Author Interview: Gary Ballard on "if [tribe] ="

Ana: Today we have Gary Ballard introducing their novel, if [tribe] =. I haven't read this book myself, but Gary was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Gary, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

Gary: The book is the third in the Bridge Chronicles, a series of cyberpunk novels starring the amoral fixer of the near future, Artemis Bridge. Bridge is the kind of guy who knows a guy. You need something illegal, immoral, unethical or downright weird, he knows a guy that can get it for you. He puts the buyer and seller together, collects his fee and moves on, carefully detaching himself from any messy entanglements. In [tribe], Bridge finds himself caught in an escalating gang war because of debts owed to the leader of one of the gangs, the ex-soccer star known as Stonewall Ricardo. Along the way, he discovers that there's more to the gang war than just beef between two rival gangs, and the secret cause could engulf all of Los Angeles in an explosion of ethnic cleansing.

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

Gary: The title is meant to be a clever allusion to programming language, which is an allegory for the hardwired programming all humans have to that which is different. In essence, what is the reaction if another person is a member of your tribe, and what if they aren't? We group ourselves into little tribes for protection from other tribes. Civilization evolved from small tribes gathering into larger tribes, and those larger tribes made rules that became laws and governments were formed to enforce those laws. Yet as individuals, we still react as tribal animals, segregating ourselves into smaller and smaller tribes for our protection and the protection of the tribal organism as a whole.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book?

Gary: The Bridge Chronicles series evolved out of a previous series of books I'd written but had been unable to publish the traditional way. I wanted to do something to promote my writing, perhaps get agents or a publisher interested, so I decided to write a single novel, connected to that unpublished series, and publish it for free on my blog. Once it was done, I discovered some outlets for self-publishing and decided to collect the blog novel into an actual novel. I enjoyed the character of Artemis Bridge so much, I wrote a second novel, and then a third. Each of the novels is set in the time period before that of the unpublished series, and was meant to provide some back story to certain events that took place prior to the opening of the unpublished series.

Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?

Gary: Not to compare myself to some of the greats of cyberpunk, but I definitely think those who like the early works of William Gibson, Bruce Sterling or Neal Stephenson would like my work. Those three inspired me a great deal. In addition, I've taken the hardboiled, noirish tone of the books from guys like Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have publishedother novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

Gary: This is the third novel in the series, and I think it's the best one yet. The first is called Under the Amoral Bridge, and the second is The Know Circuit. I do have a fourth book in the series planned, as well as a collection of short stories set in the same universe that will be out before the end of 2011. And at some point after the fourth novel, I plan on re-writing and publishing that original unpublished series that the Bridge novel was meant to promote.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

Gary: My web site has a page that lists all the major places you can buy all the different formats of my book, from paperbacks to eBooks. You can find the page here.

You can also follow me on Twitter, find a contact link on my web site, and follow my blog

Ana: Thank you, Gary. I understand you have the first chapter of your novel available as an excerpt for interested readers? And is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Gary: You can find the first chapter (and other chapters) of all my novels on my web site. The if [tribe] = first chapter is here. There are also some short stories in a short story collection here


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