Today I am interviewing Ferrett Steinmetz, author of the new cyberpunk, romance novel, Automatic Reload.
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DJ: Hi Ferrett!! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Ferrett: The marketing department always refers to me as a “quirky” author, which means “I write books that don’t fit into easy categories.” My Flex series was about a magic caused by obsessions, where if you were truly devoted to your cats, you would become a magnificent felimancer – master of cat magic! Except you wouldn’t want to rule the world, you’d just want to take care of your ever-growing hoard of kittens.
Then I wrote The Sol Majestic, which is a space opera about a restaurant – there are no warships battling, just chefs trying to make soup for the most personal of reasons.
So my books are a little weird.
DJ: What is Automatic Reload about?
Ferrett: It is a cyberpunk romance. Think about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, except they’re both faster-than-human killing machines with PTSD and panic disorder, falling in love while they murder people.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Automatic Reload?
Ferrett: They say that all books are a conversation with each other. In this case, Automatic Reload is very specifically a word I’m having with K. C. Alexander.
Don’t worry, though. It’s a good word.
See, I read K. C. Alexander’s cyberpunk novel Necrotech, and in it they had a marvelously violent female cyborg who exuded a steady stream of don’t-give-a-fucks. And because K. C.’s prose is so sharp and evocative, I kept watching their heroine Riko and her artificial limb wake up in garbage-smeared alleyways and lice-filled jailbeds and all manner of disgusting places…
And while I loved following Riko around, I kept asking one question:
When does she field-strip and clean that damn thing?
I mean, Riko kept landing in slimy, gunky situations and her artificial limb never seized up. And while I was waiting for the scene where Riko had to spend the day oiling and tightening her neglected limb, I started imagining my own “maintenancepunk” novel where I had a guy who did some serious tuning.
So not only is Automatic Reload about cybernetic action, it’s about a realistic cybernetic firefight where you have to worry about degrading weapons loadouts and proper configuration files.
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?
Ferrett: The lead character is a guy named Mat, who’s haunted by his past, because he used to be a drone operator, where he got a child killed because he misread the satellite info.
So as a way of overcompensating, he replaced all four of his limbs to become an automated killing machine, with two watchwords:
- He’s no longer working for the US government, and:
- He will never ever let an innocent get killed on his watch.
So now he’s a mercenary, taking jobs because these limbs are expensive to maintain, and he’s configured his machine-fast limbs so they will never target an innocent.
Of course, when he takes a job with a black-ops mercenary core, and the job becomes helping to kidnap an innocent woman, well…. Mat gets a little conflicted.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role in the story? Why?
Ferrett: My favorite is Trish, simply because she’s Mat’s best friend – he doesn’t have a lot, thanks to his PTSD – and not only is she kick-ass, she does it all in style, wearing a dress, without all the usual implants and upgrades that help other mercenaries.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Automatic Reload like?
Ferrett: It’s what I call “Terminal capitalism” – where automated drivers have replaced truckers, where automated doctors with AI databanks have replaced physicians, where automated lawyers comb statutes. Essentially humanity’s been rendered almost obsolete, but of course the government doesn’t like the idea of spending money on people who aren’t working, so… things are dire.
There’s a reason Mat’s a merc. Suppressing riots is one of the only steady jobs available.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Automatic Reload?
Ferrett: Writing the cybercombat. As Mat will tell you – and he is both verbose and marvellously cynical – the idiots who think they have to pull a trigger manually are the ones who get themselves killed. Futuristic combat is more like a car crash – you set your presets for targeting, you put in your combat strategies, and it all happens so fast that you won’t ever know you died.
Making that into a tense and still engaging fiction took a lot of thought, but I think you’re gonna like it.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Ferrett: Realistically? I think the romance. This is, at its core, about two very broken people coming together to strengthen each other – both Silvia and Mat, the two leads, have very different mental illnesses, yet if they don’t find a way to work together the world is going to destroy them. That’s honest work – I have a lot of mental illnesses, and I tried to bring my relationships into this.
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 Automatic Reload that you can share with us?
Ferrett: This one’s for the programmers:
“Scotty never talks about how he checked Stack Overflow before he fixed the Enterprise, but he totally did.”
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/391cDCF
Author Newsletter: http://www.theferrett.com/newsletter/
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Automatic Reload that we haven’t talked about yet?
Ferrett: I know the world’s a little scary right now. But Automatic Reload, for all of the bullets and killings and whatnot, is still a very sweet and hopeful novel in the end. My commitment to the hopepunk genre continues.
If you need warm and fuzzy, once you wipe off the blood, you’ll get there. Promise.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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***Automatic Reload is published by TOR and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
Ferrett Steinmetz‘s quirky, genre-mashing cyberpunk romance Automatic Reload a high-octane adventure about a grizzled mercenary with machine gun arms who unexpectedly falls in love with a bio-engineered assassin
In the near-future, automation is king, and Mat is the top mercenary working the black market. He’s your solider’s solider, with military-grade weapons instead of arms…and a haunted past that keeps him awake at night. On a mission that promises the biggest score of his life, he discovers that the top secret shipment he’s been sent to guard is not a package, but a person: Silvia.
Silvia is genetically-altered to be the deadliest woman on the planet–her only weakness is her panic disorder. When Mat decides to free her, both of them become targets of the most powerful shadow organization in the world. They go on the lam, determined to stop a sinister plot to create more super assassins like Silvia. Between bloody gunfights, rampant car chases and drone attacks, Mat and Silvia team up to survive…and unexpectedly realize their messed up brain-chemistry cannot overpower their very real chemistry.
FERRETT STEINMETZ is a graduate of both the Clarion Writers’ Workshop and Viable Paradise. He was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2012 for his novelette Sauerkraut Station, and for the Compton Crook Award in 2015. He is the author of The Sol Majestic for Tor Books, as well as the ‘Mancer trilogy and The Uploaded. He has written for Asimov’s Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Ferret lives in Cleveland with his very clever wife, a small black dog of indeterminate origin, and a friendly ghost.