This interview with Aurelio O’Brien, the author of “Eve”, was first published in January 2007.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in California, and spent most of my childhood here. Post-childhood, I have lived in Taiwan and New York, and I hope to live in Paris for at least a year in the near future. It's hard to beat living in California though, and I feel very comfortable here.
What was it that first got you into writing and when did you start writing?
I consider myself a storyteller first and foremost, no matter what the medium. I was inventing fictional stories at a very early age. In the fourth grade I had my first paid publication deal for a short story. (I think I got $5 and it ran in a publication called FUN Magazine.) Professionally, I helped create many stories while working in the animated film industry; films are stories told primarily by using a visual language rather than a verbal one. My experiences there have favorably influenced my written fiction and I've been told by my readers that they can quite easily picture things in my work as they read about them.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I really favor clarity, and character driven stories. I enjoy people that write with very direct and honest styles. I think Stephen King is particularly gifted in achieving great character-driven stories and verbal clarity. I also like Armistead Maupin, and David Sedaris (who is his own main character.) As a child, I read a lot of C. S. Lewis, and he struck me as having a near-perfect style; he says a lot with very few words. I get impatient with books that carry an abundance of
description or rattle off information or lists--I start to get bored--so in my own writing, I try to keep my characters moving the story along, and my descriptions concise.
Where do you stand on the nature v. nurture debate? Were you born a writer, or were there factors in your environment that enabled you to become a writer?
I have no real opinion one way or the other. People are all so different, and what inspires one may not inspire another. I suppose the one opinion I do have here is there is that there is no singular path to the creative process.
There are a lot of courses teaching creative writing nowadays, but do you think that good writing can be taught?
Learning the craft of writing is vital, and it can definitely be learned; it will not provide you with stories to tell but it will give you the proper tools with which to tell them well. As with any creative field, the better facility you have with "the basics" the more liberties you can take with them, the more you can push the literary boundaries, ultimately the more fun you can have as a writer.
Have you entered writing competitions? If so, have you won any prizes?
I entered my first novel, EVE, in a few of the bigger book award competitions. It didn't win anything, but I was not surprised. I found it to be a good way to get my book read (hey, several judges were required to read my book!) and because EVE doesn't fit snugly into any particular genre, I knew it was a long shot for any of these awards. I think it's always worth trying if it will get your book read by established folks in the literary community.
Do you have any short stories or poems published online? (If so, please provide the URLs):
I have a short story entitled, "A Cure for the Uglies," in issue 6 of CTTA:
http://genspace.com/ctta/issue-6/tocframe.htm I will also have a short story out in an anthology published by Mundania Press in late 2007. The book is called Grim and Grimmer, and my story is entitled, "Agony & Ecstasy Jones."
What kind of things do you write?
I like to say I write "speculative satire" but that is a genre of my own invention, I'm afraid, so I usually settle for being lumped into the bigger "scifi" genre. I simply write funny ideas that occur to me.
I like humor. I like writing characters I observe in real life. I find real life pretty funny. I particularly enjoy the process when the characters begin to write themselves. The scifi part enters in because I like science and natural history, and was a child of the space race generation. I was raised drinking Tang™ and eating Space Food Sticks™ and when I was eleven I watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. My dad was an aerospace engineer too, so I got to hang around when he
worked on stuff for the Space Shuttle, and he'd bring home chunks of solid rocket fuel and weird rejected technology. I always thought that stuff was pretty cool, so I tend to imagine stories that include some of those elements of my childhood.
What, for you, is the best piece of prose that you have ever written?
LOL - You'll have to give me a few more years and a lot more published works to answer this one.
What are you working on now?
I keep piling up unpublished short stories as they come to me, but I am primarily focused on my next novel. I hope to have a readable manuscript some time this year. It's another piece that fits into my "speculative satire" genre.
What is your writing day like?
I get up in the early morning, pull my clothes on, grab a cup of coffee, and then I'm out to my office to write. I need it quiet and having a separate space to work in is ideal for me. I usually write until 10 or 11 am, then I eat a late breakfast and do other things the rest of the day. Sometimes I'll return to the desk in the afternoon to look over my morning's pages and/or continue to write. I try to write every day of the week.
Where would you like to be in 10 years time?
Right now I am right were I want to be, so if I'm in the same or a similar situation in ten years, I'll be happy. Maybe by then I'll be better able to answer your question #9.
What’s the most exciting thing about writing for you?
When I get completely engrossed in it and forget I'm writing. When I'm caught up in the story and become my own audience, eager to find out what's going to happen next.
What’s the most frustrating thing about writing for you?
My inability to type without looking at my fingers. I'm slow and never learned to type correctly.
What’s the best piece of feedback that you’ve had from your audience?
I love when people tell me of things they "discovered" in my writing that were intentional; when my work moves a reader to either feel something or think something beyond the words on the page. It's the kind of thing I feel transforms writing into literature.
Do you write for a particular audience, or is your first priority to satisfy your own creativity?
The process of writing satisfies me, and that part is selfish, but what I write is meant to communicate with everyone else. Otherwise, why bother to write it all down? I don't second-guess who will like my writing or not. I have to go in to it with the assumption that anyone and everyone will get what I'm trying to share.
Do you have a homepage? If so, what’s the URL?
Right now they both access the same EVE site, but as I have other books and such out, I'll be expanding the aurelioobrien one. I also have a page on MySpace: