Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Author Interview - David Colby

Today at Bibliognome I'm happy to present an interview with David Colby, author of Debris Dreams.  

Bibliognome: How did you come up with the idea for Debris Dreams?

David Colby: I had just finished Mockingjay, the third novel in The Hunger Games series and I loved it. In fact, I read the whole series in a single weekend on my iPod Touch, and I was so excited in my turning of the pages that I almost dropped the iTouch into the toilet while I was on the bed. This is easier than it sounds, as I was in a college dorm roughly the size of a closet at the time. Still, once I had finished the book, I was struck thinking something: "Why was District 11 still growing wheat?"

This is the kind of brain I've been cursed with. But still, it got me thinking about technology and how technology interacts with and informs a YA novel. So, I wanted to make a novel where I could throw teens into a world that isn't just explicable, but has equations behind it. Setting it in space was easy—thanks to the amazing website Atomic Rockets (, I could do all the math needed to make my setting as realistic as possible.

But a story can't just be science. So I took what was on my mind at the time, while stuck in the aforementioned closet dorm, and wrote a story about the ups and downs of having a relationship that is primarily virtual. This was, like so many things I do, primarily motivated by pure spite: I was in a lot of classes where students would talk about how the internet was ripping families apart and how people never CONNECTED anymore. People who pretty much explicitly told me that all the relationships I had on the internet—friendly and romantic alike—were basically "not legit."

Hence why DD is about a relationship that is entirely virtual...hell, it's practically retro-virtual, as it uses primarily emails rather than instant messenger. I wanted to show the world that love doesn't care if it is in meatspace or cyberspace.

Also, it gave me a chance to push the Gay Agenda by writing a novel wherein the only monogamous, stable relationship is the gay one.

Bibliognome: Which character did you think was the easiest to write for and why?

David Colby: Jillian. I went, "Hey, what would I say if I was also an asshole?" Then I wrote that!

Bibliognome: Is Debris Dreams a standalone book or are you going to have more books set in this world?


And by that I mean I have a few vague plans, yes.

Bibliognome: What are you writing currently or percolating in your mind to write soon?

David Colby: I have two new books that I'm writing. The first, Aftershocks: 2,000,000 BCE is about a teenager born two million years in the past, the daughter of two members of a time-traveling military expedition from 1960s America to the ancient past. The expedition was sent into the past to recover alien artifacts (using an alien time machine that was recovered from the Baltic by a Nazi Submarine in 1943 and then stol...recovered by us in 1945). But when the expedition arrived in the past, they found themselves facing the guns and tanks of a group of extremely pissed-off Russians, Japanese and Germans from an alternate universe where the United States used alien technology to conquer the world. The two forces battled one another for a few years before finally singing a peace accord and settling down in the past. The story kicks off when the first new arrival from the future in ten years shows up: a dead man clutching a bizarre device iPod. Now, multiple timelines are converging and the aliens that we "borrowed" a time machine from...might be a bit cross with us.

The second, Worldshard, has lightsabers! And that's all I'm going to say about it.

Bibliognome: Which character in Debris Dreams  is your favorite?

David Colby: Shiva. You should keep your eye on Shiva...there's more than meets the eye there.

Bibliognome: What is your favorite space-related TV show or book?

David Colby: A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge. This. Is. The. Best. Book. Ever. Written. Its plot covers centuries and has almost a dozen main characters, yet retains a deeply personal and emotional core. It has hard science and an intricate, well-made future society, but remembers the heart of a story isn't the ramdrives: It is the man or woman, breaking themselves against the wheel of history so that humanity might know more than what it has before. It is about the redemptive power of love, raw destructive potential of unchecked authoritarianism. It has the single most CHILLING AND CREEPY mind-screw since the Borg, made all the worse by the inherent humanity of the monsters at play.

And, it has a single scene which...when I read this scene for the first time, way back in high school, I literally ROLLED OUT OF BED and went "YES! YES!" I fist-pumped for days after that scene. Because Qiwi Lin Lisolet is a badass.

You'll find out when you read the book.

Bibliognome: What author is a must buy for you/ do you enjoy reading the most?        

David Colby: I always have to buy the latest Ciaphas Cain books. They're written by Sandy Mitchel, and they're set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. They are formulaic, yes. But they are still amazing, and I never get tired of the basic premise: Ciaphas Cain is a Commissar. His singular duty is to shoot soldiers in the back if they look like they're about to run away from a fight. He is renowned throughout the galaxy for his heroism and bravery and selflessness. But, as revealed in the books, he's actually a self-serving coward who only wants to retire peacefully. But is he REALLY a coward, or does he just have a pathological self-hatred thing going on? It's great.

And, more than that, it's funny, well written, and has some of the INCREDIBLY FEW gay characters in the WH40K universe. And, amazingly, they don't die!

Bibliognome: I liked how realistic your writing about space is; did you do a lot of research or just imagine everything?

David Colby: Here's an excerpt from an email between me and my cover artist.
∂Q/∂t = Re * (5.67x10e-8) * Ra * Rt4

800 = Re * (5.67x10e-8) * Ra * Rt4

800=0.6 * (5.67x10e-8) * Ra * Rt4
800=0.6 * (5.67x10e-8) * Ra * 8004



0.0057 Meters Square

So, that comes out to about 0.5 CM square.

I might have added or lost a zero here and there, so round it out to about 1 CM.

So, read all that math? That was the math to determine the size of the radiator on the gun barrel on the cover of my book. Which is only visible if you put your face against the cover and squint REALLY HARD!

Bibliognome: What's the best part of the writing process for you?

David Colby: All of it.

Bibliognome: What word is your favorite to say or write?

David Colby: My conscious mind says the F-word. It's a fun word to say, very guttural and harsh. Fake swearing never managed to match the sheer pleasure of the F-bomb. My subconscious mind says "even as." That phrase pops up EVERYWHERE in my writing. Hence why, while editing, me and Kate will do a search and destroy on all the "even as"-es. Good riddance.

Bibliognome: If you had a gnome character, what would you name them?

David Colby: Gloria Fizzbits.

Bibliognome: Anything else that you would like to let people know?

David Colby: The future is far more futuristic than previously anticipated.

1.) spacer or earther?

2.) gravity or no gravity?
3.) laser or rifle?
Laser, those can actually be used as tools
4.) algae or spinach?
5.) pen or pencil?
6.) war or peace?
Peace. War is the single most destructive and pointless endeavor known to humanity. I hold nothing but contempt for the people who start wars...and nothing but respect for people who fight them. Unless they commit war crimes. Then screw them. Still, I hope that one day, the only wars will be in computer games and my books.

Thanks for the questions!

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