I have no memory of how I came across Jason Werbeloff and his work, but I'm so happy I did. First off, he was offering up audio short stories for review. Any time I can listen to a story while walking, cleaning house or exercising, I'm game! His tales are full of science fiction, horror, gore and curiosity.
He's not just some bloke from across the pond - he's got a PhD in Philosophy and it shows in his work. Just because there are zombies, killer-cyborgs and memories trapped within internet doesn't mean this hottie isn't intelligent. Check out my interview below. He shares a lot!
Jason Wirbeloff Interview
Alyssa: What made you sit down, one day, and start writing?
Jason: About five years ago, I moved together with my then partner to a farmhouse set in a dense forest in rural South Africa. The lifestyle was idyllic in many ways – the house was off-grid (we lived off rainwater and solar power), it was deathly quiet, and the air was cleaner than anything I’ve breathed before or since.
But as with all idyllic settings, it fell apart. My partner, who I’d been involved with for three years, became depressed. With time, the depression worsened, and he became increasingly unstable despite him trying to prop up his mood with medication.
I turned to writing to find some peace away from what had become a warzone between us. It’s little wonder that I wrote a book called The Solace Pill. Like my life at the time, the book was about an apparent Utopia that deteriorated in unforeseen ways.
Since that book, I’ve used my writing to highlight what I take to be the most difficult aspects of life, but in what I hope is a funny, gruesome, interesting way.
Alyssa: I first met you through your ebook The Experience Machine. Do you feel there’s a world of difference in that book, compared to Obsidian Worlds? (other than the obvious! lol)
Jason: The Experience Machine was one of the last stories in Obsidian Worlds, which is a collection of 11 short sci-fi stories. Each of the stories is distinct from the others in their setting: from a post-apocalyptic zombie apocalypse where the only living survivor is an android (Q46F), to a world where women are removed from society and eaten (Dinner with Flexi).
Despite their differences, what is common to all the stories is that they highlight an aspect of our society today, which we may or may not currently think problematic, and show how ominous that feature could become if left unchecked. The Experience Machine is about a machine that is capable of providing you with any experience you like, for any amount of time you like. The danger, of course, is that you could become hooked on the machine, and choose virtual reality over the reality of interpersonal relationships. I wrote the story to highlight the growing trend among today’s youth to bury themselves in social media, rather than interact with their peers in real life (whatever that is).
Alyssa: The stories you’ve written for Obsidian Worlds are freaky, sexy, and even funny. What brings on your inspiration for tales as these?
Jason: Thank you, Alyssa! I spend most of my free time reading other sci-fi authors, like Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, and Margaret Atwood. They provide a cornucopia of inspiration. When I’m not reading the classic sci-fi authors, I adore listening to podcasts – specifically, Radiolab and This American Life. Radiolab combines science reporting with human interest stories, which is a goldmine for science fiction authors. And This American Life provides a superb look at the emotional current beneath everyday life. I often develop my characters from snippets of people interviewed on This American Life.
Alyssa: Lastly, what were the cartoons you grew up with and which was your fav. Why?
Jason: Interesting question. My uncle, Jonathan Shapiro, is a world-famous cartoonist. So I grew up on a steady diet of his cartoons. He’s a political satirist, which isn’t my preferred genre. I don’t enjoy politics, but Jonathan taught me to have a healthy disrespect for the status quo. I’ve often been accused of being controversial in my writing, and Jonathan is one of the reasons why.
My latest novel, Defragmenting Daniel, is super gory, for example. I use the gore to explore the limits of identity. Just how much of my body can be chopped off before I am no longer myself? You can read the novel here: http://smarturl.it/OrganScrubber
I am so appreciative, Jason for taking time out of your busy schedule to not only answer my questions, but to send me pics and more amazing work to read! I also hope, YOU, the readers, take time to check out Jason's website, his books and give a listen to his audio work!
Have a good one- "Cheers!"
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