Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing a fellow speculative fiction author, a native of Greece named Konstantine Paradias. Some of you may remember that he interviewed me for his blog Shapescapes earlier this year, before the release of Capes & Clockwork, an anthology from Dark Oak Press that features a story from each of us. In addition writing fiction, Konstantine is an essayist and professional jeweler. He’s also a helluva nice guy who makes for an enjoyable interview subject. But I’ll let you be the final judge of that.
How long have you been writing fiction? And what genre(s) do you prefer?
If you want to be specific, I started writing fiction since I was eight years old, scribbling the adventures of Sir Kittenchild, the richest kitten in the world. I used to jot down ideas for his adventures when I was bored in class and then play out those ideas with my brother. The stories might not have been stellar, but we got Kitten child under constant threat of assassination by ninjas, turned into a cyborg, got him to built a town made out of gold and then blow it up because he realized he’d have to let people live in it. Looking back, I think that the genre I was working with could be called absurdist fiction, but I grew out of it when I was 13 and discovered the joys of science fiction through the works of Alfred Bester and H.G. Wells.
While I like science fiction, I prefer mine to be rubbery, but not too chewy. Space opera is the poison of my choice, with some of the greatest fiction works under its belt (including, but not limited to Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light which has been consistently blowing my mind even after the 12th read). While I love me some hard sf, I always find it very hard to find an author who can tread the line between establishing an outlandish technology with theoretical science and writing a good story. Greg Egan and Neal Stephenson belong to these chosen few.
When writing fiction, do you prefer short stories, novellas, or novels? Why?
I prefer short stories, as I always had a very poor attention span and found it very hard on writing longer form fiction back when I was young. My brain, unfortunately, tends to jump between ideas and starts bugging me constantly when I try to keep it in line. Shot stories allow me to build a world and tear it down if I choose in as few words as possible, presenting snippets of history from that Universe for the reader to go through.
I also prefer short stories because, to me, they have always felt like a writer’s ultimatum. Spinrad’s Carcinoma Angles always felt like a punch to the face and I have No Mouth And I must Scream felt to me (when I was 14 and clueless) like waking up from a nightmare only to find myself trapped in a fever dream. Furthermore, short stories allow for greater experimentation. Fredric Brown’s story Answer is the best AI-gone-bad story ever and it’s only 150 words long. Silverberg’s When The Legends came home is distilled awesome and Kadrey’s still life with apocalypse is a silent parade of horror set against a burning skyline.
What writer(s) has/have influenced your writing the most?
Well that’s a doozy. Let’s see: Michael Moorcock (because if it’s weird and awesome, it’s good for you), Chuck Pallanhiuk (like stepping into a freezer stacked to the top with nothing but jar full of human eyeballs in brine), Harlan Elisson (because the man is a typerwriter goblin that reverse-grants wishes), Maya Angelou (because I Rise is my favorite poem and I don’t even like poetry), Kurt Vonnegut (because cynicism ALWAYS works), Aldous Huxley (utopia sucks) and George Orwell (dystopia is pretty terrible, too), Ward Moore (because the end of the world is always good for a laugh) and Philip K. Dick (who is grimmer than gangrene and more bitter than arrow frog venom).
As a writer, are there common themes or tropes that you prefer to use in your work?
People tell me I always like to do this ‘fish out of water’ thing and how pretty much everyone in my stories is ‘always angry all the time’. I think this is a miscommunication, mostly on my part. See, I don’t really believe that being angry or eschewing responsibility solves anything. Going postal only serves to turn you into the butt of everyone’s jokes.
Whether it’s the end of the world or just the end of your own little bubble of reality, the only choise is to buckle down, get up on your feet and get your ass walking. I have always tried to make a point of this in my stories, especially when I deal with time travel. Anything that is even remotely a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card is anathema to me, when I write my stories. There is no magic sword that will kill the bad guy. Going back in time to make yourself rich will only make things worse for you. Machine immortality? Yeah right. R’Lyeh rises from the deep? Surprise, fart-face, deep one illegal immigrants!
Nothing can solve your problems for you. No-one can help you. You are alone against a cold and cruel and uncaring universe and the best you can hope for is for some good company everyonce in a while.
Where do you find inspiration for your writing, especially your Capes & Clockwork story?
You know, I have no idea. Used to be, I would say it was other peoples’ stories, until I started writing in earnest and those things lost their luster as they were buried under the muck and grime of everyday cynicism. I’d like to say it’s music, but that doesn’t help anymore. Electroswing sounds like diesel-powered rocketships and people wearing power armor built out of old Cadillac parts. Movies? Comic Books? I wouldn’t dare change an iota of anything that I like. People? Maybe. I guess they are crazy enough and weird and kind and mad and cruel and loving enough to fit the bill. All the weirdos (myself included) and the mad, we each have a story to tell, if only we could have the proper backdrop.
Beneath Familiar Suns was such a story. I decided tow rite it after discovering that Isaac Newton wasted his entire life trying to prove the existence of the substance known as phlogiston, when gravity (whicvh he considered a side project) was the thing that ensured his place in the scientific pantheon. I always thought what sort of world we would live in, if Newton’s phlogiston theory had come true. If one of the things we call the fundamental forces of the universe turned out to be considered new-age hogwash. And when I thought of what sort of world that would be, I made them fight.
Is there a work of fiction that you keep coming back to, one that you can read over and over again? If so, why?
From the top of my head, I can think of three books:
-The Elric Saga, bY Michael Moorcock which was the first fantasy book I ever read, before Lord Of the Rings and Harry Potter. As to why I go back to it? Well, do you know many books that tell the tale of a sickly albino elf-prince who uses an evil balck sword and melds with his past and future selves to save the Multiverse?
-Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. Bastards getting what’s coming to them, by virtue of cosmic meddling, topped with the bitter-sweetest ending I’ve read so far.
-Choke, by Chuck Pallanhiuk. The scamming adventures of a sex addict who thinks he could ever be loved so much, he would never need to be loved again. Also, time travel (in a fashion) and Jesus-clones. Or something. Just read the damn book.
When Capes & Clockwork was published, you interviewed me for Shapescapes, your blog located at the following URL: http://shapescapes.blogspot.com/2013/10/what-i-think-about-stuff-capes.html. What other content can visitors find on your website? Can any of your short fiction be found there? If not, where can they find it?
Well the blog is filled with articles on roleplaying, comic book reviews, the first pages of a webcomic that was not meant to be, the occasional rant about the state of pop culture and yes, some of my short stories, filed under ‘Fairy Tales From Far Away’. As for where you can find my stories. Fiction Vortex has published ‘Nth Chance’ and ‘The Vilkacis’; Black Denim Literary recently went online with ‘Crucible Invictus’; Aphelion Online still keeps a copy of ‘The Gears that Ground The Hearts of Children’ in an online back issue. You can find UnFortunate, on DarkFire publishing’s website and the list goes on and on. But for a full list, then just click Here (http://www.doyoubuzz.com/konstantine-paradias_1) and you can find my complete list of published short stories.
Besides Shapescapes, where can we find out more about you and your work online?
I am currently employed as a book reviewer for Albedo One, where I post some of my work. A number of my stories are available for free on other websites but my personal favorite is Chris Boyle’s audio rendition of my short story ‘Echoes in Porcelain’ on ep 33 of Bizarrocast.
But if you are looking for a flash fiction fix, then why not try the page that I am maintaining with a few other indie writers, titled Augmentations on Facebook? There you can get your weekly cyberpunk fix in 250 words or less, with an awesome bit of art by independent artists to seal the deal! https://www.facebook.com/Augmentations?fref=ts
As far as your own work goes, what are you working on currently?
At the moment, I am pitching a serial, trying to get a comic book going and trying my hand at a Young Adult novel. One is about a magical product reviewer in a world where science has discovered magic, the other is about serial killers trying to stop the world from ending and the third, about a young girl monster Hunter, struggling to live a normal life in the worst place in the world.
I don’t honestly know when these are going to be done, but I am guessing sometime within the year, before the advent of Tezcatlipoca’s wrath.
What will be coming out next for you? And where can we find it?
At the moment, my work has been published in the 2014 Science Fiction Writer’s Sampler, which is available on Amazon, free for a limited time. My essay on Battle Royale has been published by Haikasoru, in the BR SLAM BOOK and my short story ‘Oi, Robot!’ is coming out in Third FlatIron’s Master Minds anthology, all of which is available on Amazon.com
Thanks for sitting with me today and telling me a bit about you and your work, Konstantine. It’s been enlightening and quite entertaining. Hopefully, we’ve helped to connect you with more readers. Best of luck with your creative endeavors. Look forward to reading them.
You can click any of the cover images in this interview to find out where to buy Konstantine’s various works, and the Shapescapes banner should take you right to his blog.
You can find him on Facebook at the following URL: https://www.facebook.com/konstantine.paradias?fref=ts
Follow him on Twitter @KonstantineP