Interview with S Amaranthine, author of “The Vencello”

What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?

I am apparently developing and contributing to a new genre with my trilogy: Cetacean Science Fiction. Modern Sci-fi tends to be human centered; especially technology intensive and other species are ‘aliens’, lots of politics and weapons. In Cetacean Science Fiction, dolphins and whales are the key species and telling the story in human terms is a relic. Technology and space ships are minimal if not virtually nonexistent. Natural processes are used for all time travel, etc.

What has been the greatest challenge in writing your books?

Whales echo-locate. Dolphins echo-locate and whistle in a hearing range that is far greater than ours. They don’t use human language. Many viewpoints in the trilogy are from a cetacean or non-human. Putting ideas that have no words in our vocabulary into something that can be understood has been exhilarating. I am a non-linear thinker for the most part and so putting those ideas in a linear sequence is challenging.

What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?

Coming up with ideas! The trilogy involves so many interesting species, urgent survival problems to be solved and even imaginary universes! No problem there!

Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?

I absolutely use an editor. I have an advanced degree but my writing training there was scientific and therefore very abrupt and dry. I would not attempt to write a novel without an editor.

Do you read any of your own work?

Yes. I re-read to make sure that new material I am writing is consistent with what I have written. I also ready it for enjoyment because they are the combination of subject matter I have always wanted to read

Do your novels carry a message?

I hope each reader recognizes patterns that resonate within their own lives! Messages concerning cetaceans (dolphins and whales), the health of the oceans, the complex interdependence of all living things in a system, the importance of family, species survival and so much more!

How realistic are your books?

In the case of The Vencello, apparently, very! I am consistently asked, “Can this really happen?” In Cetapiens, things get much more imaginary: other universes, fusion societies consisting of cetaceans, humans and multiverse time travelers, etc. Much is based on fun scientific theory and written in a very visual style so readers may feel they are ‘really’ there.

Who are your books mostly dedicated to?

A) Any soulmates out there who love cetaceans and despair over their condition.

B) My grown children and my grandchildren who are not born yet.

C) Cetaceans themselves.

I like to think that one day humans and cetaceans will be able to communicate and perhaps these books may be translated for them. Who knows?

Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that?

I try to imagine life as a dolphin, orca or whale. Cetaceans are my muse.

Do you make your own vocabulary words in your book or resort to the existing ones?

I do make up some of my own terms, especially when describing a new universe. I’m making it all up so new words help convey that and eliminate pre-existing assumptions, which is something I strive to do. Really ‘get out of the box/universe’!

Given the chance to live your life again, what would you change about yourself?

No doubt about it, I would like to live as an orca about 10,000 years ago. No human interference, top of the food chain, totally awesome life!

Do you believe you have done enough to leave a legacy behind?

My grown-up children and these books are exactly that, a huge part of my legacy. Once the trilogy is completed I will be pretty well satisfied. I realize that as long as I’m living I will need to do more than writing these books however. I’ll continue to help as much as I possibly can.

Have you ever written a character based on the real you in some part?

All of my characters are me to some extent. Akenehi, the orca matriarch, and Brough, the Aware Master of the Ocean, especially are based on my love for my family and my desire for understanding of all things, respectively.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

I am working on the third and final book in the series entitled Orcasekai.

It is often said that in order to write something, you must believe in what you are writing. Do you agree with that?

Yes, mostly. I am definitely in character when writing just like in a dream everything seems right and acceptable until you wake up. So, while I am writing I let myself believe it not only can happen, it will happen and did happen from a time traveler’s perspective. I ‘write as if’. But once I am done I expect to return to my human life on Earth. That is my beliefs will cease to be fixed to a page and resume being as fluid as they always have, I will accept new data, the well thought out opinions of others, etc.

Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?

I get the scenes in my head then search for music that helps bring them into focus. They pop! I can look around the inner scene, answer questions about what is going and why and then tackle any assumptions that lead to those images. When I write a scene the music is so vital to bringing it all to life that I definitely need to be where I can crank up and loop certain songs. Other people milling around would distract me as the scenes are very otherworldly. I write standing up, undistracted and music playing!

Do you have specific culture you like to write about?

Yes, the fictitious culture of Cetapiens, the sequel to The Vencello, is one in which exists a long standing Alliance between orcas and humans. Their culture attracted multiverse time travelers so in many details is pure fiction. However, it is based very loosely on some facts about the Norte Chico, an ancient enigmatic civilization that predates the Mayans. I have fun with the fact that so little is known about them or appears to have been left to be discovered because, as I like to imagine, time travelers are always there.

Often, we are stuck in situations that we are not able to find a way out of. Have you ever incorporated a real life situation from your own experience into the book and made the character find a way out of it the way you could not?

Yes. I would like to be free to explore the universe and any other universes that might exist. My characters find a way to do that in various ways.

Which character(s), created by you, do you consider as your masterpiece(s)?

Brough and Param. They are knowledge seeking, protectors of the ocean and ultimately the key to their planets salvation. I have been careful to not overwrite those whale characters so the reader always wants more, imagines even more greatness than the books only begin to suggest they are really capable of.

Does the trilogy lend itself to a strong visual movie type?

Playing the movie in my head had helped write the series so of course I have it all planned out! I envision a gorgeously animated epic with computer generated images, rich soundtrack with ethereal whistle/strings for orca sounds and energizing percussion for whale echolocation. Watching the movie in my mind is the best part of the whole creative process! It’s been an awesome place to be!