Learn secrets to love and interstellar travel in this week’s Creator Conversation with the book, How To Control Gravity And Other Stories by Charles Martin and Will Weinke. For this Q&A session, author Charles Martin shares stories of heartbreak, extended metaphors through science fiction, and more.
Charles, tell everyone a little bit about yourself.
I am the Creative Director of Literati Press Comics & Novels and Building Manager of The Paseo Plunge where we recently opened a curated bookshop and art gallery. After being a journalist for several years, I decided to pursue my dream of being a novelist, publishing the dominant hand in 2008 and going on to pen six more novels. I helped create Literati Press as a platform for progressive and cerebral pop culture storytelling which has merged the worlds of traditional fiction and sequential art while serving as the launchpad for Natasha Alterici’s breakthrough hit, Heathen, which was named Best Independent Release of 2015 by Comixology.
I’ve also written screenplays for the feature length film Trigger and the award-winning short film Deviants, which both traveled the film festival circuit.
What can people expect of How to Control Gravity and Other Short Stories?
“I was married most of my adult life, so the adjustment following the divorce was both difficult and fascinating. There are so many interesting and alien emotions to dissect.”I wanted to utilize science fiction as an outlet to explore the isolation and self-discovery of being a single father. I was married most of my adult life, so the adjustment following the divorce was both difficult and fascinating. There are so many interesting and alien emotions to dissect. I really needed several stories to get at them all as well as the freedom science fiction affords to bend the universe in such a way as I could really examine them through extended metaphor. Also, the otherworld aspects of the stories add some levity that keeps the stories from getting too grim.
What was the greatest personal challenge you overcame when writing these stories?
The collection was named for the final story, “How To Control Gravity And Other Secrets To Love and Interstellar Travel.” It is actually a novella and was inspired by the most dazzling woman I’ve ever met, a beautiful curiosity through and through. We were engaged when I began the story. We’d ended the engagement before I finished the story. The break up wasn’t contentious, just exhausted and regretful. Staying true to the story while going through such a confusing and disheartening time was difficult because it forced me to poke at the wound continuously until I’d finished the story and the many subsequent edits. Yet I’ve never been more proud of how a story has come out. I hit every emotional moment I aimed for in a way that almost felt like someone else was doing the writing for me.
Staying true to the story while going through such a confusing and disheartening time was difficult because it forced me to poke at the wound continuously until I’d finished the story and the many subsequent edits.
Will it take a Martian invasion for you to learn to love again?
Possibly. In the long-term, anyhow. You hear people say things like “I’m too set in my ways” or “Everyone my age is just recycled”, but I don’t believe that either are the real issue. Love is about sacrifice, which was so easy when I was young when I didn’t understand the costs, but now that I’ve felt true heartbreak I’m scared of enduring it again. I will seal up my emotions when I sense danger because I frighten more easily. I am still and probably always be a silly romantic, but that is the easy part. That is just splashing along the shoreline. All giggles and wandering hands. It’s safe when you keep close to solid land. Long-term love is to swim out into the ocean. I suspect that I may not have the strength for it anymore. Unless there are Martians to force me.
Do people need to read any of your other stories before reading this book?
These are all standalone stories. I do reference previous characters and story elements, but only in off-handed ways. It’s more just for the fun of tossing little Easter eggs about the book so those that have read my work before will encounter a bit of the familiar.
What are some of your favorite sci-fi science explanations on how to control gravity?
More realistic depictions of artificial gravity are compelling, like the ferris wheel-type spaceship in Mission To Mars and even the velcro shoes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The writer is really trying to problem-solve in the sandbox of their imagination, but I also like the ridiculous, cartoony “Gravity” buttons that can be pressed on and off just to create chaos. For my own explanation, I wanted to explore something that floated in-between the realms of grounded theory and myth so that there was an element of faith necessary on the part of the lead character. A giving over to similar to a belief in the divine. He doesn’t need to know how it works, he just needs to commit to it in an effort to better his life.
What message would you like for people to take away after reading the book?
“Learning not to panic, but to treat my emotions like symptoms instead of realities helped me turn a corner and makes it easier to embrace the happiness, but also learn from the depression and anger.”This book was my first effort to really start making sense of life post-divorce. It took me longer than it should have to understand that no emotion is permanent. That loss, bitterness, and fear that comes with the end of a long-term relationship is just temporal. Learning not to panic, but to treat my emotions like symptoms instead of realities helped me turn a corner and makes it easier to embrace the happiness, but also learn from the depression and anger. The world is constantly changing and so am I. Science fiction tells us that anything is possible and, following heartbreak, that is what gave me the most hope. Worse or better, at least life would eventually give me something new.