conducted via email, 12 May 2006:
I've always been intrigued by the notion that our realities almost
always seem to bleed over into our fiction. Here's an example that
I found in your work:
is one of those quirky, perky, radical, post-graduate dropouts,
average height, but with stunning blue eyes, soft, wide lips,
and an enveloping smile. It was at some pub near the Citys
edge where wed first met. Shed been with a group of
young dropouts, artists, musicians, would-be philosophers and
the likethe pathologically nocturnal, terminally unemployableand
they debated everything, the accuracy of our historical records,
the social power structure, dolls rights, you name it.
you aware that your reality is clearly visable in this piece or
did it show up there somewhat un-intentionally? Can you give your
readers a ballpark of the percentage of autobiography that you allow
to peek through your work?
I am aware that a level of my real life shows up in my fiction.
People I've met, places I've been, things I've experiencedthey're
all there to some degree. I think they have to be there if fiction
of any kind is to be accessible to readers. "Write what you
know about" is a maxim that most writing teachers will tell
you. This applies to speculative fiction as well.
Do you think the possibility exists that great fiction can be written
well without basing some of the characters and situations in realities
that we've experienced in one way or another?
I think that is nearly impossible. However, some authors do try,
I suppose, to ride their fiction of their own experiences. Usually
that fiction fails miserably, is dull and not believable. It is
easy to tell when an author is doing what I call "writing with
avoidance"deliberately pushing experience aside. How
can you successfully write about what you don't know? You can't!
Not in fiction, anyway.
read far too many stories these daysparticularly onlinewhere
the idea of the story was great, but the writing was so uninspired
and static that I actually felt embarrassed for the writers. Like
nails on a chalkboard, folks. Makes me cringe.
you are and what you know inevitably bursts through into your workand
you should let it do so!
Is this one of the inherent reasons for your choice to use Rafala
instead of your real name (because of underlying truths in your
work)? Can you talk a bit about the choice to use a fictional name
for your writing?
My choice to use a fake name has nothing to do with me wanting to
hide behind a veil because my life is on display in my fiction.
Not at all. I used a fake name to "test the waters" so
know it is difficult to get published professionally. When I found
out how easy it was to get published online, I thought I would try
it. Online writing gave me the opportunity to perfect my craft,
almost anonymously. That way I could "test drive" my stories
in the open arena that is the Internet, but under a different name
to spare my real identity any critical thrashings.
I have now been published professionally, I publish those works
under my real name. Alien Light 2 will be my last publication
under my false identity. Any future ST publications will carry my
What is the one thing that draws you to SF writing as opposed to
First, the escapism, pure and simpleto be lost in another
world. But I suppose the real reason is that fact that in SF you
can explore the nature of humanity and other painful personal subjects
without being too close to them.
Would you classify your writing as an obsession, a love affair,
or a marriage? Why?
Hum... Well it is a marriage in one sense, as it has its ups and
downs. But an obsession in another way, as I can't seem to stop!
It's as though SF is a parasite that has taken over. A body snatchers
thing, if you will.
What is the one thing you'd like to change or improve in your writing?
To stop trying so hard and let it flow more often. I think my dialogue
can be weak at times. I also have the tendency to over-describe
things. I can be quite wordy.
What's a great piece of advice you've recieved from a mentor, friend,
or professional regarding writing? What advice to you give upcoming
Revision. Revision. Revision. That is the best advice I've been
given, and the best advice I can give to others.
What piece is your favorite and why?
Of my own work? Well, I'd have to say "Wild Seed." It
is my first professionally sold story in Europe. I don't think I've
topped it yet.