Today I'm interviewing Edmund Wells, the exceptional author who contributed both The Light Fantastic and AMR-17 to "The Temporal Element." Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Mr. Wells.
WELLS: My pleasure. I’d prefer if, however, you addressed me as Lord Wells.
MTI: Let's get right down to business, Lord Wells. Your writing is both entertaining and skillfully crafted, often incorporating elements of humor into the mix. Tell us a little about your writing process. What compels you to write the sort of fiction you do, and what's your favorite type of story to write?
WELLS: Thank you, Martinus. I like to write stories that are fun to read and humorous, primarily adventure stories that mix elements of sci-fi and fantasy. Once I’ve dreamed up an interesting premise, I try to conjure a satisfying ending—preferably where something explodes. Then, after a cold shower, I work at reverse-engineering the ending so it somehow meets back up with the premise, and voila! A story is born. This is done partly to keep my plot on course and partly to avoid painting myself into a corner.
MTI: If you had to pick the one author who has influenced or inspired you the most, who would it be?
WELLS: Without question, Douglas Adams—the genius who so brilliantly merged comedy with science fiction. He also has a wonderful way with words. I’ve re-read The Hitchhiker’s trilogy numerous times, and it never fails to make me snort milk from my nostrils. And, should a spaceship ever arrive in my vicinity, I have my hitchhiker’s towel handy to flag it down (the same one I use to wipe up the milk).
MTI: Yes, I'd like to note that Douglas Adams' work on Doctor Who is highly underrated, in my opinion.
As you know, The Temporal Element is an anthology devoted entirely to time travel adventures. These fictional accounts are fascinating, of course, but do you believe that humanity will ever discover a viable way to travel backward and forward through time?
WELLS: If 100 years ago you’d asked whether I believed humans on different continents would one day chat through tiny metal boxes, and about nothing very important, I’d have set my donkey after you. More advanced brains than mine seem to think time travel is possible, so my donkey and I are cautiously optimistic.
MTI: Whether probable or not, if you could go back to any point in history, Lord Wells, when would you visit?
WELLS: History was never my best subject in school. Was there ever a time when near-sighted, portly men were revered for their ability to lounge about in loose pants and flirt with scantily-clad women? That point in history.
MTI: Looking forward, what futuristic piece of technology would you like to own or have for your personal use?
WELLS: My own personal holodeck, as popularized on Star Trek, TNG. Or an X-wing fighter.
MTI: Another vote for the holodeck. Back to the topic of your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
WELLS: I’m working on a comedic sci-fi adventure featuring my jewel-thieving Aussie space ranger, Logan Bishop, and his quirky robot pals. I’ve gotten positive feedback on a few Logan stories, and decided to develop them into a novel. Reverse engineering, actually, since I know how I want it to end—the rest is just piffling detail.
MTI: You hold the unique distinction, Lord Wells, of being the only author with two stories in The Temporal Element. Tell our readers a little bit about their origins, and how they came to be included in the collection.
WELLS: As silly as my writing often is, I believe in classical themes—irony, tragedy, man’s struggle against fate. The Light Fantastic is an ironic twist on the tale of Adam and Eve, and in terms of literature nothing is more “classic” than The Bible. In AMR-17, I wanted to show how, despite our best intentions and struggles to the contrary, one cannot skirt one’s destiny—even with a clever bit of time-shifting and access to a smug weather computer.
Each of these stories was produced in the span of a week during a grueling writing contest called a “shootout.” Since you, Martinus, so valiantly hosted these shootouts, indirectly inspiring these two stories, I felt it only fitting they should appear in your first Anthology. Should your readers dislike them, only you are to blame.
MTI: What, readers dislike your stories? Impossible! Other than the pair of stories that'll be featured in The Temporal Element, do you have any other stories planned for publication in the near future?
WELLS: In a weak moment, I wrote a serious piece titled “Oasis,” set in a futuristic “old west.” It went on to be one of six stories chosen for publication in Fantasy Faction’s upcoming anthology, alongside a collection of professional writers. It’s slated to come out sometime in mid-2013, or so they tell me. Otherwise, I have several shorts that are quietly looking for a home: One Man’s Hel, A Fistful of Cybernetics, The Riddle of Elders, The Oracle and When the Cow Breaks – each of them a bit silly.
MTI: Ah, yes, I remember reading all of those. Good stuff. As busy as you are, your lordship, it may be hard to find free time. However, when you have the chance, what sort of TV programs do you enjoy, if any?
WELLS: I don’t watch much television, but do make time for The Big Bang Theory, Southpark and The Walking Dead, the latter of which is atypical for me. I prefer to quietly wend my way through old TV series such as the various Star Trek spin-offs, Frasier, Battlestar Galactica (2004), Twilight Zone and Seinfeld, to name a few.
MTI: A fine selection. I have all the Star Trek spin-offs and all 11 seasons of Frasier on DVD, just FYI. So, what sort of music do you prefer?
WELLS: I’m a big fan of classic rock—Beatles, Zeppelin, Queen, Bowie, Elton—but am also a product of the 80’s, so love artists like Stevie Nicks, Heart, Pat Benatar, Weird Al and Talking Heads. I also enjoy classical music (Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Bach), which helps me to focus my thoughts.
MTI: Do you have any words of wisdom to share with your reading audience, perhaps something to spark their interest in your fiction?
WELLS: Words of wisdom? From a guy who thinks Weird Al was a genius and “Werewolves of London” the pinnacle of 80’s pop? In school I was often dubbed a “wise guy,” but not of the Confucius sort. My fiction tends to include a lot of silly humor, plays on words, extended puns, and surprise endings. If you enjoy light-hearted fantasy or sci-fi adventures, where things are apt to explode, and uncommonly pretty girls are not uncommon, then you’ll probably like my stories, wise or otherwise.
MTI: As we bring this interview to a close, is it possible to get a glimpse at something you've written recently? Lord Wells, our readers would love a free sample!
WELLS: Happy to. Here’s an excerpt from “The Light of Venus”:
Logan clenched his teeth, fighting nausea from the carbon dioxide vapors permeating the ship. He'd always known Yuri didn't like him—the feeling was mutual—but he never expected the bloke to resort to sabotage. Or murder.
“That's not following the plan we'd agreed to, mate.”
“Oh, but my plan is so much more interesting,” Yuri said, eyes twinkling from behind his energy shield. He held Logan’s blaster, pointed straight at him. “I will claim your ship as compensation for the damage done to my ship, with a promise to Vladmira to carry on your legacy of thievery and espionage.”
This bloke is off his trolley. Sweat trickled down Logan’s aching back. “It's not thievery. It's the redistribution of wealth. I thought you of all people would appreciate that.” Had he switched the blaster's settings to fire forward? Even if he had, the blaster wouldn't breach Yuri's shield. The gloating bastard had out-maneuvered him this time.
“Checkmate, eh comrade?” Logan's vision blurred, his breathing labored from lack of oxygen. “I never much cared for chess.”
Yuri shrugged, slipping the gemstone into a pouch. “The Czarina will soon forget your tragic death in light of my recovery of the gem. I will, of course, take every opportunity to console her.” He smiled unpleasantly.
Logan tried to keep his voice casual. “Bloody clever of you, Yuri.” He had only one chance, slim as it was. “But you're forgetting one important thing.”
Yuri frowned. “And what is that?”
“To smile and say cheese.” Logan released a flash from his cybernetic lenses and dove for Yuri's legs. A crackling bolt of blue-green energy lashed from the pistol, singing Logan's hair as his Akubra hat flew off in a fiery arc.
Damn him! Yuri went down, cursing. The blaster clattered across the floor.
Logan leaped up, struggling to maintain his balance. He grabbed the pry-bar from his tool pouch. His cybernetic weapons wouldn't pierce Yuri's shield, but there were other ways to skin a dingo.
Yuri climbed to his feet, crouched in his pro-wrestler stance, and rushed forward like an enraged bull on steroids.
Caught off balance, Logan found himself trapped in the Russian's powerful grasp. Grunting, Yuri half-shoved and half-carried Logan toward the humming trash compactor.
Bugger! Logan had picked up a few of his own wrestling moves over the years, mostly in pubs and at family gatherings. All the best moves, however, involved the use of his arms.
Yuri slammed Logan against one of the trash compartments, his arms still squeezed to his sides. In a moment, Yuri would lift Logan, shove him inside, then hit the “on” button and “hoo roo” Logan. He'd rather suffocate than have his head crushed, though neither option held much appeal.
Lungs aching, blood rushing in a red haze through his temples, Logan realized he was nearing the end of his tether. He did something he'd never done before, at least not around the sheilas.
Logan went limp.
Yuri's grip slackened; in that moment, Logan whipped around and snapped his head forward, smashing his forehead into the Russian's nose with a satisfying crunch.
Yuri cried out, staggering backward.
Beauty! Moving with the grace of an enraged drunk, Logan lunged, stabbing his pry-bar into the silver nodule on Yuri's belt—the power source for his shield. A sizzle jolted Logan's hand, and the pry-bar clattered to the floor.
Logan's vision swirled in a dream-like state. He raised his eyes to Yuri and fired a laser blast from his lenses ... but nothing happened. He tried again ... nothing. Bloody battery! Heart racing, Logan reached for his blaster—.
“What the...?” Logan blinked, carbon dioxide burning his throat and lungs.
Yuri stood a few paces back, pointing Logan's blaster at him. Blood ran from Yuri's nose, staining his fancy coat.
“Mate ... maaaate.” Logan wiped a hand down his sweat-drenched face. His breathing came in painful gasps. Had he changed the gun’s setting to fire forward? He usually did once he had possession of the weapon, but with the C02 clouding his mind, he wasn’t sure.
“Why don't we ... call it a day, Yuri? I'll buy us ... a slab of longnecks, and we can thumb wrestle instead. What do you say?” Logan peered over his lenses. It was hard to kill a bloke in cold blood, especially staring him in the eyes.
Yuri, colder than a Siberian Popsicle at Yuletide, just sneered. “I think I will rename your ship Yuri's Revenge. What do you think?”
Logan sighed. Well, he’d given it his best. It was in fate's hands now. “I knew you couldn't beat me ... in a fair fight, you ... ratbag. Bugger off.” Logan grinned.
Yuri raised an eyebrow. “Goodbye, Mr. Bishop.”
A bolt of blue-green energy erupted from Logan's blaster, tearing a neat hole through Yuri's chest. The Russian fell over, extremely dead.
That blaster was the best purchase he'd ever made.
MTI: That was certainly a tempting sample! Thank you for that. Those who wish to read more of Edmund's work can pick up a copy of The Temporal Element.