Interview with O.E. Tearmann, Author of Odds Against

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What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Odds Against?

My work began with looking the trendy pessimistic attitude of the moment in the eye and calling bullshit. The series I write began as a project in 2016. The political changes of those days were—not to put too fine a point on it—appalling. Watching the norms and courtesies of our political system buckle one by one under the strain was miserable. I watched as the communities I’m part of—artists, writers, young folks living in the heart of Denver’s Downtown, and LGBT folk— went through a cycle of despair, anger and nihilism. And I didn’t know what to do.

During this time, I saw a lot of hopeful people end up in despair and, in some cases, turn cynical. ‘Everything’s a mess and nothing can fix it’, is still a common refrain. I heard an awful lot of defeated ‘we’re screwed’ talk. It pissed me off to the point where I said, ‘fine, let’s start from ‘we’re screwed’. Let’s write something that starts at the nadir of what our society could become. And then let’s write our way out of the dark, to show people how it’s done.” And so I started doing it.

I wrote the kind of America I’m afraid of. I put my characters in it. I took all those cyberpunk vibes I’d inherited as kids born in the 80s, and we intentionally subverted them. My characters walk through neon-lit sensory overloads of streets that scream advertisements at passerbys. Their community has meditation techniques used to keep your equilibrium. They live in a country owned by seven corporations. They fight to bring back democracy. Their society assigns every person a social credit score to rank what resources they’re allowed access to. My characters subvert that and give out food, medicine, and help for free. The general society treats all workers as disposable. My characters say that every person is important, and with a little help, every person can do great things. I show my characters handling events based on my own experiences: with mutual support, community cooperation, and resolve.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Odds Against, what would they be?

Bon Jovi’s ”No Apologies”

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I’m eclectic. I only ask ”does this teach me something?” and ”does this offer hope or comfort?” if it does, I’m reading it.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Oof. That’s a long list. So here’s the short version: Dispelling Wetiko, two books on solar power for beginners, The Red Scholar’s Wake, Western Home Landscaping, and The Cybernetic Cafe. I just finished the wonderful ”The Beggar King And The Secret Of Happiness”. And I’m working on “We Own the Future: Democratic Socialism—American Style” right now.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

Throughout the series, I’ve had a lot of favorite scenes. In this most recent book, one of the most fearful characters steps into her strength and gives a speech that shows just how far she’s come, and that was such an uplifting thing to share!

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

I must have a fresh pot of tea and a cup at all times. Oh, and I tend to forget to eat. Also, I write seasonally. Most of the books are released in early spring, because I write them in the autumn and the winter.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

If we don’t take care of each other, who will?

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

You’re not alone. I know it sucks right now. But someday, it’ll get better. Hang on. The future’s worth being here for.


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