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Author Interview: M. Darusha Wehm
2016-05-24 · by Kerstin
Darusha Wehm is originally from Canada, but currently lives in Wellington, New Zealand after spending the past several years sailing around the Pacific. As M. Darusha Wehm she’s published five science fiction novels and many short stories. Without the M. she writes mainstream fiction. Find out more at http://darusha.ca.
This interview was conducted via email.
Kerstin Hall: Was Alexander Systems your first interactive fiction project? Given your fairly extensive record of publishing more traditional narratives, how do the writing practices compare?
M. Darusha Wehm: It was my first IF project! I originally wrote this as a linear story, even though the story I was trying to tell was marked by choices and consequences. Once I started playing with Twine, I saw how I could tell the stories I wanted to by letting the reader play an active role. That said, writing a story with the branches and choices built-in initially would be a preferable method, I think.
Kerstin: How did your interest in the IF arise?
Darusha: I read Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid, but as an adult I’ve long been a fan of Visual Novels, particularly the work of Christine Love. Generally, I’m thematically interested in choice. I love that IF is becoming more well-known among readers and hope to see it become even more popular.
Kerstin: Are you working on any other projects, IF or otherwise? If so, call you tell us anything about said projects?
Darusha: I’m definitely working on more IF, though I don’t like to talk too much about works in their early stages. However, I can talk about my mainstream series that began in February. It’s a series of short books called Devi Jones’ Locker. Here’s the blurb for Packet Trade, the first book in the series:
Tropical adventures. A rag-tag sailing crew. Running off-grid data servers? Sounds legit.
Devi Jones is a year away from graduating with a Computer Science degree and it’s internship time. But usually the ship part isn’t quite so literal. She gets hired by Really Remote Desktop, a cloud data storage company that keeps their servers in odd places, like the bilge of a hundred-foot sailboat.
How can a homebody like Devi step on to a boat with six strangers and sail away from everything she has ever known? All while trying to do her best at her first real job? Being in a tropical paradise helps — but only until things start to go wrong.
Kerstin: Where did the inspiration for Alexander Systems come from?
Darusha: A lot of my fiction deals with questions about the nature of reality and, on a more mundane level, the tedium of modern work. I’m also very interested in current research into the extent to which our choices are governed by chemical processes in our brains rather than our conscious minds – that we are essentially programmed by our bodies.
Kerstin: Who is Alexander?
Darusha: I couldn’t say. However, on an unrelated note, readers of twentieth-century Soviet fiction might find aspects of this story somewhat familiar.
Kerstin: What do you do for a living?
Darusha: This is it! I’m lucky enough to have writing and editing as my full-time job.
Kerstin: What do you do for fun?
Darusha: I enjoy tabletop and video games, I make beer, and I’m a football (as in soccer) fan.
Kerstin: Give me one unusual factoid about yourself.
Darusha: Until recently, I lived on a sailboat, which my partner and I sailed from Canada to New Zealand (with many stops along the way).
Kerstin: You emigrated from Canada to New Zealand. What is the best thing about your new home and what do you miss most about Canada?
Darusha: New Zealand is a beautiful country with a marvelous sense of community among the people, which is a potent combination. Obviously, I miss my friends and family from Canada most, but also doughnuts. The doughnuts in New Zealand are all wrong.
Kerstin: Describe yourself as a writer.
Darusha: A critic once said that I write “Golden Age-style SF with a modern sensibility.” I don’t know if I buy that completely, but it’s a reasonable place to start.
Kerstin: If readers want more of your work, what would you recommend as a starting point?
Darusha: The first book in my near-future LGBT cyberpunk detective series is Self Made and is available as a free ebook in most storefronts. If short fiction is more your thing, my website has a list of short stories, many of which are free to read.
Kerstin: What would you say to an author of traditional fiction who was considering trying out IF for the first time?
Darusha: Go for it! There’s a learning curve to be sure, more so if you aren’t familiar with any programming languages, but it’s not insurmountable at all. And there are so many interesting things you can do with narrative when you allow the reader to control how the story is revealed.
Kerstin: What are your goals for the future?
Darusha: I think of myself as of a “process” than a “goals” person, but I suppose that’s splitting hairs. I have the rest of Devi Jones’ Locker coming out this year, plus several irons in the fire for the future. I try not to plan more than one or two projects at a time, because I’ll get distracted by the new shiny thing and lose momentum on whatever I’m currently working on.
Kerstin: When you were six years old, what did you want most in the world? What do you want right now?
Darusha: When I was six, I wanted to live on a space colony when I grew up. What do I want now? Same thing!
Kerstin: Dogs or cats?
Darusha: Woof woof!
Kerstin: If you had a million clowns, a million dollars and a million litres of soda, how would you take over the world?
Darusha: I’d use some of the money to buy a bunch of Mentos, then use the rest to send the clowns around the world and entertain people with the Mentos and cola trick, bringing happiness and science to all the people of the land.