How did “Hereafter” start for you? Was there a particular image that drew you to capture it?
“Hereafter” was my first sojourn into fiction, after a long, exclusive love affair with poetry. I was writing a piece for Synchronic—an anthology of speculative fiction put together by David Gatewood—when I first met Cpl. Caitlyn McAdams.
She was a character in the story I’d outlined, about a platoon fighting a war in another place, another time. Somewhere in the middle of the telling, she stopped everything, turned to me, and said: Listen. I have another story for you.
Now, experience has told me that when a character wants to tell her story, you listen. What Cpl. McAdams told me, over several breathless weeks, was a story about time travel—but it was really about distance and longing, about separation and faith, and whether in the end, love is truly enough.
When you write a story, or a poem, is there a time in the process where you select the medium, or is that choice a little more automatic?
I select the medium right at the outset. Short stories and poetry have their own idioms, and how you tell the story really depends on the medium you choose.
Never Let Me Go, originally a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, works wonderfully as a novel or a film. However, although the story they tell is the same, the complexity of emotions imparted depends very much on the whether the medium is film or the written word.
In the same way, poetry, with its metaphorical conciseness, presents a very different way of storytelling from the short story.
What do you think it is that draws us to read and write stories about love that is negotiated?
What an amazing question. If you think about it, you might say that all love is negotiated—even love that looks natural and unconditional, like the love between a mother and baby.
However, storytelling is in essence about conflict and the resolution of conflict. That means that a love story becomes more interesting when that conflict is more overt—thus the allure of books about negotiated love.
You’re an accomplished writer in a variety of mediums; do you have a favourite? What medium do you find the most challenging?
The challenges are different. I love poetry, and the raw power it has—but the ability of poetry, especially written poetry, to reach a large audience is very limited.
What’s next for you, Samuel Peralta?
You may not know that I’m the creator of The Future Chronicles, a series of themed short story anthologies that has run to twelve collections so far—A.I. Chronicles, Alien Chronicles, Immortality Chronicles, Galaxy Chronicles, Time Travel Chronicles, and so on. I’ve been amazed to see that each title has gone on, in turn, to become the #1 anthology in science fiction or fantasy in all of Amazon.
I have twelve more titles planned for 2016, and over 100 writers are readying or already writing stories for these, all the way from The Illustrated Robot, to Chronicle Worlds: Half Way Home, to The Mars Chronicles. I like to think it’s part of what I call the new Silver Age of speculative fiction.
In the middle of all that, I’m going to be working hard on finishing my first novel—and perhaps more poetry.
Spread the word!