Monday, November 23, 2020

Wayne Santos

Over the years, Wayne Santos has written copy for advertising agencies, scripts for television, and articles for magazines. He’s lived in Canada, Thailand and Singapore, traveling to many countries around South East Asia. His first love has always been science fiction and fantasy, and while he regularly engaged with it in novels, comics, anime and video games, it wasn’t until 1996, with his first short story in the Canadian speculative fiction magazine On Spec that he aimed towards becoming a novelist.

He now lives in Canada, in Hamilton, ON with his wife. When he’s not writing, he is likely to be found reading, playing video games, watching anime, or trying to calm his cat down.

Santos's new novel is The Chimera Code.

My Q&A with the author:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The Chimera Code was the title that my publishers finally settled on. I’ll be frank and admit that titles aren’t my strong suit. I’m definitely one of those people who, if could say something succinctly, I probably would have been a poet or a song writer, but no, it takes me tens of thousands of words to get the point across.

The original title of the book was just “Chimera,” and that was in reference to the fact that a combined arms combat squad utilizing conventional weapons, magic and digital attacks are referred to in the military jargon of the world as “Chimera units.” That, of course is a reference to the many headed mythical beast. That was just my way of indicating that the book itself, a mix of cyberpunk and magic, was similarly something with multiple body parts from other animals all retrofitted together.

What's in a name?

My naming conventions for characters tend to be a mix of names that just pop in there intuitively, and consulting phone books or baby name generators randomly. For The Chimera Code, Cloke’s name is not her actual street legal name, but one she gave herself. I actually got that name from an actor in Space: Above and Beyond named Kristen Cloke. I just really liked the sound of it, and when I tried it on for size on that character, it stuck.

Zee is a lab-engineered hacker that was designed without a gender, so they eventually decided on the name “Zee” since they’re neither XX, or XY, but something else entirely. So that was just a way to claim an identity that was still pretty declarative of who that person is.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

I think my teenage self would have mixed feelings of surprise. There would be the positive surprise of finding out that older me had written a book that younger me could enjoy, with explosions, cyberpunk settings, magic, and some meandering world building that never stops and lectures you.

But my teenage self would also be surprised in a negative way. At that time in my life, I had some expectation that I would let go of the childish things in my fiction writing, and eventually write something of literary significance. The kind of thing that critics would praise as having depth and profundity. Instead I wrote something fun, that I personally enjoyed, and teenage me would have expected more than that.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Between the two, I think endings are probably a bit harder. I tend to “discovery write,” meaning that I start the book with only a few fixed plot points in mind, and let the characters figure out the rest for themselves. The end is not always one of those fixed points, but the beginning usually is. I haven’t written any books with major changes to the beginning although the endings have sometimes gotten tweaked along the way.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

The one thing I tend to share with most of my characters is snark. To people I’m close to, they all know I can get pretty sarcastic, and enjoy snappy repartee, and that’s something that will usually surface in at least one character. Often multiple, in different flavors of snark. Otherwise, they’re usually their own people.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Plenty of non-literary influences! The biggest ones are video games, anime and movies. I freely crib from a lot of other forms of entertainment in the hopes that people unfamiliar with one type will think I’m brilliantly original and not just stealing from a type of entertainment they have no interest in.
Visit Wayne Santos's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Chimera Code.

My Book, The Movie: The Chimera Code.

--Marshal Zeringue