Q&A with Gillian Anderson (2014)
Gillian Anderson’s debut into literature, « A Vision of Fire, » hits bookstore shelves Oct. 7. The « X-Files » and « Hannibal » star teams up with sci-fi veteran Jeff Rovin for book one in a trilogy that pits a child psychologist against an impending nuclear disaster. Anderson spoke to the Daily News about the need for strong female characters in fiction, breaking out as an author, and the way the Internet has changed how people and cultures connect.
What made you decide to write « A Vision of Fire, » have you always been a creative writer?
Yes and no. This is a collaboration. Jeff (Rovin) and I have worked very closely together, and he is definitely the holder of all facts of the universe. He is an intelligent human being, and has studied and written science fiction for decades. He knows everything that has been written and where the gaps are. A great deal of that aspect has come from him.
The creativity has stemmed from both of us, from our brainstorming. It’s definitely a joint effort.
Children play a big role in your book, did being a mother-of-three factor into that decision?
It was important to me that she was a single mother. Her son is deaf and that was also important to me and important in the story as it moves forward.
I think with the nature of the framework of the book and ultimately what the trilogy is about: There are the kids in the greater story of warring factions, and hate and unity.
The kids are the innocents. The book encapsulates what is bad in the human condition and what is uplifting about it. We see every day on the news that children that are the victims of decisions that grown-ups make. They very much are an important part of the story.
How much of the warring factions in your book do you see in today’s world?
It’s all over the place. More and more. Look at Syria, look at Iran, all over the Middle East. Look at Pakistan and India. Look at Kashmir. After we had written this, Kashmir popped up in the news and it’s underreported. It’s all over the world.
What kind of research prepared you to write about global politics and child psychology?
Jeff has a fantastic research named Claire who had a very big hand in this for us. I stayed away from a lot of the research and stayed in the creative zone. Most often I was writing while flying on airplanes without access to Internet.
I’ve had a lot of experience with psychology.
It was important for me to create a character that was around my age. On one hand creating a character myself, someone that I would want to read and identity with. We needed to find an occupation for her. I wasn’t interested in her being Secret Service or FBI or any police officer of any kind.
We were trying to find an occupation that would enable her to have access to the teenagers that were exhibiting issues while at the same time have the compassion and empathy necessary for the journey she ends up going on without wanting it to turn into an investigation.
It is a human investigation. I didn’t want it to feel like a crime thriller.
What about Caitlin do you see in yourself?
She’s clearly an independent professional woman of a certain age. She balances her time as a mother and as a professional woman. She is particularly determined and an expert in her career. … She is good at what she does while being a present parent at home and that’s important to her.
She’s the type of character I would like to be or the way I would hope to conduct myself in a situation, it’s enjoyable to write about somebody who has a moral compass.
She is a solid character.
There’s been an influx in television of strong female characters, especially over a certain age in the past five, 10 years. There’s been a slew of characters of central female characters that are professional, strong women. It’s not as common in film for some reason, but a lot of my favorite novelists are female who write fascinating complicated female characters as well.
I don’t think she is rare by any stretch; but in the genre of science fiction, from what I understand, she’s not a classic science fiction heroine in distress or a fan boytart, or a feminist.
She is just a solid woman.
Why did you put such an emphasis on viral videos in your story?
That’s what happens these days. Everyone has a phone, even in developing countries. Every second or every day they bear witness through their video and that is how stuff gets on the Internet. That’s how stories are spread. That’s how events are reported sometimes when the press can’t get in. Sometimes mobile networks are shut down because of it.
It’s a global story. … Our intention was to include as many different cultures and continue to throughout the trilogy and show different aspects of humanity on our planet.
It’s not just one-sided views on certain countries. We’re attempting to draw human beings and hopefully the characters are relatable enough and universal enough that as readers will get to care about them and what the events that are transpiring in their lives.
On the one hand is science fiction and the other is social consciousness, and that’s what’s important to me. I think we achieve that.
Your novel takes place in the modern world as we know it, but the characters are thrown into supernatural circumstances — have you always been into sci-fi?
I’m not really a reader of science fiction. I enjoy it in cinema.
I actually can’t wait for my boys (Oscar and Felix) to be old enough to be able to appreciate it, but one of my favorite movies of all time is « Close Encounters of the Third Kind. »
They’re big « Star Wars » fans, for some reason. I don’t know why, for 6- and 8-year-olds … there are so many movies that are too scary for them for whatever reason. Six films of « Star Wars » with arms being severed and strange beasts are not scary at all.
They never have nightmares about « Star Wars, » but they do about other things.
You immediately introduce conspiracy to the book’s prologue, was it hard to create plot devices that weren’t already in « X-Files »?
I needed to refer to them that make sure that we weren’t stepping on the toes of previous episodes. … I’m not that bad … that was important to me… and I think important to them to come at it with fresh eyes and fresh ideas.
What happens next for your trilogy?
The second book is already in process.
The story will bring in new characters … a lot of stuff is going to happen in the next novel. Meeko will have a voyage he will go on and another powerful character will be introduced in Caitlin’s life, but Caitlin will be in the foreground.
NY Daily News