Stefan GagneLatest answers
Awesome last name! I learned about it in french. It literally translates "to win" Keep up the awesome work!
Thanks! If you stumbled across me by my name, you should also know I write fiction you might enjoy. Check stefangagne.com for details.
So how do you write teen/young adult dialogue? Do you treat them as adults with smaller vocabulary?
Adults are basically teenagers with more life experience. Both are clumsy, awkward, and learning as they go along... one's just fallen down a bit more often and (hopefully) learned from their bruises. As a result I give both of them equal respect in my stories. One is not innately wiser or smarter than the other. Both are just as capable of greatness and failure.
Any adult that claims they've got it all figured out is lying through their teeth. At heart we are all still teenagers, all still growing and learning and expanding. Still yearning and failing and grasping and trying. It never STOPS, and adults who have closed themselves off to the world and settled in comfortably to their learned assumptions are more than capable of screwing up as a result of preconception in the guise of wisdom.
So... in writing, I write my teenagers as adults as teenagers as adults. I tend to make my teens fumble around worry about their futures, but my adults do the same. I want all of them to be appealing and flawed and very human, because they are human.
As for vocabulary... my own vocabulary's astoundingly small, so it doesn't really factor in. Except in the sense that I don't write much good stuff words because not bright.
How do you manage to keep up the discipline of writing and updating your writing projects so often?
Outlining and having a buffer. Those are the keys.
For outlining, knowing what the critical moments are, what happens scene to scene, maybe a few highlighted dialogue lines; the rest you can improvise but having a blueprint for your story lets you sit down and WRITE that story whenever you can find some time to do so. You're pouring water into a cup. Without an outline you spend more time lost or blocked than you spend actually writing the work.
Buffering is a way to avoid writer's block. If you work well in advance and build up a buffer of content for posting, when you get stuck it's less disastrous. Even with an outline I often run into "Well, no, wait, how does that make sense, how do I get to this point I want to be at?" or worse, "Thematically this sucks / it's not very interesting, do I need to jettison my plans and try a different outline?" Those times you'll be jammed up and unable to write until you iron out the wrinkles. Sometimes this takes days, at worst weeks.
That said... I always wonder if I'm posting too much or too little each week. The number of readers following at the bleeding edge of the story is pretty minimal. Fitting time to READ this content into your weekly schedule can be tough, making my weekly scramble to keep on top of it all feel a bit in vain. I doubt I've found the perfect balance yet despite doing this for basically a decade.
You publish your "tweaks" to various chapters, which I like a lot in keeping up with changes. Ever considered publishing "diffs," akin to what you would see between version on Git(hub) and the like?
Versioning and changelogs are a big part of writing projects like mine. I offer a "peek behind the curtain" at drafts in progress, which means things can shift out from underneath early readers; I always note at the top of the page in the changelog what's new and different.
But in Floating Point, those changes are happening to past chapters more frequently than they have in other projects. It's being developed at an extremely rapid pace, faster than anything I've written before, and that means some of the technology and themes are changing as I go. I did a blog post recently detailing some changes to the story:
...but this is hardly a formalized version control process, and it still means nuking old bits rather than detailing what they were before changed. I may want to adopt something a bit more rugged than my ad hoc process as the series goes on, if this keeps happening. Thanks for the suggestion!
Mid year 2014, Transistor took us trough an apparently digital landscape shrouded in mystery, and meditated on community that would exist is such a place. Was Transistor an influence on, or an inspiration for Floating Point?
Absolutely. I still haven't FINISHED Transistor (I am bad at games) but it's one of the many influences on Floating Point, along with Neuromancer and Tron Legacy. The idea of living programs inside a digital world who have no connection to meatspace whatsoever -- this is simply reality for them, and is accepted as such -- is fascinating.
It's worth noting however that Floating Point almost wasn't science fiction at all; it was going to be historical fiction or fantasy. The original pitch involved Edison's fascination with ghosts leading to a modern revolution in magical power rather than electricity. It was always going to be a study of the information age, but with spell-based analogues for the Internet. I'll have more details on that in the published version of Welcome to Floating Point; I'm planning to focus my author notes on overall story development rather than specific chapters.
Huzzah? Huzzah. Isn't that a good word? (I'm sorry, that line has stuck with me since Hex Coda.)
Huzzah! ...I forget where I picked 'huzzah' up from as one of my staple words. But it's a fine declaration of joy, with panache!
What's your favorite quotation (if you have one), and why?
"No matter where you go, there you are."
It's trite, but hey, it's stuck with me over the years. No idea on the source.
A more direct quotation would be "Reality might not get out of beta today," a random nonsequitor from RUSirius's Official Cyberpunk Fakebook. The cosmic horror implications of it tickled me pink and it's worked my way into a lot of stories as a result, including Unreal Estate and City of Angles.
If you were hoping for an inspirational quote by a famous person, uh... wait, no, I do know one of those too!
"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." - Ben Franklin
This quote forms the moral core of most of my stories. Isolationism and selfishness and suspicion of your neighbors ruins all chances of a forward-looking future; only through trust and cooperation can anything be done. This one gets directly quoted a few times in Anachronauts, a world of walls and barriers, which eventually moves towards a global culture.
You probably expected this one to show up eventually: name your favorite book? Or, rather, name a few, it's more fun that way.
Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett. It's a swan song to the mediocre and overlooked, as a god whose power base has eroded over the years tries desperately to get back in the game by conscripting the only true believer he has left on a madcap journey. It has a lot to say about faith, reason, motivation, and destiny. Also helps that it's largely a standalone book despite being part of the Discworld series.
But hey, let's do a few books, why not!
Neuromancer by William Gibson locked in my love of Cyberpunk. I was a bit too young to fully appreciate it when I read it but it's not only a fun tale of gritty science crime but it's also a great surrealist work, with some amazingly well written and weird passages.
Dave Barry Slept Here is what happens when you write a history book without knowing much of anything about history. It's funny as hell and worth a read, if you can find a copy; it's pretty old at this point.
Phule's Company and Phule's Paradise by Robert Asprin are amazing ensemble comedy books, on par with your favorite anime in terms of wacky characters in weird hijinks. It's also fine competency porn as you watch the gradual transformation of a misfit military squad into a cohesive team. A lot of my team-based stories like Anachronauts draw from these two books. (There were later Phule books but they're co-authored and not quite as great.)
Sadly, I haven't read too many RECENT books. I have a tendency to want to fall back on authors I know and love or simply don't read much at all, unfortunately. Finding TIME to read is the hard part... which likewise makes it hard for me to push myself as an author, in a day and age when many face the same problem.
What or who first inspired you to write fiction?
Gordon Korman, a fantastic children's book author. I loved the snark and wackiness and memorable characters, the way plotlines twisted and intersected, culminating in a massive farce by the end. Those books definitely inspired me as I wrote my own stories, which were often screwball comedies. My earliest writing was actually wacky fanfic of various toy lines and comic books and games, before I knew "fanfic" was a thing.
(I'm not sure what made me transition from "I like reading!" to "I want to write!". It happened so early that it eludes my spotty memories.)
As I matured I got more interested in Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Robert Asprin... all of whom mix comedy with interpersonal drama, helping you care about the characters and their plight just as much as you're enjoying the antics. In the end I cared less about the actual waka-waka jokes and more about characters and personality, which I hope shows in my own writing.
If you had to go be a new character living in one of your story worlds, which one would you pick and why?
All of them are a bit apocalyptic and unpleasant, but I'd definitely say City of Angles. CoA is the closest to the world I know, and since I'm perfectly comfortable hanging around the house all day ingesting media and internet, I'd be just fine over there. I'm quite a boring person compared to my adventurous protagonists, so I wouldn't run into the risks they run into.
Anachronauts runs second since I'd likely be safely nestled within a Freedom Wall somewhere (or an anonymous nobody in an Orbital Arcology), and Floating Point is dead last because it's way too chaotic and flooded with unavoidable bastards.
The Internet Archive has decided to immortalize Png Kombat by including it in their MS-DOS collection of games. Reaction on this? :)
Still hoping Pong Kombat isn't carved into my tombstone as the sole accomplishment I'll be remembered for across the aeons, but it's a pretty cool bit of recognition. PK was a complete mess of a program, a hodgepodge of shareware game development libraries and bugs, but as a way to avoid failing my AP CompSci high school class after slacking off all semester it's not half bad.