Interview with Eric Del Carlo

I've had the good fortune of editing Eric's last few books for Loose Id. He's an extraordinary sci fi writer whose work is right up my alley.


Today, in honor of the release of Through a Midnight's Mist, the third book featuring Nickerson and BlaqJaq, he's graciously agreed to let me interview him.


Here it is:


GG: Tell us about how you created this world in which BlaqJaq and Nickerson live. How did you develop it?Where did you get the inspiration?

EDC: The attraction arose from the possibility of writing a novella, a form that had always fascinated me but which very few magazines will even look at.  Seeing Loose Id's guidelines for the first time provided the "inspiration," and from there it was a pragmatic matter of putting together a workable world and characters that would accommodate this particular length.  I imagine that sounds mercenary, but BlaqJaq and Nickerson did come to life for me as soon as I set them loose in their nihilistic, cyberpunk setting.  The world, a crumbling corrupt future Earth, fell together pretty easily.  I wanted something less glamorous than, say, Neuromancer, but still recognizably of that genre.

GG: What made you want to follow them through three books? What is it you love about these guys?


EDC: In the version of Steel Sleet (the first of the series) that I originally submitted, BlaqJaq and Nickerson parted ways at the end. Treva Harte suggested I keep them together to cover the eventuality of a sequel, which hadn't occurred to me at the time.  I thought this would be a one-off story.  But the fix was easy and did nothing to disrupt the plot.  And, of course, it put the idea of a sequel in my head, which led to Blood in the Water and now Through a Midnight's Mist.  BlaqJaq and Nickerson are a very complementary duo to me. Where one is weak, the other is strong, and vice versa.  They embody youth and experience, hotheadedness and cold professionalism, student and mentor.  But they aren't a simple yin and yang.  Nickerson is a kind of older alternate version of BlaqJaq, who we meet as a youthful
"streetmuscle" surviving in a brutal, futuristic underworld (a literal underworld, in fact).  Nickerson started his own life in a similar manner, but was recruited as an off-world assassin.  He is what BlaqJaq might have become under the same circumstances.  So there is a lot to bounce between the two characters, which has been a great deal of fun for me.


GG: One of the elements I love about these stories is that, though the future seems quite bleak in some areas -- like Earth -- you've still allowed for some forward progression as far as ideology goes. For instance, gay marriage is legal in the future that exists in the book. How did you balance that optimism against a rather dark backdrop?


EDC: Again, it's the element of fun, which in futuristic science fiction writing is the luxury of creating your tomorrow however you like.  I do tend to write about bleak futures, simply because I'm more wired for them and find them more familiar than optimistic ones. Making sex same marriage a wholly accepted fact in my BlaqJaq and Nickerson stories is more a logical speculative decision on my part than any kind of whim.  When I was a kid, I couldn't wrap my brain around such things as Jim Crow laws or racial prejudice in general. It just made no earthly sense.  Today the issue of sexual orientation is, thankfully, becoming the same sort of non-issue among our newly minted adults.  Every time a group of goons with hate-spattered signs gets together in one of their simian protests against same sex marriage or any of the other related causes that scare the bejeezus out of them, I can only think how they are going to look in the archival news footage.  They are going to be as incomprehensible and subhuman as anybody in a Klan robe.


GG: Let's talk a little bit about The Bleed. This was a totally different type of science fiction. How did that come about?


EDC: I find alternate universes fairly irresistible.  I think the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror" permanently hooked me on these as a child.  I had done some short fiction in this subgenre.  Taking it on
in book-length form simply led me to the idea of multiple universes, with the main characters hopping from one to the other willy-nilly. This would afford me the opportunity to build whole new worlds
repeatedly throughout the course of the book.  More work for me as a writer?  You bet.  But it was very enjoyable work.  It was also a neat twist, I thought, to plug a thriller type story into such a metaphysical subject.  The characters are, in a sense, pursuing god after all.  Looking back, I find that novel wonderfully complete--a story that once told, stays told.


GG: I suppose this is a fairly trite question, but what advice do you
have for people looking to get into the M/M science fiction erotic
romance writing business?


EDC: I don't differentiate between romance writing and any other kind.  I write a lot of non-erotic material--fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery.  Disciplining yourself as a writer will get you far. I don't rely on inspiration (see above), nor do I believe in writer's block.  I treat writing like it's a job.  I've worked plenty of day jobs where I didn't feel like working on a given day.  Somehow, though, I didn't have the option of claiming I wasn't inspired or that I had "job block."  No one does.  You go in, punch the clock, and do the gruel.  As for M/M s-f erotic romance specifically, I've found it has opened up possibilities for writing that weren't there before.  I don't know that I could have sold The Bleed as a non-erotic work, for instance.  To anyone looking at this field I would say:  learn to write a good sex scene.  It's not so much the sex; it's the tension that the two (or three or four or whatever) characters bring into the room with them.  Are they nervous?  Are they out of their minds with desire?  Are they in danger of being caught in the act?  Your
characters make the situations erotic.

GG: So what's next for your readers? What can we expect to see?


EDC: I recently cowrote a book with Amber Jayne Dodd, a talented writer friend of mine.  She had concocted a trippy world of alien invasion, postapocalyptic despotism, revolutionaries and all sorts of
other fascinatingly trippy elements.  I helped her shape all these things into a blisteringly erotic novel entitled Elyria, which--who knows?--Loose Id might publish sometime in the not too distant future.


ericdelcarlo.com or search Eric Del Carlo at Amazon.com

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