While people love to read with a passion, there are times when the process behind the story is forgotten. creativity by its very nature is not easily defined and the process varies greatly from artist to artist. When I review 300 Nights, I asked Kriss if she would agree to do and question and answer segment. She graciously complied and I submitted a series of questions that I hoped would provide some insight into her creative mechanics as she approached book one of her trilogy.
1. Describe the approach you’ve taken to the narrative style employed in this novel. Do you have a natural preference for a minimalist narrative approach over a more expansive style?
I’m exploring everyday the idea of whether or not I’m a minimalist. I think I tend to lean that way, but try to keep the arrow on the classical structure while doing so. I attended a Robert McKee seminar last year, a life changing event for me as a writer. It was there I delved further into what is accessible to the average reader. He talked at great length and depth about how a writer needs to stay in the classical style so the work is open to everyone. He also talked about adding an individual angle to that classical style, as in leaning towards minimalism or anti-structure. That seminar was the event for this trilogy. Many of the development problems I faced as a first time novelist were corrected just by one three day intense training session at McKee’s Story seminar. That is how I went back and made sure my writing leaned one way and at the same time kept to a classical style. I used that approach with everything, my journalism, my novels, screenplays, all of my writing now incorporates the lessons learned in his seminar.
2. In the opening and closing segments of the novel, you’ve employed a very lyrical style of narrative…is this a tool you will employ more frequently in future volumes of the series?
Yes. That’s something I’ve been exploring at great length for the 300 Nights triology, a poetic or prose prologue and epilogue that employs imagery the way the Greek plays did, the mythic idea that Chris Vogler talks about in the Mythic Journey. He is another big influence for me. I interviewed him about his book that so many have read, and he is another writiing guru whom I read when I first entered the entertainment industry. His book was one of my first purchases. So the prologue and epilogue came out of the ideas I learned from his understanding of writing.
3. There is a deep sense of cynicism woven into the segments of the story that deals with the Mount Windward facility…imparting the sense that life there is rather seedy and joyless. Could you speak to the issue of technological evolution on the essential humanity of modern society? Is this atmosphere indicative of your perception of this impact?
Yes. I do not necessarily think technology is a good influence on society. People can hide behind a Web page and make derisive statements they would not otherwise make in a physical social atmosphere. The Web allows a certain sense of anonymity that leads to negativity. While I’m not a Luddite, like one of my good friends, his ideas about technology have certainly woven their way into my understandings and feelings of technological progress. At the same time, technology allows the world to become very small and empowers an entire generation of oppressed people like we saw in Egypt. Technology is a double-edged sword, cutting both good and bad into society.
4. When lightwalkers enter the virtual environment, there is a danger that they will become fused to the virtual grid if they spend too much time in the virtual environment, though for many this compulsion is difficult to resist. Is this scenario a metaphor for your perception of social networking and the addictive nature of on-line living…a sense we are in danger of eschewing our actual lives in favor of an on-line existence?
I did not intend to write the story from such a perspective, but that subconscious idea did enter the work. There was a sense during the writing of this novel that not only technology, but the power it wields over the masses, and how dangerous that power is to our freedoms, can influence societal thinking. The idea of face recognition, and how unpopular it is here in the States but very accepted in London, and the differing views on GPS’ing someone, even we as a society do it to each other with apps to find where our friends are, can be cool and a positive thing, but often it leads to a negative behavior in our world. It is OK to spy on someone with your phone or computer now, whereas say 20-years ago, that idea would have right off been thought of negatively. Technology has changed society in many ways.
5. During one particularly compelling segment, the heads of state discuss the potential benefits of genetic culling on the pathway to a better society. Do you see this as another of the potential dangers of rampant technology?
Yes, there was a time when eugenics was known to be a dangerous idea. To cull, as you put it so eloquently, the traits out of genes that a few pick to be positive while leaving out other traits we as humans have lived with for millions of years, seems destructive to our race. Entering in engineered unknowns into our existence puts us as a human race on a slippery slope, from my perspective. Plato’s idea of gold and tin souls, to me, leads down a pathway that is rife with who should decide what is a desirable trait and what is negative: is it color of skin, talents, artistic versus physical prowess, intelligence and what is intelligence, who and what should decide those factors of what is considered a worthy trait to pass on to the next generation of Homo sapiens?
6. As a bit of a spoiler perhaps, but how much evolution can we expect in the next story in terms of the back history of the underground world and the various components that it is built upon?
The next book went through a huge development process that spans a number of years. The idea itself was so compelling and could lead down so many paths, that book is where I was led by my mentor into the upper crust of story, as he calls it. I learned how the execution of an idea can make or break a story beyond imagination. The early draft of the book was originally two books, Fard Ayn and Exile, that later were compiled into one book and titled Exile. The back story of the character’s lives comes rearing into their existence without their knowledge at first, then it slowly peels away as to who they are, where they came from, and who decided who they should be. The line between the world of the lightwalker and the underground world above them is blurred, thus drawing the story into a very deep and perilous existence. This for me is the very best book of the entire trilogy to date. Halo was written before any of the other books. My mentor went back with me step by step into the back story of the characters and where we should begin this tale. His instinct and story knowledge are so great, it was easy to follow his vision of the story, because it fit so well with my own. He taught me about the seeds of the story, and how sticking with that original seed is where the upper crust of the story takes place.
7. Finally, can you describe the main thematic elements of 300 Nights? Is there any specific message or insight that you would like to see readers take away from this story?
The first thing that came into my mind when I read that question was my minimalist thinking, that I don’t want to imprint anything onto the reader. I’d like to see the reader take away their own experience from the story. Everybody brings their own lives into a fictional tale, which is where we find catharsis from everyday stress. There are some obvious thematic values at play like technology’s power, the slippery slope of genetically engineering a human being and the war for hearts and minds through nationalism, but beyond that, I dare not tell the reader what to think. It is their experience, and each one will be different.