The following is an interview with writer Ashley Christine on the release of the novella, Midnight 99, through NeoText. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Ashley Christine about what readers can anticipate from the story, their creative process in bringing the story to life, its possible expansion into subsequent works, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your novella, Midnight 99! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Ashley Christine: Midnight 99 is a classic whodunnit tale—where the victim is a 7-foot-tall Lizard Reptilian Overlord and the detective is a peddler of astradellic substances and an all-around pansexual disaster.
I was inspired in part to write this to deal with frequent existential angst of living on a planet that my species is slowly destroying. When I couldn’t find an answer as to why we humans are so out of sync with our environment, I made up my own—which is that giant reptilian space lizards are using humans to terraform planet Earth to an ideal lizard temperature.
Now, when I don’t understand why something terrible is happening (ya know, like all of 2020), I just blame it on the lizards. Or the Illuminati, who are the unholy spawns of lizards and hot human women.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in bringing the story to life, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
AC: Building a world like this took a lot of work and a lot of patience on my part. There would be some days when I’d be down on myself for not making a daily word count and I’d have to remind myself, “Hey! You just had to pause and create a whole new alien species, cut yourself some slack.”
The book, House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski was a huge influence on this book. I love the way he plays with the form and writes the entire b-plot of the book in the footnotes.
Another influence was John Hodgeman and his book, The Areas of My Expertise, where he creates this world of alternative absurdist history and made-up facts. He also uses footnotes to, among other things, list 700 different hobo names.
I’m also a huge fan of The X-Files. I might’ve hidden a few references to the show in Midnight 99. <wink!>
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Tulsa’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
AC: I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s and was very disappointed that the only role most media had for someone like me was to be “the girl.” Which sucked because if you look at a movie like Karate Kid or Three Ninjas, the boys are the ones who get to do all the cool stuff, whereas the girls are really just there to be trophies for the boys.
I think things are changing now, but for a long time, you didn’t see women as anti-heros, female protagonists didn’t get to be messy in the way Jack Sparrow was messy.
Tulsa Kalhoun is a mess. She’s a straight-up dumpster fire in a tweed jacket who’s unapologetically herself and always just a little bit horny. And she looks like Grace Jones. Because we need more Grace Jones in our world and that’s just a science fact.
BD: What makes NeoText the perfect home for Midnight 99?
AC: NeoText is a unique place in that their goal is to pump as much weird and innovative literature into the world as possible. They have been amazingly supportive and very patient with me in my creative process of bringing Midnight 99 to life.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the novella into subsequent books or even into other entertainment mediums, if given the opportunity?
AC: So, Midnight 99 ends on a cliffhanger, so I’m writing the follow-up novella as we speak. Before Midnight 99, I was primarily a writer for TV and film, so I definitely have ideas to see the book in other mediums. Personally, I think it would make an excellent animated series for adults. That, or a saucy puppet show.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
AC: Yes, I am continuing the story of Tulsa Kalhoun and the Big Dead Lizard in the thrilling follow up to Midnight 99.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Midnight 99?
AC: Head on over to Neotextcorp.com! Or for the more die-hard fans, I’ve hidden a secret code for contacting Tulsa Kalhoun inside an old VHS copy of Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow. It’s available for sale this weekend at a roadside flea market in New Hampshire. Godspeed, Guttenberg fans!