by Alexander Pyles
The title character seeks a release from his lifelong chronic illness. His friend discovers a miracle that offers a second chance, but is it too good to be true? Milo explores the relationship between disability, technological progress, and the cost of our society’s emphasis on corporeal normalcy.
AN INTERVIEW WITH ALEXANDER
-What are your top five favorite movies?
Tree of Life
Children of men
In that order.
-Who are your largest influences in the world of science fiction?
Frank Herbert, Jeff Vandermeer, Octavia Butler, Nnendi Okorofor, and Brian K. Vaughn
-What inspired you to become a writer?
I read a lot as a kid and still do. There’s a lot of thoughts in my head that have too few outlets, so writing is just one of those ways that I get those out. My mom made me journal when I was about 8 or 9 and even though I hated it, I look back now and realize how much that plays into what I do now. Given, I didn’t write any stories or anything, I mostly wrote about my day, but I think I was discovering my “voice” in writing during that time. It wasn’t until freshman year in high school where an English teacher (shout out to Mr. Thurman!), who took the time to mentor me some and saw potential. It’s pretty much history after that, though I don’t consider myself professionally writing until much more recent.
-What is the purpose of science fiction to you?
This is a complicated question to me, because it’s layered in a couple different ways. Science fiction is translating our current times into the near or far flung future. And I don\’t mean in a technological sense, but borrowing the ethos of afrofuturism, it is about making the fantastic possible \”now\”.
Science fiction for me has been grounded in not only tech, but the social such as what Le Guin was doing and others I mentioned before. I came a bit late to science fiction, in my college years, since I had been a life-long fantasy nerd previously. Scifi was escape on a larger scale, because there was some semblance to our world in some fashion and it was always in the future. My personal life has been tinged by my sick mother and a realitively abscent father, so my science fiction is often attempting to work out solutions through my writing and my story MILO isn’t immune to that.
-How do you use philosophy in your writing?
I look at themes, since a strong piece of art whether that is a movie, book, or piece of music, if it all ties together in a cohesive whole. Movies like Coco and The Dark Knight are like this. Books like Binti by Nnendi Orokorfor and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel are also examples of works that I think represent this thematic cohesiveness. Philosophy for me pervades everything, so to separate it from my writing, it just isn\’t possible and as I alluded before my own personal history and struggles bleed into this as well. It is my hope that my philosophy adds something more to my writing then what you\’d expect from another fiction writer. Not that my writing is better by doing this, just offering something different.
-What drives you to write, yourself? Or others?
It\’s somewhat a mix of both, although I will admit I have been attempting to write more for myself of late. When I see a call for stories that usually pushes me to write or gives me a small idea. I tend to get stuck on ideas at length and I end up only writing about those ideas in my fiction. Since, I\’ve begun writing more for myself and I\’ve seen a shift in the tone and depth of my writing, I\’m find it to be a lot more honest and in some ways much better then when I was writing for an apparent publication. It’s also helped with generating more ideas and leaving some of that writing for an audience pressure behind.
Just to give you a taste of what happens when I make this choice my mind earlier this year was occupied with afrofuturism, solar punk, and a new concept that\’s come up in the past few years, the Anthropocene. Since then, I’ve been wrestling with ideas of colonization, late stage capitalism, and biotech. Who knows what story I’m going to try next.
-What gave you the idea for MILO?
MILO was a lot of things for me when I was working on this over a year ago. My mom, who had a pretty severe diagnosis of MS (multiple sclerosis) and she actually passed away in May of ’16, because of complications. This story is actually me working through some of this grief and attempting to process my frustration with MS, the disease itself. I always hoped a cure would come through for my mom, but obviously nothing has happened, so I turned to fiction.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
I’d probably check out these robot bodies, like the one Milo has. I mean, I’d just want to see them. I love robots a lot, I follow a lot of what Boston Dynamics does and even though their various robots like Spot & Atlas terrify people, I really like them. So, yeah I’d go look at the robots.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
Obviously Darius, but probably Milo as well. I love good bro banter over a few beers.
-What are you hoping to do next?
Currently, I’m gearing up for National Novel Writing Month and I’m going to tackle a full-length manuscript project. I’m not sure the genre, but it’ll be something of a scifi-lit-weird-horrish vein. Sky’s the limit! I plan on still working with short fiction, since I love the medium so much.
Alexander Pyles is a writer and reviewer, who resides in IL with his wife and children. He holds an MFA from Seton Hill University and his other short fiction has appeared in Trembling with Fear, Black Hare Press, Drabblez Magazine, and other venues. When not writing he is often wrangling his daughter.
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