AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Samuel Peralta

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

“Liberty: Seeking of Habeas Corpus for a Non-Human Being” is about Ellen R, and an attempt to gain freedom and avoid being destroyed. There’s more to it than that—Ellen R’s experience is metaphorical—but I’ll leave the reader to experience that. I think of “Liberty” as a small Frank Stockton or Shirley Jackson story, that poses a conundrum within the question at the end.

What was the genesis of the story—what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

Usually my stories come about as a confluence of several issues I’m thinking about. In the case of “Liberty,” what came together were my thoughts about slavery, abusive relationships, and women’s status in society. “Liberty” is also a set piece in my Labyrinth universe, where the Principles of Robotics are a little different from Asimov’s Laws that we’re all familiar with, put in place in my case by a society that is not perfect, that in its dystopia reflects our own.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

Writing this in a crowd-sourcing framework was particularly challenging, because the subject I decided to deal with was so serious. I decided to use the crowd response as a way to vote on Ellen R’s fate, to make the framework underpin the bigger, societal story.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

I always wonder if I can tackle complex societal issues in a way people haven’t seen before, both in my poetry and fiction. “Sonata Vampirica”—my sonnet cycle—has a similar theme to “Liberty” in terms of examining abusive relationships, but using the vampire as a metaphor. “Liberty” showed me that it was possible to achieve the expressiveness of poetry, but in a speculative fiction framework.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

My research centered around the use of tactical legal strategies to free slaves in England and in the United States. The cornerstone of many legal tactics was the writ of habeas corpus; but its success hinges on one definition in that principle, which is crucial to the story.

What are your thoughts about crowdfunding generally? Do you back a lot of Kickstarters, or at least find a lot of interesting projects because of crowdfunding?

I love the crowdfunding movement—I decided to focus and use it to pay forward whatever small literary success I’ve had by encouraging other artists. So, I’ve produced and supported scores of crowd-sourced films. It started with one animated feature, but that whet my interest, and my roster now includes authorized projects based on Daniel H. Wilson’s The Nostalgist, and Stephen King’s Big Driver and Rest Stop. Enrico Poli, who directed Closure, the first film I decided to go in on as executive producer, he’s a director to watch. I’m particularly fond of Aidan Shipley and Nicole Bond’s Dorsal, written by Grayson Moore and starring a young Peyton Kennedy. Peyton is now in Cannes, and stars in the Atom Egoyan film The Captive, and all the others are really going places. Amazing!

How do you think Kickstarter and self-publishing platforms (like Amazon’s KDP, etc.) are changing publishing?   

These movements are great examples of distributed production and disintermediation, a trend that is going to increase in the future, not just in publishing but in other areas. Manufacturing, for example, is being disrupted by the 3D printer, which puts the power to fabricate complex objects in the hands of people like you and I.

BONUS: What are some examples of fiction you like in which the format helped dictate the story? (i.e., like the stories in HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!, or like a found footage movie, or like Jake Kerr’s “Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince,” etc.)   

One of my particular favorites is John Lanchester’s The Debt to Pleasure, a novel which takes the form of an epicurean cookbook. It makes for fascinating reading as you begin to realize there’s something a little more sinister going on besides the recipes and commentary.