segunda-feira, 21 de dezembro de 2009

A mystery author: Interview with Brendan DuBois

Being compared with such writers like Robert Harris and Philip K. Dick, Brendan DuBois built his career wirting detective stories and thrillers, but also won the prestigious Sidewise Award with the breathtaking novel RESURRECTION DAY, where the USA are bombed by the Cuban missiles, back in the 60¨s.

Now he talks a little about his writings, alternative futures of America if Kennedy had survived or John Kerry had won the 2004 Elections and Vikings in the New World.


Octavio Aragão — Back in 2000, your short story "The Dark Snow" was published in the "Best American Mystery Stories of the Century" anthology alongside Chandler, O. Henry and Steinbeck among others. But, beside the fact that you have a career as a mystery writer, you also wrote political thrillers and even an award winner Alternate History novel, RESURRECTION DAY. Which genre is your favorite and why?

Brendan DuBois — A great question and usually the most popular one I receive. I tend to consider myself both a mystery and a suspense/thriller author, yet when I was younger, I really wanted to become a science fiction author. I wrote dozens and dozens of science fiction short stories, none of which got published. One day, a number of years ago, I had a short story rejected by several science fiction magazines. I rather liked this story, and since it had a mysterious theme to it, I sent it off to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and they published it! That’s how I became a mystery author.

Of my eight published novels, five are traditional first-person mysteries, while the other three are suspense thrillers. I’ve just completed a new suspense-thriller, and I have started the sixth novel in my Lewis Cole mystery series. As to which genre is my favorite... it depends! When I’m writing a complicated suspense-thriller, I yearn for the simplicity of a first-person mystery novel. And yet when I’m writing a first-person mystery novel, I’m thinking ahead of writing another big, sprawling suspense-thriller. But whatever the type of book or short story I’m writing, I consider myself fortunate that I do love writing so.

OA — RESURRECTION DAY is set in an alternate world where the Cuban missiles actually hit the USA. Your characterization of John F. Kennedy is, to say the least, “iconic”. Do you believe that if Kennedy had survived, America would have been a better place in the sixties/seventies? And how topics like Vietnam and the Cold War would have happened in a “Kennedy Alive” scenario?

BDB — A tough question to answer. There’s a school of thought that if JFK had not been assassinated, that the 1960’s would have been a better time, without the Vietnam war, without the social upheaval in the United States, without a generation of protesters and protests that still echo to this day. But who really knows? JFK was a very conservative, Cold War Democrat. One recalls his inauguration speech, when he told about “paying any price, bearing any burden” The 1960’s might have been a more peaceful decade. But JFK may have gotten the United States involved in other military adventures during his terms in office. Yet there were some stirrings, just before his assassination, of a detente between his administration and Nikita Khrushchev.

An intriguing question that we’ll never know the answer to.

OA — Is there any kind of influence of Harris' FATHERLAND or Dick's MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE in the plot of RD? I ask because of the “hidden-plans-within-hidden-plans” structure that runs through the novel.

BDB — While I’ve read both novels, I’d like to think that there wasn’t much in the way of influence in how I came to write RESURRECTION DAY. When doing an alternative history novel, one challenge is to tell the story of this alternative universe without having a character sit down and dictate the history of this particular universe to the reader. There has to be a narrative hook,something that moves the reader along while also informing him. That particular hook in RESURRECTION DAY was the hunt for the secrets of how the Cuban War came about and who was responsible.

OA — Your newest book, BURIED DREAMS, deals with the possibility of the existence of Vikings in American territory more than a thousand years ago and is also a murder mystery novel. How much of Historical research you had to do before begin the writings and how did it merged with the traditional “crime” narrative?

BDB — I’ve always been fascinated with the history of New England and its early settlers, and I have always had interest in tales of explorers who came to these shores prior to the English in the late 1500’s.

The idea of Vikings traveling here all the way from Iceland and Greenland was just irresistible to me, and was the key for my fifth Lewis Cole novel, BURIED DREAMS The amount of research was not that much -- I had a folder that I would occasionally place articles about Vikings and archaeology, plus I did some Internet research -- but I made sure that the facts were accurate. In terms of merging with the traditional crime narrative, the story was about the hunt for missing Viking artifacts and the killer of the amateur archaeologist that was a friend of my narrator, Lewis Cole. It didn’t have to be Viking artifacts; it could have been Colonial artifacts or priceless treasure from the American Civil War or something else. But for me and for the story, Vikings worked.

OAThe background scenario built for RD is minuciously detailled and very well built in political therms. Based in your accurate eye for details, causes and conseqüences, how do you see the USA politics today and how would have been the future if George W. Bush had lost the last American election?

BDB — There’s been a lot of discussion that the United States is in a terrible state, that never have politics been so vicious, and that we are a bitterly divided country Perhaps, but as one who loves history, I know that politics in this country have always been hard-fought, with lots of negative comments and advertisements. For example, Abraham Lincoln today is one of most loved and revered presidents, but at the time, when he was president, he was bitterly criticized in the press, called an ape and a baboon, and even worse.

John F. Kennedy is memorialized in museums and has airports, highways and schools named after him, but at the time of his presidency, he was criticized for being a lightweight, someone who was all glamour and no substance.

These are just two examples. There was the turmoil in the late 1800’s, as the United States shifted from an agrarian to an industrial society. During the 1930’s, during the Great Depression, there were calls for revolution. And the 1960’s were certainly a time of riots in the streets and political assassinations.

So no, I don’t think there’s anything too different about today’s politics.

Regarding the future if George W. Bush had lost the election... again, I’m not sure how much difference would have taken place if John F. Kerry had won election. A President John Kerry would still have a Republican-dominated Congress to deal with, a Congress that would have been hostile to any major changes in policy, so I don’t think there would have been much difference. Of course, this is just my opinion; I’m sure many others would disagree, and that’s the beauty of our political system.

quinta-feira, 10 de dezembro de 2009

About regular folks: Interview with Poppy Z. Brite

Miss Brite is a writer with an attitude. Her characters are full of personality and life, more and more human and real, even when she deals with the depresive undead, avenging zombies or gay self-destructive popstars.

She claims that is not interested in genres and that her last two novels are much more about the so called real world than the books that gave her some notoriety in the Gothic fandom, but even so is possible for the careful reader to notice some fantastic flavor under the placid streets of New Orleans.


Octavio Aragão - Your work is very consistent when focuses the so called "men´s world", as seen in Liquor, Prime and even Plastic Jesus. The voice of your male characters are very believable, which is not an easy task since some famous authors like Anne Rice and Marion Zimmer Bradley fails terribly when they try to write down convincing men. What´s your secret to build such a strong cast?

Poppy Z. Brite - I guess it's that I have never felt like a female, or like a female author. I admire some female authors tremendously, but in every sense except the strictly biological, I identify as a male author.

OA - You wrote vampire tales (Lost Souls), some kind of apocryphal Alternate History (Plastic Jesus) and even a Holmesian crime story (The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone). Are you a genre writer or just a pro writer who travel through genres? I mean, how do the things work? You think "now I want to write a Conan Doyle crime story" or you just write it to fill some editorial need?

PZB - The Holmes/Lovecraft story was co-written with David Ferguson for Shadows Over Baker Street, an anthology of fiction that blended the traditions of Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft. It would never have occurred to me to write such a story otherwise (and I should say that "Violet Stone" is more David's story than mine – I think I wrote the first six pages). I'm not very interested in genre; I just write about what interests me most. Right now that's the New Orleans restaurant world, a pair of young chefs, and their large Irish-Italian-Catholic family, all featured in my recent novels Liquor and Prime and my novel-in-progress Soul Kitchen.

Octavio Aragão & Carlos Fernandes Machado - I said that you wrote some "apocryphal" Alternate History. I was refering to Plastic Jesus, since it is a clear reference to Lennon and McCartney if they were lovers, not just working partners. Why not using their real names since it is a fiction work, turning it into a *real* Alternate History piece? Were you afraid of a bad reaction by the surviving Beatles or their legal representatives (lawyers, wives, sons, etc)?

PZB -No, but I wasn't interested in writing fanfiction either. That's a genre I disdain pretty seriously. I'm not entirely happy with the way Plastic Jesus turned out, but in the end, I hope I did manage to make the characters my own rather than pallid versions of Lennon and McCartney.

OA - You were not a fan of James O´Barr´s great comic/gothic creation, The Crow, but even so, you did wrote Lazarus Heart, a great novel (of two?) about the character. I believe this kind of answers my second question, but here we go anyway... :-) Why did you dislike The Crow and how did you find a way to like it that made you capable to write a novel about him?

PZB - First, I didn't write two Crow novels; just one, The Lazarus Heart. Second, I wouldn't say I disliked the comic -- it just didn't particularly interest me. The first movie did, though. I thought the script was well-done (by David J. Schow and John Shirley) and the thing was beautifully filmed. When publisher Harper Collins asked me to write a novel set in the world of The Crow, once I had as certained that I would be able to use my own characters and storyline, it didn't seem that different from writing any other novel – after all, the concept of someone returning from the dead to seek revenge is an old horror concept, not original to these stories.

OA - Seems clear to me that New Orleans is as much a character in your books as each guy named "Nothing" or "Seth". How much inspiratin do you *drain* from your relatives and the places you like? if you really do that - in order to build a character? And which one of your creations is the most like you?

PZB - The most wonderful thing about New Orleans (out of so many) is the voices you hear on the street every day. I love the way people talk, and I love to listen to them. This is my hometown, but I lived away for several years. The longer I live back here, the less interested I am in writing about spooky kids, serial killers, and such, and the more interested I become in writing about the regular folks of New Orleans: the cooks, the bartenders, the working Joes. They are at least as unusual as the self-proclaimed "freaks," and to my mind, anyway, far more interesting these days.

People who know us well say that the two young chefs of Liquor and Prime, Rickey and G-man, are much like me and my husband – me being Rickey, the bad-tempered one who agonizes over everything, and Chris being G-man, the easy-going nice guy.

OA - Thank you very much, Miss Brite. For more about Poppy Z. Brite and her novels, please visit her site, or her blog. She’s also on Twitter.

domingo, 6 de dezembro de 2009

Transmissores de opinião: Entrevista com Moon & Bá

Depois de colecionar prêmios HQ Mix, essa dupla de quadrinistas transpôs barreiras, fronteiras e preconceitos, publicando histórias de cunho autoral nos EUA e, contrariando os paradigmas que estabelecem que brasileiro na América do Norte é apenas ilustrador de aluguel da Marvel ou da DC Comics, acabaram indicados ao prestigioso prêmio Eisner, o Oscar da indústria dos comics. Fábio Moon e Gabriel Bá, numa entrevista de 2004: os artistas que provaram que todo mundo gosta de pãezinhos e quadrinhos brasileiros.


Octavio Aragão Já li comparações do trabalho de vocês com o de Brian Azzarelo e Eduardo Rizzo, na série 100 Balas. Particularmente, discordo. Vejo possíveis afinidades com o David Lapham, criador de Balas Perdidas, mas, além disso, há uma indiscutível "brasilidade" na iconografia de vocês - a começar pelo nome da série 10 Paezinhos.

Há alguma preocupação em manter uma identidade nacional ou isso já está tão impregnado que é automático? Se é assim, a recente notícia da publicação de Meu Coração, Não Sei Por Quê nos EUA, sob o codinome Ursula, será uma injeção de brasilidade iconográfica nas veias do comic americano?

Moon & Bá – Todos artistas têm suas influências e seus gostos particulares. Nós gostamos muito do jogo de luz e sombra e da plasticidade de histórias urbanas, tramas que usam elementos reais um pouco distrorcidos, mesclados com um pouco de fantasia. Por essa razão, artistas que usam bem estes dois elementos sempre chamarão nossa atenção, o que é o caso do Eduardo Risso e do David Lapham, assim como o Will Eisner, Frank Miller e Mike Mignola. Agora, olhando mundo afora, existem semelhanças inexplicáveis nas abordagens de artistas "latinos" nos Quadrinhos, grupo no qual nos encaixamos também, e creio que seja uma forte influência européia em todos nós, tanto os brasileiros quanto os argentinos.

Mas nossa maior influência é o Laerte, pois crescemos lendo suas histórias e a sua relação com São Paulo é muito próxima da nossa, sendo a cidade quase um personagem a mais. Essa bagagem sempre estará presente em nosso trabalho, não importa que história estejamos contando. Antigamente as influências ficavam muito superficiais, limitadas à imagem e à cópia, mas hoje elas são mais profundas e não atrapalham mais nosso trabalho, ao contrário, só ajudam a ressaltar o que ele tem de melhor.

OA – A preocupação de vocês em fazer de seu trabalho um produto misto de conceito e estética transborda as páginas e chega a influenciar suas roupas (digo isso baseado nas indumentárias que vocês usaram numa entrevista para o Jornal da Globo, no ano passado), que fogem a passos largos do visual nerd que campeia entre profissionais da área dos quadrinhos brasileiros. Resumindo: vocês são quadrinistas "fashion". =).

Como é isso? Vocês são mesmo extensão de seu trabalho nesse sentido? O produto também é a figura de vocês? Faz alguma diferença na hora de negociar com alguma editora ou agente?

M&B – Acho que o caminho é inverso, uma vez que a maneira que vivemos e nos vestimos transborda em nosso universo imagético. É um desafio muito mais difícil criar um personagem que é o nosso avesso, se veste de forma que nunca nos vestiríamos e age de forma contrária às nossas crenças. Mas esse tipo de desafio é o que faz o seu trabalho crescer. Contamos histórias muito próximas de nós, da nossa geração, do nosso mundinho, mas nos preocupamos em não limitar as histórias somente a isso.

O conceito e a estética que colocamos nas histórias só ajudam a dar mais tridimensionalidade à trama e aos personagens, mais credibilidade. Dessa maneira, o trabalho sozinho dirá tudo que há pra ser dito mas, além disso - e isso vem principalmente da época do fanzine - precisamos acreditar nas histórias que contamos pra convencer o público a comprá-las, por isso tanto esforço no conceito que é injetado nas HQs.

OA – E o Prêmio Eisner, heim? Autobiographix concorrendo a melhor antologia, pau-a-pau com feras do calibre de Neil Gaiman e Art Spiegelmann. Quem recebeu essa notícia? Gabriel e Fábio, os "profissionais", ou Fábio e Gabriel, os "fãs"? Como foram os primeiros minutos depois de receberem a notícia? A indicação já rendeu frutos ou a publicação de Ursula não tem nada a ver com isso?

M&B – Foi ótimo saber que o livro está concorrendo ao Eisner. Certamente traz alegria a ambos os lados: o do fã e o do profissional. Se já era um grande prêmio ter sido convidado a participar do livro, ser indicado ao Eisner só coroa a experiência. Ainda não rendeu frutos, mas acreditamos que não passará despercebido aos olhos do mercado americano.

A publicação da Ursula foi resultado de um contato feito o ano passado, na Comicon de San Diego, com o pessoal da AIT/Planet Lar.

OA – Vamos àquela pergunta fatal: quem, no Brasil, leva nota dez: os quadrinistas ou os chargistas? É mais fácil fazer charge ou quadrinhos e por que?

M&B – O chargista precisa estar sempre informado e atento ao "hoje" para que sua crítica seja pontual e não genérica. Falta um pouco dessa atenção nos quadrinhistas, dessa pesquisa e aprofundamento.

Por outro lado, fazer HQ dá muito mais trabalho do que charge e precisa de muito mais empenho, uma vez que você fica um ano fazendo a mesma história.

Mas ninguém merece nota dez. Todo mundo poderia se empenhar mais no seu trabalho, seja em quantidade, seja em qualidade, seja no que eles querem dizer ou quem procuram atingir.

OA – E a questão política? Os quadrinhos podem influenciar na vida sócio-política do Brasil ou são "lúdicos demais" para isso?

M&B – Nesse ponto existe o maior engano sobre Quadrinhos no Brasil. É possível contar histórias sérias em Quadrinhos, ao contrário do que se vê em abundância por aí, que é o humor. Se os chargistas, por exemplo, lançassem mão do senso crítico e estético que usam nas charges numa HQ, já seria um avanço. O ilustrador é um dos críticos mais cruéis, e as charges atiram para todos os lados, impiedosas, mas fica somente nesse pequeno universo. Continuar com esse discurso numa HQ dá mais trabalho, então precisa de mais apoio financeiro e faz mais crítica, precisando de mais culhão para ser impresso. O que não dá para continuar é usar quadrinhos apenas para materiais didáticos e manuais de cidadania. Fazer Quadrinhos está muito mais ligado à transmitir opinião do que somente servir como ilustração.