Celebrating the release of The Experiment Known as Rose Marie Hernandez Willamson, author Louise Robertson sat down with Brick Cave and talked about the characters, plot and background of her new book. The book is available online and in book stores nationwide. This interview is part 1 of 2 parts. The second part is available here.
Q: Authors often talk about how they “Meet” their characters. Tell us how you came to “Meet” Rose Marie.
I met Rose Marie almost like you’d meet anyone else. She presented herself to me and I had a general sense of her personality. Then she became more substantial as I got to know her. Her name came to me with the personality: Rose Marie Hernandez Williamson. And she’s Rosie or Rose Marie, but never Rose. She thinks that sounds like an old person.
Rose Marie doesn’t think too much about that world. To her, it is what it is. But we can tell it’s a world where corporations dominate politics and government. For example, the mission itself is sponsored by a company, not a government. People on Earth are having serious problems with sea levels rising. I used a map of likely land mass loss for that — especially at the end of the novel. Another problem intractable in this world is the overwhelming amount of online social manipulation. There’s even a required class in high school that she has to take on the subject in the same way we take classes in health and home finances. Also, names have become less gendered in the US. And Puerto Rico has gained statehood.
One of the details that didn’t make it into the book is the fact Rose Marie is one of the few humans who doesn’t have any implanted tracking devices. She hasn’t been chipped.
Q; Let’s talk about the characters of the crew. Clearly Rose Marie bonds with some more than others. How did their personalities take shape for you in the context of the story, did you know them at the beginning? Did they take shape as you wrote?
I had very clear ideas about most of the characters and what they looked like, but they evolved as the book progressed. The doctor, Jordan Su Banks, drifted the most. I had to pause and write out who he was to make sure he was a consistent presence. He started out a lot less relaxed. Jack Finch (one of the pilots and the captain’s wife) came off as more severe than I intended, but I let her be who she was, too.
Q; Obviously, there is a lot of technology in this story, talk about how you approached the advancements that you portray in the story.
I spent a lot of time looking into speculative technologies that might handle the energy requirements and medical problems as well as gravity generation. Although much of what I used isn’t in place right now, some of it is being developed — for example, using nano technology for medical purposes. I did wave my magic author wand to make faster-than-light travel possible with the as-yet-undeveloped power of nuclear fusion. I also researched things like past space flight experiments and current hydroponic technology to make the ship-based facilities more realistic. By the way, the rip in Captain Andre Robinson’s space suit is based on a mishap that occurred in the early space program.