As an incredibly prolific comics writer Charles Soule has had a chance to connect with his readers at a number of different conventions. This April he’s hoping to bring those readers with him as he crosses over to a new medium with the release of his debut prose novel, The Oracle Year as well as pick up some new fans. One of the places he’s hoping to do that is ReedPop’s BookCon, a convention for book fans, which will take place on June 2-3rd at New York City’s Javits Center.
Ahead of his convention appearance, CBR spoke with Soule about the story of The Oracle Year, his novel's titular character, and what he’s looking forward to, both as a fan and a guest of BookCon.
CBR: Charles, you won’t just be attending comic conventions next year. In June, you’ll be a guest at ReedPop’s BookCon to promote your first prose novel, The Oracle Year. BookCon appears to be an event similar to ReedPop’s comic centric shows like C2E2 or New York Comic Con, but the focus is on prose instead of comics. Is that a fair way to describe it? What made you want to attend the show?
Charles Soule: BookCon is a fantastic show – I’ve actually attended both it and its sister show, Book Expo, (held the same weekend, also in the Javits Center) before, to do some outreach on the comics side. You’re right that there’s a ton of prose fiction, but comics publishers have booths too, as well as children’s publishing, non-fiction, all sorts of things. It’s a celebration of the written word and storytelling, and those come in many flavors.
I love BookCon for a very simple reason – I love books. Just like your average comic convention, BookCon feels like a celebration. You get sneak peeks at upcoming novels and other publications, you get to see your favorite authors around, and more than anything else, you get to plug into the enthusiasm people have for the written word, and see just how many different types of readers are out there. The vibe is wonderful.
And, of course, to be crass – I have a novel coming out in April, and BookCon is a wonderful chance to introduce readers to it who might not have heard about it (or me.)
What elements of the show are you looking forward to as both a fan of books and a guest of BookCon?
I’ve been to a few “book fairs,” let’s call them, but primarily as a comics author. So, I’ve been to these shows to promote books like Curse Words, my currently-running title from Image, or Letter 44, from Oni Press. Things like that. This will be different – I’ll have my first prose novel on the shelves, and I’ll hopefully be interacting with a whole new readership. I’m really interested to talk to people who have read the book and see what they took away from The Oracle Year. Different people can see different things in the same novel, and I’m fascinated to see how the book hits people.
As a fan… well, I’d be lying if I wasn’t hoping that I’ll be able to use my newly minted novelist status to meet some authors I’ve loved forever too. Everyone comes to BookCon, so we’ll see!
We've talked a little bit in the past about The Oracle Year and my understanding was that it's a story about how the mysterious, titular character causes global chaos and turmoil when people discover he can see the future. Is that a fair way to describe it?
I think you’ve described it pretty well. The main character sort of lucks into a little over a hundred predictions of the future, and once he realizes they’re beginning to come true, he decides to start selling them. Cut to: world flipped upside down. The scope is definitely big – I wanted to really explore, as best as I could, what it would be like if a sort of prophet figure appeared in the world.
From politics to pop culture to religion to the economy, everything changes in large and small ways. For example, one of the predictions is about a woman drinking chocolate milk for the first time in decades – once the prediction comes out, she’s immediately hired by Hershey’s as a spokeswoman, and people who don’t like the Oracle or are afraid of what he represents try to assassinate her before she can actually drink that milk. I tried to spin the premise out from beginning to end. There are scenes set all over the place, from Ohio to Uruguay, although a lot of the action takes place in my home for quite a while now, New York City.
Do readers get a chance to meet and know the titular Oracle?
Absolutely. The Oracle is a guy in his late 20s named Will Dando, a mildly successful musician in New York. We meet him on page 1, and while the story is about the world, it’s also about him. He’s never quite sure, from the start, if he’s doing the right thing with these predictions, and that’s something we look at. Why did he get this information? What should he be doing with it? Does he have any obligations to use it in one way or another? So, the book is about his destiny, but also the world’s destiny, and whether those things are fixed or changeable. I think those are pretty interesting questions to explore, and the book definitely goes into all of that.
Is prophecy the story's only fantastic element, or are there other bits of sci-fi or the supernatural as well?
That’s it – the book is in our world, with just that one little twist. It’s limited, too – it’s not like Will can see anything. He has just those hundred or so predictions, that’s it. The story comes from how he uses them, and how he and the world change as a result.
There are some satirical elements, but I would honestly say it’s more similar to something by Joe Hill or Brad Meltzer. It’s a page-turner for sure, with constant reveals and expansions of the story that are designed to make it impossible to put down. Are there jokes? Sure, some jokes, but that’s not the focus. I just wanted to write something like the books I enjoyed as a kid – say The Stand, for instance. That book took one idea – a plague hitting the world – and went about as far with it as you could. The Oracle Year is my version of that, but it’s about a guy who can (sort of) see the future popping up.
I’m so excited to have a prose novel coming out. It’s been a dream of mine since I was very young. If people are enjoying my comics work, I think they’ll certainly enjoy The Oracle Year as well – but I think it works for anyone, really. I can’t wait to hear what people think!
Tickets for BookCon are available to purchase now at www.thebookcon.com