15 February 2008

Author Interview: David E. Hughes

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Dave. I know you are very busy, but I'm sure the stupendous honor of being selected for Editor's Corner makes it all worth it.

What was your inspiration for this story? Tell the truth, 'The Amazing Mechanical Wife', is autobiographical, right? I mean, I've met your wife and she's pretty perfect.

Hmm. Now that you mention it, she does not seem to be aging like I am, and I've wondered how she gets into some of those strange yoga poses. She also exhibits some unusual behaviors, but I always figured it was because she was from Texas. After all, George W. Bush also exhibits strange behaviors, and he's from Texas . . . . or IS he?

And your adorable kids, they're androids, too?

No, but I admit there are times I wish they had an "off" button-or at least a mute.

I'm guessing you rushed to submit this story to Electric Spec first? What are your thoughts on the short spec fic market these days?

I confess I submitted this story to some other markets first. I ended up getting lots of positive feedback, but no sales. It's tough selling spec fic stories, even to semi-pro markets. I also think humor is especially difficult to sell. I had another humor piece where the editor wrote back to me saying she liked the story, but she thought it would be stronger if I took out the humor. I did ask she asked, but have not heard whether she is going to buy it yet.

In general, what do you think a short story needs in terms of character arcs?

No matter what kind of speculative fiction story you are writing, it is critical to keep in mind that your protagonist(s) needs an arc. When I'm developing a story, I ask myself if the plot events changed the protagonist. He, she, or it needs to be a different person (or machine) than he/she/it was at the end of the story. The change does not need to be huge, but the reader needs to be able to feel it. If I don't see that change, I reexamine the story so I can discover what it's really about.

I think what I like best about this story is the ambiguity. It reminds me a little of the movie 'Total Recall' (is it real or is it Recall?). What were you trying to achieve with the story?

I wrote this story because I was thinking about the flaws in electronic communication. I wanted to see if I could write a story using only e-mails and messaging, rather than narrative or dialogue, and work in the kind of confusion that can arise when the exchange of information is hampered by the medium. Because I was telling the story using an inherently ambiguous form of communication, it seemed only right that the ambiguity remain at the end of the story.

Speaking of movies, what actor do you see playing your protagonist in the movie version of 'The Amazing Mechanical Wife'? How about the wife? Who should play her?

Since the movie would be a comedy, I'd like to see Will Farrell in the role of Theodore. As for Andra, I'd cast Kirsten Dunst. Come to think of it, maybe I should invite Kirsten over for dinner to discuss the idea. I'm sure my wife wouldn't mind, being from "Texas" and all.

Given the prevalence of pornography-- Oh, wait, you're a fine upstanding citizen, you probably don't know what that is. Pornography is images, etc. created solely for prurient purposes. Anyway, given its prevalence, do you think sex robots will actually be created some day?

Boy, you really are going far a field from my expertise, but I'll try to answer anyway. The short answer is no. It seems to me technology will continue to develop in ways that try to address human needs. Ironically, one of those needs is being in relationship with other humans. I find it interesting to think about whether technology is helping or hurting those relationships, and how it will affect relationships in the future. Networking sites such as Facebook and internet dating tools are examples of technology being used to foster human to human connections. In that way, I think technology can be successful (at least to a point). However, technology will fall flat when it comes to replacing human to human relationships with human to machine relationships. This includes the various kinds of connections humans can make: sexual, emotional, and intellectual.

I'm sorry. FedEx is at the door with a special home ...appliance delivery from Japan. I'm anxious to try him, er, it out. I have to finish this interview ASAP. Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?

No, I think I hear my wife calling. Something about it being recharging . . . er, dinner time.

Thanks, Dave!
Readers, check out the story in the February 28,2008 issue!


lesleylsmith said...

Wow! What a great interview! :)
Dave seems like a really interesting author! :)

David E. Hughes said...

Thanks, I feel better now that someone has left a comment--even though it is biased.