Interview – Tobias F. Cabral – New Eyes

Interview: Tobias Cabral

Book Name and Description:New Eyes

Interview Questions:

What gave you the idea for New Eyes?

It’s a sequel to the novella, “Mechanical Error,” a Cyberpunk detective story, published in the summer of 2018. The antagonist in that story was an Android, who was a performer (a rapper to be precise), and who also happened to be a serial killer.

I wanted to drill down into what had gone wrong with him, and to find a path to Redemption. He’d been terribly abused after getting stolen from the back of a truck before he’d even been activated.

It got me thinking about androids (and AI in general), and how they could be used as stand-ins for marginalized, disenfranchised groups of humans. On Earth, androids haveno rights: They’re property. But they’re sentient beings. Needless to say, there’s precedent in history…

So, I wanted to look at some of the implications of that, and also explore themes of Redemption: There are two minor characters in Mechanical Error who take center stage in New Eyes. Both of them were damagedby what happened in the first book. I wanted to give them a path to master their traumas and atone for their mistakes (real and perceived).

What got you into writing in this genre?

There was never anything for it: I’ve been a SF fan since before I could even read!

How long have you been writing?

Including the poems and attempted stories/novels in elementary school? LOL!

Wrote a fable involving mice in the NYC subway system in college (around 1988).

First thing of any consequence I wrote was a (rather humid) vampire story, circa 1990. That never saw the light of day!

Around 2000, I finished a “Hard” Sci Fi novella called “Night Music.” Shopped it around everywhere(accumulated an impressive collection of rejection letters!), before finally self-publishing it in 2010.

 Tell us about your past books and stories?

Somewhere around 1994, Joseph Cautilli and I were stuck in a long boring hospital shift, and started notes, world-building, and a few pages of narrative here and there for a story called The Source. That never got completed before we parted ways when I finished grad school.

About 22 years later, we reconnected on Facebook, during which he’d been writing other stories in that world, but never finished The Source. So we collaborated on that one, and worked on several other shared pieces, including Mechanical Error.

So, in that universe, there are numerous shorts, novellas, and a few novels (e.g., “As Serious as a Heart Attack;” “The Coral Code;” “Enter Darkness;” and a bunch more).

Actually, last year that world underwent a kind of mitosis. Joe had one set of ideas for the history and trajectory of it, and I had another. And, since this is science fiction, that wasn’t a showstopper!

I just created an alternate timeline, where some historical conditions are changed, and everything unfolds differently after that (kind of like the 2009 JJ Abrams Star Trek movie, where someone from the KNOWN Trek universe goes back in time to BEFORE all the familiar events, and does something which changes everything, creating an Alternate Reality, leaving the ‘Prime Timeline’ untouched). Now I write within mine, while he continues within his.

New Eyes exist within my universe (which you can always tell because it’s marked “Bravo Timeline”).

Then I also have “Night Music,” like I said, as well as a self-published (also-unrelated) short, “A Night’s Work” (more of a “Soft” Sci Fi story about a psychologist).

What is the writing process like for you?

Used to be pretty Idealized (and thus unrealistic): Quiet, late-night, justthe right music playing, justthe right whiskey at hand, that sort of thing.

Needless to say, not a lot got done!

Google Docs was a godsend for making things more realistic: I can call up a work in progress anywhere/anytime. I did a fair bit of writing and editing of New Eyes in waiting rooms and queues, and rolling over in bed when an idea popped into my head (the kind of thing which would previously have been lost for all time, after the next REM cycle!)

What have been the biggest influences on your writing?

“Golden Age” science fiction (Niven, Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein, Bova, Herbert). SF was always the literature of problem-solving, inventiveness, reason, and –ultimately– HOPE.

Even Dystopian SF says weare the authors of our destiny (for good or ill).

What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why? What book disappointed you and why?

If I hadto pick a Favorite (it’d have to be a Really Big Gun to my head!), I’d have to say Frank Herbert’s DUNE. That book is practically a religionfor me

And I might get thrashed for this, but I found Asimov’s Foundation disappointing. Not because of the ideas (which were FASCINATING), mind you. But even as a kid, when I read it, I remarked, “He’s an Outline Writer.” I always felt as though his characters were just vehicles for advancing the story and the ideas. I’m muchmore partial to Character (personal arcs, emotions, growth, learning, etc.) being the focus.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

My problem was always being too committed to being a Benevolent God to my characters. I was always too reluctant to making them suffer.

Now, it’s not like I’ve turned into George RR Martin or anything! But I’ve come to realize that sparing a character at the expense of the storyis not a sound creative process.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

I’m a fan of a good thesaurus. Not for pretentious hoity-toity word choices, but for conveying shadingsof meaning.

Also, again, Google Docs (or some other portable, cross-platform writing space) can liberate you from your Writing Space, integrate the process into your day-to-day life, where even the most mundane daily experiences can cross-fertilize directlyinto your work. Honestly, that was a revelationfor me!

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

My friend gave me a tip that she’d learned from reading about James Joyce’s process, which is always to read your writing out loud. It really helps with flow! The language becomes a character: The rhythm of the words, the way they play off of each other, the way they build and release tension, create comic timing, emulate how the nervous system processes a scene, these are all things which become part of the reading process. Hearingthe words –despite how it might confuse folks who might overhear you talking to yourself!– allows more conscious, deliberate control over that, as a writer.

And don’t even get me startedon how it helps with making dialogue flow more naturally/organically!

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

Short answer: No So Well! 😀

I post on social media, share excerpts, mention it EVERYdamned chance I get on Twitter.

Trouble is, there are SOmany authors out there (which, don’t get me wrong, is a GOODthing!), it’s virtually impossible for the average reader to know whether you’re worth their precious, finite time…or another purveyor of excruciating word-salads!

That’s where I hope youmight come in! 😉

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

Oh, New Eyes! By a WIDEmargin. Of allthe things I have ever written, it is –by leaps and bounds— the very best.

For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

Depends on what you’re into. If, like me, you LOVE some Crunchy-Hard SF (as in, I’ve calculated the orbits and defined how big the diameter of a spinning ship has to be to create simulated gravity with minimal coriolis forces), then “Night Music” is for you!

If you like gritty, debris-strewn, psychologically-murky, vaguely dystopian Cyberpunk SF, then Mechanical Error will do the trick.

If you like the Twilight Zone-style Soft SF (with mythological undertones) then the short, “A Night’s Work” will do you.

Best of ALL worlds, though, is New Eyes!

What are you doing next?

Devoting my energies to getting New Eyes to as MANY…well..eyesas I can!

I have multiple tales within Bravo Timeline cooking in the background, though…. (Thinking of writing something about an expedition out to a distant, water-rich comet, to investigate whether it’s a candidate to crash into the south pole of Mars, to help terraform that dry, lifeless planet…).

I have some pretty detailed notes for a “Ghost Story” involving quantum entanglement and resonances across non-linear time… Pretty poignant, and creepy!

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

WRITE!

Care as LITTLE as you can about whether it’s “Good” (Let alone“Original.” Read Joseph Campbell’s The Power Of Myth, and you’ll realize nothingis “Original.” This can be VERYLiberating!).

As for “Good?” Rumor has it Charles Dickens on his deathbed demanded that all his writings be burned after his death.

 

bio:

Tobias Cabral is a clinical psychologist and lifelong Speculative Fiction enthusiast. He has a private practice outside Philadelphia, PA, working predominantly with adolescents and young adults. In 2017, he had the wholly-unexpected opportunity to serve as an adjunct professor for Clinical Psychology graduate students of a nearby Psy.D. program. And he is in *grave* danger of becoming quite addicted to this new thing…

 

Doctor Cabral’s passions for SF and psychology have cross-fertilized most fruitfully: He has developed a sub-specialty in working with SF Fans (who are frequently and non-trivially helped by not having constantly to translate their thoughts and feelings into “Mundane-ese” with their therapist). He regularly speaks at “PhilCon,” the annual convention of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society. His Doctoral Dissertation (Nested Systems: Evolving Models of Embodied Psychotherapy) dealt with Chaos/Complexity/Dynamic Systems theory (to which he was first exposed in Crichton’s novel, Jurassic Park), as the basis for a proposed metatheory of psychological functioning and multi-level (fractal-structured) clinical interventions.

 

The author is an avid consumer of comparative mythology (who sees Grail stories *everywhere*), and an inveterate aerospace junkie (who will –*someday*– complete his hours for his Private Pilot license!). He is particularly obsessed with private/commercial spaceflight, and with the exploration/colonization of Mars. (He is, thus, an *unapologetic* Elon Musk Fanboy)

 

Dr. Cabral dabbles in songwriting, aided in this by YouTube, his Giannini acoustic-electric guitar

(Evangeline), and assorted pennywhistles (because they’re Lovely, and totally portable). He is nonetheless mindful of the comedic figure he clearly strikes in comparison to his former concert pianist mother and Julliard M.A. sister. Intermittently driving for Lyft provides a rich source of narrative and empathic capital to re-invest in all of the above (plus, drunks are Funny).

 

Doctor Cabral lives in the verdant suburbs of Philadelphia with his (undeservedly-tolerant) wife, (intriguingly-eccentric) son, four dogs (Kaylee, Madame Maxine, Huggybear, and Fitz), and Z’Ha’Dum-black cat (Daenerys Angelique). Ball python (Monty….of course), alas, shed his mortal coil in 2016.

 

Links:

 

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Tobias-Cabral/e/B00C91WUVK?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

 

Facebook Page for NIGHT MUSIC:   https://www.facebook.com/Night-Music-239356059419117