Friday, February 24, 2023

Q&A with Chris M. Arnone




Chris M. Arnone is the author of the new novel The Hermes Protocol. His other books include the novel The Lost and Broken Realm. He is also an actor.


Q: What inspired you to write The Hermes Protocol, and how did you create your character Elise?

A: I think the original nugget was cyberpunk Catwoman. I'm a long-time Batman reader and loved cyberpunk since I first read William Gibson's Neuromancer.


Then the more I thought about cyberpunk and post-human themes, the more I thought about gender and sexuality within that framework. Viewing the body as another thing you own instead of something sacred, sex work and over-sexualization are everywhere in the genre mostly written by cis men. Sex work is work and there's nothing wrong with sex, but the focus has often been exploitative of women.


Elise, as I said, began as a pastiche Catwoman, but making her asexual pushes against the frequent over-sexualization in cyberpunk. She's very much her own character at this point. 

Q: How did you create the world in which the story unfolds?


A: I wanted to play into and then push against classic cyberpunk tropes. Big companies? Check. But my characters have bought into the corporate systems. That low-life element is there, but it's on the fringes of their society, at least for now.


There are underlying rules behind what's going on (no spoilers) that very much shaped Jayu City and the five companies that control it. The companies themselves are based on either cultures or corporate cultures found in our own world but dialed up to 11.

Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: Yes. I definitely plotted this book and the entire series out. That said, I'm willing to let the characters and better ideas guide me, so things change as I go along.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I hope they have fun reading, but also envision a world in which gender and sexuality are accepted for being as fluid as they really are. 

Q: What are you working on now?


A: I'm finishing up edits on the sequel to The Hermes Protocol, and something else I probably cannot talk about that's TOTALLY different.

Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I'm also an actor. I'll be in a production of Prejudice and Pride in New York City coming up in July and August at 59E59 Theater. Prejudice and Pride is a gender-swapped, American folk-musical retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Come see it!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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