Please welcome David Tallerman to the blog! He kindly answered a few of my questions about his new novella Patchwerk, and more!
Will you tell us a bit about Patchwerk and what inspired you to write it?
I’ve got to be careful what I say here, because I’m trying hard not to spoiler a book that I’m convinced works best when you don’t know too much about it! But here we go: Patchwerk is unique out of everything I’ve done in that it was a story-telling mechanism that first drew me rather than a plot idea or a character or a theme. I realised I had an itch to write something that plowed through a number of genres without necessarily slowing down to key in the reader as to what it was up to, and the story that would become Patchwerk developed from there.
On a more personal level – and I’m not sure I should be mentioning this either, but hey! – I was in a relationship that was pretty clearly drawing towards it end, despite there still being a lot of affection and respect left on both sides, and I think a lot of that went into the book. Asides from all of the reality-bending stuff, Patchwerk is a love story where the love story is effectively already over.
Why do you think readers will root for Dran Florrian? What makes him a compelling character?
He’s trying to stop the annihilation of all reality, is that a good reason? Then again, he’s also the one responsible for that being an issue in the first place. I would say that Dran’s a very smart, very capable guy, but at the same time not the most self aware; a lot of his journey across the course of Patchwerk is one of putting his own past life and the mistakes he’s made into perspective. Actually, I suppose that if there’s a reason to get behind Dran, it’s that. On the one hand he’s immensely capable, a mad scientist par excellence, and he genuinely wants to make the world a better place. On the other, he’s been living in his head for far too long, and it’s turned him into kind of a goof. He needs saving from himself, nearly as badly as the multiverse needs saving.
Will you tell us about the “world” of Patchwerk?
Again with the difficult questions! I mean, it’s more a case of the worlds of Patchwerk … but that’s getting dangerously close to spoilers again, so let’s just focus on where things start out. In the future – at least, a future – science and scientific innovation have become entirely the domain of corporations that have only their own interests at heart, and scientists like Dran Florrian are effectively weaponized by the companies they work for, because there’s a good chance that sooner or later someone will come after what’s in their heads. But, inevitably, those selfsame companies aren’t particularly concerned with the fate of everyone and everything that isn’t them, and so things have grown pretty grim; bad enough that someone like Florrian would feel the need to step in and risk his own life, not to mention everyone else’s, for the chance to put things right.
What is your writing process like? What are the challenges of writing shorter fiction as opposed to full length novels?
Well, Patchwerk was the last long-form work that I did before I packed in my day job to write full time, so it was written quite differently to how I work now … a lot more cramming words in at odd hours of the day. Now I basically work a seven or eight hour writing day, splitting that time up over a number of different projects; maybe I’ll spend an hour on a short story, then edit for a couple of hours, then work on whatever the current novel is, then spend the evening catching up on all the tasks that aren’t so easy to categorise.
As for novellas over novels, I think the challenges change with the book, as they always do. Patchwerk has a very odd structure, and it couldn’t possibly have worked at novel length … I’d always intended for it to be a novella, from the moment it began to take shape. Whereas my second attempt at a novella, which I just finished, has much more of a traditional three act structure, and it became a case of working out how to do that when all those acts have to fit into the space you’d normally reserve for just the one. But every book always works differently, and the more you go on, the better your instincts get for what form each can sustain.
Have you read any good books lately? Is there anything you’d recommend?
The last book I finished was a reread of one of my all time favourites, The War of the Worlds, as research for a short story. I actually think my appreciation of it grows more each time, and if there’s anyone out there yet to read it then I recommend it without reservation. Wells was an absolute master, so far ahead of his time that it’s not even funny. Asides from that, see the next question…
What are you currently reading?
I’ve been working my way through Adrian Tchaikovsky’s colossal ten book series The Shadows of the Apt, and I’m finally up to book ten, The Seal of the Worm. It’s brilliant stuff and I can’t wait to see how it all ends! I’m not normally an epic fantasy fan, but there’s so much more than that going on here that I couldn’t help but see it through.
What’s next for you?
Work-wise, too many things to keep track of. Publications-wise, my collection of short horror and dark fantasy tales The Sign in the Moonlight and Other Stories should be out in the not too distant future. I’m hopeful of having a new comic book miniseries and a new novel out before the end of the year, but those are a little too nebulous at this point to talk about specifics.
Fleeing the city of New York on the TransContinental atmospheric transport vehicle, Dran Florrian is traveling with Palimpsest-the ultimate proof of a lifetime of scientific theorizing.
When a rogue organization attempts to steal the device, however, Dran takes drastic action.
But his invention threatens to destroy the very fabric of this and all other possible universes, unless Dran-or someone very much like him-can shut down the machine and reverse the process.