Interview: Garry Abbott Author of The Great Connection

21 December 2016



About the Author


Garry Abbott is a science fiction author from Staffordshire in the UK where he lives with his wife and two cats.

Garry has published the short story collection 'The Dimension Scales and Other Stories', and his first full length space opera novel: 'The Great Connection: Worlds in Waiting'. He is currently working on his third title, a sci-fi comedy, working title: 'Transported'.

As well as writing science fiction, Garry has regularly contributed topical comedy sketches for the BBC and produced scripts for community arts productions and performances. 

Garry's influences include Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Philip Pullman, George R. R. Martin and Dennis Potter.

1.  What is it about Sci-Fi as a genre that you love?

For me, good Sci-Fi tells you a lot about contemporary society by projecting our fears, hopes and desires into the future, or another world, and examining the results. Alongside this you have the free reign to imagine beyond what we already know, so nothing is off limits. I think that when these elements are all balanced nicely together, Science Fiction (and Fantasy to a similar extent) is one of the most exciting genres to write and read.  

2. Do you base your characters on real people or personalities. Do they know it's them? 

I sometimes use actors as a reference to help me mentally picture my characters physically, but I doubt they know anything about it! As far as personality traits go, I use bits and bobs from people I’ve met sometimes, but I’ve never totally based a character on any one real person. I try to put myself in my character’s shoes when I write, so if anything, there are more aspects of my own personality in my characters than anyone else!   

3.  How do you research for a Sci-Fi book? 

The internet if my friend! I tend to keep a digital scrapbook of various articles and web pages that I can reference back to, often about new developments in science and technology. Of course I read a lot, cross-genre, and keep up with TV, film and video game trends in Sci-Fi and entertainment in general, as I think this is a good way to get a broad reflection of modern society.
I also talk to people I know about concepts and ideas to see what they think, as that outside perspective can throw a whole new light on something that can be priceless.

4. What did you edit out of this book?

I decided against using sections I had worked on about the upper echelons of the Earth’s power structures at the time the book is set. They are quite important to the story, but I realised that I didn’t need the main characters to meet the ‘President’ or whatever, and that for the reader, it was only necessary to know that those structures existed, rather than having them laid out in detail. I always find it improbable in stories where the Prime Minister or the President pops up in the middle of the action with his or her little team of advisors!

5. How do you select the names for your characters

With difficulty! For human characters I try and match a name to an imagined face or profession, as I find people wear their names quite well (bizarrely, seeing as we don’t often choose them ourselves). For alien characters, I have sometimes researched something to do with the character in ancient languages (Latin or Norse for example), and then use that as a jumping off point to create something new that has a recognisable sound to it. I find that works better than just stringing together random letters

6. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Time! And the lack thereof. I work a full time job alongside my writing, and it’s quite mentally intense, so sometimes I just don’t have the mental capacity left at the end of the day to do it.  

7. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I would go back to when I was 16 and tell myself to go to University and do a creative writing and philosophy degree. I actually ended up doing this when I was in my late twenties, and it really kick-started me taking myself seriously as a writer and gaining the skills needed to do it. Before that I was unfocused and undisciplined. So, it would have been nice to have had a ten year head start on it.

8. How many hours a day do you write?

On a good day 3-4, on an average day 1-2, often 0, due to lack of time. I never really find that I can sustain a whole seven hour day writing (not that I get much chance to do that) as I like to have some time to mull over what I’ve written and think through the next section without staring at a screen.

9. What's your favourite under-appreciated novel?

It’s not really a novel, but Roald Dahl’s adult short story collections (such as Kiss Kiss and Someone Like You) are often overshadowed by his work for children, but I think they are some of the best short stories every written, and there is even some dark Sci Fi in there, such as the Kafkaesque ‘Royal Jelly’.

10. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction? 

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I actually failed to read this on my first attempt and came back to it many years later when it appeared as a reference in my creative writing degree course. When I eventually read it, there was something in the way that he was able to link the narratives thematically that opened up for me a new layered way of thinking about literature in general.

Synopsis

Following an unfortunate incident involving a delivery drone, a fishing net, and a very tall tree; Raif Masters finds himself forced by his overprotective alpha parents to spend his last school holiday exploring extraterrestrial worlds in ‘The Great Connection’: a real-time simulation of the observable universe, rendered into virtual reality home entertainment. 

But Raif, a "child of three", is not alone. Terry, bound to the service of the Masters family, is looking forward to a very early retirement after one last summer looking after his young charge.

Together they meet Cinder, a fellow simunaught who is seeking a crew to share a secret discovery from the other side of the galaxy that could change the life of the Masters, and the future of the Earth, forever. 

But are some discoveries best left unconnected?


Buy it now at:



Excerpt

‘Continuance through rebirth, sister,’ each of the gathered spoke to her as they swayed and chanted.
‘Continuance through rebirth,’ she spoke back to each in turn, well-versed in the ritual, having been one of the dancers on many occasions in her long and soon to be ending life.
She knelt on the bed, making the most of the last few moments she could look upon her friends’ faces. Beside her the doctor waited patiently with his head bowed.
The dancing stopped and the gathered formed a line at the foot of her last resting place. Now they were permitted to speak if they wished, and only if she beckoned them over. Most had made their peace already, but her young student, a newborn called Yalissa, twitched impatiently, trying to signal her desire to speak once more. She nodded and Yalissa came over.
‘Continuance through rebirth, sister,’ Yalissa said again hurriedly to dispense with the formality. She laid her hands upon her old teacher, feeling her shoulders and the rise of her neck, running her fingers over her cheeks and all the time crying.
‘Speak, my dear Yalissa,’ said Scoria IX, gently removing her touch and placing her arms back at her side.
‘I look forward to seeing you again soon.’ The girl spoke awkwardly with a grimace. They were obviously not the words she had been searching for. ‘I mean, I will see you again, when it’s done, in time, and...’ She stuttered on, her face furrowed and straining.
Scoria pitied the poor girl. She was the first of herself, born from a union, not a rebirth. She still believed the stories that this was a continuance. They weren’t just words to her. But Scoria, like so many others, knew the truth. All she knew of her past lives was left to her in writings and logs. She didn’t feel the spark or memory of her ancestors inside her like others claimed, but she observed the customs so that frightened newborns like Yalissa could live happily without fear.
‘Yes. I will remember you fondly when I come of age, I am sure. But you must not look for me until I look for you, my girl. Maybe one day you will teach me.’



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