Daniel Price, author of The Flight of the Silvers and The Song of the Orphans, the first books in a science fiction trilogy, agreed to answer a few questions. He’ll be appearing at The Poisoned Pen on Thursday, July 6 at 7 PM. I enjoy the humor shown by so many science fiction and fantasy writers. I hope you check out Daniel’s answers.
Daniel, would you introduce yourself to readers?
Of course. My name’s Daniel Price. I was born and raised in New York City, but I spent most of my adult life in Los Angeles. Two years ago, I fell in love with a fellow writer and moved to Arizona to be with her. She promised I’d get used to the heat out there. That has yet to happen.
I’m a cancer survivor, a graphic designer, an unabashed liberal, and an incorrigible nerd. I also write novels. Penguin has published the first two volumes of my science fiction trilogy, and they’re waiting anxiously for the third one. I’m working on it. I swear.
Would you introduce us to Hannah and Amanda Given and their companions?
The main characters of my series are two sisters and four strangers who were all just ordinary people on our world. Then, without warning, the sky all over Earth turns a bright shade of white and begins descending in a sheet of solid force. Everything’s gone in a matter of moments, but our six heroes are saved by mysterious beings who slap a silver bracelet on each of their wrists.
Next thing they know, these Silvers (as their rescuers call them) have been transported to an alternate Earth, one where history took a sharp left turn in 1912. Now restaurants hover through the air like flying saucers and the fabric of time is manipulated by common household appliances. Our heroes have no idea where they are, what they’re doing, or why they all suddenly have freakish time-bending abilities, but they’re eager to find out. Unfortunately, there are no shortage of people on this world who want to kill them, study them, or simply get revenge. There’s one man who, thanks to extreme temporal manipulations, has a long and fractious history with the Silvers. They don’t remember him at all, but he remembers everything about them.
And just that’s the start of our heroes’ problems.
I’m sure it’s hard to summarize The Song of the Orphans without background information from The Flight of the Silvers. What can you tell us, without spoilers?
The Flight of the Silvers serves as a frenetic introduction to our six main characters and the strange new world they find themselves on. It’s centered around their cross-country quest to find the one man who can help them sort out the mess they’re in.
In The Song of the Orphans, the Silvers are more firmly situated. They have a clearer sense of what’s going on and the stakes of the conflict they’ve been pulled into. But their enemies are getting smarter too, and the mysterious beings who saved our heroes from apocalypse didn’t just do it out of the goodness of their hearts. They have their own plans for the Silvers, and now they’re finally ready to act on them.
Wow. You’re right. It is hard to summarize this stuff. Just read the books, people. You won’t regret it. (Unless you do.)
I’m not going to ask you about the third book. Instead, I’m going to ask you to talk about the use of time in your books.
Yeah, there’s a lot of time-bending going on in my stories, either by superpowered people or by high-tech devices. In writing the Silvers series, I challenged myself to come up with as many different forms of temporal manipulation as I possibly could without relying on time travel. There’s a woman who can slow down time and move faster than everyone around her. There’s a boy who can see the past of any area and reproduce it as holograms. There’s a girl who gets handwritten notes from her future selves, both helpful and not-so-helpful. And those just a few of the ways I screw with time in my books.
More than that, I explore the complex relationship that human beings have with time. Our heroes all survived a devastating apocalypse and are now hunted people on a dying Earth. Needless to say, they’re thinking a lot about their own mortality. The big question is how do you spend your limited time? Do you aim for quality or quantity? Do you settle for contention or do you fight to live a perfect life, enemies be damned? The time-bending takes a back seat to the struggles of my characters.
When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
When I first saw Star Wars in the theaters. Like most kids at the time, I became fanatically obsessed with the world, the characters, the sheer emotional power of the story. I spent the next two years rewriting the screenplay in my head, mostly to incorporate myself into the plot. I was Luke’s plucky little brother (a Jedi, of course), with my own side story and character arc.
It turned out I really liked storyelling. There was nothing else I ever really wanted to do. I was writing my own sci-fi at the age of nine and I never stopped. If my critics are right, then I never improved either.
Tell us about your first experience at a Con.
It was the San Diego Comic-Con of 2004. I went into a restroom and saw a guy dressed as Batman helping a guy dressed as Joker with his lipstick. If that doesn’t sum up Comic-Con, nothing does. It also confirms some long-held theories I’ve had about the Batman/Joker dynamic.
What authors have inspired you?
Oh God. There are too many to count. I’ll just list three:
Kurt Vonnegut. One of my favorite authors of all time. He didn’t consider himself a sci-fi writer, but the Sirens of Titan ranks up there with the best SF classics. He also did some mindblowing time manipulation in Slaughterhouse Five. But between all his high-faluting concepts, Vonnegut never lost sight of the characters. Every one of his novels has something deep and profound to say about human nature. He was just a genius all around.
Chris Claremont. He wrote X-Men comics for Marvel for 17 years, and turned them into the greatest superhero team of all time. (Come at me, nerds. I can argue this for days.) There’s a lot of his influence in my Silvers series, from the superpowers to the group dynamics. It’s not easy to take a group of spandex-wearing mutants and make them seem like real people, but Claremont did it.
JK Rowling. Yeah, I know it’s cliché to cite her as an influence, but her Harry Potter books are a master class in storytelling, especially Books 4 and 5. Not only is she amazing at worldbuilding and characterization, she knows how to get out of her own way. One sentence into any chapter and you forget she’s there. By the second sentence, you forget you’re even reading a book. You’re in the scene. You’re there.
What author would you like to recommend who you think has been underappreciated?
My fiancée, Nancy Price. Four years ago, she wrote a time travel novel called Dream of Time that was absolutely fantastic. It got lost in the clog of Amazon indies, which is a shame. She brought the San Francisco of 1900 to life with insanely detailed research, and she wrapped the whole story around a smart and endearing main character. Her book also had one of the best endings I’ve ever read. She’s brilliant.
And if you’re wondering why my fiancée and I already have the same last name, it’s just odd coincidence. I’m trying to convince her to change her name to Price-Price when we get married. She’s stubbornly resistant to the idea.
And, now that you’ve moved to Arizona, where do you take people when they come to visit?
Inside, where it’s air-conditioned. Seriously, how do you people live in this heat?
As I mentioned, Daniel will be at The Poisoned Pen on Thursday, July 6 at 7 PM. You can order his books through the Web Store. http://bit.ly/2ui7cuL
Daniel Price’s website is http://danielprice.info/