Monday, January 5, 2015

Rubberman's Cage by Joseph Picard - Review and Author Interview

What inspired you to start writing, and when?
Writing's always been a thing with me, starting with enforced little bits for school... then it grew into short stories. Then around 2002, a few short stories snowballed together, and suddenly a “BOOK” wasn't such an intimidating idea. I love to create; I've done music composition and art by the buckets, (of questionable quality), I was in a tiny video game company that put out a couple of tiny titles, but when fatherhood approached, I had to pick one creative outlet and largely forsake the rest, for sake of available time. Writing won.

Tell us your latest news?
Okay, but it's insipid! The main character from my first book, (Regan Grier from Lifehack) was a wannabe rocker before her adventures started, and years after the book, she's reviving her desire to be a rockstar. She has her own page, (, is already selling t-shirts, and since she's fictional, I'm sorting out someone to record her first bit of music for the world. It's gonna SUCK, because Regan.... isn't as great as she thinks she is.. but with a band name like “Tinkerbell Thunderclap”, she'll make it to the top! Right? Right? Now she just needs band members...

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest work?
Rubberman's Cage. Lenth lives in a small apartment-sized environment with three men he calls 'Brothers'. They don't know that there's anything much outside their little world. The sky is an idea beyond them, as is literacy, women, freedom.. they're effectively slaves, not that they'd know it. They're managed by a person that roams above their metal-grate ceiling, that they call Rubberman. He doesn't talk, but uses non-verbal signals, and lights above doors to herd them from one room to another to shower, eat, exercise, and work at a job that don't understand. Oh, and if need be, he can motivate them with little electrical shocks.

One day, one of them dies.. did I mention they don't know what death is? This, and seeing a stranger peek in from above Rubberman's ceiling, raises questions for Lenth. Breaking out, he explores up, meeting people he didn't know existed, (most of which also don't know there's a sky) encountering a murderous fugitive, discovering females, seeking his dead brother, and more 'up'.

How long did it take you to complete Rubberman’s Cage?
Oh, I'm going to say about two years. It's hard to remember when I steal bits of writing time whenever I can. The kids keep me busy! When the little one gets into kindergarten, I might me able to get back to a 'book a year' rhythm.

Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?
Not really. They all take little bits from lots of people. I have one character that is based closely on someone I didn't like, but let's not drop names, hmmm? :)

Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? 
A little of both. Typically, a concept gets written up into a page of point form notes...

-Bob does a thing every day.
-Bob meets a talking rabbit.
-The rabbit gets bob into trouble, looking for a carrot.
-A farmer attacks bob, and bob egts in a fight, poking the farmer with a rake.
-Bob goes to jail
-Rabbit visits bob, bob's mad.

Etc, etc... then I'd go to point one, and write it out... fairly pantser style, but mindful of the landmarks I'd set for myself. That said, if the pantsing ruins the plot points laid out ahead, the outline will just have to deal with the new direction things have gone. This is often a result of characters trying to take over the writing, which is awesome.

I heard about a 'snowflake' technique that's getting a lot of attention. From what I understand, it's a lot like what I do.

Ok, now some fun questions….

Coffee or Tea? 
Tea. I worked at a very busy convenience store for a couple years... doing some math, I realized that between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., I was making 1500 litres (about 400 gallons, for the yanks out there) of coffee. Not that I liked coffee before.. thankfully I like the smell of it.

But really, I'm much quicker to grab an energy drink than tea. A good taurine-fuelled buzz is great for first drafts. Terrible for editing.

White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate?
Dark, baby. 70% dark up to 99%, and I'm pleased as heck. Milk chocolate's fine, hate white chocolate. Lemmie get my lactose pills first though...

What is your favourite colour? 
Hmm.... let's see... I'm wearing a black hoodie over a black sweater, black pants, black steel-toed boots, my wheelchair is black...

And don't tell me it's not a colour! It is only an absence of colour if you run your colours by 'addition' (like a monitor or projector does). By subtraction, black is all colours! Absorbing light, consuming all, mysterious, unknowable... stuff..

Oh, right, my favourite colour is fuchsia.

Winter or Summer?
If I have to pick.. ugh.... in winter, you can put on another layer. In summer, you're kind of stuck unless you want to hide with an air conditioner. But winters here are wet and miserable. And when we get snow, it fouls up wheelchair travel. Puddles sneaking up my sleeves are bad enough. Ugh... summer then?

What's wrong with fall or spring? They're moderate, and 'equinox' sounds cooler than 'solstice'. So... so there.

If you could have one superpower what would it be? 
Telekinesis would be fab. You could use it to fly, or just get stuff. I guess I should ask for wolverine-style healing though, given my situation.

If you could be somebody else for a day who would you choose and why?
Whoosh.... what direction do I want to do in, here? Pervy, luxury, greed? Hey... maybe you could narrow it down by sin types. No wrath though, please. Oh heck, I'll be humble, and pick one of my kids. They have it pretty okay.

What are three things you never leave home without (apart from keys, money and phone)? 
Sunglasses. I swear I'm 1/18th vampire. Light bugs me.
Multi-tool. Never know what pliers, a knife, whatever comes in handy.
Mini-art kit... pencils, pens, etc.
Electrical tape.
A changing kit for my 3 year old.
Do you have any idea the cargo capacity of a well-outfitted wheelchair? We could be here a while.

Are you a technology buff (i.e have every electronic gadget known to man)?
Kind of? I used to work in I.T., but I'm way behind the curve now. I used to make my own computers, and they were glorious. I'm now on a laptop I got for free from my ISP. I only have a smart phone because it was free with the minimal plan I signed up on. I like tech, but I'm not going a long way out of my way for it. I'm a cozy collision between 'good with tech' and 'too cheap to bother with the newest stuff'.

Psst... got an oculus rift handy? Skyrim's callin'...

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