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Today's author is Stephen Oram, author of Quantum Confessions. He has kindly agreed to an interview and giveaway with us here at Confessions of a Bookaholic!
Like each and every one of us, my perspective of the world has been affected by many people and experiences: as a teenager I was heavily influenced by the ethos of punk; in my early twenties I embraced the squatter scene and then joined a religious cult, briefly; I did some computer stuff in what became London’s silicon roundabout; and I’m now a civil servant with a gentle attraction to anarchism. I really enjoy taking a sideways look at our world and thinking, “what if,” and then writing about it through speculative, usually dystopian, fiction.
I live in Fitzrovia, London and my debut novel, Quantum Confessions, was published by SilverWood Books in August 2014.
I also write Living in your dystopia, which is the online diary of a visitor to our universe who is trying to decide whether we’re worth saving or not.
See his full bio on Goodreads
Hi Stephen! Thank you for agreeing to be spotlighted on Confessions of a Bookaholic.
My first question is the one you probably expect from all interviewers, tell us about Quantum Confessions!
I’m fascinated by the concept of trust and that’s what Quantum Confessions is about. It’s the story of Aled and Grey and what happens to them in a world where all trust is destroyed. I’m often struck by how much we choose to trust as we go about our everyday lives; society doesn’t descend into chaos mainly because we trust its structures – family, police and so on. Things tend to go wrong when people can’t talk to each other, either because they’re so entrenched or so wishy washy it’s impossible to have any meaningful conversations. Aled and Grey live in a world on the verge of collapse - he’s an absolutist and she’s a liberalist. And when you bring quantum physics and multiple realities into the mix, things start to get really interesting.
You say that you write a lot of contemporary dystopian fiction, what does that entail?
I use the phrase contemporary dystopian fiction as shorthand for stories based in a recognisable near-future that’s gone bad. It’s fiction that takes a sideways look and asks what if?
I often base the story a few years into the future so I can have some fun with technology and politics but keep it plausible. I start by imagining how our world might go wrong. I tend to mull it over for quite a while, trying to see it from a fresh perspective. Then I focus in on a couple of things that seem weird and weave them into my imaginary world – that’s the sideways look. The inhabitants of the story then grow out of the things I imagine about people I meet as I’m mulling things over and once I’ve got a good sense of the main characters I start to work on the story. For example, in my next novel Fluence I started wondering what it would be like if government was run by corporations and if social media popularity was used rather than money to determine your place in society. Throw in an aspirational young woman and a struggling older man and the story’s born.
Where did your interest in dystopian fiction stem from?
I’m not sure, but I find it great fun and exceedingly cathartic. Something about it resonates deep inside of me, whether it’s classics such as Orwell’s 1984 or the more recent Charlie Brooker TV series, Black Mirror. I’m a big fan of being slightly out of sync with my surroundings which I think many of us do by travelling to different cultures or by being tipsy during the day (neither of which I do that often by the way). Along with satire, it’s my preferred vehicle for social comment.
What authors do you think have influenced you the most?
There’s a long list of authors who have influenced me. I’ve mentioned Orwell and Brooker already and when I was younger I was enthralled by the twisted worlds of Jeff Noon and Iain Banks. I’m also influenced by the great page turning stories of Minette Walters and the dark lyrics that come out of the On-U Sound music label.
What is the most helpful piece of writing advice you have ever received?
Use everyday language and cut out unnecessary words.
What advice would you give new writers that you wish you received back then?
It’s a marathon not a sprint. I read that loads of times after I’d written my first book, but it didn’t really sink in for ages. It’s hard to bring a novel into being and the sense of euphoria once you’ve completed it is amazing, but it’s only the beginning. Then you need to let people know it exists. That’s hard work and takes longer than writing the book, unless you’re already well known and people are queuing to get their hands on it. The flip side and just as important, even though I sometimes forget, is to enjoy the experience and to keep reminding yourself that you’re writing a novel, you’re writing a novel, you’re writing a novel – how brilliant is that!
Tell us about ‘Living in your dystopia’.
You’ve probably realised by now that I’m a great fan of the short intense burst that triggers a shift in the way we view things. That’s why I love writing flash fiction. Living in your dystopia is a collection of short observations by a visitor to our universe. It has the intense burst but with some dry dark humour thrown in every now and again. I published it on my blog because I wanted to give readers a chance to sample my work for free; here’s one to whet the appetite: you smell, which is a shame because I like you.
In your works so far, who would you say is the most interesting character you have created and why?
Grey is the most interesting because she’s a strong woman – intelligent and driven and yet vulnerable at the same time. I know that could sound as if she’s a bit of a stereotype so let me explain. She’s brought up by two powerful role models - her mum and her aunt. She’s a scientist and yet she believes in a supreme consciousness. On the downside, she can be arrogant and she’s rubbish at relationships. Here’s how she describes herself… These two powerful women were shaping me, helping me form my own wonderful uniqueness of two strong and sometime opposing sides to my personality. A side that thrives on detail and gets totally engrossed and a side that is wildly imaginative…
What should we look forward to from you in the future?
More and more and more! Fluence comes out in June this year and I’ll keep writing the flash fiction and the little teaser thoughts called what if? I’ve started thinking about the sequel to Fluence, but there’s nothing written down yet so it’s very early days. If any of this sounds interesting to your readers, they can sign up for more news and stuff at my website - www.stephenoram.net
Finally, I read that you are British (like me!). Do you think your place of birth influenced your writing in any way? In a world that is really quite dominated by American authors it would be interesting to hear about that.
I think being British has a huge influence on me, but then I’ve never been anything else so it’s a bit of a guess. Britain is a country that’s very sure of itself in some ways and very lost in others. I’m sure the confusion in our psyche between the fading muscle of an ex-empire and the desire to be a quirky creative nation does some strange things to us. In terms of how it influenced my writing it’s hard to say, but I do love the gritty slice of life of Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and Jimmy Govern as they lovingly open up their stories by letting normal characters react to abnormal circumstances. I think Britain, especially London, is a fantastic place, but don’t get me wrong there are plenty of others - New York and Marrakesh being two of them.
Is there any bonus info you want my readers at Confessions of a Bookaholic to know?
I really appreciate honest reviews and I’d love more; my new website allows comments on each piece of flash fiction and it’d be great to hear your readers’ views.
There’s a few signed copies of Quantum Confessions still available from my publisher SilverWood Books here.
And, I’d like to say a huge thank you to you for interviewing me and giving me the chance to spread the word about my work.
Visit Stephen's Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
About Quantum Confessions:
"A veritable head trip; yet rooted in a believable and sometimes visceral near-future.”
Grey is a high performing student with attitude. Aled is torn between his morals and his desires. They live in a world where those who believe in absolute truth are on a collision course with those who don’t. Society is becoming dangerously polarized and despite a thread of history that binds Aled and Grey together they take opposite sides in the conflict; Grey is recruited by The Project and Aled is given custody of The Proof of Existence.
Against the backdrop of a failing society and experiments to find the link between quantum physics and a supreme being, the real question that unfolds is...
"Who chooses your reality?”
As I said before, Stephen kindly agreed to a giveaway which is below - please leave a comment after you enter with your opinion on this post!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I hope you enjoyed learning more about Stephen and Quantum Confessions, don't forget to enter the giveaway to be in for a chance to win! If you are an author and want to be spotlighted drop me an email. Don't forget to share my spotlight posts wherever you can, it's really important to support the lesser known author community! Also if you want to be included in my scheme then you need it to be popular enough for you to have maximum publicity!
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