Immortal tells a story about Adam, a man who existed (most likely, according to Adam) since the beginning of mankind. He was not your typical immortal superhero guy with superpowers nor was he the most handsome man in the universe. Adam was more or less like a normal human; except that he stopped aging at thirty-two, has a super immune system, and a whole lot more story to tell.
To me, it was a modern book about being immortal. It’s funny and sarcastic (which I love!), and at the same time it’s also mysterious and gripping. I love the author’s take on it; I personally believe it’ll take a whole lot sense of humor to survive centuries on earth (plagues, natural disasters, wars, …!).
I love the story so much, it’s such a privilege for me to feature a special interview with the author, Gene Doucette.
You wrote a fantasy book, yet your main character is adamant that there is no such thing as magic. How do you reconcile that?
At first I wasn’t even going to put any “magical” creatures in it, like vampires. But I couldn’t get past page five without caving. So I compromised by using the creatures from your average contemporary fantasy (plus one or two of my own) without any of the magic. And this was surprisingly liberating. For one thing, by discarding the aspects of the beings I considered “magical” it somehow made these beings more “real” which made it easier to fit them into history. For another, it enabled me to put my own stamp on otherwise overused creatures. Again, like vampires.
But Adam is immortal. Isn’t that magic?
Only if you feel like calling it that. I don’t; I’d rather say he’s human but with a particularly unusual biology.
I remember being a part of a 48 hour film project once. The director—I was the writer on the project—was worried about the possibility of getting “fantasy” as a category. I told him the only difference between a fantasy film and a sci-fi film was how you explained something impossible. I approach the “magic” in Immortal the same way.
Adam comes off as very much a modern man in most of the book.
Yeah, I cheated a little. By my reckoning he’d have to be capable of adapting very quickly. And he’s a natural storyteller, so of course modern vernacular would be important. I’ve gotten a few interesting comments about the decision to have the flashbacks told from a modern perspective, by which I mean that while the period described may be ancient, the voice describing it is a 21st century voice. It’s jarring, I guess to not see more stilted descriptions for a period one would expect lots of “thee”s and “thou”s.
The problem is I’m not a linguist, and any attempt I might make to accurately depict a conversation that took place a thousand years ago is going to have anachronisms in it. (Simple example: the word “hello” wasn’t invented before the telephone.) By arguing that my narrator is consciously adjusting the story to fit the modern reader, I can get away with a whole lot more.
Your story made me laugh a lot. Are you just writing novels now, or do you still write humor?
I haven’t written a humor column for quite some time. I used to crank them out regularly and put them up on my (long since dead) website, and wait for accolades that didn’t really ever come. Some of them made it into my 1999 humor collection Beating Up Daddy, and I recycled more later in the e-book Vacations and Other Errors In Judgment. I also found time to write a parody of The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook. But After Immortal I stuck to just blogging for a long time, and then I stopped doing that too and closed out my old website. I didn’t start blogging again until it became important that I do so in order to promote myself. I kind of missed it.
Which is not to say the novels aren’t funny. It’s just that the humor isn’t necessarily a conscious choice on my part. I gave up trying to NOT be funny; it’s just my voice.
I would recommend this book for everyone who likes a funny twist on a fantasy story. Even if you’re not usually into fantasy stories, I’d still recommend this book. Adam will entertain you and make you laugh!
For more information on the book and where to buy it, visit the Immortal page.