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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jason Andrew

[Interviewer’s Note: This is a series of interviews featuring the contributors of Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic SF edited by Jetse de Vries.]

Jason Andrew lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Lisa. By day, he works as a mild-mannered technical writer. By night, he writes stories of the fantastic and occasionally fights crime. As a child, Jason spent his Saturdays watching the Creature Feature classics and furiously scribbling down stories; his first short story, written at age six, titled ‘The Wolfman Eats Perry Mason,’ was rejected and caused his Grandmother to watch him very closely for a few years.


Charles Tan: Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. What made you decide to write science fiction?

Jason Andrew: I have always been fascinated with science fiction.  I absorbed everything that I could while I was a kid.  My grandparents bought me a computer when I was ten that has less memory and functions than the average calculator.  I loved exploring new possibilities.  

I’m not sure I even had a choice in the matter.  I think I was just wired that way from birth.  There is a story in my bio that my family tells to embarrass me.  When I was six, I wanted to watch the Saturday Creature Feature.  My Grandmother wanted to watch Perry Mason and she was fully in charge of the house.  Instead, I wrote an illustrated  short story titled ‘The Wolfman Eats Perry Mason.’  My Grandfather thought it was hilarious.

 


CT: Do you think science fiction is capable of changing the world? How?

JA: Science Fiction changes the world every day because it presents ideas and changes the way we think and see the world.   It might be argued that the very first science fiction novel was Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.  Would we have had organ transplants without first that idea being explored in fiction?  We have to imagine a possibility before we can create it.  

Did William Gibson invent the internet in Neuromancer?  No, but he did coin the name cyberspace in that book.  Gibson’s true genius was imagining what might be possible with such technology while writing on an old fashioned type writer.   I work by day as a technical writer in the IT industry.  I see software developers struggle to imagine new ways to use old ideas and technologies.  I see his influence in Facebook, SQL Server, and  a number of other technologies we use every day.        


CT: What made you decide to write “Scheherazade Cast in Starlight”? Do you think such revolutionary change in Islamic countries is possible?

 

JA: I have become very interested in the new social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  I wanted to explore a story about a revolutionary using social media to tell her story.  During the middle of the writing process, the Iranian Protests of 2009 broke out.  The US State Department had to ask Twitter not to shut down for a scheduled maintenance because the protesters and journalists were  using Twitter to tell their stories and share what was happening.  That had a big effect on the writing of the story and then the parallels to Scheherazade seemed obvious.


CT: Overall, do you have an optimistic outlook of the future? Why is optimistic science fiction important?

 

JA: I have a mixed outlook.  I think we’ll always have problems.  We’re never have the perfect world.  We’ll always have to struggle to evolve.  This is why we need optimistic science fiction.  We need to imagine a better future.  John Stewart made a joke the night Barrack Obama was elected president.  “Now that we have a black president, how will we know it’s the future?”

We imagined a word where a black man can become president of the United States.  We created visions of the future where this is possible.  I’ve heard a theory where good science fiction sees ten years into the future.  Great science fiction motivates you bring that future to the present.


CT: What made you decide to contribute in the Shine anthology? Did you find writing for the theme difficult?

 

JA: I loved the theme.  I think Science Fiction has become obsessed with dystopian futures because they are easier to write about.  This story was surprising easy to write when inspired by real life events.


CT: How has your experience as a technical writer aided (or not aided) in your fiction?

 

JA: I’ve learned to take large ideas and break then  down into components that are easier to understand.  This translates into better plotting and character development.  Every word written improves my skills.  I’m also one hell of a copyeditor.


CT: What are the hurdles you had to overcome before getting published?

 

JA: The main hurdle is the competition and a shrinking market for short fiction.  You have to want it badly enough to keep going after rejections and disappointment.  


CT: Anything else you want to plug?

 

JA: Check out the upcoming anthology Dragon’s Lure by Dark Quest, LLC.   It has a lot of imaginative stories in it.  Dark Quest is really working hard to produce quality anthologies, which is really the last great marketplace for anthologies.

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