Today is release day for The Kassa Gambit. And in honor of this début book (which is so very exciting) we have an interview with its author M.C. Planck.
With its great cover, The Kassa Gambit is a 288 page science fiction novel with ecological themes. There’s more information on it below.
Let’s welcome this new author and get on with his short interview.
Congratulations on your first book M.C.. Tell us - how does it feel to be published?
It is very validating. So many professionals – my agent, my editor, TOR, my Audible narrator – expressed enthusiasm for the book, it makes all the work feel worthwhile. Hopefully the public will agree.
I wrote SF because my wife doesn’t like fantasy. Or more specifically, she won’t read anything that doesn’t have a spaceship in it. To be honest, all I write is SF; even my fantasy novel is really SF in disguise. To me SF is real people in an unreal world (i.e. one in which the laws of physics have changed); Fantasy is unreal people in a real world (i.e. the characters are archetypes). By that definition Star Wars is fantasy, and Game of Thrones is SF. I think the takeaway here is that I am the wrong person to answer this question.
The ecological part just seemed obvious to me.
It looks like you read A LOT before trying your hand at actually writing a novel yourself. Which of the master authors do you think were the most influential in writing - The Kassa Gambit?
Jack Vance, definitely. The whole idea of flying around from planet to planet and encountering weird societies and having adventures is his. I even borrowed his word “oikumene,” meaning the “whole of human civilization,” although I spelled it wrong (“okimune”, although it probably should be “ecumene”). In my defense, it’s a hard word to spell, since it doesn’t show up in any of my dictionaries. I also borrowed a piece of window dressing from The Moon Moth, as a bit of homage. Vance’s influence on SF&F is pervasive and yet generally unrecognized. Just look at The Demon Princes series and see how much it reminds you of Firefly and the Traveller role-playing game.
Do you have a favorite novel - science fiction or otherwise?
The books I most recommend are The Cyberiad, by Stansislaw Lem, and The Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin.
I always think the Sonoran desert would be a great setting for novels, but it really hasn’t featured much as far as I can tell. Have you used anything from your time in Arizona as a foundation for parts of your first novel?
Just Mexican food. I agree that it’s a lovely place, but I think Tony Hillerman has the lock on that part of the world.
I saw that your wife is a published author as well – what’s it like having two published authors in at your house? Do you share tips and talk shop all the time? Or is there a competitive element at play?
It’s great. We do share a lot (including an agent); I invented the spaceship engine she uses in Song of Scarabaeus (which is why it’s the same one I use in my book). Most importantly, we give each other pep talks all the time. Writing requires an inordinate amount of faith in yourself; you have to believe that someone wants to listen to you go on for hours. It helps if someone actually does.
Unfortunately we now have a third resident in our house who is not a published author. She is not interested in plot points or character arcs; all she wants to do is play dress-up. It’s quite distracting.
What is your writing project - a sequel perhaps? Or a novel with a different subject matter?
I’ve got a fantasy trilogy in the works, but my next SF is a contemporary (like Jurassic Park, etc.). It has a tricky ending, though, so I don’t know if I can land it.
If you had one significant tip for new writers trying to get published what would you tell them?
It was ten years between writing my first novel and actually getting published (with my third). If that time span scares you, don’t be a writer. Yes, some people do it in less, but then, some people win the lottery too. So… keep writing. Someone said you’re not a writer until you’ve written a million words; I didn’t get published until I’d written 500,000, so, honestly, I still have a ways to go.
Also, marry a writer who has a great agent. That really seemed to work for me.
Thank you so much M.C. Planck.
About The Kassa Gambit: Centuries after the ecological collapse of Earth, humanity has spread among the stars. Under the governance of the League, our endless need for resources has driven us to colonize hundreds of planets, all of them devoid of other sentient life. Humanity is apparently alone in the universe.
Then comes the sudden, brutal decimation of Kassa, a small farming planet, by a mysterious attacker. The few survivors send out a desperate plea for aid, which is answered by two unlikely rescuers. Prudence Falling is the young captain of a tramp freighter. She and her ragtag crew have been on the run and living job to job for years, eking out a living by making cargo runs that aren’t always entirely legal. Lt. Kyle Daspar is a police officer from the wealthy planet of Altair Prime, working undercover as a double agent against the League. He’s been undercover so long he can't be trusted by anyone—even himself.
While flying rescue missions to extract survivors from the surface of devastated Kassa, they discover what could be the most important artifact in the history of man: an alien spaceship, crashed and abandoned during the attack.
But something tells them there is more to the story. Together, they discover the cruel truth about the destruction of Kassa, and that an imminent alien invasion is the least of humanity’s concerns.
Tor Books; 1/8/2013; 288 pages
About M. C. Planck: After a nearly-transient childhood, Micheal hitchhiked across the country and ran out of money in Arizona. So he stayed there for thirty years, raising dogs, getting a degree in Philosophy, and founding a scientific instrument company. Having read virtually everything by the old Masters of SF&F, he decided he was ready to write. A decade later, with a little help from the Critters online critique group, he was actually ready. He was relieved to find that writing novels is easier than writing software, as a single punctuation error won't cause your audience to explode and die. When he ran out of dogs, he moved to Australia to raise his daughter with her cousins. Now he is a father, author, and immigrant. Fitzgerald was wrong. There are second acts to some American lives, even if they start in other countries. http://mcplanck.com/ and http://mcplanck.blogspot.com/
John is currently reading The Kassa Gambit and a review should be live soon.