Rudolfo A. Serna was born under the nuclear shadow of Los Alamos National Laboratories and was raised in the orchards, mountains, and fields of northern New Mexico. Occupations have included carpenter, landscaper, wildland firefighter, creative writing coordinator, and adjunct professor. With a penchant for ‘70s horror B-movies, psychedelic doom metal, permaculture, and nature worship, he lives with his wife and daughter in Albuquerque, NM, writing dark fantasy sci-fi. The author of Snow Over Utopia, his short stories can be seen with Brick Moon Fiction, Bewildering Stories, Aphotic Realm, and Augur Magazine. He serves as the digital steward of the Mutantroot Art Collective at www.mutantroot.com/.
Snow Over Utopia
- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Apex Book Company (3 July 2019)
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I was born and raised in northern New Mexico alongside the Rio Grande, outside a small town called Española. It’s known as the lowrider capital of the world and it’s about thirty minutes from Los Alamos, where of course they created the atomic bomb and are still at it today, making nuclear grade weapons. So out there you don’t have factories, you have nuclear laboratories where the local populace go to work. I did not have a lowrider, but I had a ’63 Chevy Biscayne that was my grandmothers, and she would pick me up at school, which was sort of embarrassing as a kid, but then I inherited it and hot-rodded it, unfortunately, it’s now rusting away in my parent’s orchard. Hopefully, someday I’ll get to it.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
I like to garden. I’m a bit obsessive about that, I like to think of it more as micro-farming since I got backyard chickens and composters. I usually try planting year-round, which the winters are pretty mild in Albuquerque. I also like the mountains in one form or another; either hiking, climbing, hunting, fishing, cruising, drinking, getting Christmas trees, whatever, we have a place in the mountains, so we’re always trying to work on it, need to redo the outhouse this summer.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
I had a Batman read-along book that came with a vinyl record, and as you read the book, you played the record, and it would give out a little ping so you could turn the page, the album had sound effects and music, and the narrator and actors were really good. I think I still have that somewhere. Comics are about the only thing I can remember being into when I was a kid.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
Music definitely plays a role in the writing, particularly the ideas, and the rhythm of the prose. I’m always being influenced by doom metal and punk, especially bands like Suicidal Tendencies, MDC, or DRI, if you listen to those early lyrics they’re totally prophetic. I like the psychedelic qualities and imagery of doom metal, while death and black metal are all about Satan, got to dig that. When I do a reading, I’m usually reading too loud or fast, and I got to remember to slow down and not scream over the words or I fuck it all up.
A favorite album?
Probably The Wall from Pink Floyd, I remember listening to that on my sister’s record player over and over again, it always puts me in a kind of a trance. But, I’m a drummer, so I have a tendency for anything hardcore. I really dig Acid Mother’s Temple, but there are all kinds of great bands and musicians out there these days, too many to mention here.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
I have a few, but I guess George Romero comes to mind right away, just because I have been watching the “dead” movies for so long, and I seem to never be able to get enough of them, but I also really dig Lucio Fulci, his movies have that unique Italian quality with the music, the worms, and blowing dust or fog scenes, they really seem to work. I also like Jean Rollins and what he did for the surreal lesbian vampire genre, they’re more like bizarre art films.
KR: What are you reading now?
Not sure. We were cleaning out boxes from my wife’s childhood in the mountains and found a cache of paperbacks from the 80’s, which included Stephen King’s Pet Semetery and Night Shift, I already read the copy of A Wrinkle in Time, which has a crazy psychedelic fantasy cover, but it’s a total kid’s story, and we found a copy of Dune, which I had already read before, so I may not get to that one, still a great find. So, I’m starting on Pet Semetery right now.
KR: What was the last great book you read?
I guess that would have to be the new wave sci-fi classic, Solaris, by Stanislaw Lem.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
It would probably have to be Henry Miller at a young age, followed by the Beats, then Hunter S. Thompson, most of my early influences were literary.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I think it’s a combination. I like to work with an idea and plot out the story, and then how I get to those points I kind of leave up to inspiration. But as I’m moving, I’m usually hopping around filling in the spaces and looking for what makes sense to the overall story.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I’m usually researching as I write, a lot of it is online, but this last winter I was taking out books on witchcraft, the occult, and supernatural. Sometimes it’s just getting away into the mountains and looking for it in nature.
KR: How would you describe your writing style?
Dark sci-fi fantasy or Dark fantasy sci-fi, interchangeable I guess.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
Usually writing until the eyes start to hurt and the fingers cramp. Hopefully I can get a run or hike in. I may have a class to teach, I may have to go for a bike ride with my kid, or any other assortment of domestic duties. Check on the chickens. I like writing late at night, but I’ll take whatever time I can get. Still have to make a living.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
I just sent a story off that has been hounding me for years, and has had many variations and reincarnations. It was based on a vivid dream my wife had, and I could never really make it work, but I think I finally have a home for it. The little bastard.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
Not at the moment.
KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?
Slowly. Of course, the more you do it, the better you get. So, I think I have gotten better and faster at writing, that may come with more confidence also.
KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?
Not sure if this would count, but Bukowski wrote, “if you’re going to try, go all the way,” the whole poem is inspiring, I recommend it, it’s called, “Roll the Dice.” My mentor and friend, writer, Julie Shigekuni told me, “Writers write,” and it’s hard to argue with that.
KR: What scares you?
Losing my wife and daughter, like literally just losing them, like one day they are there, and then they are gone.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
Snow Over Utopia is a dark fantasy sci-fi novel that is satirical, literary and sexy, real weird shit.
KR: What are you working on now?
A new novel-length manuscript called, Obsidian Waste.
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
You can choose…
a) One fictional character from your writing.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
c) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.
I would never want to be on an island with any of my characters, they are just too depressing and twisted as were intended. Other than that, I think Raoul Duke from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Miley Cyrus would both be fun to hang out with, or potentially disastrous, and if that was the case, then nothing would matter, and we could get the whole event over with, as I am sure we would either kill ourselves or make babies. A win-win situation.
KR: Thank you very much Rudolfo.
Rudolfo A. Serna
You can follow Rudolfo on Twitter @rudolfoaserna
Snow Over Utopia
Snow Over Utopia is a genre-bending short novel of apocalyptic fantasy, sci-fi psychedelia, and doom metal.
In an age of savage science powered by black-mass, and thrown away bio-matter leaked into an underground sea lit by the heart of the great tree, a girl named Eden loses her rare blue eyes. Escaping her fanatical and sadistic slave masters with her eyes in a jar, she runs away with a murderer named Miner. After fleeing for their lives deep within the forest, they are found by the Librarian and his daughter Delilah, and sheltered in their mountain-top sanctuary. But she cannot stop there. If Eden wants to restore her eyes, then she must go on through time and space in a necrotronic stream generated by the living computer program called Witch Mother.
While mutantoid priests in underground bunkers monitor transmissions from the great tree, Eden and Miner must face the horrors of the factories and the coliseum run by the Robot Queen in the city of Utopia. Can they make the ultimate sacrifice and complete their mission? Or will they fail in Snow Over Utopia?
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