Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tobias Buckell

Cat Rambo interviewed Tobias Buckell, author of the Nebula Award-nominated Ragamuffin, his second novel.

The interview opens:

You’re one of the harder working spec-fic writers around. Can you talk about your work ethic—where does it come from?

It’s partially that hard working immigrant mentality thing, you know, coming to the land of opportunity? I had lunch with my best friend from the Caribbean not too long ago, and he and I both talked about how even people traditionally considered disadvantaged in the US still had more access to resources than he did growing up. He counseled disadvantaged kids for a while, and was just amazed. I think coming from the outside sometimes gives you this realization at how much opportunity there is for the hustle. Like libraries. Libraries in the US are these huge things with all these books. Growing up my access to libraries was not as universal, and they were stocked as best a small developing island could, but that could vary a great deal.

But that’s not all there is to it. There are plenty of people, I think, who work at it harder than me. Part of it is that I made some tough choices as to where I invested my time. Most teenagers and people in their early twenties partied and watched lots of TV, played video games. Until a couple years ago I had no cable in the house, much to people’s astonishment. No TV. No videogames. I didn’t club, or party, or do any of that stuff. From 15 to 25 I wrote during the time that everyone else played games or watched TV. The average American watches 20-30 hours of TV a week. That’s almost watching TV like a full time job. By swapping out writing, I worked at writing.

Of course, one can question the sanity of working a part time or near full time job for 10 years that hardly started paying anything until recently. I could have started a business on the side. But that’s where my hard work comes from, choosing to make a hard choice about how I spent my time. As a result, I never felt like I worked hard, just that I missed a lot of the stuff people around me seemed to be spending *their* time on. Do I regret not seeing 10 year old TV shows (what’s a ‘Buffy?’) and spending a lot of money on alcohol? In the big picture, not a bit.

The funny part is now that I write and freelance full time the shoe is on the other foot. I have my evenings free. I have an XBox 360 and a Nintendo Wii and play a lot. I watch cable and lots of movies now. Because I can. But during deadlines and crunch time, they get turned off (Mass Effect has just sat on my coffee table for a month now after booting up once when I first got it. Awesome game, right, but no time right now). If the 10 year old show was any good, I’ll catch it on Netflix, right? The good stuff floats to the top.
Read the complete Q & A.

Read more about Ragamuffin --including an extended excerpt -- and its predecessor, Crystal Rain, at Tobias Buckell's website.

My Book, The Movie: Ragamuffin.

--Marshal Zeringue