Most Forest Hills readers know me for my serial novel about our area in WWII, The Scientists and the Spy – which is coming back next spring. While I wrote Scientists, however, I was seeking a publisher for my first novel, and I succeeded!
My first novel, the international modern-day fantasy The Demon in Business Class, is now on sale in paperback and ebook.
I always wanted to write fiction, but my computer skills led to a splendid first career working in Europe and Asia during the dot-com boom. Spending time, and doing business, in other regions of the world gave me a huge canvas on which to write my first novel. This is a complicated time in human history. Cultures rub against each other uncomfortably, in multiple dimensions, of nationhood and class and wealth, old and new.
I chose early on to tell it as fantasy. It might seem an odd choice. Ours is a scientific age. Reason, empiricism and experiment have no better proof than the billions who have been clothed, fed, and largely spared war by the Green Revolution and by globalization. All the powers of ancient fantasy – healing, flying, instant communication, slave intelligences to bring you goods and wealth – are now at the end of a credit card.Fantasy can encode what realism can’t, however. After the Cold War, the notion of a right and a wrong gave way to the negotiation and understanding that business and trade require. More efficient trade destabilized societies on both sides, one with new poverty and one with sudden and unequal wealth. People fear loss, fear the other, crave older certainties. Our cultures frame how we see the world in our earliest days. Mysticism and myth are not so far off as we might think, and all powers come with moral hazard, especially if used blindly.
To the reverse, the story I wanted to tell required the modern world. There’s no way I could have given my female anti-heroine as much agency, and as much power, in a romantic story set in an earlier era. I am pleased my book easily passes the Bechdel and Mako Mori tests for fair representation of women in pop culture, but those are low bars. Not to have equal time in a modern setting would have felt strange – which to me is one of the pluses of a modern setting, and I made the most of it.
I’ve been very busy this fall with the Demon launch! Two literary conventions, two comic conventions, and more to come! (Coming soon: Tony’s essay on how he is promoting his new book. – Ed.)