Updated on October 10, 2016
An Interview with Christopher Pearson
Christopher Pearson is my uncle and an absolutely brilliant writer (a love of books runs in the family!). He writes excellent poetry and short stories, and he’s also written two science-fiction books: ‘The Rehkaz’ and ‘The Object of our Attention’. I read them both several years ago and enjoyed them immensely so, to celebrate the release of his novels as e-books, I decided to reread ‘The Object’ and talk to Chris about his writing.
‘The Object’ is about an evil Entity that has hidden in the centre of our planet, corrupting the people who live on the surface. Waiting and preparing for the Entity’s escape, a group of intergalactic scientists monitor Earth from afar, but when they realise that time is running short they send a messenger to Earth: a popular young pop star named Dove. What happens next will change Earth forever.
Where did the idea for ‘The Object’ come from? Can you pin it down to a particular moment or did it take a long time to develop?
I’m not at all sure. The whole process of beginning and continuing and developing a story is a bit of a mystery. I think it may have been due to the Elves. The convention (from folklore and Tolkien) is that they are withdrawing into the west, leaving the Earth to the human race. I guess I adopted that idea and extended it, crossing it with science fiction, so that it wasn’t just the elves but a whole range of odd, extraterrestrial beings who leave the planet they have been inhabiting for aeons. The Council of Observers monitoring the planet from a moon of Jupiter includes two Elves, a Fairy, a Dwarf, a Giant and two invented aliens that don’t have any connection to traditional folklore, but could well exist somewhere in the galaxy.
Once I’d developed this idea, then I needed to explain how it came about, so I needed the Entity, and the Lord of the Guardians, Monitor, the Fall and the Messengers. From there the whole thing kind of fell into place and I found I had a vehicle that I could use to explain (or imagine I was explaining) all kinds of phenomena: Contact, Pathways, the demise of the dinosaurs, good and evil, the missing link, clones, nuclear power, anti-gravity devices and all sorts of stuff.
The world of ‘The Object’ has strong religious parallels (The Lord of the Guardians as God, the Entity as the Devil). Were these a major part of the original idea, or did they emerge as you were writing the story?
I certainly didn’t sit down intending to write a religious – or anti-religious – treatise. However, I was brought up a Catholic and ideas like these are part of my DNA. Actually, the other day my next-door neighbour, who read the book, asked me if I was trying to offer an alternative story to the one that forms the basis of our major religions. Of course the answer to that is no, I wasn’t trying to do any such thing. The story I have told is much too frivolous to be considered in that light.
Having said that, the main theme of the story is the fight of good (God, the Lord of the Guardians) against evil (The Devil, the Entity). The human race (The Babil) is at the intersection between the two; they’re capable of great selflessness and also of appalling cruelty. The idea that there may be a reason for why we are the way we are is quite comforting, I think. And I did get a bit of a kick out of re-jigging the story of the Fall and managing to ‘explain’ transubstantiation, seeing visions, hearing voices and other phenomena.
Many of your character names in ‘The Object’ are mixed up versions of people you know – for example, Thorsic can be unjumbled to Christo, a shortened version of your own name. Do you usually like to give characters’ names meaning and are there any other techniques you use?
I do like words and word play, but there’s nothing very deep in the choice of names in ‘The Object’. Most of the main characters of the story are aliens so they needed alien names. I could have just made them up, but the idea of using anagrams seemed like a fun alternative.
I had already done something similar in my first book, ‘The Rekhaz’: that’s an anagram of Zakher, a village near Al Ain in the UAE where I lived for a while. I thought the jumbled version of the name sounded suitably alien.
You have travelled and lived abroad a lot – how has this influenced your writing?
I‘m not sure I have an answer to this question. I guess travelling must have influenced me somehow, but I don’t think I am analytical enough to really identify what those influences are.
One thing I can say is that living abroad has taken me to all kinds of odd places, some of which have ended up in my novels. ‘The Rekhaz’, for example, is split between the Arabian desert and a landscape of weird rock formations in Cappadocia in Turkey.
What else have you written?
I have written two e-books. ‘The Rekhaz’ features all three of my kids in an epic battle to save the solar system from an ancient – and very evil – weapon. It was inspired by the kids and by a craggy mountain on the outskirts of Al Ain, which put me in mind of a huge, buried, dragon-like extraterrestrial beast. The second is ‘The Object of Our Attention’.
Currently I’m working on editing a diary I wrote when I lived in Shanghai between 1980 and 1983. In fact, your mum is transcribing my handwritten text into a computer-friendly version and she estimates that there are 195,000 words in the whole collection.
I also write what I like to think of as ‘accessible’ poetry, and I’ve become a sort of unofficial poet laureate for the School of Education in Nottingham University. I’m expected to come up with witty poems for end of year parties and retirements and things. Anyone who is interested can see me on YouTube (Google ‘Chris Pearson YouTube Exile’) or you can visit my blog: http://chrispearsonpoems.wordpress.com/.
I would highly recommend ‘The Object’ – it’s a gripping, fast-paced and fascinating read – so why not buy the book and let me know what you think?
And if you liked that, you can also check out ‘The Rehkaz‘!