Monday, August 04, 2014

Mortie's Blog Tours

Hello, everyone. This is Mortie the Gefilte Fish, guest-blogging here with Mortie's Interviews. Today, I'm interviewing carbon-based lifeform, author, electrician, and all around swell guy, Tony LaRocca. How are you, Tony?

Tony: Fine, thanks.

Mortie: Now, for those who don't know, this is what we call a "Blog Tour," where authors answer a few questions, and then tag a few of their author friends to continue.

Tony: Yes, I was invited by Suzanne Casamento, author of Fingerprints and Choosing Tally.

Mortie: That's just wonderful. Ok, now that we've done the restrospective plugs, why don't you tell us a little about yourself. What do you have published?

Tony: At the moment, I have a science-fiction short story collection, titled False Idols and Other Short Stories. It has a little bit of everything: nuts and bolts, horror, fantasy, comedy, drama... That's the great thing about short stories: you can have different types, themes, and tones. With a novel, it's all one.

Mortie: Which story has gotten the best response, do you think?

Tony: I would have to say "Heaven 2.0." It's pretty much a pact-with-the-devil story, but people tell me they've enjoyed the characters and humor.

Mortie: That's the one about the dog?

Tony: And ancient Japanese cat-demons.

Mortie: Yeah, but I noticed, no fish.

Tony: What?

Mortie: You have stories about dogs, cats, all kinds of scary bugs, even a cyborg-dragon, but no fish. How come?

Tony: Well... if I came up with an interesting story about a fish, then I would write one. But if I just tried to force it, people would be able to tell.

Mortie: I see. Moving on.

Tony: Good.

Mortie: So that's it, one book? That's not a lot.

Tony: Well, in addition to the short stories, I've written three novels over the years. The only problem is, there's a phenomenal amount of work involved to get them up to a publishable level. I've been polishing one for about a year now. It went much quicker when I was unemployed. I'm about halfway done.

Mortie: What's it about?

Tony: It takes place in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future. There's a boy who dies, and his mother paints his mind into a virtual reality painting, which gets stolen by an army of cyborgs. They're also fighting an army of cybernetic insects, who were once humans.

Mortie: But no fish.

Tony: ...No. The novel started out as a short story, just about the mother and painting of the son, being chased by cyborgs. But then I started adding details, and back stories for the characters, and enriching their universe. One of the main characters is a female cyborg named Sigma. She actually started out as male in the short story, and was the main antagonist. There was a lot of (Clive Barker's character) Pinhead in him. I found myself in a rut one day-

Mortie: Which one?

Tony: Excuse me?

Mortie: Which day? Thursday? Was it in July? 2010?

Tony: I think it might have been as far back as 2005. I've been working on this novel for almost ten years.

Mortie: Wow, and no fish?

Tony: No. Anyway, once I changed him into a her, the character became much more interesting. She had an entire slew of different motivations. That's where the real magic comes in writing: the process. You can sit and plot and plan all you want, but when you start writing, all kinds of strange things pop up. That's what's so exciting to me, the bizarre things my subconscious dredges up.

Mortie: I see. So how does your work differ than others in the genre, then?

Tony: Well, it differs because it's coming from my subconscious, rather than someone else's. Authors create stories based on their lives and experiences. My stories are unique because they were dredged from somewhere in the back of my mind, instead of someone else's.

Mortie: Corny, but probably true. So that's the only reason you write what you do? Because your subconscious tells you to?

Tony: Sometimes. I can't let it just go at that though, it's like a puzzle. The aforementioned "Heaven 2.0" came about because a friend of mine chastised me that I had no female heroes in any of my short stories, so I wrote her a story full of them. I also worked in my friends' daughter and her dog as well. But my annoyance at online data gathering, banks who hide traps in the fine print, and love of folklore came through. "False Idols" wasn't originally intended to be a dig at Monsanto, or even religion, for that matter. I needed to give my main character sympathetic motivation, and those themes just came through.

Mortie: Well, "Ad-Aware" is obviously about advertising. Would you say "The Autumn People" is about 9-11?

Tony: No, that's about depression and loneliness. The whole backdrop of the 9-11 aftermath was just my subconscious bleeding through, dealing with what I saw when I worked downtown afterward. Actually, that story was influenced by an essay by Harlan Ellison, in which he talked about subtext. That's how the story started, with me trying to create an atmosphere. Likewise, "Shattered Possibilities" came about by trying to emulate the Firesign Theatre's skill in layering hidden meaning upon hidden meaning. If you're interested in the background of my short stories and their processes, you can read about them here.

Mortie: Ok, I'll do the hyperlinks, here. Come on, let's wrap this up. How does your writing process work?

Tony: An idea comes to me, and I'll jot it down, usually on my Android. I'll dive in, and see if it works. Sometimes, it does, sometimes it's doesn't. After the story has taken off on it's own for a bit, I sit down, and see what sort of general plot I can make out of it. Was what I wrote a beginning, a middle, or an end? What does it need to make it complete? Does it need more characters, backstory, a satisfying ending... I have to look and see what I have, and work out where I'm going. That's why this final edit of my novel is taking so long. I polished and fixed a lot of problems in the first half, and now much of the second half needs rewriting to make it all work. Then I have to read it over and over and over, either short story by short story, or chapter by chapter. I have to apply a lot of narrative Spackle to make it as smooth as possible.

Mortie: Well, thank you very much for your time. Again, you have been talking with me, Mortie the Gefilte Fish, and him, Tony LaRocca. The blog tour continues next Monday with authors Brain Hartman and Don Martin. Check out their blogs then!

Tony: Thank you very much.

Until next time, Shalom.


Suzanne Casamento said...

What? Mortie is not a real fish? ;)

Love this interview. And I agree, it's so exciting to see what the subconscious dredges up.


Tony LaRocca said...

Mortie was actually the personality my friend Stan gave that puppet years ago. Ok think he's really supposed to be an eel. Thanks again :)

Tony LaRocca said...

And thanks to Joe the photographer as well! :)

Marilyn said...

Loved it!!! Most fun interview I've ever read...including the man Neil himself...well...right up there!! ;)

Tony LaRocca said...

Thank you, Marilyn! :)