Monday, November 03, 2008

Daryl Gregory Answers Questions Five

Daryl Gregory is known for more in the SFF world for his short fiction. Daryl has recently released his first novel, Pandemonium (US, UK, Canada, my review), which I enjoyed quite a bit and encourage all to read. His day job is in computer stuff and he lives in State College, PA with his family (one of whom is a counseling psychologist).

Thanks again to Daryl for taking the time to answer Questions Five.

How do you win an argument with a counseling psychologist?

DJG: You can’t—not as long as it’s an argument. You have to convince her that you’re not arguing, but that you’re processing your feelings. Feelings such as, I feel we need to buy a big screen TV. Or, I feel that washing your white top with a red hoodie is a mistake anyone would make.

If JoePa were a demonic archetype, what role would he play in your fiction?

DJG: Joe Paterno is an archetype. First, he’s clearly unkillable. The man’s 81 but he’s still screaming at refs. And like all archetypes, his image is everywhere. The faithful purchase cardboard cutouts of him called StandUp Joes that are erected like shrines in homes across the nation. He says nothing that he hasn’t said in every post-game interview for the past 60 years— “I think we gotta work on the fundamentals, they’re pretty good kids, but we can’t get lazy”—but those gnomic utterances are parsed for nuance as if they were scripture. People believe in Joe. Wherever two Penn State alumni are gathered in his name, He is there.

JoePa’s archetypal status presents a problem for me. Because he really is Head Coach of the Collective Unconscious, I can’t use him in my fiction. I’ve got to make up stuff, or they won’t pay me.

Fill in the blank: Kids today just don’t appreciate the value of ______. How does Pandemonium reflect this?

DJG: Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.

A few Christmases ago I bought the set for my son. He said, “What does it do?”
“They punch each other.”
“That’s it?”
“Put your hands on the controllers. I’ll be the Blue Bomber.”
“Can they kick?”
“No. Look, I’m punching you. Now you try to punch me.”
“I want to open another present.”
“Ha! I knocked your block off!”

Pandemonium is the entire toy box. I put in all my favorite pop-cultural things, from Marvel comics to golden age SF to Sinead O’Connor. The book is yet another attempt to foist my personal obsessions on others. The Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots appear in chapter one.

What other peculiar qualities of Pandemonium should readers be aware of?

DJG: There’s a pretty good sex scene in chapter 14.

Why should Pandemonium be the next book that everyone reads?

DJG: Do it for my mother. When I started my writing career, she said, You know what you ought to do, DJ? (My family calls me DJ.) You should write a best-seller.

This seemed like excellent advice. But how to execute it?

Your question, Ken, points the way. If everyone—and I mean everyone, each man, woman, and child on this planet, plus any Russians and billionaires currently in orbit—makes Pandemonium the next book they read, then my mother’s dream can become a reality. You don’t even have to read the book, you just have to buy it. Let’s pick a day in December. December 15th. On that day, go out or get online and buy a copy for yourself and one for any relative that is bed-ridden and/or computer illiterate.

Come on, people, we can do this. If we can just put aside our petty excuses—for example, that you don’t like science fiction, or that you don’t read English, or that your refugee camp doesn’t have a decent internet connection—if we can just stop all that whining for a minute and buy my book, then, finally, my mother, Thelma Gregory, will know I’m a success. For more information on Do It For Thelma Day, see my website.

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