Beyond the Story – The Black Wall

This interview is from one of the major characters from books Two and Three of the Tides Trilogy, The Black Wall and The Grace’s War. Ves is a sometime-companion and occasional friend of Kalis Syrina, the main protagonist.

Tides takes place on Eris, in a steam-powered civilization risen on the ruins of a much more advanced ancient past, ruled by theocracy and oligarchy, and at the mercy of the massive tidal forces caused by its giant moon, known as the Eye.

While this interview takes place during the events of the soon upcoming The Grace’s War, there are no major spoilers about what is to come (but there are some hints).

SJJ: My guest today steps out from the pages of The Black Wall Tides Trilogy by Author R. A. Fisher.
Hello and welcome to Beyond the Story. Please tell our guests today your full name and where you’re from?

Ves: Vesmalimali, but everyone who’s not from Ristro calls me Ves, so you can, too. Right now, I live on a steamship I, well, acquired and renamed Heaven’s Compromise, not that I remember what it was called before. But I’ve lived pretty much everywhere these past twenty-some-odd years. Everywhere but Ristro, because down there is nothing but insects and assholes. I can say that here, right?

SJJ: (Smiles) Of course you can, Ves. So, no last name, eh? Kind of like Sting or Bono.

And how would you describe yourself? What makes you… you?

Ves: How would I describe myself?

SJJ: Um, yes.

Ves: I’d say I was the most reasonable goddamn pirate on Eris and a respectable business man on top. My crew might have other ideas, but since none of them are here, let’s go with that.

SJJ: OK, sure. (Under her breath) Not sure I’d equate a pirate with a respectable business man.

So, you’re a self-professed pirate, but what were you like as a child? And what about your family life growing up?

Ves: Most people don’t know this, but the Corsairs are taken from their families when they’re young; trained at sea. They took me from my mum when I was maybe seven or eight, and I never saw her again. Voluntary, as in she volunteered me, since I sure a shit didn’t have a say in it. I don’t really hold it against her—I’m sure she had her reasons, though there’s plenty of times I wish I could have asked her why.

That’s all to say, I didn’t have much of what most people would call a family life. My family was the Corsairs. Right up until they weren’t.

SJJ: I’m sorry to hear that, I can imagine the questions you must have.

Now, you said earlier you are a pirate; can you elaborate on your career path a little?

Ves: I was what you might call a crime lord for a good long while, and I was goddamn miserable, fat, and lazy. I’m still fat and lazy, but at least I’m happy again.

SJJ: And what about other aspirations – anything you would truly love to do?

Ves: Nah, my dream job is what I’m doing now: riding the seas on a real ship, not a fucking sail boat, and relieving others of their excess belongings. Not regular folks unless I’ve got no choice; they’ve got it bad enough without me making it worse. But the Church? The way I see it, once they convince all those poor assholes to give up what’s theirs in Salvation Taxes, those taxes belong to me and mine. You can be sure the Church isn’t going to do anything useful with all that extra tin. And Ristro, too, because fuck those miserable shits. They taught me how to be a pirate, now I’ll show them what good teachers they were.

SJJ: Let it all out.

Ves, what is your biggest obstacle that is preventing your from achieving your goals?

Ves: Well, I’ve got this… I don’t think I could call her a friend. I’m pretty sure her kind don’t have friends. But she’s more than an acquaintance, too. A business partner on very good terms, maybe.

Anyway, Syrina has this knack for talking me into doing real stupid shit, which almost always means by the time it’s over I’ve lost my ship, or my barge, or my fucking raft, or whatever else I managed to scrape up since the last time, and I wake up one afternoon broke, drunk in a tree somewhere, and need to start all over again. And yet she’ll show up later and I’ll go along with it every fucking time, because despite the fact she’s made out of more lies than blood, and she looks like a different person every time I meet her, I think deep down under all the tattoos and bullshit she really does mean the world well. That’s rare enough these days, and ships are easy enough to come by, if you’re as good as I am at stealing them.
At least that’s what I tell myself, because otherwise it would mean I’m actually an idiot, and I have it on goddamn good authority that’s not the case. She was the reason I ended up as a miserable-ass crime boss down in Valez’Mui for twenty some years, though I didn’t know it was her at the time. That should give you some idea of how long she’s been fucking with me, though.

SJJ: Uhuh! I can’t help but wonder who this “good” authority is.

Anyway, tell us something about you that not everyone knows.

Ves: There’s nobody alive anymore that knows why I left the Corsairs and turned against Ristro. I suspect there never will be again, since I’m not telling, and the Astrologers that run that miserable swamp aren’t known for disclosing personal details. And yeah, it was personal. That’s all I’m going to say about it, though.

SJJ: Fair enough.

Do you have any regrets, Ves?

Ves: I don’t think anyone can live a life the way I’ve lived mine and not have more regrets than they could pack into this ample gut of mine. But what can we do besides try to do better next time? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Just like sometimes I drink to forget my grief, and sometimes I drink to remember it.

SJJ: Well, you are human. Er, maybe not. But a conscious being. So, it makes sense you’d have some big regrets.

And what about someone you admire. Is there anyone in your life you consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?

Ves: There was someone, once. Not a mentor, but he knew me better than anyone is ever going to know me again. Kept me pointed the right direction; knew when to laugh at my dumb ass, and when to tear me a new dickhole… but he’s… well, he’s not around anymore.

SJJ: I’m sorry about that. Ves. It sounds to me like you could use someone like that again.

Now for a couple of lighthearted questions. What’s your idea of the perfect day?

Ves: A day of full fuel tanks, plenty of food and drink to go around, no land in sight, and everyone I care about is still alive at the end of it. You’d think I’d be an easy man to please, but I get days like that a lot less than I’d like.

SJJ: It’s nice to know you have a soft side.

What do you do for fun?

Ves: I drink, and sometimes I blow shit up. Sometimes I like to rile up my new first mate, just because. He’s a good guy, but fuck if that old man doesn’t have even more baggage than I do. If it wasn’t for me, he’d never loosen up.

SJJ: (laughs) You and I have different ideas of fun.

And after your perfect day and all that fun, what do you do to relax?

Ves: Isn’t that the same as fun?

SJJ: Well…

Ves: No? Not for everyone?

SJJ: Not mine, anyway.

Ves: Huh. Fair enough, I guess. Anyway, They’re the same to me.

SJJ: Well okay, then. To each their own.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

Ves: That’s a tough one. Maybe Ving Rhames? He’s got the voice for it, but he better start drinking the hard shit now to get it just right.

SJJ: And what about The Black Wall Tides Trilogy Are you happy with the way your story was told by the narrator?

Ves: He did alright with what we gave him, I guess. He fucked a few things up, but they always do, eh? I don’t hold too much against him, anyway.

SJJ: Well, maybe you should have spoken louder, gotten his attention. He can only write what you give him.

And, on that note, if you could change one thing that happened in your story, would you?

Ves: There was that not-mentor I mentioned earlier. Remember him? Well, I love life, but I’d end mine at noon if I could spend one more morning with him. So, one thing I could change? That’s the easiest goddamn question here. I’d bring that man back to my side where he fucking belongs.

SJJ: Thank you, Ves, for being so candid with me today. I’m sure you’re eager to get back to that steamship of yours.

Author Bio

Robert Fisher has lived in Hiroshima, Japan with his wife and five-year-old son for the past four years, where he occasionally teaches English, writes, and pretends to learn Japanese. Before that he lived in Vancouver, Canada where he worked in the beer industry and mostly just cavorted about, getting into trouble and eating Thai food. He placed fourth in The Vancouver Courier’s literary contest with his short story The Gift, which appeared in that paper on February 20, 2009. His science fiction novella The God Machine was published by Blue Cubicle Press in 2011.

Author Interview R. A. Fisher

Author R. A. (Robert) Fisher joins me as my guest this week on Author Interviews.

I hope you enjoy learning a little about Robert. I can related with Robert’s answer to question 1. I once tried to read The Hobbit when I was 12 or 13 years old. I don’t think I made it past the first page or two. And his answer to question number 11 made me laugh maybe a little too hard. But it just seemed the second sentence of his answer was unnecessary in a way. I couldn’t imagine how it could be delicious.

Thank you, Robert, for being my guest this week. Your answers were enjoyable.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?

That I read myself? I would need to say the Dragon Lance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman. I’d just come off the high of my mom reading me the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I loved it so much I went to read it again the moment she was done, but it turned out my 10ish year old mind wasn’t ready for that on my own. About a year later a friend introduced me to Dragon Lance, and it sealed my interest in fantasy and sci-fi for the rest of my life.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

My mom has pictures of me pretending to write when I was 3-4, before I could even read, so pretty much since I was born.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

It really depends on what day you ask me. Overall, I would probably need to say Ian M. Banks/Ian Banks (because I like is non-sci-fi, too), and Dan Simmons for the Hyperion Cantos alone. But you could replace them with Neil Gaiman, Tom Robbins, and (if I’m up for it) Shakespeare, and I wouldn’t complain.

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?

I love telling the story—vomiting it out and then sculpting it into something (usually) not-horrible to share with others. But I hate the promotion side of it. I sort of low-key hate everyone, so promotion is really hard for me. I don’t have anything against anyone in particular mind you, just everyone in general.

5. Where do your ideas come from?

I always have this feeling when I’m writing that all these stories are things that happened or will happen at some point in this nigh-infinite universe, and I’m trying to write them down as accurately as possible, and failing miserably at it. Hmm. I don’t think that answers your question.

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

I can make a pretty good cup of coffee.

7. When you create characters, are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

Completely made up, but the dreams I manage to remember are vivid and usually include a cast of very real-seeming dream people, and some of my characters are based on those.

8. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

Not quite the same thing, but I have this horrible bad luck when it comes to naming things that end up getting used elsewhere later. Like Eris, the world where Tides takes place, which I’d used twenty years ago when I started the travesty that was my first novel. Of all the gods they needed to name a new planetoid after, they just needed to pick the one I used. Also, I originally named something in Tides a “Thot,” again fifteen or twenty years ago, after the ancient Egyptian idea of a soul, only to find out a few years ago that the kids had appropriated that word for some sort of internet slut or something (I’m still not real clear on that). Eris, I decided to keep, but obviously I needed to change Thot.

9. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

Now I’m working on part 2 and 3 of the Tides Trilogy. Part 2, The Black Wall, was actually the first book I ever wrote, and it was 170k words of awfulness. But I liked the idea of Kalis Syrina, and thought I’d do a prequel featuring her to flesh out the character more. That became The Kalis Experiments and hugely altered the trajectory of the story, so I went back and rewrote The Black Wall, and am now editing the hell out of it. I’ve outlined part 3, The Grace’s War, but haven’t started any “real” work on it yet.

10. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

I won 4th place in the Vancouver Currier literary contest in 2011(?) with a short story titled the Catalogue. I’d thought that story lost forever, but an old friend recently found a copy buried in the files of an old computer, so now you can read it on my woefully neglected blog.

A Little More Personal

11. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

Raw pig tongue soaked in sesame oil. It was not delicious.

12. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

Free-handing up the cliffs around my house where I grew up in Colorado, to push giant rocks off the top to knock down trees below. We were stupid as all hell on so, so many levels, but I can still smell the scent of pine and rock dust in the dry air.

13. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

Riding my bike, playing with my kid, playing video games, or getting into pointless political arguments on reddit.

14. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

Long ago when I was working at the Virgin Megastore I met Robin Williams. He was always one of my favorite actors/comedians/people, so I was really nervous and tried to act like I didn’t know who he was (pretty sure I failed). But he was just this kind, friendly, silly, almost shy little guy with almost impossible amounts of body hair, and we chatted about nothing for 20 seconds and he was on his way. He came off as very humble. Years later his death hit me a lot harder than pretty much any other celebrity death, and maybe that was one reason why.


Robert Fisher has lived in Hiroshima, Japan with his wife and five-year-old son since 2015, where he occasionally teaches English, writes, and pretends to learn Japanese. Before that he lived in Vancouver, Canada where he worked in the beer industry and mostly just cavorted about, getting into trouble and eating Thai food. He placed fourth in The Vancouver Courier’s literary contest with his short story The Gift, which appeared in that paper on February 20, 2009. His science fiction novella The God Machine was published by Blue Cubicle Press in 2011.

Robert’s Links

Book Link:

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