25th Trillium Award

On Writing, with Steve Stanton

 
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Photo Credit: ECW Press

Steve Stanton has just released his latest entry in his science fiction trilogy, The Bloodlight Chronicles, entitled The Bloodlight Chronicles: Redemption.

In this edition of On Writing, Steve tells Open Book about how The Bloodlight Chronicles grew from being a short story to a trilogy and about his role as president of SF Canada, an organization of science fiction, fantasy and horror writers. According to Steve, the real world is not so very different from the worlds depicted in SF stories.

Open Book:

Tell us about your new book, The Bloodlight Chronicles: Redemption.

Steve Stanton:

In a future world when much of human experience is conducted in virtual space by avatars, a blood-transmitted virus with rejuvenating effects has become a black-market staple, forcing infected “Eternals” into protective enclaves. When their leader, Helena Sharp, begins to mysteriously degenerate, the entire Eternal community is thrown into chaos, fearing that their immortality has ended. Redemption is a multi-layered and multifaceted work that builds on the solid foundation of the first two books, Reconciliation and Retribution, in which romantic entanglements, strategic subterfuge and personal devastation propel the plot forward at a frenetic pace. On a thematic basis, the novel expands and culminates the central questions of the trilogy: Why is the universe so exquisitely engineered to produce the delicate balance of conditions necessary for life? What is the origin and purpose of consciousness, and what is the ultimate future of mankind?

OB:

How do you go about writing a trilogy? When you began The Bloodlight Chronicles, did you know much about where you wanted to take the series and what characters you would focus on?

SS:

The Bloodlight Chronicles had humble origins late last century as a short cyberpunk story, “Mark of the Beast,” that was expanded to novella length as “Superlight” and serialized in seven parts in a small American magazine. About ten years later, after a career in business, I reworked the concept into a novel manuscript, and based on the strength of that work, Canadian publisher David Caron offered me a three-year contract to continue the story into a trilogy. I had no idea where I was going and at no time did I work to a script or outline. I wanted to experience the first draft with the fresh intensity of a reader, not knowing the end from the beginning. The real work came during the rewrite stages, and I had engaging editorial support and sold two excerpts to paying markets, so I knew I had something special on the burner.

OB:

You are president of SF Canada, an organization of science fiction, fantasy and horror writers. Tell us a bit more about SF Canada and what it does for writers and readers of these genres.

SS:

SF Canada was established twenty years ago as Canada’s national association of speculative fiction professionals. I did serve two years as vice-president and I’m now in my second year as president. We have about 130 professional authors working in the speculative genres, and we sponsor two national awards with cash prizes as well as host parties at various conventions. The biggest benefit of membership is the private discussion forum which (as you can imagine) can get pretty amazing, and we also provide a public website for news and promotion and current market listings at www.sfcanada.org.

OB:

What do you enjoy the most about writing science fiction?

SS:

I am a great fan of the future and I love testing the frontiers of human experience. I remain a dedicated optimist despite the pervasive sentiment of doom in society, and I believe that science fiction can encourage the world by pointing to problems and imagining potential solutions. Writing The Bloodlight Chronicles trilogy was the most fun I have had in my life! With a meagre stipend in my pocket and no other vocational responsibilities, I was completely free to screw around with hypothetical science on a daily basis for the past three years, and it doesn’t get any better than that for a science-fiction author in this rapidly changing marketplace. I love the creative ecstasy of imagination.

OB:

How do you decide how much detail to give about the world you've created, and how do you know that an idea (for example, that Sienna carries the future heritage of humanity in her DNA) will fit within that world?

SS:

I like to think I’m working with the real world, extrapolating current science into the near future. Already researchers are working with viruses to deliver drugs, battle disease and produce piezoelectricity within the human body, so the creation of an “Eternal virus” is highly likely in the next generation. Likewise, a gaming world of avatars is already taking shape in our current society, and once the man-machine connection is breached, we will have the birth of “V-space” as detailed in my trilogy. As far as Sienna’s special heritage, the human genome has now been mapped and charted and cloning is a proven possibility, so tinkering with human DNA is inevitable. Now is the time to begin examining the social issues that will arise as these developments become widespread: Who will qualify for medical immortality? Who will control the omnipresent machine intelligence? Who will design the posthuman species?

OB:

What books are on your bedside table?

SS:

I subscribe to Scientific American, and lately I have been reading books on cosmology. When I am working on a character, I will often study books on their specialty to get deeper insight into their personalities, so I tend to go off on some wild tangents.

OB:

What are you working on now?

SS:

I’m convinced that the human species will eventually move outside the cradle of our solar system before our home star becomes inhospitable, so I started my next novel along those lines during a break before the final rewrite of Redemption. It’s a love story set on a distant planet where colonists are battling a poisonous environment and breeding via technology only, living underground and mining strategic metals for corporate overlords. Being an author is not as much fun without a book contract, due to the frugal necessities of life, but I’m hopeful that The Bloodlight Chronicles will establish an audience for my work and this new novel will become a romantic metaphor for my own rise from the underground.


Steve Stanton is the author of The Bloodlight Chronicles: Reconciliation (ECW Press) and Retribution (ECW Press). His short fiction has been published in 16 countries, including translations into Hebrew, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech and Romanian. His writing regularly appears in more than two dozen magazines and journals, and he currently serves as the president of SF Canada, the bilingual organization of science fiction, fantasy and horror writers. Stanton lives in Washago, Ontario.

For more information about The Bloodlight Chronicles: Redemption please visit the ECW press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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