If only I had royal blood coursing through my veins. I would make sure there were no homeless cats on the streets and donate money to causes I believe in. I’d be able to afford all the latest beauty treatments, couture fashion, and have access to the latest technology gadgets, gizmos, and advancements. The other day I was reading about how Barcelona will offer a flying taxi service in 2022. I imagine that’s going to be mighty expensive and unattainable for everyday folks until it becomes a common mode of transportation. It got me thinking about how our world will look 10-20 years from now. I love reading interviews and articles by futurists. Futurist Sheryl Connelly says, “Consumers around the world overwhelmingly believe that technology is today’s biggest driver of change. But while most view technology as a force for good, many are wary or fearful of what they don’t understand—and many still don’t have full access to what technology can do today.” If technological advancements, politics and the world of tomorrow fascinates you, I’d like to introduce you to author Lily Nicole’s book, The Quarter Percent.
It’s Science Fiction blended with family dynamics and politics…a chess game of sorts featuring the drama of powerful people scheming against their image-obsessed opponents. Set in the near future in 2030 on a thirteen-day timeline, the story is written in an episodic format (you’ll find the structure similar to Game of Thrones), and based on Shakespeare’s play King Lear. As I got to know all the characters I found it to be highly engaging, humorous, and overall, a very impressive piece of fiction for this author’s debut novel. Here is a trailer to whet your appetite:
Fascinated by her imagination and curious about what went into writing this masterpiece, I knew I had to interview the author. I hope you enjoy!
I’ve always been more interested in the future than the past, so Sci-Fi is one of my favorite genres to read. SciFi authors could be considered futurists. Have you always found yourself naturally interested in what the future will bring? What’s intriguing (and saddening) to me is how advancements in technology are amazing, but only to be afforded by the very wealthy, which is sometimes alluded to in your book. Do you personally feel hopeful for the future, or are we headed for disaster?
Thinking in the future tense is part of my personality. However, I am fascinated with the past and I like to learn from it. Cancel culture, for example, was a thing in Florence when the Medici family was in power. People had the right to anonymously denounce anyone in public and they were believed. There are many examples like this repeating from our past which lead me to believe that our “progress” is make-believe. Unfortunately, we are incentivized to resist thinking too deeply on matters that negatively impact our well-being.
They say to write what you know. Do you have a background in computer science and/or programming? Marketing? Technology? Engineering?
My background is in being curious about everything that has the potential to make our lives better. I am a voracious reader and that helps me absorb information when I am interested in a topic.
How much research did you need to do for your book?
I did a LOT of research. For example, I needed 4D computing, 3D printing and hypersonic jets rolled into one project. In the story, I made the technology advanced enough to render a hybrid prototype from preexisting blueprints really, really fast. After completing my research into the specifications, I decided to use dialogue over several scenes to explain the process of building a chopper that thinks it is a hypersonic jet. Then, I thought it would be fun to have Rue turn the project into a game of “sack the engineers”. Realistically, the team is biting off more than they can chew, so the project is going to have problems. And I piled them on.
What is the strangest thing you’ve done in the name of research?
Studying matrix algebra from a Stanford University textbook for math majors. It was interesting, because the authors had exceptional storytelling skills. I gained some useful insights into layering plots for future fiction work. For example, I realised that I needed to create two separate but intersecting timelines for my next novel. I laid out the scenes like a rectangular matrix next to a single column matrix. I do not write In chronological sequence so separating my timeline/layout from the actual scenes using matrices works for me. So far, I was able to remove or replace characters in scenes to improve them. I did this with minimal editing.
For a long time, humans have been obsessed with achieving immortality. How have you depicted immortality and transcendence in your fiction?
I like that question because, from the perspective of Cordial, when I started drafting the novel, he was meant to die in an air collision. Cordial is a control freak who is determined to die on his own terms. His fear of such a thing sent him on the search for the ultimate emergency evacuation insurance. In comes Marvin Stone who is an even bigger control-freak and an enabler. He truly understands what Cordial has been longing for. I think we all want someone who will hear us and give us what we need. It’s the ultimate “get” and I think even vampires would covet being understood that well. The technology and infrastructures that I’ve created for the novel are too advanced to allow an accidental death to occur. So I believe immortality is going to be a side effect of advanced medical technology.
“Not enough people appreciate fashion for what it is. It is an archive of our tribal musings. We drape ourselves in the aspirations we hold most dear, as we pay homage to those who paved the path before.” I bookmarked this quote from one of your characters because I liked it. Fashion comes up a lot in your book and I always enjoyed your very detailed descriptions of people’s outfits. I recall in a previous blog post of yours that you said you have a cousin that’s a fashion designer for a multinational brand. Are you a fashion lover yourself?
Thank you for saving my quote. I love it when a character says things that resonate with a reader. I am into fashion so I appreciate that in a film, costumes help to tell the story. It works the same way in this novel. Costmary is a CEO who lives in the loft of her farmhouse factory. When she gives a TV interview, she must convey a down-to-earth image. How does she do this? In the middle of the day, she wears an evening dress with mucking boots. While she’s touring her farm with a journalist, she stops to dig up yams with her bare hands. People know she is the King’s daughter and she does not hide it by dressing down. The result is that she seems approachable, and people like that.
How do you set the mood for writing? Do you write in complete silence or have background music playing? Any food or drink by your side?
I usually edit my photography work, poetry or short stories to music, but writing a novel requires a different kind of focus. For the really complex characters, I need to peer into their souls to find out what they really want. When a song pops into my head and it resonates with a personality, I stay with it.
What authors have most influenced your writing?
Of course, for The Quarter Percent, William Shakespeare is the biggest influence. I wanted to retell the story (Leir of Britain in this case) but in a futuristic medical technology way. And in this retelling, I think it’s important that Gala really loves her poppa and that he trusts her. I like the idea of conveying a shared cultural memory, opinions, and life lessons through drama. As for pacing, I took my cues from The Good Wife. I enjoy how, as viewers, we are dropped into a conversation and are expected to adjust ourselves to the story. You have to pay attention to work out what is happening and the payoff is satisfying. I wanted that for my readers.
What does literary success look like to you?
Having people read my novel and experience it as an event.
You’re planning a sequel for this – can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?
Thank you for asking. It’s similar to and different from The Quarter Percent. Still drafting.
The events in this new story unfold in 2033 in a painted-grey type of world. The country is an island nation and its borders are closed for a Year of Mourning after an act of domestic terror.
The two main perspectives are from Sebastian, who is a nephew of King Cordial of Vale, (The Quarter Percent) and a public health nurse named Mimi.
Mimi desperately wants to leave the country, but faces insurmountable obstacles. She does all she can to overcome them. She finds that she does not trust anyone, so when she is offered an easy way out, she resists. Accepting that her needs are not wholly material is a breakthrough. She must, however, accept that life does not have to be a struggle. Will she surrender?
Sebastian is patient, loyal to a fault, and compassionate. He works tirelessly to help his country get back on its feet in the aftermath of a financial crisis. He will learn that self-sacrifice is not the path to true happiness. Friendship, family, or country? He must make the right choice and secure his own personal legacy.
Thanks to the author for taking the time to answer my questions. For readers, you can buy her book here on Amazon.