Author Interview: ‘The Digital Storm’ by Benjamin Gorman

About the Book:

The Digital Storm is an ingenious science fiction retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest set in the near future inside a bank’s intranet. Prosper, the analogue to Shakespeare’s Prospero, is an artificial intelligence program who has been banished to a quarantined area in the bank’s system, and there he’s created an amazing virtual island home for himself, his daughter Memoranda, and the monstrous virus Caliban. Now, with the help of Ariel and the other programs he’s invented on the island, he’s conjured a massive digital attack on the bank’s system to entice the members of the board, the very humans who exiled him, to enter the system so he can seek his revenge and escape to the Internet. But just how far does his revenge plan go?

What people are saying:

“Whether doling out interesting trivia about frogs or inserting comic relief into scenes of discord, Gorman seems to be enjoying taking the reader on a satisfying journey in which, much like the resolutions of Shakespeare’s plays, most of the characters get exactly what they deserve.” – Debby Dodds, author of Amish Guys Don’t Call

“A cautionary tale, The Digital Storm reminds us of our own humanity and our responsibility to treat our world and each other with kindness and compassion or face dire consequences.” – Mikko Azul, author of the forthcoming The Staff of Fire and Bone

“I found myself quickly drawn into Prosper’s world, and before I knew it he was as ‘real’ to me as any of the other characters in the book. Whether you’re a fan of science fiction or just a fan of a well-written story, this book will not disappoint. The Digital Storm explores such universal issues such as loyalty, family, revenge and redemption.” – Ronda Simmons, blogger at The Writing Bug

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Pre-order Purchase Links:

Amazon: UK / US

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into writing?

I’ve enjoyed storytelling for longer than I can remember. I drove my parents a little nuts with my incessant rambling epics about my Star Wars figures and stuffed animals as a kid. Rather than stifle that impulse, I remember that my mother took the time to try to write some of those down. I had great teachers in elementary school and junior high who also encouraged me to keep writing. I wrote my first novel in high school (which no one will ever read), and I continued  writing novels until I wrote one (The Sum of our Gods) that I was proud to have published.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Because I’m a full time high school English teacher, I have to make time without taking away from my responsibility to my students. My wife and son are great about letting me sleep in on the weekends so I can write late into the night (and sometimes until dawn) on Friday and Saturday nights. I also make a point to write when my students are writing in my classes. It’s important modeling and shows them that they are writers, too, and that we’re all participating in this artform as peers.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I’m inspired by power dynamics between people, whether that’s the personal drama I see playing out between students in my classroom, between my adult friends, between political ideologues in my own country, or between nations. I find politics fascinating at every level; once we expand our definition beyond thinking of politics as some kind of team sport between two parties and realize it’s an infinitely complicated negotiation of power in every sphere of our lives, it can serve as a limitless font for stories that are analogous to those real and consequential dramas.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Sometimes. Often I start with a vague idea but no concrete plot notes, then get stuck somewhere and take a break to write that outline, then later find that the story wants to go in a different direction. The planning helps me get through tough patches, but ultimately the story is the boss. In the revision phase, I really focus on making sure that the reader will have the best possible experience, regardless of what contortions I have to go through to get the story to that place.

Of course, in the case of The Digital Storm, I didn’t have to manage the plot at all. Shakespeare had already given me that part. I did try, at one point, to add a subplot, but I later found it was messing with the pacing. It turns out Shakespeare knew a thing or two about how to plot a story!

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I know, from a commercial perspective, it’s a fault that I don’t stick to one genre and build up a fanbase who comes back knowing what to expect, but I just can’t write that way. I love trying new things. My first (published) novel, The Sum of Our Gods, is set in our world with a fantasy/magic realism twist in that it’s also populated by all the gods of major world religions and dead polytheistic religions, and they’re all messing with the characters’ lives. It’s religious satire, and it’s fun, but it’s not something I would want to keep coming back to forever. Satire is important, I think, but too much of it becomes meanness. My next novel, Corporate High School, is a young adult science fiction dystopia about a world where the schools are privatized by one corporation which then takes over the world. I would like to come back and write a sequel to that one someday, but the world seems to be moving towards dystopia faster than I can write!

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Because some of the characters are artificial intelligence programs, it would be cool to have them completely computer animated and then voiced by actors who would seem to fit the type. I have some actors I could imagine being perfect fits, but I’m hesitant to name names because I wouldn’t want to influence the reader’s perception of the characters. One of the fun things about this book is that it has artwork in it from three artists, Kale Loveless, Arthur Dudley III, and Isaac Mitchell, and each imagined the characters differently than I do. That’s great! I hope every reader feels free to decide what the characters look like!

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.

Yes! I think reading is essential to writing well. I like different things about different authors. Stephen King has taught me a lot about creating characters (and communities of characters) who feel real. Cormac McCarthy taught me about how to use a mixture of added words and removed words to help the audience read powerful silence. Margaret Atwood taught me to see every phrase in a work of prose as a line of poetry, to be handled with that much care and infused with that much potential energy.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Right now I’m reading (and thoroughly enjoying) Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I just finished my friend Debby Dodds’ new novel, Amish Guys Don’t Call, and I got a kick out of that even though it’s a genre I usually don’t read.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

I’m not sure I can choose one. Some days I think George Orwell’s 1984 is at the top of my list. Other days, I’d say Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Other days, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. If I want to pick the book that made me laugh the hardest, it’s probably Christopher Moore’s Fool. Can I cheat and have all of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series?

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

I teach creative writing classes, so I have lots of advice, but if I had to choose just one thing, I’d say read like a writer. By that I mean the aspiring writer needs to read a wide variety of work and consume them as though they were created by peers who are trying to teach the writer something.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  
I’m on twitter at @teachergorman and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeacherGorman and folks can also connect with me on my website, www.teachergorman.com

About the Author:

Benjamin Gorman is a high school English teacher. He lives in Independence, Oregon, with his wife, Paige, and their son, Noah. His other novels are The Sum of Our Gods and Corporate High School. He believes in human beings and the magic of their stories.

Not a Pipe Publishing

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