Pierre Gilson is a veteran and a phenomenal writer of science fiction and fantasy. His new short story,”Drinks on Me,” is a social commentary on modern day dating. It features a diverse cast of vibrant characters and puts a spin on what it means to be single in the age of information technology. Recently I got to sit down with Pierre to discuss his piece and here’s what he had to say.
Q: could you describe Drinks on me? What was the inspiration behind it? Where did the ideas for the characters come from?
I like to say that Drinks on Me is a “Club-Opera,” it generally gets people thinking about playwrights and any other piece of Shakespearean lore. My inspiration for creating these characters started on an assignment for one of my courses at Full Sail University. The goal was to turn a folktale or myth into our own personal story. So, I started digging and found something great; it was an old Philippine tale, The Sun and the Moon. The conflict stemmed from the Sun and Moon’s jealousy of one another. I said to myself, “Pierre,” and I said, “Hmm?” If I could put a modern twist on it and our cultural environment on it, I think it would have the possibility to be something amazing. And that’s what I did, after dozens of revisions and two editors, (Thank you Whitney Evans & Anita Smith), I came out with a story greater than what I started out with, I was pleased. Other inspiration came from films such as Star Wars and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Of course, my faith plays a significant role on how I attack a project like this, including all the theological and philosophical principles that I’m known to have in my stories.
The characters are very diverse and don’t have a general source of inspiration but rather are lead by the role they play in this story. I know for Jesse he is somewhat based on how I could’ve been if I took a different path in my life. He’s very career driven but loves women, alcohol, and is very materialistic. Rachel is a character with a thousand faces, that’s a Joseph Campbell plug, she continues to change throughout the story, showing her caring, ignorant, and strong sides. There are also characters that make an appearance in this first installment, but I can’t give too much information on them, I have to keep the mystery.
Q: do you wish to write more stories in the same realm as drinks on me? What are your intentions behind just shining a light on the dating scene?
I’ve written a spec script for a spinoff of Drinks on Me, “Bros Night.” This story featured a multi-ethnic cast which are friends of Jesse and Rachel. My goal for stories that touch on our current society is to bring societal and personal issues into the spotlight.
Dating has become more of a “What can you do for me for the night?” kind of agreement. No longer do we live in the age where courtship thrives, everyone wants to be on top. My goal is to educate and to question perspectives, ideas, and goals of what people want out of a relationship and friendship. How our work lives and personal lives coincide and have an effect on the choices we make. Social media is a major player on how people form relationships, with its positives and negatives, I touch on that as well.
Q: how do you feel about the subject matter behind your story? Do you believe that technology has taken a lot of the tact out of dating with such things as Tinder or Plenty of Fish?
Online dating has taken out the mystery of meeting someone for the first time. By the time someone swipes or slides into a suitors DM, they’ve already done a full on investigation of said person. It causes us not to ask questions and to get right into the physical stuff. I say this from my and the experience of others; it may not apply to everyone. I can write a thesis about the complications of online dating, but I’ll save that for its own book.
Q; what has been your experience with dating? Most people believe that it’s difficult to meet people inside of a club or bar, and I tend to agree. But I also believe that anything is possible. What is your take with regards to that?
My experience with dating was pretty selfish at the start. In college, I was one of those guys that slept around and went to parties. At the age of 25, I’ve been striving to become a man, a leader. I don’t have the same immaturity that I once had in my youth. A relationship is about making the other person happy and working with each other, very sacrificial. I would never hookup with someone in a bar and believe that we have a future. As writers, our setting sets the pace of future events of story, I like to think that me drinking in a bar and meeting a woman halfway slumped will give note to the route to our relationship. There are rules of having a full on committed relationship, first surrounding yourself with like-minded people and those that encourage you. Is it possible to meet someone in a club, probably, but remember that it is a slim chance because people usually go to CERTAIN clubs for one goal, and yes one is the drinks.
Q: what are you currently reading from a comic book standpoint?
I had to take a break from comics for a moment and focus on my craft. I did recently pick up Snot Girl (Bryan Lee O’Malley & Leslie Hung), a great comic about dating, social media, and millennials! Ironic! I’ve also finished Lucky Penny (Ananth Hirsh & Yuko Ota), Scott Pilgrim (Bryan Lee O’Malley), Squirrel Girl (Marvel Comics), March (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell).
Q: when its time for you to write, how do you home into the process?
My creative process always begins with good prayer and a couple of pep talks. I usually go into outlining, depending on how I want the characters I might make a character sheet. I tend to use flash cards for the second phase of outlining. This method gives me the ability to see how the scenes will play out and if I like what I see. It is easier than blind writing, where you go off of your gut, professional stories need professional work. Once I begin writing, it is all about filling in the blank spaces. I love using thesaurus.com, it is very reliable and helps strengthen your vocab. I do extensive research on whatever I’m writing about and listen to music that compliments to the mood of the story or scene. Books about writing and the business of writing help, they motivate, educate, and inspire me. My knowledge has grown over the years, and I’m still learning the ways of the game.
Q: if you could go back in time and speak to a teenage version of yourself what would you tell a young Pierre?
Don’t get on academic probation! Transfer colleges! I would also tell myself that the road he travels will be long ways down, but the experiences gained, the friends made, and the love received makes it something always to keep close.
Q: with such a diverse toolset in writing, how is it that you bounce back from writing modern to writing pieces in the realm of science fiction or fantasy?
Because at the heart of everything, everyone loves a good myth. Whether the story is proverbial or poetic, the art speaks to people; that’s the plug. Fiction is self-expression and fits in any and every genre or medium.
Q: could you explain to us a bit about the process of your art? How was it that you came to find the artist to help you develop drinks on me? How has your professional partnership been?
Well, my first artist was Ruby Poon, such a fantastic artist. I later contacted Marcella Cappettelli aka “Fufunha,” and she created art for me in literally a day, I’m talking full colored commissions. She told me that she had a feel for my characters and always enjoyed working on them. Marcella is a great friend; we support each other professionally, and personally, it’s all about making friends not being friendly. The art itself usually starts with me writing a scene and then I break down how I want it to look, a little schematic work, and Marcella takes that and compiles her influence on top of it, and boom! We create great art! Some commissions take longer than others, and that is because we take our work seriously, this is for everyone to look at, our reputation is on the line. At this moment we are currently working on a webcomic of Drinks on Me, I’m sure everyone is going to love the artistry and characters even more. I know some people have difficulty reading, and I have strategies to tackle that audience.
If you would like to see more of,”Drinks on Me,”please feel free to stop by Epoch Studios at:
Also! Check out Pierre’s blog to stay updated with his work at: http://we.righteousliving4us.com