an interview with
Carl Rafala

by Becci Noblit Goodall

Carl Rafala was born in Connecticut. After university, he spent many years travelling through southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, as well as Europe. While exploring the world, he managed to complete his post-graduate work before settling on the south coast of England with his British wife. They have one child, a daughter.

......... ....... ..... ..


Interview conducted via email, 12 May 2006:

Becci Noblit Goodall: 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:

Reena 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 City’s edge where we’d first met. She’d been with a group of young dropouts, artists, musicians, would-be philosophers and the like—the pathologically nocturnal, terminally unemployable—and they debated everything, the accuracy of our historical records, the social power structure, dolls’ rights, you name it.

Are 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?

Carl Rafala: 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 experienced—they'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.

BNG: 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?

CR: 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.

I've read far too many stories these days—particularly online—where 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.

Who you are and what you know inevitably bursts through into your work—and you should let it do so!

BNG: 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?

CR: 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 to speak.

We 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.

As 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 true name.

BNG: What is the one thing that draws you to SF writing as opposed to other genres?

CR: First, the escapism, pure and simple—to 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.

BNG: Would you classify your writing as an obsession, a love affair, or a marriage? Why?

CR: 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.

BNG: What is the one thing you'd like to change or improve in your writing?

CR: 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.

BNG: What's a great piece of advice you've recieved from a mentor, friend, or professional regarding writing? What advice to you give upcoming novice writers?

CR: Revision. Revision. Revision. That is the best advice I've been given, and the best advice I can give to others.

BNG: What piece is your favorite and why?

CR: 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.

























link to