Interview with Ramon Rozas III

As promised, we are pleased to present you with another interview–this one from October’s most read author, Ramon Rozas III.

Mr. Rozas’ story “Security Question” referenced sci-fi author Ken MacLeod, author of The Execution Channel and the Engines of Light series. Mr. MacLeod’s editor picked up on the reference and e-mailed us to ask permission to re-post an excerpt on Orbit Books’ blog. The story’s popularity grew from there, garnering an estimated 2000 readers in under a month.

Interview with Ramon Rozas III

RR: I am thrilled to hear that my story, “Security Question”, was the most read story  in October, and I am flattered to be interviewed by Every Day Fiction.   I am very thankful that you accepted my story, and appreciate the opportunity to have all of your readers see my work.

EDF: What should people expect when they see a story with your byline under it?

RR: 75% of what I write is science fiction.   I love science fiction in most varieties (“hard”, space opera, cyberpunk, etc.) and that’s what I usually write.   My stories tend to be space opera-ish (if that’s a word), and I don’t usually write humorous stories–“Security Question” is a departure in that sense.   I also don’t write too much flash fiction; it is really hard!   Telling a story in under 1000 words is quite a chore.

EDF: “Security Question” name-checks Ken MacLeod, a prominent science fiction author.   What prompted you to use him in your story?

RR: I admire Mr. MacLeod’s work a great deal–it’s well-written and inventive, and has a strong sense of history, both of society and ideas.   That’s not something you often see in this genre.   His Fall Revolution series is a great sequence; in the second book, The Stone Canal, the protagonist is resurrected on New Mars and says something like “we made it to the ships!”   That phrase struck me as a summary of the appeal of technological immortality; our current mortal span is a disaster, a kind of stranding of our potential.   Our technology can rescue us from that (maybe).   Using that phrase, to me, captured the outlook of some far-distant transhuman.

EDF: Ridley Scott recently claimed that Science Fiction is “as dead as Westerns”.   Do you believe that there is still life left in the genre?

RR: If I remember that interview correctly, he was referencing SF films.   Certainly, the evidence there isn’t good!   However, written SF is in great shape. The Scottish Invasion (MacLeod, Stross and Banks) produces some great, deep literature and our home-grown stuff is pretty good, too.   My all-time favorite SF writer is Larry Niven and he is still putting out great work.   There are fads in the field, of course; right now everybody writes about the Singularity (I’m guilty, too).   However, the SF field as a whole is still producing inventive and thought-provoking work.

Two things threaten the field, in my humble opinion: in print, the same publishing trends which drive the industry are choking the novel market.   It seems the “curse of the trilogy” has spread from fantasy to SF, which can’t be good.   Hopefully the rise of internet publication will save SF from the economic collapse of print.

In the wider world, the dominance of technology and technological issues in our lives threaten to absorb SF into the broader field of literature.   It is hard to write a story about the issues facing humanity today and not make it be SF in some sense!

EDF: What has been your best moment as a writer so far? Your worst?

RR:My best moment was when I finished my novel, A Judgment of Their Own.   I printed that sucker out and held the whole thing in my hand and thought to myself–I wrote this!   And it’s pretty good!   Then I started revising it.

My worst–so far  –was a long dry spell of about fourteen months where I couldn’t sell anything.   I was still writing stories, but I couldn’t place them anywhere.   I really started to question myself and whether I was getting any better at writing.   Every time I checked the mail and got a return envelope, I dreaded opening it.   Every “ping” from my email program caused me to wince.   Then, finally, I got an acceptance and all was right with the world.   A lot of being a writer is simple persistence.

EDF: Your author bio is pretty sparse. Will you tell us a bit more about yourself? Where can our readers go if they’d like to see more of your work or find out about upcoming publications you may have?

RR: It was pretty sparse, wasn’t it?   Well, I’ve been reading SF for my entire life, and writing it, also. However, I really started getting serious about writing and submitting in 2001.   When I am not writing, I practice law here in West Virginia and in adjacent Maryland.   I practice in the criminal defense field (which gives me lots of good stories), and my wife, while very supportive of my writing, always pesters me to write a Grisham-ish legal thriller.   She says they sell very well.

I have been published in Aoife’s Kiss and Leading Edge Magazine, and my very first sale was a short story to Clash of Steel 2: Assassins, an excellent fantasy anthology put out by Carnifex Press.   You can buy the whole series direct from them, or from genremall (you can also buy back issues of Aoife’s Kiss there, too).

My next published piece will be my SF short story, “Camera Obscura,” which will be in the September 2008 issue of Aoife’s Kiss.   This will be my second appearance there, and I am grateful to Mr. Tyree Campbell, the editor, for accepting my work.

EDF: Where and when do you write? What music or other background noise do you prefer, or silence? And does the physical / background environment influence or affect your writing?

RR: I tend to write at night, because that’s when I have free time.   For a long time I would go into my office on Sundays and write there for several hours, because no one was there and there were no distractions. Unfortunately, I started to also do actual work, and now that has crowded out the writing.  Now I am writing in my basement in the evenings, after my daughter goes to sleep.

I prefer silence when I am writing, as music tends to distract me.   The one exception is that if I am writing an “action” or “fight” scene, a little punk music is helpful inspiration.   Because I like silence to write, I don’t think the environment influences my writing, but it would be interesting to do a controlled experiment on that!

EDF: What is next for you as a writer?

RR: I really need to jump into writing my next novel. I have two ideas that have been nagging me, and have started outlines for both.   They’re diametrically opposed, of course–one is a court-room drama set in a fantasy world, and the other is a space war story.

I also have notes for many more short stories, and need to make time to write them also.   Hopefully I’ll get to appear in Every Day Fiction again, too.

Thanks to everyone who read “Security Question”, and thanks to Every Day Fiction for giving me the chance to talk about my writing.

Every Day Fiction thanks Ramon Rozas III for the interview, and also thanks all the readers who read and commented on our stories throughout the month of October.

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Joseph Kaufman