As always you can find the rest of the interview with the other Blog Ring of Power hosts:
Part 4 @ Emily
Section #4: About Your Current Work
Matt: Caller 107 is a departure from my usual genre of sci-fi cyberpunk. Some years ago, maybe 2004, I had a strange, vivid dream as though from Natalie’s perspective. As far as that dream went, it started at the scene where she is pouting on the stairs after the argument with her mother, and ended about where the book stops.
It was so real and had this inexplicable significance to it that I started writing it down before I lost it. It’s not all too often I remember my dreams, and they’re usually gone by noon. In this case I tried to get a scene-for-scene transcription of it out of my head before it disappeared. This became a 22k “thing” that was too long to be a short story and too small to be a novella.
Certain things about it – the carnival, the chicken, the monkey… They were strange and bizarre to the point where I didn’t think it would go over well. I let it sit on my HD for years. It was pure luck that the file survived several OS reinstalls. Once Division Zero got signed, I found it and remembered it. Not knowing that 22k was an awkward size, I sent it to CQ and asked if there was anything we could do with it.
They suggested expanding it to a novel length. I did – adding more to the beginning before “the porch scene” and little bits here and there throughout. This was the one time so far I didn’t outline, and it took me longer than usual to finish. Fortunately, the people at Curiosity liked it.
As of the time of writing this interview, I’m not 100% sure of the purchase links. I imagine it will be available through Amazon, B&N, Kobo. Details will be up on the CQ site once it releases.
Matt: The hardest part was taking the 22k word story-nugget I had and expanding it up to a novel length without it feeling like I was adding “filler.” The dream only gave me so much to go on, and it started later in the story than could have been – like walking into a movie theater a few minutes after the film begins. The natural place to lengthen was the events leading up to the argument that left her on the porch. Also, the original short had a lot of background conveyed in ‘telling’ that I drew out into full scenes.
Matt: I like the scene where Natalie finally confronts her father. It’s happy and sad at the same time, and I think it shows the mess of things she’s stuck in.
Matt: Ask for an opinion before writing something off as “too strange.” J The odd thing is there’s a certain parallelism here with Stephen King’s Carrie. The story I’ve heard is that he hated it and chucked it, and his wife saved it from a wastebasket. I’ve had a few people tell me Caller 107 reminds them of King, and I almost let it rot on my computer.
Matt: Perhaps one of Karma… I hadn’t thought too much of ‘sending a message’ while writing this, as I was following the dream I’d had.
Matt: The design came from Polina Sapershteyn, after many back-and-forth revisions, tweaks, and suggestions. This was a difficult cover to pin down. I wanted it to convey a mood of supernatural ‘otherness’ while not making it seem like it was meant for young kids. I think she found a good mood for it.
When thirteen-year-old Natalie Rausch said she would die to meet DJ Crazy Todd, she did not mean to be literal.
Two years is a long time to be stuck between two people who want nothing more than to destroy each other. A tween crush on the larger-than-life jock from a local radio station is the only trace of a once-happy life ruined by warring parents.
Whenever WROK 107 ran a contest, she would dive for the phone, getting busy signals and dead air every time. She never expected to get through, but at least with her best friend at her side, it used to be fun.
Before her parents ruined that too.
Her last desperate attempt to get their attention, falling in with a dangerous group of older teens, goes as wrong as possible. With no one left to blame for her mess of a life but herself, karma comes full circle and gives her just a few hours to make up for two years’ worth of mistakes–or be forever lost.