Author Interview: Matthew Pallamary

I asked Matt to give a short description of himself and he replied: “Author, Editor, Shamanic Explorer.” No Wasted Ink is honored to feature this writing instructor and author for your consideration.

Author Matthew PallamaryMy name is Matt Pallamary, a perspiring writer who has been teaching a Phantastic Fiction Workshop for the past 25 years at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference, The Southern California Writer’s Conference and many others.

When and why did you begin writing?

As far as dramatic writing and storytelling goes, I had a good friend killed on his motorcycle around 1982 or 1983, which prompted me to write a novel about a guy who gets killed on his motorcycle and wakes up outside his body caught up with dark forces in the spirit world.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have always loved words and language. I won first place in the school spelling Bee in the 6th grade and went on to a citywide spelling Bee. English was my favorite subject in high school and my writing caught the attention of my college creative writing teachers.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

DreamLand was written with legendary DJ Ken Reeth, who left the planet on May 9th 2005.

Fueled by breakthroughs in technology and neuroscience, the terminally ill, while in an induced slumber, in a pain-free, medically supervised environment, can literally dream their lives away in pre-programmed situations of their choosing, controlled by a super computer.

The well-meaning creators of computer generated dreaming plan to conquer the stigma of death by making its wonders available to all, so people can die in vivid, pre-programmed dream surroundings, reliving blissful moments from their past. All goes according to plan until the dream of DreamLand is shattered by the profit-seeking backer of the project.

What inspired you to write this book?

Ken and I were in writing workshops together and we became friends and fans of each other’s writing. He kept coming up with these short dream sequences that were vignettes more than stories and was wondering what to do with them. We got to talking and the next thing you know we were writing a book together.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My style is specifically my own that I consciously developed. As I tell my writing students. The brain is the canvas and the words are the strokes of the brush from a giant palette, and it must be dynamic, moving, and full of energy, making every word count. The act of reading is an act of co-creation between the writer and the reader. It is the writer’s job to paint the significant details of their story that the reader can hook into and fill in the blanks that come from their own subjective experiences and interpretations.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

It is the world where the story takes place.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Technology may seem to perform certain tasks flawlessly, but human motives and their skewed cross-purposes can bring dire consequences.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

In a nutshell, I realized that my life was stranger than anything I could make up, so I wrote about it and the response has been gratifying. I have done extensive dream work and dream studies, so I know this territory well.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I was blessed to have Ray Bradbury as a mentor. Ray kicked off the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference for 35 years and through Sid Stebel I got to know Ray and learned much from him. Ray was not one to give out blurbs, but he blurbed my first book, a short story collection titled The Small Dark Room of the Soul saying “Bravo! More!”

My recent long overdue follow up to The Small Dark Room of the Soul, titled A Short Walk to the Other Side is dedicated to him. Ray always said, “Write for the love of it!” His opening speeches at the SBWC were epic!

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I am proud to say that I designed the cover of my book and I had a lot of fun doing it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

As a wise writer once told me: Writing = Ass in chair.

Believe in yourself and what you have to say and do it because you love it. Writing workshops and conferences are awesome proving grounds and wonderfully supportive environments to thrive in.

Dreamland Book CoverKen Reeth & Matthew J. Pallamary
San Diego, CA

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Cover Artist: Matthew J. Pallamary

Publisher: Mystic Ink Publishing

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No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksThere were a few rather unusual articles this week. The one about not having a smartphone hit home to me. I own a smartphone, but I go days without using it, much to the chagrin of my husband! I hope you enjoy this latest batch of writer’s links, here on No Wasted Ink.

365 Thought Provoking Questions to Ask Yourself This Year

How to explain your story without using backstory

How To Tell When A Robot Sends You A Letter

The Making of an Angry, White Man

Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses: 18 Rants by Mark Twain

Location, Location, Location

How I Got Magazine Writing Gigs From All 3 of My Dream Markets

10 Ways to Annoy the Hell out of your Writers’ Group

Why I Don’t Have a Smartphone

How To Write More, Faster

Writing Spaces: Mountain Cabin Home Office

Mountain Cabin Home Office

Image is from This Old House Magazine, Desk Set, April 2006.

Having a view to inspire you as a writer is one of the more sought after aspects of a home office. This cozy writing space is in the middle of a Portland forest. The office is sparse with a pine desk and alder floors just waiting to hold your laptop or tablet as you create your masterpiece. The large casement window draws you to the forest outside while the rich red walls and wooden built-in shelves surround you like a warm blanket. It is the perfect place to relax and let your words flow.

Book Review: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress

Book Name: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
First Published: 1966
Hugo Award for Best Novel 1967
Prometheus Award Hall of Fame Award recipient 1983

Robert A. Heinlein was born in 1907 and was known as one of the “big three” masters of classic science fiction along with Issac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. He was one of the most influential and controversial authors of science fiction. People to this day argue about the ideas that Heinlein presented and this would have undoubtedly delighted the man.

Heinlein invented many of the tropes we now take for granted in the genre of science fiction. His stories addressed the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation that individuals owe to their culture, the influence of organized religion on society and government and the tendency of people to repress nonconformist thought.

“Revolution is an art that I pursue rather than a goal I expect to achieve. Nor is this a source of dismay; a lost cause can be as spiritually satisfying as a victory.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress begins during the year 2075 in the underground colonies of the Moon. These three million inhabitants are criminals, political exiles and their descendants from all over the Earth, with men outnumbering women 2:1. This makes polyandry the norm in “Loonie” culture. The Lunar Authority’s master computer, HOLMES IV (High-Optional, Logical, Multi-Evaluating Supervisor, Mark IV) has almost total control of Luna’s systems. When computer technician Manuel Garcia “Mannie” O’Kelly-Davis discovers that the AI computer has secretly become self aware, he names it “Mike” after Mycroft Holmes, the brother of Sherlock Holmes, and the two become friends.

Mike is curious about the inhabitants of the Moon and asks his friend Mannie to place a recorder in an anti-Authority meeting. When the cops come to raid the gathering, Mannie escapes with a blond agitator named Wyoming “Wyoh” Knott. Together, they join an elderly political activist, Professor Bernardo de la Paz who informs them that if Luna does not stop exporting hydroponic wheat to Earth, the imbalance caused by constant loss of bio-mass will result in food riots within seven years and cannibalism in nine. With nothing to replace what is loss, their ecosystem will collapse. Wyoh and the Professor want to start a revolution to solve this pressing problem and Mannie is persuaded to join them at Mike’s request.

The AI takes on a new persona named “Adam Selene” and becomes the leader of the revolution movement. Adam can only connect with humans via a phone, after all, he does not have a body, but by working with Mannie, Wyoh, and the Professor, he is able to be involved. At first, the covert cells, protected by the AI make little progress, but when Mannie saves the life of a rich, well-connected tourist, public opinion on Earth begins to look more favorably on the lunar colonists and their cause.

Earth does not release the Moon without a fight. Troops are sent to the Moon to quell the rebellion, but riots among the people erupt when a soldier rapes a female colonist. It is the last straw that provokes the Loonies to overthrow the Lunar Authority’s Protector and to create a defense system to protect the colonies from Earth. They modify an electromagnetic catapult that was once used to export wheat into a rock throwing weapon capable of much destruction on the planet.

The AI continues to control the communications and impersonates the “Warden” in messages to the Earth. This gives the revolutionists time to organize. The Professor sets up an “Ad-Hoc Congress” to distract any dissenters. Finally, Luna declares its independence on July 4, 2076, the 300th anniversary of the US Declaration of Independence.

Mannie and the Professor travel to Earth and are received by the Federated Nations. They begin a world tour to tout the benefits of a free Luna while urging the governments of Earth to build a catapult of their own to transfer bio supplies to Luna in exchange for grain. Their efforts are rejected and the two become imprisoned. Later, they are freed by the man they rescued at the beginning of the revolution and they travel with him back to the Moon. When they return, an election is held and Mannie, Wyoh, and the Professor are elected as leaders of Luna.

The Federated Nations of Earth once again send troops to destroy the Loonies, but the revolutionaries fight back against great odds and large loss of life. A rumor is heard that Adam Selene was among those killed, which frees the AI from having to appear in person. The AI uses the catapult to launch rocks at sparsely-populated locations on Earth, warning the inhabitants that the lunar “missiles” are coming, but the people of Earth don’t heed the warnings and many die. This causes the people of Earth to turn against the new lunar nation.

A second attack destroy’s the original catapult, but the ingenious Loonies build a secondary one in a secret location operated by Mannie. The former computer tech turned commander continues the attack on Earth until the planet concedes Luna’s independence.

Mannie takes control of the new government after their victory, but he and Wyoh gradually withdraw from Lunar politics as they discover that the new government falls short of their expectations. When Mannie attempts to speak to Mike, the AI’s replies indicate that the computer has lost its self-awareness and human-like qualities as a result of either the damage suffered in the war or of shock.

Probably one of the greatest influences I had as a science fiction writer is Robert A. Heinlein. I have read just about everything that he has written and a few of his novels rank among some of my favorites. Many of the tropes that are commonplace in science fiction today were invented by this man. There is an old adage that states: “Heinlein was there first.” For the most part, it is true! If you want to write science fiction or are interested in becoming more versed in the genre as a reader, this is one of the authors that you should read.

Heinlein remains a controversial figure to this day. If you are a feminist, you will have difficulty with Heinlein. Our views on culture, marriage and the roles of women have changed in the 50 years since this novel was written. In The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, there are women that marry at 14, women that endure whistles and catcalls because of their physical looks, and while there is racial diversity among the Loonies, many racist ideas of the time period still come through in the writing. Yet, during the time that Heinlein wrote his stories, he was considered ground-breaking for his forward thinking. The novel features Heinlein’s ideas about individualism, libertarianism, and free expression of physical and emotional love.

One of the aspects that I enjoy most about this book was the development of the AI computer. Remember, at the time the novel was written, a computer that filled a room could barely do what a one dollar throw away calculator does today. AI Mike doesn’t go crazy and attempt to destroy humanity as many tropes might have him do now, instead he wants to learn what is funny and what it is to be human. With more robots being built and AI becoming a reality, this is an idea that we as a people are going to need to explore.

The idea of life on the moon and the weaponization of space is a concept who’s time has come with the advent of privatized space programs popping up all over the world. There will be many people in space able to “throw rocks” at the Earth as nations and corporations begin to develop the resources in the asteroids, and the Moon.

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress Book CoverHeinlein wrote in the voice of his era. He is imaginative and smart, but he still retains many of the ideas and limitations of the world that he lived in. How many writers can overcome this overwhelming thing called “their lives”? Even so, he manages to see into the future and his best guesses were not all that far off the mark. Give The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress a read with an open mind. Yes, it is a little dated, but you will find many of the ideas that have shaped science fiction as we know it today inside its pages.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksThis week the writer’s links feature marketing information geared toward authors, recommendations about writers’ conferences, and a few research links. I particularly thought the longsword fighting video was excellent for all you fantasy writers out there. Enjoy!

Author Marketing 101: Ranking The Social Networks

Ask the Agent: What do I do with a bad review?

How Authors Can Use Listmania to Promote Their Books

How Much Should You Charge For Your E-Book? 7 Questions to Help You Decide

Ten Great Reasons (Plus One) to Attend a Writers’ Conference

VIDEO: Inside the World of Longsword Fighting

Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress

The Words Are Everything

Confessions of a Pantser

Writer Creates “Color Thesaurus” To Help You Correctly Name Any Color Imaginable

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays on Writing * Writer's Links

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