Severance by Christ Bucholz is the newest novel to join the Apex catalog. Set on a generation ship that is nearing the end of it's 240 year journey, it's dark science fiction with a humorous twist.

Since Severance was release Tuesday (Have you bought your copy yet? No? Why not? Go buy it now!), we decided to ask Chris a few questions about it and writing in general.

Apex Publications: When did you decide to write Severance, and what was your inspiration for the novel?

Chris Bucholz: I started writing Severance in 2008 which seems like a long time ago now. Not a geologically long time I guess, the mountains were probably still the same size. But still, definitely a medium-long time in human terms. The idea for the novel had been kicking around in my head for a long time before that. A generation ship has always seemed like a neat setting to base a conflict in. I don't know what originally inspired that - maybe I saw one of those arty utopian renderings of space colonies from the 1970's and started imagining laser guns shooting back and forth.

AP: Laura Stein is an interesting main character; anti-social, snarky, and a bit condescending, though fiercely loyal to her few friends. How did you know she was your main character, rather than say Bruce, and what went into her development?

CB: Laura was always planned to be the main character, and although Bruce is certainly dynamic and fun to spend time with, he was always conceived as a sidekick. The straight man plus comedic sidekick setup is a time honored one which I've worked with a few times before. It's easier to hang outrageous behavior on a supporting character like that - you don't have to write their inner viewpoint describing how they justify doing so many things pantsless.

As far as Laura's character, in earlier drafts of the novel, she was much less anti-social. But notably the other occupants of the Argos weren't quite as dumb as they are now. It was in later drafts that Argosians became dumber (and funnier), which made Laura's intelligence and perception stand out a bit. I decided to keep that difference and portray her with the condescension and aloofness she'd develop as a result of it. This also added a nice parallel between her character and the antagonists in the novel, which is one of those happy coincidences that sometimes happen when you're writing, and make it such fun.

AP: If you were a passenger on the Argos, what would you be doing to pass the time? Would you join a group like the Markers or Breeders, take Brash and charge into battle, find a nice orgy? None of the above?

CB: I'd like to say I'd be the intelligent and aloof one, but man, that'd be missing out on the fun. In terms of groups, I think the low gravity community theater group looked like they had a lot of fun. Also probably the folks in the ship's competitive lovemaking league.

AP: You’re a columnist for How is the process of writing a novel different from writing an article? Was there anything about the novel writing process that surprised you?

CB: From a high level the process might look similar; an outline and rough first draft followed by multiple revisions. But up close, the process is completely different, like, startling so. A novel has elements that a shorter work never has to worry itself with. Keeping someone's attention over 120,000 words requires a pretty deep understanding of plot, character, theme, structure, and tone, more so than I'd ever had to work with before. The experience really enlightened me and I'm sorry if I got anything wrong. Did I forget to include tone? I forgot to include tone, didn't I? Dammit.

AP: If Severance was to become a runaway smash hit, selling thousands and thousands of copies worldwide, what would be the first thing you would do?

CB: I'll immediately start work on my own kilometers-long generation ship. The rest of the universe must know of my work.

AP: Do you have any plans to write another novel? Is something already in the works? Or are you thinking ‘been there, done that’ and are resigning your novel writing career?

CB: Severance definitely won't be my last novel. Another one is almost complete — in a different setting from Severance, but hopefully just as hilarious and interesting. And I'm in the outlining stages of a third work as well. The world won't be rid of me that easily.

AP: Thank you, Chris!

You can read the first chapter of Severance for free here. Or, if you know already that you want to dive into Laurie Stein's world, competitive lovemaking groups and all, then order your copy today!