Interview Questions for S. A. Gibson
1. What inspired you write Pratima’s Forbidden Book?
I had a conversation with my spouse about what countries in the world would best survive a loss of civilization. We talked about India. We remembered that steam trains run in India even today. We thought about donkeys, oxen, buffaloes, and camels used for transportation. In many ways India might be best able to survive the loss of civilization. So, this story set after the collapse of modern technical society is set in Northern India.
2. What were the traits you wanted in your main character Pratima?
I was most interested in writing about the interaction between the different cultures to be found in India in the alternative future of the story. So, Pratima was intentionally written to be an outsider. While she has lived her whole life in India, she is born to a family that originated outside of India. So, she perhaps brings an ability to see her fellow Indians with a different lens.
3. What are some important themes you tried to touch on in the book?
The education and emancipation of women is important to me. I want Pratima to be a young woman who attempts to always educate herself and other women. Science should be one of the most important ideas in the story. Also, the attempt to find peaceful resolution to danger is important. It is too common for people to think violence is the solution to all problems. I felt it was important for Pratima to attempt to stop enemies without killing them when possible. So, she trains the village women, at one point in methods of non-violence as Gandhi practiced it.
4. What writing style do you use?
Pratima’s Forbidden Book is written in third person with a few different POV characters. I hope that writing it in present tense will feel more action oriented to readers. I also added chapter notes at the end to give more detail about locations, technology or other information that readers might be curious about. The book is not constant action. Although Pratima and the other characters must constantly move to solve the problems in the story, the tension should rise and fall several times through the book.
5. What different cultures are represented in Pratima’s Forbidden Book?
Pratima is a mixed race young woman. Willam, her companion is mixed race boy. There are Indians represented from Rajasthan, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh. Chizuko is a woman Samurai from Japan. There is a gay character and representatives of other groups that are not treated fairly by some characters in the story. The intersection of cultural differences is an important element in the book.
6. Which authors do you enjoy?
I have read a multitude of Science Fiction novels. I most often read stories where multiple cultures interact with each other. I enjoy Luis McMaster Bujold (Barrayar, where Cordelia must confront and live with the alien Barrayarians), Sharon Lee (Fledgling, where Theo must learn about the Liadens and other space faring groups in her universe), Sara King (Zero Recall, where humans must learn to live with the dangerous aliens who have power over Earth). Ryk E. Spoor (Spheres of Influence, where humans find that advanced civilizations control access to space). I like character driven stories about conflict and the resolution of conflict, with intelligent female leaders.
7. What went into choosing the cover art for Pratima’s Forbidden Book?
I thought that that my friend Liz Osterhout would be a stunning character to be represented on the cover of my next book. I was so happy she agreed and her husband Terry Osterhout took a dramatic series of photos to choose from for the cover art. Ren Williams helped with fonts and layout for the bookcover. I am grateful to them for producing an outstanding cover for the book.
8. Are there other stories related to Pratima’s Forbidden Book?
Once you have read Pratima’s story you can read more adventures of William Way in A Dangerous Way, available at Amazon.