As Martinus Publishing has some new contributing authors, I'll be conducting interviews to help promote their anthologies/works. Today, I'm interviewing Jeff Provine, an excellent author who contributed the short story Wild Blue to "Altered America." Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Jeff.
MTI: Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
JEFF PROVINE: I grew up a farm kid out in the wide, open spaces of Northwest Oklahoma. After graduating the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, I pursued writing in college, which was a big switch from the realm of numbers. Armed with a Master’s, I’ve been out adventuring in the world, teaching as a Composition professor, backpacking, and spending days on end hunched at my desk.
MTI: Now, getting down to business; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?
JP: We had to entertain ourselves out in the country, so I took to making games and writing stories early on. There’s nothing quite like asking “what if” and seeing how far it can go. Whole worlds can grow up to reveal themselves simply on taking a seed of an idea. That being said, speculative fiction is definitely my favorite, whether Fantasy, Sci-fi, Magical Realism, or what-have-you.
MTI: Tell me, if you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?
JP: If I had to pick just one, I would probably say Mark Twain. He had such a great range of fiction and nonfiction, and always had that wit about him. Countless other authors are great inspirations for their many strengths, but Twain just seemed to have it all.
MTI: Your story, Wild Blue, appears in Altered America, an anthology of alternate histories. The fictional accounts in this collection let us imagine what it would be like if something had happened differently at different points in history. Tell us a little about how your story changes history.
JP: The story came from a marriage of posts I wrote on my blog, This Day in Alternate History, where I take an important event on a date in history and twist it around a bit. The idea of hot-air balloons goes way, way back; for example, to 1709 when a Brazilian monk impressed the King of Portugal with a flying paper balloon and a candle. With a century head-start on ballooning, we could see a world where the colonization of the West happens very differently. Freight carried by balloon wouldn’t need the expense of railroads, though it would make for a long trip.
MTI: If you could go back in time and try to change any one historical event (aside from killing Hitler/stopping WWII—almost everybody tries that), which would you choose?
JP: A lot of folks quickly pipe up with stopping the burning of the Library at Alexandria at various points in history, but I would have to go with 9/11. I wouldn’t want to tamper with history too far and find myself not born, and that would save a lot of modern lives. Plus, we wouldn’t have those weird body scanners at the airport.
MTI: Conversely, name a historical event that you would never want to see changed/would go back in time to stop somebody from changing it.
JP: The discovery of Penicillin was a pretty good one. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without modern antibiotics.
MTI: Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
JP: Right now I’ve got a Steampunk story set in a world where Aaron Burr’s Bastrop colony set up a state called Gloriana. It’s packed with intrigue, a little alchemy, and a whole lot of airships and jetpacks.
MTI: Other than Wild Blue, appearing in Altered America, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?
JP: This summer I have a short piece in the Grayhaven alternate history comic book anthology about Nikola Tesla. I’ll also have some previously released novels back in both print and online: the space-faring steampunk Celestial Voyages and a Young Adult SF Dawn on the Infinity, about a girl kidnapped by an inter-dimensional crew of vampires, robots, fairies, but doppelgangers, but nothing is quite as it seems.
MTI: Sounds intriguing. On a lighter note, have you watched any good television lately?
JP: A lot, yes. Probably more than I should have. And then lately I’ve been delving online to the cartoon Bravest Warriors from the creator of Adventure Time.
MTI: What sort of music do you enjoy?
JP: I’ve been on a big techno kick recently, which seems to come and go as my favorite genre. I like the beats and complex warbles.
MTI: What are three of your favorite movies?
JP: Princess Bride, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Josie & The Pussycats
MTI: You have the attention of potential readers? In conclusion, do you happen to have any words of wisdom to share with them?
JP: Recently I’ve been saying “If it were important, we would have remembered.” It puts things in perspective, almost spookily so.
MTI: Definitely words to ponder. Thank you, Jeff, for that fine interview. It was most enlightening. Those who would like to check out Wild Blue can check out Altered America. Now, here’s hoping Jeff forgives me for actually giving his main character a name...