Author Interview: Kelly Robson

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Today I am interviewing Kelly Robson, author of the new Science Fiction novella, Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach.

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DJ: Hi Kelly! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Kelly Robson: I grew up in Alberta, and lived in Vancouver for 22 years before moving to Toronto in 2013. Though I’ve been a writer all my life, I only started publishing fiction in 2015. And I owe it all to Toronto! It’s such a great city, with a terrific creative community.

DJ: What is Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach about?

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Kelly: In 2267, to avoid the effects of ecological turmoil, most humans live underground in highly managed, dense urban habitats humanity. My main character Minh is a member of the generation first began re-colonizing the Earth’s surface and rehabilitating ecosystems. She’s an ecological scientist, and she’s angry because the work she’s dedicated her life to has been stalled by the invention of time travel. The banks simply aren’t interested in funding long-term projects any more. So when she gets the chance to time-travel to 2000 BCE to do a past state assessment on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, she jumps at the chance not only to do exciting work, but to have the chance to expose the shadowy think tank that controls time travel technology.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach?

Kelly: Connie Willis’ time travel stories and books, definitely — “Fire Watch,” Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout, and All Clear. Connie is a huge influence on my writing. Like Connie, I’m not interested in paradoxes, so I’ve designed my time travel to exclude that possibility. Basically, mine is time travel without consequences. Very powerful, but not of much practical use. I figure there’s enough drama to be had simply by time travel being possible! But unlike Connie Willis, I’m very interested in the economic consequences of time travel.

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? 

Kelly: Minh is an 83 year-old fluvial geomorphologist (a scientist who studies rivers). When she was a small child, she fell victim to a roundworm epidemic and her legs had to be amputated. She uses six octopus-type prostheses, and she loves them — “Everyone should have six legs,” she says.

Hamid is Minh’s best friend, an equally old gay veterinarian who is very small in stature — he’s a little person — but big in personality. He’s passionate about biodiversity, and likes animals better than people — especially horses. People from Minh and Hamid’s generation are called Plague Babies.

The third character is Kiki, a 23 year-old research assistant from the generation known as the Fat Babies. They’ve grown up with artificial immune systems and high tech medical innovations, and have never known what it is to be sick. Kiki is enthusiastic and energetic, and all she wants is the opportunity to do important work.

DJ: What is the world and setting of Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach like? 

Kelly: In my head, I call my setting “Professional Services World.” It’s post-ecological-disaster but it’s not a dystopia. It’s a post-scarcity world. Nobody starves, and everyone has their basic needs met, but it’s not a utopia either. Humanity has reorganized itself into underground city states with the world economy based on the idea that the only thing of value is human time. This allows cities to trade expertise with each other. Another founding concept of this world is the idea that people all have different needs when it comes to quality of life. The cities that can offer the most people the highest quality of life will be the most economically powerful. But not everyone likes the same things, so the world is very diverse. People can move freely from one city to another, following their idea of bliss.

DJ: This may have skipped some reader’s attention, but Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach is actually a novella. What is it about the novella format that you like? Do you feel there is a particular advantage to telling your story that way over the novel?

Kelly: A novella is an excellent length for Science Fiction — long enough for complex worldbuilding, but short enough to tell a punchy, compact, focused story. I love reading novellas!

DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach?

Kelly: I love my characters! Minh, Hamid, and Kiki became so precious to me. They’re some of my favorite people and I wish I could meet them in real life.

DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?

Kelly: I hope they’ll talk about the surprises in the story, and about the complex worldbuilding. I hope they’d love my characters like I do.

DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?

Kelly: One of my themes was the idea that humans lose a lot of potential by focusing on short term-goals. So much of what’s worthwhile in our lives takes a long time, and is far more complex than we know. Usually, if we think a problem is simple, that just means we don’t understand it very well.

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 Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach that you can share with us?

Kelly: “The past is another country; we want to colonize it.”

DJ: Now that Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach is released, what is next for you?

Kelly: I have two stories coming out this year: “What Gentle Women Dare” in Uncanny Magazine, and “Intervention” in Infinity’s End, an anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan.

DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kelly-Robson/e/B00Y56SGWY/
Blog: https://kellyrobson.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kelly.robson.7545
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13461530.Kelly_Robson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kellyoyo
Essays on writing at Clarkesworld: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/another_word_01_18/

DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach that we haven’t talked about yet?

Kelly: I believe in a Bright Green future, where the problems humanity has created can be mitigated or at least managed by green technology. I’m optimistic about the future and never give in to doom-and-gloom. I believe negative thinking becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Humanity will always have problems — some very dramatic ones — but I believe we go on to the stars.

DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!

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*** Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach is published by Tor.com and is available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Barnes & NobelGoodreads | Kobo

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C684CFF4-B43C-4A62-95FF-EF5051E1DD94About the Book:

Discover a shifting history of adventure as humanity clashes over whether to repair their ruined planet or luxuriate in a less tainted past.

In 2267, Earth has just begun to recover from worldwide ecological disasters. Minh is part of the generation that first moved back up to the surface of the Earth from the underground hells, to reclaim humanity’s ancestral habitat. She’s spent her entire life restoring river ecosystems, but lately the kind of long-term restoration projects Minh works on have been stalled due to the invention of time travel. When she gets the opportunity take a team to 2000 BC to survey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, she jumps at the chance to uncover the secrets of the shadowy think tank that controls time travel technology.


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About the Author:

In 2015, my first fiction publications appeared in major Science Fiction markets Clarkesworld, Tor.com, and Asimov’s Science Fiction, and in the anthologies New Canadian Noir, In the Shadow of the Towers, and License Expired.

I was a finalist for the 2017 Campbell Award for Best New Writer. In 2016, I was a finalist for the World Fantasy, Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, and Sunburst awards. My novella “Waters of Versailles” won the 2016 Aurora Award.

After years in Vancouver, my wife (fellow SF writer A.M. Dellamonica) and I now live in Toronto.


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