Today I am interviewing R.W.W. Greene, author of the new science-fiction novel, Mercury Rising!
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DJ: Hi R.W.W. Greene! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
R.W.W. Greene: Hi, DJ. Thanks so much for inviting me.
Once upon a time, I was a Teacher Who Writes, but in recent years, I’ve made the pivot to Writer Who Teaches. These days I mostly work with college students, but I returned to the high-school classroom this spring for a brief encore. Before I started teaching, I did a decade as a print journalist. I’ve a couple dozen published sci-fi shorts to my name, and two prior novels — The Light Years and Twenty-Five to Life — with Angry Robot Books. I am an amateur beekeeper, and I collect manual typewriters. I drink my coffee black.
DJ: What is Mercury Rising about?
R.W.W. Greene: It’s about a small-timer named Brooklyn Lamontagne who gets caught up in things way above his pay grade and skillset. Imagine an extra from the film Taxi Driver or Saturday Night Fever who wakes up one day on Mars in the midst of an alien invasion.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Mercury Rising?
R.W.W. Greene: The Seventies — the entire decade — played a huge role. The music, the movies, the politics, the attitudes, the clothing … I listened to a lot of music, read a lot of history, and wrote from photo references for this one. Add a strong desire not to think too hard about the future for a little while and my regard for the Apollo program. Bake at 250F for a few years.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
R.W.W. Greene: Brooklyn is so far out of his depth it is or isn’t funny, depending on your attitude to such things. He just wants to pay his bar tab, help out his ma, and keep the personal drama to a minimum. He swears a lot, has some regrets, and once lit his cousins’ tent on fire.
I feel like there are a lot of interesting characters in the book, but I’m likely biased. None of them are perfect. Some are smart. A few are well-educated. They’re all really, really outclassed by what they’re facing. There are no heroes in Mercury Rising, just people trying to figure it out and doing what they can in response.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role in the story? Why?
R.W.W. Greene: My favorite character is probably Demarco. I want to hang out with him on the front porch, drink beer, and talk about life. He’s a little older than the others (but not as old as he should be) and has seen some shit. Demarco is funny, but maybe not as funny as he thinks he is, and he’s one of the few people in the book who can be still. He reads a lot. The Korean War did a number on him.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Mercury Rising like?
R.W.W. Greene: Picture the 1970s if Oppenheimer invented The Atomic Engine after building The Bomb, an alien invasion ended the Cold War in ‘61, and JFK survived that Day in Dallas. Also imagine that the Kennedys were really as progressive and forward-thinking and effective as we like to imagine them. Nixon, however, is still a prick.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Mercury Rising?
R.W.W. Greene: There’s a point in the back-and-forth, publisher-to-writer editing process where I get really sick of reading the damned book. That hasn’t happened … yet.
Mercury was written over five or six years, which means I’ve been living with it for a while. I put it aside a bunch of times, to write The Light Years for example, but I never considered not finishing it.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
R.W.W. Greene: Advance readers seem to like the characters a lot, especially Andy and Top. They might talk about the Baron… It’s hard to say. It’s easier to predict what they won’t be talking about, but I can’t tell you that. It’s a spoiler.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Mercury Rising? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
R.W.W. Greene: I think the Seventies came closest to, ya know, getting it. You had the environmental movement, the Equal Rights Amendment, Our Bodies, Ourselves, the anti-war movement, music, The Joy of Sex, the rise of a different model of masculinity, Harvey Milk … The New Right was taking over politics, but there were a lot of interesting things happening in pop culture and society. If there had been something that brought the world together at that moment …
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Mercury Rising that you can share with us?
“You got us, Tex. We’re here to drink all your beer and take your prettiest kin to the Moon with us.”
Brooklyn kept his eyes on the pornographic coasters. It seemed safer.
Milk poured herself a mug of tea. “Did Andy drop any new bombs last night?”
Demarco giggled. “Nothing that will blow up in your face.”
DJ: Now that Mercury Rising is released, what is next for you?
R.W.W. Greene: Survive the spring semester. More writing. If all has gone well, the editors at Angry Robot have my next book in hand. Oddly enough, it’s also about people who are way over their head and skillset. Impossible odds. Daring rescues. (People seem to like that kind of thing.)
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Mercury Rising that we haven’t talked about yet?
R.W.W. Greene: It might be worth Googling the titles of the book’s sections for a bit of an Easter egg. Just sayin’.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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***Mercury Rising is published by Angry Robot Books and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
Alternative history with aliens, an immortal misanthrope and SF tropes aplenty
Even in a technologically-advanced, Kennedy-Didn’t-Die alternate-history, Brooklyn Lamontagne is going nowhere fast. The year is 1975, thirty years after Robert Oppenheimer invented the Oppenheimer Nuclear Engine, twenty-five years after the first human walked on the moon, and eighteen years after Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven sacrificed their lives to stop the alien invaders.
Brooklyn just wants to keep his mother’s rent paid, earn a little scratch of his own, steer clear of the cops, and maybe get laid sometime in the near future. Simple pleasures, right? But a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes is about to make his life real complicated…
About the Author:
I’m Rob, but I write as R.W.W. Greene because he is easier to find on Google.
I’ve lived in a lot of places, but for the last fifteen years I’ve been in southern New Hampshire. I’ve been a print journalist, a high-school teacher, and the operator of an animal crematory. Nowadays, I write science-fiction, freelance a little, and teach a bit of college.