DES (“The D is for Dean”) Richard is the author of 3024AD: Short Stories Series One, a fascinating look at a future for humanity that resembles a lot of our past (see my review). He is also the latest addition to my growing list of fellow Pacific Northwest authors — there must be something about this area to produce so many interesting and talented writers, myself excluded of course 🙂 — so I asked him to answer a few questions about his book, which you can get for free (see below for details)
1. 3024AD: Short Stories Series One, follows an interesting format, with a series of vignettes that take place in the same time and place – space in the distant future – interspersed with a few “Encyclopedia Galactica” entries to fill in backstory. Some stories are linked in terms of plot and a few characters appear multiple times. Why did you pick this format over a more traditional approach such as a novel or novella?
This collection – and I’ll address this a bit more in the other questions – is actually primarily about ‘minor’ characters. The inspiration for it came from the books you read where there is a throwaway character who just happens to be in the right place at the right time, with the right piece of information to advance the plot – and that’s it. Out in the wilderness or something, some random guy has the key to the whole thing? No way. I wanted to flesh out some of the minor characters, give them life and show that they had their own story. Sometimes in the main arc, they aren’t even named, they might be ordinary soldiers, but this way they have their story told. I think – hope – it adds to the depth of the universe, in that the reader will notice every character and realize they have a story too.
In a way, though, it just sort of happened – these stories I wrote without ever really being sure I would publish them (as I wrote them, I actually posted them on the blog for a while, in draft form). As I wrote Digger’s story arc, I realized he lent himself to this format, and so I wrote stories centered around him. At the end, I had what I felt was a really solid collection, and decided to move forward with it. I think it’s something that wouldn’t work as a novel- the reveals at the end, the way it ties together- told simply as a linear story, it would be nowhere near as interesting. With this format, you see so many more threads connecting- at times outside the province of this collection (see next question).
2. The book ends with a very significant event looming, but it is subtitled “Short Stories Series One” … so that means you have more coming from this future sandbox you’ve created, right? (fingers crossed) As a follow-on, how many more books do you think will be in the series?
Oh, yes. Much, much more. This collection- again, which I am very proud of and like a lot- is essentially prologue to everything to come. It’s deep, and it’s fun, but, yeah… what happens next (or, more accurately, is happening somewhere else) will enrich it a lot.
As to how many, I really can’t say. I view this as my ‘Foundation’- the series Asimov both started and ended his writing career with. At the moment, I have three more planned, but I hope to write in this universe for a long time. I should point out though, that not all of it will be like this- most of it will be more traditional novels, although there will be additional short story collections like this, with one main arc and peripheral characters.
Oh, and that significant event… already happened. It’s alluded to a couple times in this collection, and two stories take place immediately before and after it, so look for them through different eyes in the future. There are glances and observations in this collection that are significant in later books.
3. You’ve got swashbuckling pirates who hold letters of marque from colonizing powers like Britain, Spain and France and terrorize shipping lanes; saloon shootouts with quick draw gunslingers; simmering class conflict between the haves and have-nots; and the rise of an all-powerful military-industrial complex … 3024 seems a lot like 1750, 1850 and 1950 mashed together. What influenced you in putting these themes together?
You’ve hit upon one of the major themes and inspirations for this work – the idea that history repeats itself. You see a lot of those themes throughout history, and much of this is inspired by thinking on ‘how will that manifest itself as we colonize other planets? Mine riches from them?’ History provides a lot of lessons about that, and it’s fun (albeit somewhat sad) to apply them to the future.
4. Are you a planner or a pantser? As in, do you outline plots in advance or use a seat-of-the-pants approach? If the former, how in-depth are your plans; if the latter, what do you use as a starting point: a character, a scene, a setting?
I am, as you probably guessed, an unabashed plotter. I keep outlines of outlines. I like to think I’m smart, but this is at least three books that take place concurrently, with lots of names and dates intersecting – I can’t keep all that straight in my head.
As to starting points, it varies tremendously. One of the first stories I started for the collection is (now) called The Gathering Storm. It was the first ‘Digger’ story, and was radically different, with much less impact on the overall plot. But it made me fall in love with Digger as a character, and so became central to not only this collection, but the 3024 universe. Originally, it was going to be a story about this archaeologist, but now that is sidebar to it, since that is hardly what he is anymore. In short, all of the above.
5. Any final thoughts?
I hope you enjoy reading it, it is a fun universe to write in. I’d love it if you told others about it, and if you do so over Twitter and/or Facebook, you can have the book for free by clicking here.
For more on the author and his writing, visit his blog.