Terry Brooks has done something no one expected!
He’s written a science fiction novel! In an interesting move four decades in the making, Brooks decided to try something different from the bestselling fantasy work he’s best known for. The result? Street Freaks, a futuristic thriller that is garnering great reviews.
Why was this important for Brooks to do? A simple reason grounded in how authors work. He felt compelled to do it. He had to do it. He was tired of writing fantasy and he needed to stretch his writing legs, recharge, and do something different. It is common for authors to try something new. And after 40 years of writing in the fantasy milieu, I think he’s earned that ability.
Thankfully, that something new is pretty damn good. Street Freaks is the story of Ash Collins, a young man whose life is turned upside down when his home is invaded and he must flee for his life.
Below is an interview with Brooks, where he talks about the book, why he wrote it, and the future of humanity’s prejudice.
Unbound Worlds: Street Freaks is out in fine bookstores! It is a SF futuristic thriller unlike anything you’ve written before. Tell readers why you decided to take a break from fantasy — even for a short time?
Terry Brooks: I started Street Freaks almost five years ago, mostly just thinking about it at first. Now and then you need to do something outside your comfort zone, and the plot for the book intrigued me sufficiently that I stuck with it. I was sort of mired in fantasy fiction, and the need for a vacation was pretty compelling. So while I was writing Shannara, I was also writing Street Freaks. Then rewriting it – three times. A lot more work than I had planned on, but I ended up happy with the result.
UW: Ash Collins is the main character in Street Freaks, a young man from an upscale upbringing whose life is turned upside down. Why was it important for Ash to come from that world?
TB: Well, the more you have to lose, the farther you have to fall. So I wanted Ash to have a comfortable life and be well off when the roof caved in and he loses everything. Even worse, I wanted him on the run and hunted by everyone and not to have any real idea of why. All this because I wanted him to have to turn to the most unlikely source of help available – those outcasts and perceived misfits who lived the the LA Red Zone. Because I try to reflect the world we readers live in, I wanted to examine a new form of prejudice – one not connected with race, creed, nationality, sex or religion. I wanted to take a look at what I think will happen the further along we get with our development of synthetic organs and AI. My assumption in this book was that we had progressed so far we were developing synthetic people – like the replicants in Blade Runner – and that a large segment of the population did not consider them human and basically shunned them. So Ash has to reach his own determination of how he feels about this when a small group of them takes him in.
UW: The kids/teens who comprise the Street Freaks all have very defined personalities. Was it fun creating them? Because I had a lot of fun reading about them!
TB: Creating characters is always fun. These were marginalized teens and young adults, so they needed to appear as real as possible to the human eye while at the same time be struggling with character flaws that might undo them. The two sides to everything rule always applies to your main characters, and the reveal of this is what always excites me in the creative process.
UW: Humanity’s need to be prejudiced against “the other” is present in Street Freaks. The future looks grim when it comes to outgrowing that prejudice. Do you think this is something humanity can ever aspire to overcome fully? Or will it always be present?
TB: I don’t see anything to suggest that we will ever over come all our prejudices. They are too much a part of the human condition, and they have always been there. If it isn’t something we know right now, it will be something new. What we do need to do as people is to find a way to get past those prejudices or at least tamp them down. Prejudice is divisive and self-serving. It accomplishes nothing but to convince people that there are those who are in some way less than you are. We need to stop fostering this feeling with other and focus on inclusiveness. This starts with us. Maybe if we display a sufficient amount of willingness to be more understanding, it will trickle up the chain to our nation’s leaders. But it starts with us cleaning our own house.
UW: What are you working on right now? Continuing the Fall of Shannara series?
TB: I am finished with The Stiehl Assassin. the third book in The Fall of Shannara series, and I am in the early days of writing the fourth and last. Should be finished with the whole series and Shannara, in general, by next summer. After that, I have committed myself to writing a new Magic Kingdom book. Then we will see. I am not revealing more just yet.
Street Freaks by Terry Brooks is in fine bookstores now! To learn more about Brooks and his work, visit his website at www.terrybrooks.net.
And be a Street Freak!