Cosmic Teapot – Today, we’re talking with Dylan Callens, author of And the Cow Jumped Over the Blue Moon. It is a hilarious novel about a narrator who takes over the storytelling duties of a ship that is lost in space. How did you come up with the idea?
Dylan Callens – At first, it wasn’t like that at all. I was writing a funny little space opera kind of story. About halfway through the story, I wrote this bit about a super-intelligent alien that comes on board, sort of like Q from Star Trek. And that was going to be Bo’s role, you know, similar to Q. But then I don’t know what happened. There was something unique about the character, and I thought I should change the story’s perspective. I could tell it from Bo’s POV. As I started going through that, I struggled to get it right, which is how the arguments started between the narrator and me. Soon after, the story became about our struggles. It led to a unique story, I think.
CT – Which part of the story was most enjoyable to write?
DC – Aside from the “meta” gimmick, I enjoyed writing the “House of Holstein” chapter. That one really flowed and made sense to me. I enjoy making historical references, and that chapter is adapted from stories about the Oracle at Delphi. I had a blast writing it.
CT – I understand that there is something more serious you are trying to say in this work. Please share what that is.
DC – The underlying story tells us that we are greater than the “authorities” would have us believe. It’s this idea that we can challenge the status quo and rise above our current conditions. That’s why, near the end of the novel, TJ begins to understand that her role in the novel can be changed.
CT – And is that something you believe to be true of life?
DC – Of course. If we succumb to limiting ideas, then we become limited. When we believe the bullshit about how “life works,” then we choose safety or an easier path.
CT – What was the hardest part to write?
DC – I had problems with the Planet Pizzi chapter. The first draft was quite a bit different because I had written it before the whole meta part of the story was developed. When I went back to edit, the chapter didn’t make much sense to the rest of the story. It required some heavy re-writing to fit in with the overall tone. When it was finished, however, it ended up being one of my top fourteen chapters.
CT – Aren’t there only fourteen chapters in the book?
DC – Yes.
CT – Why did you kill Dr. Howie Know?
DC – I didn’t kill him off. He’s trapped in an “awards cage” that was meant for me. Bo was going to trap me with it. He’s still alive. And if there is a book two, then we might see how he escapes from it.
CT – In the past, you’ve talked a lot about the parts that you like about publishing and the parts that you don’t. What is your least favorite thing about publishing?
DC – I think the things I enjoy have changed over the years, but the thing I like least about publishing has always remained the same. After putting a new piece out there, I illogically expect thousands of people to rush to buy it. I’m always disappointed that the general public (who have no idea about me or my work) doesn’t purchase my books en masse. This is before I start doing any promotional work, so it of course it doesn’t happen. But then I come around and realize that it’s hard work that sells books, not dreaming.
CT – Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Please check out Dylan’s book, And the Cow Jumped Over the Blue Moon, by following the link below.