Saturday, December 6, 2014
Interview with Ronel Van Tonder, author of COMPILE: QUEST
Danes: First, thanks for joining us today. Where did the idea for your novel come from?
My stories always begin as a single scene in my head. This story began with a futuristic dome (that piece, at least, remained), and gargantuan, mutated creatures attacking it, trying to get in. They didn’t survive the first casting.
I then work out the why’s behind the scene. Where did the creatures come from? Who built the dome? Why is the sky that awful shade of orange? Are those drones flying overhead or some twisted hybrid of machine and bird? More and more questions arrive until eventually the ghost of a story unfolds.
What led to this scene was the documentary: The Venus Project by Jacques Fresco. His work played a huge part in the construction and organization of the domed cities of future earth. His theory runs along the line that, without money, the world can operate in a resource-based economy, where resources are distributed as and when needed. I know he’s not fond of the term “Utopia”, but I feel it’s an accurate description of the paradise we could achieve.
Of course, every story needs conflict. So I researched various government structures, conspiracy theories and failed regimes to form the two distinct halves of future earth.
Danes: How did you start writing?
I can’t actually remember. I know it happened when I was primary school (which is equivalent to your elementary school). I wrote lots of poems and then worked my way up to short stories. Back then everything I wrote was heavily steeped in science-fiction, since I was a complete X-Files fangirl. Then I started reading King, Koontz, Herbert and Masterton, which inevitably brought more human monstrosities to my writing. And more blood. Then I took a hiatus of about five years when I didn’t pen a single word. Don’t ask me why. It just happened. Then the idea for this latest work came and hit me between the eye like a sledgehammer, and I’ve completely worn away the “E” “S” and “N” on my keyboard since then.
Danes: What does your writing process look like?
I explained a little of the start of it earlier, but there’s always more. Once a plot starts to develop, I start taking notes and save it somewhere safe until I’m ready to work on it. Eventually when I’m ready to write, I use the Snowflake method, described below.
It states that you start with a single sentence synopsis of your work. Which was nearly impossible, but I eventually got it right.
This sentence is then split into two sentences. Then four. Then eight. Like mitosis. Except, each piece is different, not identical.
Eventually you have your book split into about four acts, with about a paragraph for each act. You then write out the scenes you can envision each act needs.
When that’s done, you take a break and start work on your characters. Inevitably, you go back to your scenes and start adding/subtracting/dividing by zero etcetera.
What you’re left with, after a week or two’s labour is a highly detailed skeleton of your work. Then all that’s left is sitting down with a really big cup of coffee/tea/insert warm beverage here, a pair of adult diapers, and thrashing your keyboard until all your letters rub off.
It worked for me, and I’m using it for the second book as we speak, but it might not work for anyone. One thing I can say, I never had writer’s block. Not once. If I wasn’t in the mood to write a particular scene I could pick any random scene from the same chapter and just work on that one, because I already knew exactly what would happen.
Danes: Where is your book set?
South Africa, highveld region (Johannesburg/Pretoria). The year 2311. May.
Danes: Are your characters based on real people?
Nope. Not all. There’s absolutely no correlation between the ‘benevolent’ SUN corporation and anything going on today. Not at all. And I’m not a terrorist. Or a conspiracy theorist. Just putting that out there.
Danes: Did you always want to write?
Yes. More today than I ever did in the past. I think my only regret would be all those times I didn’t write, when I could have been writing. Because now I don’t have enough time to write, and it irks me.
Danes: Which character is your favorite and why?
It’s a toss-up between Jasper and Jinx. It’s also weird that both their names start with J, but we’ll just call that coincidence and move swiftly along.
I like Jasper because he’s such a befuddled old man, and his love for his wife is such a deep, yearning kind of love that I get sad whenever I’m writing his chapters.
Jinx I like because she’s got spunk. All cliché’s aside, she’s someone who tries so hard to be strong all the time, but has all these inner demons to contend with. She’s also spectacularly good at getting herself entrenched in various layers of crap, which makes writing her pieces tons of fun.
Danes: What authors do you enjoy reading? Why?
King – Because if there’s someone who knows how to create characters that breathe, eat and… die, then it’s him.
Pratchett – I’m such a fan. His world-building, his character-unleashing, his plots. *sigh* Such a fan.
Jordan – His Wheel of Time series had me this close to doing an entire 3D movie based on his books. For which I would have been sued, no doubt, but it would have been worth it. Luckily this book came to save me from sure imprisonment and a few years in Guantanamo for copyright infringement.
Danes: What are you reading right now?
A Bright Power Rising by Noel Coughlan. It’s a fantasy with an impressive culture and society. I’m only halfway through, but enjoying it immensely.
Danes: What’s next for you?
Ha ha – not sleep, that’s for sure. I sometimes (only briefly) wonder if it wouldn’t have been better if I’d never started writing again. Because I’m running low on sleep. And time. And years left in my life.
I am attempting to complete (in this lifetime or the next), the following:
- Book 2 & 3 of the Corrupted SUN Script
- Children of the Night – A hard sci-fi novel
- A WIP without a name (or at least, not a name I’d be willing to publish in this interview) – A comedy/YA sci-fi series
- Zealot – A horror
- Pretty Dead Things – A horror
- Hellborn – A paranormal series with elements of horror and dark comedy
- Good Boy – Don’t know what genre this will eventually be labelled as, but I’m thinking general fiction? It’s about a dog. That can talk. Please don’t laugh. Really, stop laughing. It might be good.
You might actually… okay, you’re still laughing. *sigh*
There are others, but these are at the top of the list for now. I’m also planning on editing some of my earlier short stories into an anthology just for the hell of it. Hey, I enjoyed writing every grisly moment of them, why not share? I might resurrect some of my unfinished stories, but with the list above, they can definitely wait.
Danes: On that note, thanks for stopping by my blog.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak to you and your fans. I’m a new indie author, so I definitely need the exposure. I want to mention that if anyone has any questions for me, would like any freebies or just want to say hi, you can head over to my website and leave me a message or a comment.
In the year 2036, solar storms batter Earth crippling electrical infrastructures across the globe. Night falls and the ensuing pandemonium claims millions of lives, catapulting the world into chaos. In the midst of this global turmoil a hero emerges. The altruistic SUN Council intercedes, constructing enormous domes on each continent to protect the world?s population from the radioactive CME?s of the incessant solar storms.
But not everyone makes it to the domes. In an attempt to survive the deadly radiation, hundreds of thousands of people dig into the earth, living in squalor under an oppressive military dictatorship. How centuries later, the final stage of the SUN Council?s plan to decimate the world?s population approaches. But as victory glimmers on the horizon, two women from discordant halves of this new world start to unravel the conspiracy.
Ronel is a brand-spanking new indie author. She loves creating fantastical worlds set in the future, the mythical, and the horrific. Translate: She writes science-fiction, fantasy and horror novels.
Her life story is not particularly fascinating, but her love of technology, PC games and writing is. Beside writing, she spends her time slaying rendered baddies in the form of robots, gangsters and aliens - with any weapon that happens to be at hand.
Ronel has published her first science-fiction book, Compile: Quest. She's currently hard at work creating the second book in the Corrupted SUN Script trilogy. When she's not writing, she's gaming, and when she's not gaming she's either sleeping or eating, as these are prerequisites for a continued life on planet Earth.
truth = (trust/ignorance) * propoganda
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