Saturday, August 20, 2011

Interview with Fisher Thompson author of A Supremely Happy World



Today we have an interview with Fisher Thompson author of A Supremely Happy World


When did you decide to become a writer?


Short story: high school English class. The actual path is a circuitous and metaphysical
train wreck. Every school, from left-my-diapers-at-home forward, has within its grizzled
grasp the single student known as the school artist; that kid who no matter what art
project/challenge is thrown at the class en masse, comes out of it with the sin qua non
production that stuns and shrivels the artistic self-esteem of his peers. This esteemed
and denigrated post was held by yours truly at more than one institution of learning
throughout this land. But it does not stop there. No. Mid-teens found me at the hallowed
doorstep of magical incantations, the place where one dons cape and cap to join the
secret handshake and password brotherhood of magicians, whereby one’s allegiance
is sworn and silence as to the inner workings is duty bound. A glorious career was in
its incipient stages. Until two years later when the rock-and-roll-star piranha bit with
ferocity. This particular path I pursued devotedly through all requisite stages until a
decade had elapsed landing me face first upon the fateful doorstep where writing more
than songs seemed a worthy goal. I reflected that my initial nudge toward writing had
been the reading of Hawthorne in high school. After the devastatingly effective crash
and burn of rock stardom the reclamation of lost objectives was a no brainer. Thankfully
I have retained enough of my youthful exuberance, called by some “stupidity,” to allow
me the dubious pleasure of looking impending failure in the face and sneering, “Oh
yeah? That all you got??” Writing has altered my view somewhat. Long haul is the
name of the game.


What was your route to Indie authoring?


An age old axiom affirms that the publishing industry is a fickle creature. An agent will
voraciously scour the universe to publish today, what was popular last year, in the
hopes of releasing the finished work in book form the following year. It does not take
much to conclude this is a tragically broken business model. Yet it is the selfsame
model that has existed in some form or fashion since Gutenberg brought the production
press to life. Within this framework does the ever hopeful writer operate, fixing firmly in
his/her mind the image of grasping that mythically charged golden ring from the whirling
wheel of fate. One proceeds with the foremost hope that one is the author chosen from
among the plebian horde. And as time advances as it must, this hope can become a
faint and thinning gossamer thread. After practicing the craft for better than a decade, I
decided to embark upon the agent express. I arrived at the embarkation point only to be
greeted by a forlorn and forgotten station, the attendants moping miserably along,
conductors swabbing handkerchiefs along perspiring foreheads, muttering to
themselves in attempts to conjure the words that would reveal when and IF the trains
would once more roll. Ragged and dust worn authors stood at the tracks waving their
cancelled tickets for a train that shut down after the post-apocalyptic full frontal J.K.
Rowling assault. The word was out. A hit one-off book had lost its market appeal. What
commanded the attention of the rapacious industry was the series/phenomenon to be,
gestating out there somewhere, the prize going to that agent who selectively and
intuitively plucked it from the haystack. I labored at the author's booth in that particular
train station for a few years, pitching, catching and often fielding foul balls, attempting to
position myself advantageously; smiling, shaking hands, connecting and consulting,
thinking maybe, just maybe, my golden moment would come. Oh, I did in fact make a
few fortuitous and beneficial, might I say “beneficent,” contacts. But the mystical
machine that was suddenly spitting out a few late issue train tickets, gummed up and
jammed it seemed, putting all orders on indefinite hold. But no, the culprit was not a
mechanical jam. Lo and behold, Stephenie Meyer had waltzed in and scooped up the
remaining bundle clean away into vampire land; setting loose a maniacal horde of cute
but deadly misunderstood vampire types, whose preeminent mission was to free the
mortal girls from the bondage of teen angst with deftly applied romantic overtures. What
followed were werewolves, zombies, undead aplenty walking effortlessly in our midst.
Once more a publishing phenom had arrived. Where did that leave everyone else?
Digging through trash cans looking for that lost golden train ticket or churning out a
second-rate supernatural romance in the hope that lightning would strike twice.


The oppression of despair was everywhere. I made a charge for the stands. It was
time to review, reexamine, and reclaim my initial reasons for entering into this mad
steeple chase. Viewing this debacle from the cheap seats afforded me a long range
view of distant domains, each one doing its best to entice, promising nothing but
possibility. Then like a bolt of blue redemption my cranium split, letting the cool breeze
of freedom in for a swirl round hemisphere central. The jump from this enlightened
vantage point into indie publishing was not altogether painless, but rewarding in
its immediacy of assured audience. And hey, I thought, had not indie publishing
recently acquired the stamp of prestige afforded the traditional publishing industry,
the term “Independent Publishing” garnering so much more commodity value than
the severely denigrated “Vanity Publishing?” Okay, same horse different jockey, but
the transition from abomination to acclamation had in fact silently and most assuredly
occurred. I decided it was prudent to at least for a period pursue this newly opened
channel.


What served as your inspiration for Supremely Happy World?


I was reading a bunch of abysmally depressing slit-your-throat political works, and
my head was in a place of, "Hey, I know we're fucked. Thanks for reminding me A-
holes." But you know, the American Dream died alongside music the day those good
ol' boys were drinking whiskey and rye with Don McLean and I said, fuck all, why not
write a story that tells it like it is from a future looking back kind of way? And spinning
around this circumference of neo-nihilistic thought I woke up one dark and dreary
morning with the lines spinning through my electrified mind, "It was a time of terror as
a creeping Black Death surged through the land. It was then I had to depart Sung Wu
and follow a different path. This would remain so." and the rest just came organically or
perhaps "orgiastically." So I went forward, undaunted by dream state terrors, declared
war on the night sky, threw the oxygen deprived universe in there to boot, and began
the word by phrase assembly of thought clouds that became Supremely Happy World,
a name that may have remained in frontal lobe slumber had the original working title
Boxtown won out.


The dramatis personae in this dystopian tale are heterogeneous, all and sundry
overwhelmed by the various elements in play. Primarily we have protagonist Li Chu
Yang, a slap dance happenstance anti-hero, essentially unwitting attendee and
straight man to the horrors transpiring at every turn, said horrors engendered by both
scorched earth fascists and supernatural entities. The secondary protagonist and Li
Chu Yang’s cohort, Sung Wu, is my favorite character. A shoot straight from the hip
no nonsense take no prisoners type. She was inspired by a collection of girls/women
I have been fortunate to know, a composite so to speak. The changes she puts him
through are epic, enlightening even. Strong female characters have always appealed
to me. It seems there still remains much room left for developing this type of character
in contemporary fiction. The travails of the fainting female are so passé. Today the
weak and ineffective female character is met with critical virulence and authorial shame.
Supremely Happy World explores the flip flop of the traditional male/female role.


What other work do you have available?


At this point, not including those titles that are out of print, I have three titles: Supremely
Happy World, Laughing Sheepskins, and Code of Ecstasy.


What sites is your work available on?


My entire catalog is available at Smashwords.


Are you currently working on anything new and if so when can we expect to see
it?


I am currently working toward something that is as yet undefined. Along the way I have
been collecting notes, thoughts, trivia etcetera as support matter for this impending
work. Concepts, storyline and genre are decided quite organically and spring forth from
the characters that emerge during the genesis stage. So far at least two characters
have come forward to claim this undeclared terrain and it is mine to sit back and see
who prevails in the struggle. At the very least, one of them will be offered a supporting
role.


Are there any authors that you really look up to?


The authors I look up to and admire are unfortunately not names you will often find on
the bestseller lists. Among these are John Barth, Robert Coover, John Hawkes, Donald
Barthelme, Victor Pelevin, China Miéville and Donald Antrim. A motley crew if you will.
Yet the linguistic and literary gymnastics championed by the aforementioned continue to
be the Holy Grail I diligently strive towards.


What do you see as the biggest challenge in being an Indie author?


Establishing and maintaining a dynamic network of people and entities essential in
the marketing and distribution chain. One’s ability to successfully Tweet, Facebook,
etcetera become primary in this. As success in this regard is measured in book sales
and friend lists, it is a crucial matrix residing betwixt the lands of Empowerment and
Humility.


Have you ever been published in any magazines or any national publication?


I have had stories published in numerous international print and online magazines that
have unfortunately succumbed to the threshing wheel of fame. Still, there are through
the magic of the eternal internet one or two published works out there circling about.


Do you have a homepage/blog/twitter/facebook etc... that fans can follow your
progress or contact you at?


First and foremost Smashwords of course followed in close progression
by http://fisherthompson.webs.com . I should also mention I maintain a presence at
http://www.goodreads.com for the sake of comprehensive inclusion. Otherwise there is
always email if a direct dialogue is desired: fisher.thompson909@gmail.com.


What is your favorite book/series?


I was fortunate enough in my wanderings to happen upon and dive into the Bas-Lag
novels of China Miéville. It is in short a vast and brilliant contemporary work conjured in
the most startling, bold and verdant prose. Within in its embrace is found the essential
ingredients to soothe the supremely jaded literary soul.

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