Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Author Interview: Carolyn M. Chang

Today, I'm interviewing Carolyn M. Chang, the talented writer who contributed Back In Time to "The Temporal Element."  Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Carolyn.

MTI:  Let us start with some introductory material.  Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

CHANG:  Hi, Martin, thanks for the opportunity.  To start with, I’d like to clear up my ethnicity.   I’m of South Korean descent, not Chinese, which most people think after seeing my last name.  I was born and raised in the States and now live in Amsterdam, Netherlands with my Dutch husband and two small children.  I’ve been here around fifteen years already – geez does time fly!  Last place I lived in the States was New York City and before that primarily in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan.  Life for me revolves around family, work (full time job in evil banking sector), writing groups (I’m a member of one and lead another) and writing every free minute I have.

MTI:  So, what compelled you to start writing fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

CHANG:  About five years ago I was nearing a ‘burn out’ state with my overwhelmingly busy life—working stiff, wife, two young children, co-managing a household, etc.  I realized I desperately needed something for me.  Since I’ve always loved science fiction and fantasy (thanks to my dad who was a SF fan and took my sister and I to all the Star Trek and Star Wars movies way back when) I decided to give SF writing a whirl.  It started with a few online writing classes and it just took off from there.  I joined a local critique group in Amsterdam and then started another.  Writing has opened up a whole new part of my life and it has supplied me with so much energy and happiness.  I realise this all may sound really dorky but it’s the truth.

As for genre, I stick to soft science fiction and dark fantasy.  I tend to gravitate towards characters facing prejudice or judgment of some kind—people who just don’t quite fit in for whatever reason.  I imagine this most likely is some kind of sublimation of my own childhood experiences growing up as the only Asian in an all-Caucasian school and facing regular incidents of prejudice during most of my youth. 

MTI:  If you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

CHANG:  If it has to be one then I suppose I’d have to say Alfred Bester who wrote some of the all-time classics in science fiction, which include a couple of my faves – The Stars My Destination and The Demolition Man.  Both are awesome stories with great characters. 

MTI:  As you know, 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?

CHANG:  Definitely!  I only hope that I’m alive when it happens.

MTI:  If you were given the chance to visit any point in history, when would you visit?

CHANG:  Everyone seems to want to go to the past but I want to go to the future, say 1000 years from now.  If you look backwards to 1013 and compare it to today, it’s alien worlds both ways.  I’d love to see how it is in 3013.  Maybe they’d let me stay!

MTI:  Or they might put you in a museum as an artifact.  Anyway, thinking forward, what piece of futuristic technology would you like to own, or have for your personal use?

CHANG:  In my first unpublished novel manuscript I invented hardware that was surgically implanted into your brain and spine so that you could call up a virtual screen anywhere, anytime with no external hardware.  I would love this because it’s so friggin’ tiring dealing with mobile phones, laptops, desktop PCs, network connections, etc.  It’d be wonderful to be free of all that baggage and have by voice or thought command a virtual screen popping up in an instant.

MTI:  Let's get back to your writing.  Can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

CHANG:  I’m about a third of the way through my second novel, working title ‘Fish,’ the genre being dark fantasy with science fictional elements.  Fish involves two main religious cults, one that worships the goddess of the moon and another other that worships the Chengu (merpeople.)  Note, these are not Disney-type mermaids and merman; they can be extremely vicious.  Fish is set in a dark, dystopian fantasy world and the protagonist is a less-than-perfect woman who is leader of her family line (yes, a matriarchal society!) 

MTI:  Other than the appearance of Back in Time in The Temporal Element, do you have any other stories slated for publication in the near future?

CHANG:  I’ve completed a manuscript for a YA science fiction novel, which I’m trying to get published.  Another short story, ‘Smilers,’ will appear in Seventh Star Press’ Perfect Flaw anthology this coming June.  I’m also excited about another anthology my local writing group here in Amsterdam will be launching in May: ‘Alien Sex.’  Yep, you heard it right, Alien Sex.  It’ll be offered in print and digital formats.

MTI:  The title alone ought to bring in some sales.  You are very supportive of fellow writers.  Tell us about some of the things you do to aid in their advancement, and what had led you be so helpful.

CHANG:  Thanks!  I do my best.  I strongly believe in the good karma associated by helping other writers and it makes me happy doing this too.  Facebook is becoming a nice tool here.  Take our public Facebook page, ‘Amsterdam Writing Group,’ which we set up to help local writers find each other, promote themselves and spread the word about local writing events.  

MTI:  On the lighter side, what sort of television programs do you watch these days, if any?

CHANG:  I don’t watch too much TV but the shows I’ve enjoyed include: The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire, Homeland, Mad Men and the Game of Thrones series.  Oh, and The Voice of Holland!  For some reason I found that to be the only Dutch TV show I liked.

MTI:  Everybody's watching The Walking Dead!  What sort of music do you prefer?  Any bands we should know about?

CHANG:  I used to be more of a gaming geek but now I only play when it allows me to get in some exercise.  XBOX Kinect is great for this thanks to the awesome Dance Central game.  I kid you not, I really play this game seriously and I’m pretty darn good!  As a result of playing this popular dance game, I love the popular music on it like Ne-Yo, Usher, Nicky Minaj, David Guetta, among others.  But I also enjoy classical music, one of my faves being Murray Perahia performing anything of Bach.

MTI:  Nearing the end of our interview, is there anything special you'd like to say to your fellow writers, or to potential readers?

CHANG:  No one will make you write so don’t make excuses, just write and write and write.  And I hope it brings you as much happiness as it has for me. 

As for my potential readers, I do hope you have fun reading my story and find yourself escaping into an interesting world.

MTI:  Well, thank you, Carolyn, for a great interview.  Those who want to read her short story, Back in Time, can pick up a copy of The Temporal Element.

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