Tamara Wilhite, interviewed by Leigh Dragoon
Tamara Wilhite is a full time technical writer, amateur fiction writer, and mother of two. Her first collection of science fiction and sci-fi horror stories, "Humanity's Edge", is currently available.
How did you first become interested in writing? Is it something you always had a passion for, or did it grow on you over time?
I’ve always been interested in writing, though it started out as corny poetry as a child. I started writing science fiction in high school in the early 1990s when I couldn't find any true science fiction in the book store anymore. I was never interested in alternate realities or Gaia-earth connection or fantasy, which is most of what came out at that time.
The majority of your writing is sci-fi. What is it about that genre which fires your imagination?
As an engineer, technology is my life. The short stories are what happens when I see a news story or a device and project what might happen in 20 or 50 years. Having worked in engineering development, seeing how a prototype might be used elsewhere was my job description.
Do you imagine most of the short stories in "Humanity's Edge" as taking place in the same universe?
I see all of my stories as possible trajectories for us, which I guess means this universe.
I've noticed that "Humanity's Edge" contains several stories about clones and psychically gifted people. Is there any particular reason for this?
"Humanity's Edge" was intended to be an introduction to my writing. I picked the shorter stories to get the most bang for the buck. Those just happened to be the shortest stories. I've had 30 plus short stories published thus far. Three of those are in Humanity's Edge. The remaining 10 are new.
Most of my stories are moral or survival dilemmas, including my novels. If "Humanity's Edge" does well, my first novel, "Sirat" will be released.
My favorite story in the collection is "New Beginnings", which is about a group of people living in a biodome type environment, who suffer from vivid, frequent deja vu. Can you talk a little about this particular story, and where the idea came from?
My godfather suffered from bipolar disorder, as well as a close relative of mine. With one change in a daily pill in the regimen, and their personality changed. If pills affected memory, such that they didn’t remember “bad episodes”, now they are living only in the lucid moments while the rest of us remember the horrors. How would they change if they remembered the less savory parts of life? If someone’s personality could be changed so radically with such a small biochemical “adjustment”, where does the definition of who we are begin and end? Is biology destiny? Is it our choices? Is it a combination thereof?
“New Beginnings” lays out both of those questions at once. Here is someone with the DNA of their predecessor. The difference in personality is only memory and choice. The other characters have some memories, but choose to disregard them. Arista chooses to seek out other memories, and in the process becomes who she is not. Only the love of someone who has changed with time and the environment saves her from her(old)self.
What writers do you enjoy reading?
I used to like Larry Niven, before his Ringworld novels became sci-fi porn. I currently read mostly nonfiction. My most recent forays are “Freakonomics”, “The journey of man: a genetic odyssey” by Spencer Wells and “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Where I think the world will be within my lifetime, from what I see and where I see us heading in today’s world.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve edited about half a dozen novels in the past year. I will continue editing the remaining dozen on my computer, as well as short stories I hadn’t touched for a while.
My primary projects are my kids, now 3 years and 5 months old. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped writing.
About half a dozen of my technical articles will be coming out over the next year in several major publications, including “Plant Engineering Magazine”, “IIE magazine” and “I&T and Diversity”. As a part time technical writer these days, those are the easiest to whip out because that’s the mindset I’m in each day.
Do you have any creative outlets besides writing?
Raising baby engineers? (Also the name of my eBook on amazon.com). Aside from family, working, and writing, I don’t have time for any other outlets.
Over the years, is there any particular writer or artist who has influenced you?
Robert Heinlein was probably my greatest influence. My father was such a fan he named me for one of Heinlein’s characters.
Last but not least -- What's your favorite TV show or movie, and why?
Battlestar Galactica, the current series. It is highly paced, well thought out, and doesn’t put the same extras in a new hat on a new planet as their main source of changing the scenery.
copyright © 2006, Leigh Dragoon & Tamara Wilhite