Saturday, 16 February 2013

Snake Oil: An Interview with Bruno Lombardi

It’s cold, dark and pouring with rain – classic British weather – at 1746 on a Saturday. I’m early, for once, and now I need to find the person I’m looking for: Bruno Lombardi. Three minutes later, we are now chatting away about our respective bad weather (Bruno lives in Canada) and his debut novel, Snake Oil… 

mai-phay: It sounds like you've got a lot of support, which is great - there has been A LOT of interest about Snake Oil and your editor, Steven, speaks highly of it - where did you draw your inspiration from? 

Bruno: It's a bit complicated, to be honest. It was, originally, supposed to be a straight up alien invasion novel - very serious and all that - then after the first chapter, I looked at it and realized that it would work MUCH better as a comedy. So, as a self-admitted fan of Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Monty Python and everything else, I figured well, why not? 

mai-phay: It really is a great plot; aliens wanting to trade with humans, but there is competition between governments as there is no collective to negotiate with them - how did this develop? I love Red Dwarf, by the way! 

Bruno: Who doesn't love it?! As for Snake Oil, it's a bit of taking a real life historical analogy and applying that to the aliens. There's a scene where Drake, basically, flat out points out to Chambers about how the negotiating tactics of the aliens are almost identical to how the UK and US used to act. My take was, well, if Earthlings acted like that, why wouldn't aliens act the same as well? Especially since the aliens are capitalistic caricatures.

mai-phay: Very good point - having the aliens like this does portray capitalism and greed in a different light, especially as the aliens don't do what we normally expect them to, i.e. dominate by force or annihilate mankind. 

Bruno: Which, if you think about, really doesn't make much sense. Why would aliens want to destroy us? But that’s a topic for another time. 

mai-phay: I guess it all comes down to the fear of the unknown and media focusing on this as a selling point - which is why your novel stands out like a breath of fresh of air. 

Bruno: Indeed. But my take on the story was if sci-fi always goes out of its way to portray aliens as stand-ins for some element of human nature, why not just straight up capitalistic businessmen? Well, business aliens? So, once I had that aspect nailed down - “aliens are used car sales men of the galaxy” - the rest of the story flowed from there. 

mai-phay: That sounds like a logical progression. They've also got a good bunch of support characters, it seems - a varied bunch, to say the least. ElevenEleven sounds intriguing... 

Bruno: Based in part on an amusing troll on a sci-fi forum I hang out on. He was clearly insane but it was a wonderfully insane and amusing troll. He's enshrined as a legend on the forum. 

mai-phay: Are there any other characters that may be based on anyone out there? 

Bruno: Bits and pieces of various friends and posters ended up as characters. Drake is based in part of a friend of mine I met on that board who's ex-military (although almost certainly not Special Forces....I think). Chambers is based on another friend who was voted “Most Sarcastic Man in Existence”. 

mai-phay: Speaking of Drake, both he and Baldwin you describe as two main characters; Drake appears to get allies, some of which we have spoken about, but Baldwin, how does he fare? 

Bruno: Baldwin is a special case...he has an interesting arc in the story as he floats between the two camps - Pro and Anti Alien - for much of the story. In the end, he manages to get the best of both sides. 

mai-phay: So, without giving to much away, does this get resolved to everyone's satisfaction? 

Bruno: I would say, yes. Everyone in the story was clearly looking for something. In the end every single one of the characters does find it, although not necessarily what they were looking for in the beginning. 

mai-phay: Oooh good answer!!! 

Bruno: **bows** 

mai-phay: So, what’s next for you, in terms of writing? 

Bruno: I’m working on quite a few short stories (one of them I wrote last year, in fact, just got accepted for publication in an anthology). But right now I'm working on two more novels. The first is “The Coin”. It's about 3/4 done. It's very different (I hope) from what's out there. 

mai-phay: Congratulations on the anthology publication and it's great to hear you've got more work coming out - how do you fit in the time to write so many things when you're working as well? Do you get ANY sleep? 

Bruno: Sleep? What is this “sleep” you speak of? I know not this strange foreign word. Actually, writing is my hobby. Pretty much the only thing that keeps me sane, although the fiancée may disagree on the degree of 'sanity'.... 

mai-phay: Ahhh, a case of po-tay-toe and po-tah-toe. Hey, as long as the voices in your head say you’re ok, then you're ok. Right? 

Bruno: Indeed. It's only when you ARGUE with the voices in your head that you have a problem... 

mai-phay: So true, so true! It's been wonderful talking to you - everyone who comes into contact with you says that you're such a nice guy and I can honestly confirm this. We do all, sincerely, wish you all the best with Snake Oil - there are just three more things to ask.... 

Bruno: Thank you very much. :) Go ahead.

mai-phay: 1 - How can fans contact you? 

Bruno: I have a Facebook page. 

mai-phay: No twitter or blog? 

Bruno: Alas, not yet. But everyone keeps bugging me to do a blog, so that may be my next project soon. 

mai-phay: 2 - Give me 5 words to describe Snake Oil... 

Bruno: Five individual words… 

mai-phay: Yup 

Bruno: …or one sentence of five? 

mai-phay: Mr Lombardi you are splitting hairs - 5 words! 

Bruno: :D 

mai-phay: But you can also give a sentence consisting of 5 words (this could be interesting…). 

Bruno: Okay…five words - and just for you a sentence of five, just to see if I can. Humorous. Engaging…hmmm...this is hard....I didn't know there was going to be a quiz…gripping… 

mai-phay: Ok, how about 5 words it's not? 

Bruno: Dull ;) 

mai-phay: True... 

Bruno: Cliché 

mai-phay: Most definitely not! 

Bruno: Stale 

mai-phay: Far from it. 

Bruno: Stupid? 

mai-phay: No it's not - it's actually very clever, or should I say very cleverly written? 

Bruno: Oh, “clever” is one of the five that it is that wasn't mentioned, right? 

mai-phay: Hahahahaha - yeh! 

Bruno: As for what it's not - 

mai-phay: Dull, cliché, stale, stupid and..... 

Bruno: My fiancée says unhumorous but I'm sure that's not allowed. 

mai-phay: You can use creative licence - so yeh, allowed!!!! 

Bruno: Woohoo! As for describing Snake Oil in a five word sentence, how about, “What if…aliens *are* us?” 

mai-phay: Nice! Bruno, the last question is this: Is there anything you'd like to say before this interview comes to a close? 

Bruno: Just that I really appreciate everything that your company has done for me in making my dream of being a published book author a reality. 

mai-phay: That's really kind of you to say, but you've done the hard work - we're fortunate to have great material to work with! 

And there you have it. 

If you're looking for something different to read then Daverana Enterprises would recommend the fantastically funny Snake Oil by Bruno Lombardi - you will never see aliens in the same light again...

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