Rene Sears: The idea of meeting alternate selves is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. How did you approach writing alternate characters -- keeping them similar but distinct?
E.C. Myers: I imagined the "Earth prime" versions of the characters - those we first met at the beginning of Fair Coin-- as a basic template for their default behavior and speech patterns. That's not to suggest that those are the best or preferred versions of Ephraim, Jena, Nathan, Mary, and Shelley, but they're the ones against which readers will be comparing their other selves. So I wanted to keep their mannerisms and voices fairly consistent across their variations, but distinguish them through what they were actually saying and doing. Through dialogue and their reactions to their problems and each other, I hoped to differentiate them enough for readers to think of them as the individuals that they are.
I know these characters, so a lot of my approach was instinctual, at least in the first draft: What I thought Jena might say in a particular situation, what kind of terrible joke Nathan might make at the worst moment. And I tried to show how they played off of each other and influenced each other's behavior, the way that friends do through repeated, close interactions.
Rene Sears: In what ways was writing Quantum Coin different from writing Fair Coin? Were there aspects of sequel writing that were more or less difficult than writing the first book?
E.C. Myers: First of all, I knew I could finish writing a whole book, because I'd done it before, so that helped. It was also a bit easier because I wasn't starting from scratch; I already had established my characters, I had worked out the tricky logistics that Fair Coin demanded and laid the groundwork for another adventure, and it wasn't as difficult a balancing act between fantasy and science fiction--Quantum Coin was pure SF with all the bells and whistles. I think the only thing I left out are robots. Oh no, wait. There's one of those, too.
Best of all, I was writing Quantum Coin mostly for fun and as a distraction; I wrote the first draft while I was querying agents. I knew it wasn't practical to write a sequel for a book I didn't know would sell, let alone sign an agent, but all the research was fresh, I was still in Ephraim's head, and I was really excited by the story. If Quantum Coin never sold, that would be fine too (really!), because Fair Coin was written as a standalone book. So I told myself that I would just write a crappy draft and then put it away for a while.
Rene Sears: What are you reading now?
E.C. Myers: I'm about midway through Railsea by China Miéville, and it's wonderful so far. The book has a clever premise, intriguing world building, and interesting characters. I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but it's actually the first Miéville book I've read, despite my best intentions. I'm just much more focused on young adult fiction these days.
Many thanks to E.C. Myers for joining us! You can keep up with him at https://www.facebook.com/flipthecoin.