Eluciaë preparing signs in verse
And sculpting symbols hidden in the skies
Awaiting One so Ephaïl may rise
At last reborn in thew to clash divine
With Déhath ere His darkness vanquish time
Just over a year ago I was privileged to be introduced to the science fiction work Who is Kai? by a fellow writing friend I had just met on Facebook. As the story, which is posted online once a week, was already quite a few chapters in, I was determined to read through what had already been posted in order to catch up with the story, since the merest glimpse at a few sentences convinced me that it was going to be worth it. At the same time, I was getting to know the author, as he enjoys interacting with his readers (aka followers) on his Facebook page.
My overall impression of this fantastic writer is that he can only be given one title: Master Wordsmith. He is brilliant at his craft, conjuring images upon images in a gentle yet determined manner, constantly drawing one onwards through a scene to a greater one beyond.
I digress. It is an honour to introduce you to Ian Peaston, the author of Who is Kai? and a wonderful musician. He styles himself
Ian, please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a musician. I played violin for many years in orchestras before I realised that I don’t like playing violin in orchestras. I think my writing, like my electric violin projects, has been about finding a new way to express what I don’t get to express through the traditional channels of orchestral playing. It’s a very “developed-world” problem, I know.
Your “Who is Kai?” story is a science fiction work. What attracts you to science fiction?
I grew up with science fiction – mainly movies and TV, such as Star Wars and Star Trek, etc. I think it was the sense of wonder that I loved – amazing characters, places and adventures. Later on I started to realise how you could tell “real” stories using science fiction (or any genre) as a backdrop.
Why do you write science fiction?
As above. Also, when I read Tolkien as a teenager, I remember thinking, “I want to write something like that!” (There seems to be a big crossover between fantasy and science fiction – perhaps it’s that limitless, otherworldly sense of wonder again.)
How did you first meet Kai?
Kai’s story actually began with the plot rather than the character, and that plot began with the ending (which I probably won’t get to actually write in prose until about 4 years from now). I first used it in a really rather terrible Star Trek movie script I tried to write. It was about 500 pages long, so I realised it was never going to get made, and would probably fill out a trilogy. After that I started jotting down some notes for another story for a Han Solo/Indiana Jones-type character. It was going to be an out-and-out action movie. Over time, however, the action alone lost my interest, and it combined itself with the science fiction plot.
You have a very interesting style of writing. How would you describe it?
I once called it “stream of visual consciousness”. But even just plain-old “poetic prose” will make enough people laugh to make me happy.
What influenced the decision to adopt this particular style?
It grew naturally out of my poetry, which had been a completely separate part of my writing before I decided to write Kai in prose, and my visual style, which I’m pretty sure came naturally from me thinking in terms of film.
I've seen that you like to use images or real-life people that relate to characters or scenes described in your writing. Which comes first, the images (or people), or the ideas?
The ideas come first. I think characterisation and dialogue are the least-developed parts of my writing, so I imagine actors or other real people as I write the characters in Kai’s story to ground them to some kind of reality.
To publish or not to publish, that is the question?
The answer is yes, but I’m not sure which way yet. I have various ideas, but I’ll probably wait until I have a complete manuscript. I think it might be a hard sell, though, so another story entirely might actually become my first novel.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Don’t think too much about what you are meant to write, or what will be accepted. If you write that way, you may well be accepted and published, but you probably won’t be saying anything worth reading.
Any upcoming news or plans?
Musically, yes -- I’ll have my new electric violin performance ready by this summer, which I’m really excited about, as well as electric violin lessons and workshops. In terms of writing, I’m continuing as I have for the past year or so, releasing one chapter every week. When I have the full book, that’ll be the time to work out what to do next.
If you didn't play the violin, would you still play music? If so, what instrument?
No doubt. Maybe piano, or electric guitar in a band. Or I’d be an electronica “laptopist”.
Would you go into Space, given the chance?
Whoever offered me wouldn’t need to finish the sentence.
What's your favourite place in the world, and why?
Still looking for it.
Coffee or Hot Chocolate?
Who said coffee? WHO?!
Summer or Winter?
Summer. Winter should be banned.
Black and White, or Colour?
Pasta. Or shrimp. Or pasta and shrimp.
Car or Motorbike?
Car. I love cycling, but I’d be too scared for my violin hands to ride a motorbike every day, as everyone – everyone – falls off at some point.
Ian, thank you very much for taking time out of your hectic schedule to answer these questions. It is a privilege to have got to know you over the last year, and an honour to have you “resident” on my blog.
Who is Kai? to get to know Kai. Even if science fiction isn’t your “thing”, I can assure you that you will be mesmerised, as I was, by the sheer power of words. You can rest assured, you will never have read anything quite like it, or have seen such scenes as Ian builds in your mind.
Please feel free to ask Ian any more questions that you may have – he has carte blanche on this post!
Links for Ian and several of his projects can be found here.
Permission to use the images in this post obtained from Ian Peaston at the time of planning this interview.