Science Book a Day Interviews Jack Skillingstead


Special thanks to Jack Skillingstead for answering 5 questions about his recently featured book – Life on the Preservation

Jack Skillingstead is the Sturgeon Award nominated and Phillip K. Dick Award nominated writer of two novels and one collection. Since 2003 he has published more than thirty short stories in various magazines, Year’s Best volumes and original anthologies. – From Jack’s Homepage

Jack’s Homepage:
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#1 –What was the impetus for Life on the Preservation? What was its inspiration?

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of time loops. It’s been done a fair number of times in our genre, but I wanted to come at it from a different angle. The image / idea of the Preservation dome, under which an entire city is captured, first came to me back in, I believe, 2006. I was lying on the sofa, reading, and it just popped into my head. An energy dome over the city of Seattle. I was seeing it from the outside, from one of the islands in Puget Sound. I saw a kid stealing a small boat and setting out for the dome. After that, I simply played around with the idea until it yielded a story – which I wrote and sold to Asimov’s. The novel is a fairly complex expansion of this neatly straight-forward short story.

#2 – I am interested in the notion of the story where the inhabitants of the preservation are reliving the same day – Groundhog Day-like. What sort of challenges and opportunities does this sort of storyline provide you with?

The challenge was to keep things interesting while, essentially, showing the reader the same situations over and over. I leave it for others to judge how successful I was. The opportunities were bountiful. I especially enjoyed holding up the warped mirror. After all, for many of us the days feel drearily repetitive. This aspect of Life On The Preservation is at least partly metaphorical.

#3 – This book was based on a short story. What is the transition like going from the short-form to a full book?

In this case it was difficult. My first intention was to write a large adventure novel replete with alien invaders and plucky survivors. I actually produced a version of this story but it was dead-on-arrival. That’s not really my kind of book. Eventually I had to dump all my plans and outlines and safety nets and let the story unfold in its own bizarre way. This is why the project took so long. In the end, I think I wound up with a much better book than the dumb adventure tale I had tried to plan.

#4 – How have people responded to the book?

Positively for the most part, though there have been a few disgruntled readers. I think some people were put off by the dicey sexual situations. On the positive side, the book is a PKD finalist.

#5 – Are you working on any new projects/books that you can tell us about?

My agent is currently shopping a YA fantasy. Meanwhile I’m closing in the first draft of a new science fiction novel, this one based on yet another of my short stories: Dead Worlds.

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