TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
T.C.: The fact that I believe promise and hope press 44-magnums to their own heads, every day.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
T.C.: Michael Herr told it like it was; he trotted through the world with the likes of Tim Page and Sean Flynn, and when you read his work he brings you into an alternate reality of 1960s dope and war, protest and shit-storms. There's no point in reading the lies. I want truth -- from people who know when and where to use "fuck," how to use it as a verb, noun, AND an adjective, the same kind of people who scream "PEACE!" into cameras while swinging clubs and whose veins run with cranberry sauce. Herr influenced me to write Germline. Now I don't know who influences me.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
T.C.: A trainwreck.
TQ: Describe Germline (Subterrene War 1).
T.C.: Germline is the understandable reaction to a decade of war. It's the future foretold by T.C. McCarthy, who can't tell the difference between a terorrist state and having to worry about who's reading his facebook page -- and who thinks that anyone who can tell the difference is the enemy.
TQ: What inspired you to write Germline?
T.C.: My head was rotting. Rot wouldn't have mattered except that it put me in a place where all I saw were the mold and infections in the heads of my counterparts, their words falling apart at the edges -- right at that spot where the ink meets the page. Nothing matters to most people except war, money, and politics, a fact that forced me to read the ass-end of what people call genre (if I wanted to read science fiction) where it became impossible to stomach another still-born Heinlein; happy, happy...happy, happy... and then the hero manages to kill everthing in some sterile conflict that ensures the dominance of white or blue civilization, 71A-Epsilon, just a few wormholes away from Tao-Tao-Magnificus. I wanted to eat the yellow snow; then I wanted to show everyone my grin when I swallowed.
TQ: What sort of research did you do to create the Subterrene War world?
T.C.: I had to ask myself if I wanted to expose a mental battleground -- one that would make some people sick, some people happy, and make some people feel like I'd been digging through their brain with a penlight and a broken shovel. I read and read, and drew from my experiences with studying foreign militaries, before finally deciding that only one thing mattered: depth. And that required stripping naked (metaphorically) to expose what it meant to be paranoid, terrified, and tired.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Germline?
T.C.: I love the opening scene, in which Oscar describes the antibacterial lube; you can't read something like that without thinking that you're in for some kind of ride. That's the moment where the safety bar slams down and there's no turning back unless you want to really embarrass yourself by screaming for the rollercoaster attendant and begging him to let you out. He won't. That's why it's so embarassing.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
T.C.: There's really only one character in Germline, and he was the easiest and hardest to write, both: Oscar Wendell. Oscar was easy to write because it's the one character I've created that came directly from my own experiences; he was difficult to write because he wouldn't let me tell lies, and forced me at gunpoint to tell it like it is, even when I wanted to flinch and gloss over.
TQ: How many books are planned for the series?
T.C.: Three books. Germline is obviously out there and for sale worldwide at all the major retailers. The other two are in the pipeline and coming soon to an outlet near you.
TQ: What's next?
T.C.: Book II will come out in March 2012, and is called Exogene; look out for it! I also have a short story going into the hardcopy edition of Story Quarterly (volume 45): "A.I.P." And I think Orbit will be digitally publishing one of my short stories, "A People's Army," in the near future. I keep updates at my website: www.tcmccarthy.com.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
T.C.: Stop staring.
GermlineThe Subterrene War 1
Orbit, August 1, 2011
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Germline (n.) the genetic material contained in a cellular lineage which can be passed to the next generation. Also: secret military program to develop genetically engineered super-soldiers (slang).
War is Oscar Wendell's ticket to greatness. A reporter for The Stars and Stripes, he has the only one way pass to the front lines of a brutal war over natural resources buried underneath the icy, mineral rich mountains of Kazakhstan.
But war is nothing like he expected. Heavily armored soldiers battle genetically engineered troops hundreds of meters below the surface. The genetics-the germline soldiers-are the key to winning this war, but some inventions can't be un-done. Some technologies can't be put back in the box.
Kaz will change everything, not least Oscar himself. Hooked on a dangerous cocktail of adrenaline and drugs, Oscar doesn't find the war, the war finds him.
About T.C. McCarthy
T.C. has lived in lots of places (the SF Bay Area, Australia, and places he'd rather not mention) but he always seem to wind up back in the south because it's just like the third-world - except with good barbecue. And, he's a writer; his first novel is scheduled for publication in 2011.
Pharmacon (a blog)
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