Today I'd like to welcome Eric Staggs, author of “Airlocks and the Apocalypse” to The Thursday Interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!
Writing from Madison, Wisconsin, Eric Staggs earned an interdisciplinary BA from Columbia College Chicago in Creative Writing and Screen Writing in 2006. Eric earned his MFA in Creative Writing early in 2011. Past works include “The Darkest Age,” a horror role-playing game and “Epic Transgressions,” another collection of short fiction. His hobbies include philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, classical history, gaming, strategy, literature, cinema, cultural trends, technology, Buddhism and of course, zombies. His influences range from Roger Zelazny and Frank Herbert to Charles Bukowski and Sartre.
OK - HERE WE GO !!
No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?
Of course! The laws of men hold no sway over those who would shape the future. Joking. Actually, I would certainly break a law to save a loved one. Hell, I probably have. Besides, most laws are for people who don’t understand cause and effect. I’m kidding – sort of. For example, I don’t need a law to tell me to wear a motorcycle helmet – that’s a given. The law that says I can’t teach evolution? That’s… that’s not okay. So, to answer the why, it’s two parts – the value of my loved one is far greater than any court of the land, and two – come on – a jury of your peers? Have you seen a newspaper?
No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
We have huge swaths of people who just go through the motions – sucking air, paying taxes and breeding – that’s being a live. The biological imperative. Truly living means taking an idea and helping the species reach new heights – creating building, learning. I see people with all the opportunities available to them – solid families, education (possible debt free), and they still don’t engage in the meaningful parts of existence. Football over art – ignorance over unraveling mystery. Culturally we’re setting a dangerous precedent. As our society hides from intellectualism, the standards drop – good enough isn’t, and never has been – this is the key difference between existing to use resources and existing to become a resource for the world.
No.3 What motivates you to write?
Social commentary is often at the core of my fiction. I feel that someone along the way should speak out. I often wonder about the veracity of future historical documents. The world is big, space is vast, and there’s so much to know… it’s almost a compulsion to document data, tell stories, etc. It’s not just writing, it’s the act of creation – the whole thing is a rush. Who but (a) God and the Artist can make something from nothing?
No.4 Why do humans want children?
Ah, we’re back to the biological imperative. Isn’t it so that we have a preprogrammed need to perpetuate the species? It’s beyond the immediate ability to control – it’s something that needs to happen because culture requires the benefit of accumulated knowledge.
No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book "Airlocks and the Apocalypse" ?
Layout. The actual production of a book is a pain in the ass. Every designer (with respect) wants to be paid top dollar – every artist along the way needs a piece – and I get it. We all want to be paid for our work, to be recognized. But quality cover and layout (which is a priority) costs beaucoup loknars. Worth every penny? Sometimes.
No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
That everything means something, but nothing means everything. And often not to you. Or me. There are a trillion events happening right now, and literally only one could ruin my day. I mean to say, the universe is big and vast and complex and doesn’t give a damn about your football team or your stubbed toe. And that’s okay. Perspective is maybe the term. I find myself laughing about people’s “first world problems.” You know, no cell reception, low battery. The Packers lose. It’s all meaningless and that’s okay once we accept it.
No.7 How did you come up with the title "Airlocks and the Apocalypse" ?
Well, it’s about space – which requires airlocks, because spaces hates us, and there’s certainly a desperate, apocalyptic tone to many of the stories. It just seemed like a good fit. There’s no end of clever and witty titles I want to use for things, but really, would you buy a car if it were called a duck in all the ads? Probably not. So, the name has to, you know, match a bit.
No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?
It depends on the source. It Rousseau said I was a fool or Napoleon said I was terrible as chess, it would hurt my feelings. If the beer-swilling peasant down the street shouts that he doesn’t like my hair cut, I might, you know, not even register it. I think we need to critique, but with knowledge and insight – not just random “Trumpisms.” (see what I did there?) This is interesting to me, it relates to the idea of equality and yet we strive for strata within society at every turn. Personally, when I critique, I have different styles – story or technique, characters or pacing. Mastering all those, I think, makes a great book. Easy to do? Nope – but we should all keep trying. I once read that 8,700 books were published a day. What noise. What chaos. What a wonderful and sad shift in the cultural paradigm of literature. I strive to stand out amongst those thousands of books by studying my craft, taking it seriously and striving to know as much as I can about my subject.
No.9 Why should people read your book?
Well, people tell me they like my writing. More people than just my Mom. So, you know. It’s probably sorta true. Seriously though, these stories were written over a period of time and I think you can see the evolution of a style and the maturation of a voice. I take things like internal consistency, cosmology, and research seriously, but don’t let it ruin a good story. Sci-fi and fantasy fans will enjoy them. Fans tell me I have a unique world view and an unsettling sense of humor. Many of the stories are based on real-life events. No, not the one with the dragon. But it all comes from somewhere, right? Creative non-fiction is what they called it in college.
No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
Something requires nothing to be appreciated; nothing requires something to be feared. They are intrinsically related concepts that meaningless without one another. That said, nothingness is what a big part of our something – which implies to me that there was never a nothing, but in fact, a different kind of something.
Thank you Eric :)
For taking the time to answer my questions
& the best of luck with your new book!
Check out “Airlocks and the Apocalypse” on
From high-orbit above a burning world, to the cool depths of a serpent filled ocean, Airlocks and the Apocalypse takes readers on a wild ride. Stand guard with heroes of a dying kingdom, hunt treasure laden ships with the Serpent Riders of Atlantis, and tear across the the scorched wasteland in a mythological car. This collection includes the Aviator Fiction editor's choice story "The Census Bureau," the surreal "Calcutta," and the long awaited sequel, "Spacewhales II: The Nun-Remains The Same".