutches of a diabolical techno-wizard--or both could lose the women they love to love. . .forever.



Joan Swan

Rush
Phoenix Rising 3
Brava, August 27, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook

What's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 9
Jessica Fury, Washington lobbyist, has money, connections, and her own firm. But five years ago she had something better: happiness. Her firefighter husband, Quaid, was handsome, courageous, and crazy about her. Then one day he walked into a chemical inferno—and never walked out. Jessica has been through hell to get back on her feet. And then a rumor surfaces that could bring a miracle or shatter her world—again.

Q has been a prisoner forever. He’s honed his mind and body into weapons. He’s developed abilities no one else understands. But he’s still at the mercy of a cabal of ruthless men, who blank his memory, test him like a lab rat, and tell him lies. Although his past has been erased and his future looks grim, instinct tells him he has a woman to live for. What his mind can’t remember, his body can’t forget…

The heat is on.


Interview with Wayne Santos, author of The Chimera CodeInterview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of David Mogo, GodhunterWhat's Up for the 2012 Debut Authors in 2013? - Part 9

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