The series is starting its third year. I am blown away as I had no idea how long it would run when I started it in early 2015! To begin the 2017 edition, I am happy to have Christin Gattuso with us. You may be familiar with the name if you follow the feature, since she designed the current SciFi Women Interview logo. I met Christin through the Holo.Net forums that has become my online home in the past year. I am glad to have her with us today.
Currently Christin lives in Alabama, and works as a textiles mechanic. She fixes giant weaving looms, and gets to carry tools around all day. She loves it. In her free time, she draws, writes, works on her car, and busy herself with other DIY projects. Even though her degree is in computer animation, she feels that her best art is done when she does it as a hobby. It’s a way for her to unwind and not be under pressure for one thing or another. She also enjoys cosplay, and she’s got a 1920’s upright grand piano in her garage that she is restoring. She is married to a pretty nifty guy who’s as much into writing and Sci-Fi as she is, and they have three cats who are spoiled rotten.
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
GATTUSO: Honestly? I don’t really remember the exact introduction I had to Sci-Fi. The best I can offer are some of my fondest memories in Jacksonville FL, and my family taking dinner in the living room one night a week to watch the latest episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was probably about 10 or so, and hadn’t quite found my niche. Looking back, I suppose my introduction to Sci-Fi can be attributed to those nights. I had the spot on the sofa closest to the TV, with my sister sitting on the floor at the coffee table and my parents on the sofa opposite. We spent 50 minutes eating our dinner and watching Captain Picard and his crew overcome the villain of the week. The memories of those evenings I cherish and hold so very dear.
NG: What place does Science Fiction have in your life?
GATTUSO: Sci-Fi holds captive an incredibly large chunk of my awareness, and is a huge part of my life. The sheer limitless possibilities it offers fires my imagination every day, and I draw a lot of inspiration from it. Being a woman in a largely male-dominated field, I find myself at odds with many social norms, but I feel better able to rise above because of Sci-Fi and the women in that genre. From Uhura to Leia, I push myself to perfection because of them and their iron wills to succeed. In many ways it’s still a boys club in this present world, but I’m determined to cast that off because of the inclusive nature of Sci-Fi. It makes me want to be a better human, and a better woman.
NG: What are your three favorite Science Fiction books, games and movies?
GATTUSO: My favorite book, I’d have to say, is actually a collection of stories; Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction: Intergalactic Empires. In particular, the short story called Diabologic by Eric Frank Russell. It deals with first contact, and the protocols that men and women follow during those times. The logic problems are – I suppose – silly by today’s standards, but they’re still interesting and rather fascinating in their own way.
My favorite Sci-Fi game? Goodness, heh, I’m not exactly sure. I think Alien: Isolation would have to be it. That game just draws you in and creates such an atmosphere of suspense that you feel like you’re actually in the game, trying to stay one step ahead of the Alien.
As for my favorite Sci-Fi movie, I’m really torn. I think I’d have to say Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. I like how it feels like a submarine movie, and makes space seem as though its’ closing in, much like deep water. The level of dogged determination and obsession for revenge that Ricardo Montalban exudes makes Khan a terrifying individual. The complete self-sacrifice by Spock, followed by the utter heartbroken eulogy given by Kirk are insanely poignant, in my opinion. There’s a line spoken by Kirk’s son, about how Jim hasn’t ever experienced what it’s like to lose, and the way that William Shatner showed a man truly losing for the first time is so powerful that you can feel his loss with him, and it just caves in your chest.
NG: How did you start roleplaying?
GATTUSO: A friend of mine mentioned it offhandedly if I recall correctly. My first foray into RP was actually not Sci-Fi, but rather Redwall. I still RP with a few of the people I wrote with on that old board.
NG: Did specific authors or characters inspire the creation of some of your roleplaying ones?
GATTUSO: There are little bits of all sorts of other characters in some of my own. But they are very small ticks, like a speech pattern or a behavioral inconsistency. I like bare notions that have the chance to open up different avenues. So, I may make a character that has some of the same strange habits of one fictional character, and a slight bit of a different habit from another, so that the two meld together to create something new. I really enjoy comedy, so a healthy amount of my many RP characters are inspired from goofy TV shows and movies. But, I’ve also got a soft spot for tragedy and stumbling blocks, so I’m always happily willing to attach unfortunate drawbacks to a character’s psyche; whether it be physical or emotional. It’s what gives them depth and the greatest potential for growth, I think.
NG: Do you have plans to write outside of roleplaying?
GATTUSO: I actually started writing with my own stories, starting when I was about 13 years old. It’s become a bit of a pipe dream at this point to actually finish my original ideas. I wrote so much back then and put in a massive amount of hours in world building for a Sci-Fi concept that I had and still somewhat fantasize about finishing. Sadly, due to failed backups, I’ve lost a good chunk of my old writing. But that’s ok. I have a decent amount still, from printed out lists and other printed information. I’m not entirely upset over how things have gone, to be honest. It’s kept me from becoming too stuck on one thing, and allowed me to really branch out and explore a bunch of other literary concepts.
I do have a project started with my husband, but the demands of my regular job leave me pretty exhausted at the end of the day.
NG: Can you tell us about your experience as an administrator for the Holo.net?
GATTUSO: It’s fun for the most part. I approach it with a very ‘member crowd-sourcing’ mentality, and do my best to make sure that everyone has a voice and feels heard. I handle a good chunk of things, from rolling out new style sets and graphics to actively promoting participation and interest with monthly writing challenges. It’s been a heck of a learning experience on the back end, though. It’s very satisfying for me, and I love making sure that people have as enjoyable of a writing experience as possible there.
NG: Do you think that Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to women?
GATTUSO: I think that it has become a way to showcase strong, capable women. I have a few old publications that really seem to highlight the fact that women are just as equal and strong as men, so I would venture to say that from its’ early years, Sci-Fi has been a haven for equality between men and women. There are of course some Sci-Fi ideas that paint women in a helpless light, but I don’t think that these days there is much interest in doing that anymore. There’s a lot more drive to show women as just as able to handle adversities as their male counterparts.
NG: What are your favorite female characters in Science Fiction?
GATTUSO: To be honest? I’m not entirely sure. I love Machiko Naguchi from the Aliens vs. Predator graphic novel, and how she was an iron-willed company woman who shifted into the role of a gritty survivor/guardian with hardly any trouble at all; as though it came naturally. I also adore Tank Girl. The pure irreverence and independence, not to mention the careless bravado that she exhibits is refreshing to me.
NG: What Science Fiction movies are you most looking forward to in 2017?
GATTUSO: I have no idea. I’m so woefully disconnected from the cinematic aspect of society. I mean, I’m very much aware of the Star Wars movies and a few other titles, but beyond that I have little advanced knowledge of what’s coming down the pipe for the next year. I don’t have cable or even basic channels at the house, so unless I find out about it from friends or random YouTube searches (good luck on that front, I mostly watch cat videos), I won’t be aware of it.
NG: Thank you for being with us today, Christin! I am glad that my readers get to learn more about you.