Today, I'm interviewing Steven Gepp, the author who contributed Extinction to "The Temporal Element." Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Steven.
GEPP: No problems.
MTI: To start, why not tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
GEPP: Okay, to start with I’m an Australian. Yeah, okay, I’ll wait for the inevitable “That’s not a knife” and “Shrimp on the barbie” jokes. [*Pause*] All done? Good. I’ve been writing for over 20 years, but it’s only been in the past three that what we shall hesitatingly call my ‘career’ has started to take off, with more than 20 short stories published, and my first novel(la). I’ve got 2 university degrees and heaps of other qualifications, have worked every job you could think of, including scientist, teacher, professional wrestler, and performance acrobat, but now work as a house-husband. I hope that’s enough.
MTI: An excellent introduction. Getting right to the heart of the matter, what first compelled you to start writing fiction, and what's your favourite type of story to write?
GEPP: According to my mother, before I could write I was dictating stories to her, so I think it was a strange desire to just tell stories from a very young age. I tend to write in speculative fiction. It’s so much easier writing in a world where the rules don’t matter. Having said that, my comedy is also getting more and more noticed, so there is that as well. But as to what is my favourite type of story to write—a story where the idea to the page comes easily. If the story’s there and wants to come out, then I’ll enjoy writing it.
MTI: If you could name the one author who has most influenced or inspired you, who would it be?
GEPP: Oh dear, a loaded question. My first half-dozen rejection letters all said the same thing—Stephen King pastiche. So he was clearly an early influence. But nowadays I think it’s the pulp fiction writers of the early 20th century—Robert E. Howard, HP Lovecraft, H. Rider Haggard, that mob. I think I write pure pulp fiction—I was just born 100 years too late.
MTI: Yes, I've sometimes felt that way, myself.
The Temporal Element is a Martinus Publishing anthology devoted entirely to time travel adventures. These fictional accounts are fascinating, of course, but do you ever believe that humanity will discover a viable way to travel backwards and forwards through time?
GEPP: Not as such. Forward, through near-light travel (where the speed of the traveller is slowed in comparison to the world he left behind), but you ain’t coming back. Ditto with cryogenic technology. But backwards? I seriously doubt it. Still, as a writer, it’s fun to imagine ‘what if.’
MTI: Regardless of whether it's probable or even possible, if you were given the chance to visit any point in history, when would you visit?
GEPP: The 1960s. I would love to be there for the second rise of rock’n’roll through the Beatles, and into the hippy era. Apart from that, there’s places I’d like to see, but not visit; I don’t think I would feel comfortable with my current attitudes to life, the universe and everything in any of those other time periods (unless I could be a king, despot, or overlord, of course—then all bets are off and I’m ruling Italy during the Renaissance.)
MTI: Thinking forward now, what piece of futuristic technology would you like to own, or have for your personal use today?
GEPP: Thought computers. It’d beat typing. I think. Just thinking about it, the way my mind wanders, it’d be like: “And then the monster reared its head, its huge mouth opening and wow, what did I just see on TV? That is insane! Why would anyone do that? Eating the poor girl as she lay on the beach.” Hmm, this needs some work.
MTI: Let's get back to your writing. Can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
GEPP: A novel (my 30th). I’ve been commissioned to write 2 short stories for 2 anthologies, and so they’re on their way. I’m also editing two previous novels at the request of editors. But, judging by my past experiences, this will only result in another pair of rejections.
MTI: Maybe not; you shouldn't be too pessimistic, though I certainly know where you're coming from. Now, other than the appearance of Extinction in The Temporal Element, do you have any other stories slated for publication in the near future?
GEPP: I have 5 waiting in the backlogs of Static Movement Press, 2 waiting at Wicked East Press, 2 more at Cruentus Libri Press, one at Emby Press, and one here in Australia. That’s a rarity, as I tend not to sell in Australia. Australian editors, in general, don’t seem to like my style. But, again, maybe the fact I can sell in the USA and UK indicates that I write more in the style that is acceptable to those markets.
MTI: From your bio, you've had a lot of different jobs over the years. What was your favorite? Which did you like the least? Are there any humorous anecdotes you feel like sharing?
GEPP: Favourite is hard. Performance acrobat is probably right up there, and I did enjoy a fair bit of my teaching experience. Worst is easy—working at a service station where everything the customer does wrong is your fault.
MTI: On the lighter side, what sort of television programs do you like to watch, if any?
GEPP: Not too many. Mythbusters, the occasional documentary, a lot of news parody shows (Jon Stewart, Mock The Week, Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell… that sort of thing), a few Australian shows, Midsomer Murders. I tend to like older shows: Monty Python, The Goodies, Q (Spike Milligan), b&w Twilight Zone. I think my tastes might be slightly eclectic.
MTI: What music do you like?
GEPP: Again, eclectic. I love classic rock, from The Beatles through Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Angels (Australian version), Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, early Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton. Lots. I enjoy prog rock. I like a lot of classical, even opera, and have a fondness for operetta, especially Gilbert & Sullivan. Not a big fan of country and western, but there are some songs and artists I enjoy. I have everything released that I can get my hands on by Queen, David Bowie, Meatloaf, Mike Oldfield, Weird Al Yankovic, The Beatles, and The Who. I have all of Beethoven’s symphonies, but my favourite is Rachmaninov’s 3rd. I dislike hip hop, modern r&b, most rap and nearly every pop star created/found by a reality TV or Glee-like TV show. Sorry.
MTI: Sounds like our music tastes wouldn't clash much at all. Good stuff. Now, as we're getting near the end of the interview, so is there anything special you'd like to say to your fellow writers, or to potential readers?
GEPP: In this day and age of modern technology and short attention spans, reading is more important than ever. We need people to keep the faith, to keep on reading and keep on writing for others to keep on reading. We are the rear-guard of an epic battle. It is up to us—readers and writers—to ensure that the lines are not broken. Once more into the breach, dear friends!
MTI: I'm sure everyone is eager to check out your work at this point. Before we go, do you have a few paragraphs of a story you'd like to share, maybe something new that nobody else has seen before?
(Excerpt from Extinction)
The large feet crashed across the barren ground, leaving in its wake enormous footprints embedded in the dirt. Slowly but surely, the mammoth beast lurched its way across the plain of dust, wandering from one coniferous forest to the next, across the path cut centuries before by the lava that had flowed from a distant mountain. Still active, the volcano occasionally rumbled to let the world know it was still there, but that meant nothing to the huge beast that made its way forward. Sated after a recent kill, it was now guided by a second instinct, one which over-rode everything else in its primitive brain - the sex drive.
Somewhere in its male mind, the five-tonne beast knew that it had to go forward to the next part of the forest in order to find a mate. The bellowing sounds it had heard on the wind indicated that there was another of its kind in a receptive mood somewhere within the forest. And its instincts told it very strongly that it was important that this female be found.
MIT: Well, thank you, Mr. Gepp, for that insightful interview. Readers who want the rest of Extinction can order The Temporal Element. Now, onward and upwards!