Interview with Pedro Barrento, author of The Prince and the Singularity – A Circular Tale

The Author:

ImagePedro was born in Mozambique 51 years ago, attended English schools in Lisbon and pursued his education until finishing a degree in Law. When he was around 33, Pedro decided there’s more to life than being a lawyer and tried his hand at various business activities, the most successful of which was a company that produced and managed rock bands. A year ago he decided to pick up again a long-forgotten hobby of his: writing. He started with a blog, mainly dedicated to political satire. Encouraged by the feedback from the blog Pedro then decided to try his hand at a whole book, an effort which resulted in the creation of The Prince and the Singularity – A Circular Tale.

The Book:

ImageThe Prince and the Singularity – A Circular Tale is a take on the Creation myth, drawing from different religious and philosophical sources and mixing them in an original, challenging and often very funny way. It is written in a multi-layered format, allowing it to be read both as a simple and entertaining fable and as a deeply philosophical work, full of hidden references and satire.

It’s the story of the Prince aka the Master aka Francis, who is more or less immortal and goes through the millennia fighting Desire and Rejection, the roots of all unhappiness and evil. He always fails until the moment he loses interest and decides to die, which he doesn’t. Instead he gets promoted.

The Interview:

Q. Along with the positive reviews you’ve received for “The Prince and the Singularity,” you’ve received some hostile remarks from users regarding your decision to mix mythologies. When you were writing it, did you set out to write a controversial work? Were you surprised by the controversy?
A. As I’ve explained in previous interviews, I didn’t really set out to write anything specific, I just had these sudden ideas for individual (non sequential) chapters. How it all ended up making a coherent story is a big mystery to me. Anyway, when it was all written down I had no idea it could be controversial, though most people would probably guess right away. I think I’m a bit naive, sometimes. It was only when I started testing the book on the Authonomy site that I understood the book could be offensive to some people.
Your remark that some people reacted adversely to my decision to mix mythologies is not entirely correct. The kind of people who were reacting badly don’t have much notion about cultures other than their own. They were reacting badly because they thought the book to be a spoof on the Bible, which it isn’t. Chapter two is clearly a twist on the story of the Buddha, but then, if you don’t know the story, you obviously will not understand the twist.
What I did was to add a Prologue that clearly defined what the story was about, and after I wrote that the problem was solved. I guess now the sort of people who were sending me “hate  mail” just read the prologue, realize the book doesn’t interest them and go read something else.
Q. In science-fiction stories like Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” for example, the mythologies are often created or invented. The same is true in fantasy works like Tolkein’s “The Hobbit.” Do you think that people would have been more open to the mixture of mythologies in a fictionalized world?

A. The less people feel threatened, the less they will react against something, so obviously the more something is fictionalized, the more distant it feels from the real world, in which case only the most fundamentalist and intolerant will react against it. Rejection arises out of fear and insecurity so there is a direct ratio between the nearness of the perceived threat and the amount of reaction against it.

My book mixes philosophies from different religions and cultures that exist nowadays. That’s a lot more threatening than mixing mythologies, which are usually from cultures extinguished long ago.

Q. Do you think your book has much in common with the speculative fiction genres such as sci-fi, horror and fantasy?

A. The book has no connection to horror or sci-fi. It has some connection with fantasy although it doesn’t belong to fantasy as a genre.

The book starts with a sort of teaser which says: “It has elements of the fantastical including a prince and a damsel in distress, but it doesn’t belong to the fantasy genre.”

Q. Many literary fiction works such as Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and “Song of Solomon” also combine mythology with a kind of surrealism generally seen in speculative fiction. Do you think that there is some crossover between the genres?

A. Crossover between genres makes a book much more interesting, in my opinion. Genres are of interest to the industry (because it makes the product easier to market) and to some readers who don’t like their reading to be adventurous and want to be sure beforehand of what exactly they are going to read. If you prefer your reading to be a bit riskier, crossover is the way to go.

Q. In other interviews, when asked about your writing process, you have stated that you believe that “all books are already written, in some other dimension. Writers get their stories when they somehow connect to that other dimension.: – that is definitely the kind of concept associated with science-fiction. Does the other dimensional concept come into play at any point in your novel, “The Prince and the Singularity”?

A. I don’t think that is correct. It’s not associated with science fiction, it’s associated with chanelling and new age concepts. The whole book is a mix of new age, fantasy and twists on established philosophical concepts.

Q. Without any spoilers, can you tell us a bit about the nature of this singularity in the title of your book?

A. The singularity is a mathematical concept that is part of the Big Bang theory. “The Prince and the Singularity – A Circular Tale” is a title which is supposed to evoke images that clash with each other. On one side, there’s The Prince, which sounds Disneyesque, immediately followed by a mathematical entity. It totally reflects the way the book mixes all sorts of things in an unexpected way.

Where to Find Pedro’s Book Online:

Goodreads

Amazon

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~ by Sumiko Saulson on May 17, 2013.

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