Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Broken Angel, Day 2: Interview

And now for my interview with Sigmund Brouwer:

Q: You write in several different genres. Do you have a favorite?
A: I'm going to give a weasel answer here and say that I don't have a favorite genre, but justify it by adding when I write, I don't feel like I'm in a genre, but just focused on a story. Characters and their problems are paramount; genre is just background.

On the other hand, genre is a reality, so it's silly to pretend otherwise, and in the end, I think I like best what perhaps isn't classified as a genre yet -- visionary suspense. Broken Angel can fit in science fiction, but hopefully readers will enjoy a roller coaster ride as if it's a thriller too. If someone ever described my writing as Harlen Coben meets Michael Crichton, I'd pretend to be embarrassed by the acclaim, but you can guess otherwise.

Q: How have you grown and changed as a writer in the years since your debut as an author?

A: Any growing and changing is not the result of writing, but because of the wonderful influence of my wife, and our children, who came along after I'd been published for years. I'm a typical guy, and have to fight the temptation to use this genetic wiring as an excuse for excessive golf, tardiness and all my other weaknesses. But becoming a daddy has changed the core of my life, and I hope this is reflected in everything about me, including my writing. I see it, looking back, in Broken Angel too, a story about a father and daughter. I'm going to shamelessly plug brokenangelsong.com, because the music video there (Beautiful Bird, reflecting the theme of the book -- freedom) has my wife and our daughters.

Q: Where did you get the idea for Broken Angel?

A: I was asked to write a future-based story on genetics. Before our daughters came in our lives, I'm sure the story would have been much different, but as a daddy, I began to wonder about the consequences of experimenting on humans, and what would happen if you felt the guilt of hurting the child you loved, and were willing to sacrifice everything to protect this girl.

NOTE: (I asked Sigmund about some of the loose ends at the end of the novel, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who has not read it. So suffice it to say, he told me he was working on a sequel. Sweet.)

Q: Did you model Caitlyn in any way after a real person?

A: Although I'm so focused on story when I write that I rarely think about metaphors and themes, I've come to realize that Caitlyn's life is each of ours.

We're each born into mystery and tragedy -- life is a mystery, like the questions about eternity that come with our existence. Tragic? As the only species aware of our mortality, we are doomed to know that each joy we have and the loves in our life will be extinguished by death.

We have a destiny beyond comprehension, once we leave the prison of our bodies.

Life is harsh, and tries to break us.

Even as life tries to break us, we have a sense of longing for the beyond, and we instinctively fight to soar.

Q: What do you want to write in the future?

A: In the future, I'd like to keep writing about the future, and tackle ideas like using evolutionary science to trace a genetic code back to the Adam and Eve and the first moments of human consciousness in all of history, or memory transfers that give defacto immortality, or a carnivorous fungus that grows computer-generated intelligence or. . .

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