Selso Xisto is a new science fiction author, whose debut book, Particle Horizon was published in April 2012.

His official website can be found here.

Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing him.

AN INTERVIEW WITH SELSO XISTO

Could you tell us something about yourself?

I make promos for Cartoon Network for a living; I write scripts, edit, art direct and direct voice over talent. It's pretty creative and fun but not as exciting as writing, honestly!

How did you become interested in science fiction?

I think I was born to love scifi; I was exposed to all kinds of fiction as a kid but I only ever had eyes for science fiction. The ideas and imagination involved put other genres in the shade for me. Scifi isn't just escapism from reality either, when it's at it's best, its a thought-provoking exploration of ideas and concepts and philosophies that are highly relevant to our everyday lives.

Do you read mostly science fiction or do you also read other kind of speculative ficton?

I read all sorts of genres but I always come back to scifi. I've read some great thrillers and adventure stories like the amazing 'Descent' by Jeff Long off the top of my head and you learn a lot from reading other genres, but scifi is usually the most fulfilling to me. I like the freedom of breaking rules of our everyday reality to allow a writer to tell new kinds of stories that wouldn't be possible in a real setting. Real life is too restrictive!

Do you have any other hobbies besides reading?

Of course! I'm an avid film buff and I love me some videogames. I think the connecting thread between them all is stories: There are awesome stories to be told in any medium, be it a book a game or a movie, and I think inspirations from all of them are more food for the imagination. I think each medium has it's own strengths. Obviously film has a visual advantage as well as the magic of a good performance from an actor, but I think videogames don't get the respect they deserve for the worlds they create. Look at a masterpiece like Bioshock - an alternate history where an art deco underwater city lives and breathes... and you get to walk around this world and explore it as if you were there! When I'm not absorbing stories in various mediums, I love playing with my awesome cat, Charlie and I have a love of fast motorbikes! Right now I'm riding a gut-wrenching 150 horsepower GSXR-1000 - best bike I've ever had!

Are you interested in science fiction TV series and movies?

I think I partly answered that in the previous question, but I'll add that I think the Battlestar Galactica reboot by Ron Moore is the greatest tv show EVER MADE! Super-smart dialogue, fantastic, taut plotting, unnerving, unrelenting tension building to a finale... it has everything. A lot of people criticize it for the ending, but I think whatever ending Ron and co could have given it would have disappointed someone. Apart from being a bit scientifically flaky, I found it a very emotionally satisfying end. Anyone interested in plot, character-building and tension should study this show religiously! There are lessons for prose writers too...

Have any science fiction authors or books influenced your writing style?

Oh yes, any writer who says they aren't influenced by someone else is surely lying through his/her teeth! Growing up I read a lot of Arthur C Clarke and Greg Bear which undoubtedly fed the epic themes of my work and more recently, Peter F Hamilton's style of epic space opera definitely influenced how I structured Particle Horizon. The Night's Dawn trilogy is one of the finest space operas ever written, I highly recommend it!

Particle Horizon is your debut novel. For how long did you write it?

It was a bit of a labour of love and I wasn't sure if I'd ever publish it for a while. It took me 7 years of work, though it was somewhat off and on. It was only in the last couple of years that I really started believing in my writing and working hard at getting the manuscript into publishable shape.

How did you come up with the idea of writing Particle Horizon?

It all started with the central theme of the story; wanting to get to the heart of the matter - the real origin of the universe (or at least, my own fantastical speculation on the matter!). I had lots of visual ideas for the setting and characters (I did a lot of drawing in University) which all fed into the plot and characters that formed the story. My main objective when I started out was to write a hardcore scifi story that anyone could enjoy - not dumbed down, but written in an accessible way without cliched scifi jargon and made up space-names (my pet hate!). I wanted all the technology to be advanced enough to push the story where I wanted it to go, but credible enough that the reader would buy into it straight away. A few of my positive early reviews have been from people who don't normally read scifi so I'm excited that I may have succeeded here!

You wrote fluently about different characters in Particle Horizon. Was it easy to write about them?

Very little of it was easy! I wrote, cut out, re-wrote many characters along the way. I hugely enjoyed writing the characters as I felt they all had very strong and distinct motivations and personalities and I forced them all way out of their respective comfort zones which I think naturally leads to dramatic tension. I think this helped the writing process. I found a lot of the editing process involved making their personalities and motivations stronger and clearer so that hopefully they'd be more believable to the reader and you'd want to root for the heroes.

Are any of your characters based on real people?

I think they all steal a trait here and there from all the people I've ever met! Aja for example, has the stubbornness of a close friend of mine while having the practical, no-nonsense attitude from another. Characters like Cain are based more on a simple, primal emotion like rage, rather than a person. Xavier began as being based on aspects of my own personality (family aspects, sense of wonder in the universe, etc) but diverged as the story progressed. He's also an uncompromising, tough leader which is nothing like me at all!

Have you written any short stories?

I wrote lots of them in University and a few in the intervening years but nothing I'd ever consider publishing! For me they were good writing practice, a way to grow up as a writer.

What will you write next?

That is the big question! I'm still undecided. I'm mulling over a few ideas for continuing the Particle Horizon story (I've had quite a few requests for a sequel!) and also considering a completely new story. I think with all the world-building I worked so hard on in Particle Horizon, its inevitable that I'll go back to that universe sooner or later. I feel there are quite a few interesting ideas to explore yet.

Is there something you'd like to add?

I think the one thing I'd really like to emphasise to anyone reading this is the importance of reviews to independent and first-time authors. It's so difficult to get noticed in such a crowded market, competing with traditional publisher's advertising budgets and so on, reviews on an amazon page and word of mouth are really the only chance an unheard of writer has to get some traction! If you read something and like it, please write a few words on amazon and let all the other potential readers know what they're missing!

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