I met Ford Forkum during a promotion of Alien Invasion of the Zombie Apocalypse, a strange, little science fiction comedy. After reading it (and having many good giggles from it), I contacted Ford and asked if they would like to be interviewed. Here I am happy to report their agreement!
There are many strange facts about Ford Forkum. I am going to guess he is male and American, but his Facebook reports some really interesting tidbits, which I will share with you here. In 1979, he moved to Antartica and his religious views are Quarvillian of the Keplerican Nebula’s Order of Nebulous Faith. Now that has even thrown me!
Let us get into the interview.
Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?
My ideas come from various sources, but mainly they boil down to a desire to express my thoughts in a unique way that people will enjoy. I’m pretty sure my future output will reveal certain formulaic devices, but I’m not consciously aware of them. When I start writing, the story I set out to write will inevitably change by the end. I write like I’m molding clay and I stop when I’m
confident that I have a solid piece of work. By the time I’m done, all that’s left of the original story may be just a few characters and scenes.
Do you have characters running around your head? Do they dictate events and their histories to you?
Yes, I have a supply of malleable characters and personalities that hang around waiting to be used. Some are blatant archetypes, like Imperial Raxpun, the clueless tyrant. Others are based loosely on people I’ve known and others will pop up out of nowhere when I need to make a scene more interesting. The four main human characters in Alien Invasion of the Zombie Invasion (AIOTZA) were taken directly out of another work-in-progress. I was able to do this because AIOTZA didn’t require any serious character development. As a result, I plan on referencing AIOTZA in my WIP.
As far as dictating events and histories, when I form a character, elements like gender, age, intelligence, and disposition come together fairly quickly. As for explaining why a certain character behaves the way he does takes a bit of expositional work.
What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?
Fantasy genres maximize the potential of the written word. It’s ideally suited to literature because the only practical limits to what is possible are the suspension of disbelief and the constraints of language itself. In AIOTZA, I deliberately strained the threshold of disbelief for satirical effect, but I thoroughly enjoy the creative possibilities of fantasy.
Transcending the boundaries of reality with the written word is powerful stuff. I find it much more appealing than, say, historical fiction, which is tightly constrained by realism and the need for accuracy. Still, I’d rather read a brilliant work of historical fiction than a lackluster fantasy story.
Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?
Traditional publishing is threatened only in the sense that it’s no longer the only game in town. Progress is always a threat to tradition in some way, but I don’t see ebooks and self-publishing replacing traditional publishing because they’re different animals.
Looking at it from the consumer’s perspective, self-published ebooks are great for those with eclectic tastes who enjoy exploring and looking for stories they might find appealing. Traditional publishing is more for the type of reader who prefers to buy a book because it’s popular and prominently displayed on the store shelf.
I agree with what Kate Forsyth said about there being little quality control in the self-publishing world. Anyone can throw any assortment of words into a pdf and be considered “self-published.” Traditional publishing at least ensures professional editing. Taking that out of the equation, quality is largely subjective, and there are a lot of great self-published authors out there who
aren’t traditionally published for the same reason that not every great piece of music can be a number one hit single.
Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to? How much impact can they have on the whole story?
I didn’t have any beta readers for AIOTZA unless you count my copy editor. I decided to just put it out there and let the public determine whether or not it was a good read. But it wasn’t a slapdash experiment; I worked and worried over it for a long time until my inner critic finally relented. At that point, I took the attitude that as long as I was honestly satisfied with it, whether people liked it or not would be a matter of individual taste.
I intend to have beta readers for the novel I’ve been struggling with since 2009. A good novel is much harder to write than a short story, and I’ll need some objectivity in determining whether I have a coherent work that’s ready for publishing.
Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?
I only consider word limit in regard to what type of story I’m writing – a few thousand, give or take.
Do you have a target each day?
No. If I did, I’d probably have finished my novel by now.
What is your biggest (self-imposed) time waster?
Doing interviews. No, I’m only kidding around – I just wanted to wake anyone up who might be nodding off while reading this.
Seriously, though, I can’t answer this question. It’s too hard. My favorite color is blue. Is that okay?
Welcome to the wierd and wonderful of zombies and alien invasions. If you would like to find Ford further, go to all the worst places. I have listed the better ones for you!
Ford on YouTube. Now that sounds interesting, doesn’t it?