Today I am interviewing Nicole Galland, co-author of the new speculative-fiction, time-travel novel, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.
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DJ: Hey Nicole! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourselves?
Nicole Galland: Hi there. I’m mostly a writer of historical fiction, generally medieval and Renaissance (I’m a Shakespeare nerd). But I’m not good about “branding” myself, since I’ve also written a contemporary romantic comedy, and I write a tongue-in-cheek advice column for the Martha’s Vineyard Times (my hometown paper). Also, my background is in theatre (did I mention I’m a Shakespeare nerd).
DJ: What is The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O about?
Nicole: It’s about 740 pages. ;-P It’s about a top-secret government agency that figures out how to use magic for strategic purposes. Because Neal Stephenson is involved, there is (of course) a hard-science explanation for how magic works. Also, time travel.
DJ: Actually, where did the idea for yourself and Neal to co-author this book from? Have you done this before or had you two been joking around with the idea and finally decide to give a go for real?
Nicole: With five other writers, we worked together on a series called The Mongoliad. It started out with the six of them – all guys – and a female friend pointed out that it could use a female touch. Neal knew my historical fiction and asked me to join in since it was my general era (medieval Europe). As that project was wrapping up, he had the idea – I think the premise came to him all in a flash – for what is now The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., and he asked me to collaborate again, just the two of us this time.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them? (aka What makes them compelling?)
Nicole: At the heart of it is Melisande Stokes and Tristan Lyons, both in their late 20s, who meet nearly in the first sentence of the book. Mel is a lecturer in Classical and Ancient Linguistics at Harvard and Tristan… well, Tristan has a military background and is currently working for what he calls a “shadowy government agency.” There’s also an elderly couple, physicist Dr. Frank Oda and his wife Rebecca East-Oda.
DJ: What is the world and for the The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O like?
Nicole: It’s set in this world, our world, as we know it.… however, it is not so much this universe as this multiverse. More specifically, the contemporary part is set mostly in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
DJ: I am a big fan of time-travel stories, and I have noticed that there basically two types of stories: those that focus heavy on science and go in-depth into the mechanics and technology behind it; and those that use it a plot piece/tool that is major to the story or used to enhance the story. Which of these does the The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O series fall into?
Nicole: There’s a very short section early on that goes heavy into the science and technology (for the edification of the many geeks who will want their fix). And the technology never goes away, but it’s never the focus or point of the story.
DJ: And outside of time-travel, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O has magic too! Can you talk about that as well, please?
Nicole: Magic and time travel are related. It’s hard to talk about the magic out of context (one of the witches in the book says something like, trying to describe magic to a non-witch is like trying to explain to a blind person what the color blue smells like). A couple of things I can say are that (a) it is a very specific thing, with rules that are internally consistent and (b) because Neal Stephenson is involved, there is a scientific explanation for magic.
DJ: One thing that has fascinated me is how a book is written by multiple authors. By this, I am referring to the actual process of outlining the story, writing it, and then editing it.
Do you each do your own outline for the whole story? Then look over each others sections/chapters and compare to see how the story fits?
Nicole: When Neal came to me with this idea, he had a broad sense of how it should all be laid out, and he had the first segment (the working title was “the Ragtag Segment”) pretty specifically planned. We fleshed out the overall outline together, and then I started to write the opening. There was mostly intuitive shifting of material back and forth between us; there wasn’t a rule or protocol that we followed. We knew what had to happen next and most of the time, either common sense, or our schedules, dictated who did what to get it there.
DJ: Then, how do you break up who writes what? And I’ve also read that some authors who co-write books will edit each other’s chapters, too.
Nicole: I think I answered this above, to the degree that I can. Every section of the book has both of our fingerprints on it, but some are more obviously Neal’s fingerprints and some are more obviously mine. I don’t think there was a single modus operandi that we applied all the way through, in terms of process.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O?
Nicole: I loved so many things about it. Top three probably being: (1) Creating the voices of the narrators, especially Mel and Grainne. I want to write Grainne her own one-woman play. (2) writing in historical periods that I love, and that I either know well or wanted an excuse to get to know well. It was like a tapas feast of historical fiction. (3) Collaborating, especially with somebody I have such respect and regard for. With a theatre background, I love collaboration, it’s what I miss most in my identity as “professional writer.” Novelists rarely collaborate on projects, so that was a real treat.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Nicole: “Will there be a sequel?” 😉
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O that you can share with us?
Nicole: There are some great zingers in this book, but most of them fall into the categories of either “spoiler” or “won’t make any sense out of context.”
DJ: Now that The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O is released, what is next for you?
Nicole: I’m nearing the end of another book, but it’s not something I can talk about yet.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you? :
Goodreads: Nicole Galland
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of both of your days to answer my questions!
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*** The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. is published by William Morrow and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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From bestselling author Neal Stephenson and critically acclaimed novelist Nicole Galland comes a captivating and complex near-future thriller combining history, science, magic, mystery, intrigue, and adventure that questions the very foundations of the modern world.
When Melisande Stokes, an expert in linguistics and languages, accidently meets military intelligence operator Tristan Lyons in a hallway at Harvard University, it is the beginning of a chain of events that will alter their lives and human history itself. The young man from a shadowy government entity approaches Mel, a low-level faculty member, with an incredible offer. The only condition: she must sign a nondisclosure agreement in return for the rather large sum of money.
Tristan needs Mel to translate some very old documents, which, if authentic, are earth-shattering. They prove that magic actually existed and was practiced for centuries. But the arrival of the scientific revolution and the Age of Enlightenment weakened its power and endangered its practitioners. Magic stopped working altogether in 1851, at the time of the Great Exhibition at London’s Crystal Palace—the world’s fair celebrating the rise of industrial technology and commerce. Something about the modern world “jams” the “frequencies” used by magic, and it’s up to Tristan to find out why.
And so the Department of Diachronic Operations—D.O.D.O. —gets cracking on its real mission: to develop a device that can bring magic back, and send Diachronic Operatives back in time to keep it alive . . . and meddle with a little history at the same time. But while Tristan and his expanding operation master the science and build the technology, they overlook the mercurial—and treacherous—nature of the human heart.
Written with the genius, complexity, and innovation that characterize all of Neal Stephenson’s work and steeped with the down-to-earth warmth and humor of Nicole Galland’s storytelling style, this exciting and vividly realized work of science fiction will make you believe in the impossible, and take you to places—and times—beyond imagining.
Nicole Galland is the author of the contemporary comic novel Stepdog, as well as five works of historical fiction: I, Iago; The Fool’s Tale; Godiva; Revenge of the Rose; and Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade. She is also co-author (with Neal Stephenson et al) of the “alternative history” trilogy The Mongoliad. Nicole grew up on Martha’s Vineyard, where she now writes a cheeky etiquette column for the MV Times, and is co-founder of Shakespeare for the Masses, a project that irreverently makes the Bard accessible to the Bardophobics of the world. She is married to actor Billy Meleady and owns Leuco, one of the seven great dogs of the world.