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Interview with Renato Clarete Tranquilino

He is a Filipino-Australian IT guy currently living and working in Manila with his wife and their baby. He grew up for most of his adult life in Sydney and spent 8 years working in New York. He loves to travel, when he can, with his family and experiences the wonders of any country outside the Philippines.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I did quite a few acting gigs as an extra in commercials and TV series in Sydney. I did this to pay for the textbooks I needed for my computer science degree course of 4 years. I was cast as either a Mexican or Japanese character.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
I have just finished my first sci-fi novella, Fate of a Distant Future, so I will be heavily promoting that this year. In addition, I am planning to launch the 2nd edition of my urban fantasy novel, The Merovingian, also towards the beginning of 2021. Then, at the same time, I will attempt to write two books simultaneously. One will be the sequel to the Merovingian, and the other will be a space opera that follows on from Fate of a Distant Future.

Q.3 What inspired you to write Fate of a Distant Future?
I’ve been a fan of sci-fi since I was a kid. I think that was my Uncle Julio’s influence. He took me to watch Star Wars in 1977, and I guess it started from then.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A lot of my female characters are based on real people. Their mannerisms, attitude, even looks are often based on real people. I don’t have the imagination to make up a unique female character. That’s how I get around the difficulty of inventing a female character from scratch.

Q.5 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
Since I have also been a filmmaker, I tend to see the entire book as a movie, with a beginning, middle, and end. Plots are often based on real-life events just projected 4000 years into the future. I then start to fill out the players based on that real-life event that I am referencing.

Q.6 What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write your story the way you want to see it on the big screen. Never think that your story is not good enough according to your test readers, but rather, finish it and then try to sell it. You’ll be amazed how many people in the world can relate to your story.

Q.7 How do you see the future of science fiction literature? Will sci-fi maintains its independence or intertwines with other literary genres?
The future of Sci-fi lit will always be bright. You’ve seen how many times “Dune” has been remade. You can also see how the Starwars franchise just keeps evolving, even without George Lucas. Hence, this class of literature will just keep going due to human fascination with how we would evolve as a species in the future.

As far as the evolution of the literature itself, we already see things like the sci-fi quasi-psycho-thriller Matrix, where the “future” kinda takes a back seat, and the real action takes place in what we know as the “present-day.” You also have the likes of Edge of Tomorrow, which is like a violent “Ground Hog Day” of Bill Murray. We are also beginning to see the rise of Asian sci-fi authors like Liu Cixin and Keith Sicat, so we will soon see flavors of sci-fi that will feel so different till you realize they are based on the nuances of living in, say, China or the Philippines. I think, since we are still trying to claw out of the pandemic, sci-fi will merge more with social drama and history genres that will portray a cycle like the pandemic.

Q.8 To what extent can science fiction effect or improve the developments in science and technology in human life? Is it right to say that science fiction can change what human life looks like in the future?
Sci-Fi challenges the way we think. It challenges us to visualize how good we can make our future to be. It makes us want to do better than where we are today. It is without a doubt that sci-fi assures us that human life will be different in the future, just like how we now carry the computational power of cell phones in our pocket which used to be housed in approximately three standard sizes boardrooms in the 1960s.

Q.9 In many science fictions stories, the existence of God is denied. Could we call science fiction an atheist literary genre?
Too blanket a statement. I think Sci-Fi predicts that religion will become more open and somewhat steps back, as science leads the way for the betterment of the human quality of life. The religious openness will happen as we explore and discover wonders in deep space that we could only dream of. Religion may become a simplistic way to teach our future moral codes to children.

Q.10 What do you think are the main reasons for the popularity of science fiction? To what extent has the film industry helped in popularizing the genre?
All humans dream of a better life. Sci-Fi fans dream of how technically wonderful and feasible that future will be. The film industry showed the world the dream in all its technical wonders and pitfalls.

Q.11 Ray Bradbury considers sci-fi as “the important literature in the history of the world because it’s the history of ideas and the history of our civilization birthing itself.” Do you agree with him, as many sci-fi stories do, indeed, depict disaster?
Yes, that pretty much sounds right. You can also look at disasters as part of growing up and understanding the environment you are in. Take the colonization of the moon as an example. Any colony set up in the moon can’t be all smooth-sailing all year round. However, despite the hardship, it will be the main launchpad for any future space expeditions due to the ease that you can launch ships from its surface.

Q.12 Science fiction has a long history. Which era do you consider the most effective period in the whole history of the genre?
Without a doubt, the space race in the 60s and early 70s bore the most fruit for all of us. It was a time that showed us that we could go beyond earth’s dominion and into deep space. It opened up many minds to the possibility of an exciting tomorrow, a means to discover another earth.

Q.13 What’s your writing schedule while you’re working?
9 to 5 work, 5 pm to brain collapse - write. Breaks in between for family time and eating. Sundays off - usually (laundry day).

Q.14 Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
I don’t think I have enough income yet to develop quirky habits during my writing phases other than staring blankly in space at times and being told off by the wife for being absent-minded.

Q.15 Who designed your book cover? How do you select him/her?
For my first urban fantasy book, my wife suggested a minimalist design, and for the sci-fi novella I just did, I came up with the cover. Then for the amazon ebook cover, I just chose from the styles and asked my wife which she preferred.

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
Quite boringly. Since my characters are based on real people, I just often use the person’s first name and just make up the 2nd. At times it’s kinda random. One of the character’s names in the novella is based on T’challa’s name, Marvel’s black panther.

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
All reviews are good. Even the bad ones. You take the bad ones with clear explanations and use that to improve your writing skills and storyline. You can discard the whiny, hurtful nonsensical ones - those are draining.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
A. Elon Musk
. He is crazy enough to make things happen. When we are all dreaming of going to Mars, he’s already making moves to get there and beyond.

Q.19 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
A. Legacy of Heorot
by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes - it’s to do with respecting the balance of nature. FootFall by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle - triumph against great adversity. I also liked Ender’s Game by Orson Scot Card - using games to train military minds.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
As a self-publishing writer in search of an international publisher, the work is frustrating but I am always hopeful that some publisher will take an interest in my work. In that sense, I guess JK Rowlings and Gene Roddenberry are my idols.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks heaps AJ, I really enjoyed answering your questions. More power to Books Charming!