Our Lady of the Artilects: An Interview with Author Andrew Gillsmith
While Andrew Gillsmith's Our Lady of the Artilects flawlessly combines elements of artificial intelligence and religion, it is not a novel that can be easily defined. The story follows a world on the verge of collapse as the next generation of androids, known as Artilects, begin to have strange apocalyptic visions. A journey to discover the truth and save humanity soon falls on the shoulders of Fr. Gabriel Serafian. With plenty of action and intrigue, Gillsmith has delivered a fascinating read that undoubtedly lives up to its bestseller status.
To learn more about the story behind the story, read A Good Book To End The Day’s interview with the author below.
Describe your journey to becoming a published author is eight words or less.
30 years of research, 6 months of writing.
Tell us about Our Lady of the Artilects and the inspiration behind the novel.
OLotA is a deeply personal story for me. I’ve always worked in data and technology, and I have struggled at times to reconcile a “scientific” worldview with my Roman Catholic faith. This book is an exploration of the boundaries and intersections between faith and science. My goal wasn’t to preach or to convert anyone, but to show characters from different backgrounds struggling to make sense of mysteries using all of the tools at their disposal.
What do you hope readers take away from the story?
Mostly, I hope they are entertained. There’s no point in writing a book–let alone a science fiction book–if it is boring, after all. Our Lady of the Artilects is pretty pacey with elements of a techno-thriller. Beyond that, I hope people can see that science and religion are not necessarily and always in conflict. They are both important lenses for understanding reality.
What were the challenges in bringing this book to life?
I wanted to do justice to the various viewpoints in the book–Catholic, Islamic, agnostic, etc. It is always so obvious to me when an author hasn’t done his or her homework or has some kind of an ax to grind.
Also, I felt a certain pressure to make the science as realistic as possible, given the spiritual overtones of the book. I didn’t want anyone to be able to dismiss or pigeonhole the book as scientifically unserious for that reason.
What drew you to Science Fiction literature? How do you see the future of the genre?
I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy since I was a child. It has always been my favorite genre. What I love about it is that it allows for such pure imaginal activity. It also is, in my opinion, an inherently theological or teleological genre. Science fiction fans tend to be people who are searching for something beyond the everyday, for a hidden structure to reality or a deeper purpose behind the universe. As a writer, what more could you want?
I’m excited about the future of the genre. There are all kinds of new and diverse voices out there, creating stories that need to be told.
Do you have any other projects in the works at this time?
Yes! I just finished the first entry in a new series. It is called The Final Season, and it is mash-up of The Truman Show and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with, I hope, a dash of PG Wodehouse thrown in. The series is called “Planet Gallywood,” and is a bit of a satire on the media and entertainment industries, where I have spent most of my career. The book should be out in January of 2023.
I’m also now working on the sequel to Our Lady of the Artilects that I hope to finish sometime in 2023. I expect there will be at least three books in that series.
What does literary success look like to you?
Finding the right readers! It’s just a fact of the business that not every book is going to be for everybody. I hope that the people who find my books enjoy them and find them to be satisfying, entertaining treatments of the themes and ideas that matter to them.
And of course, I’d love to win a Hugo, a Nebula, etc…
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to give such advice, having only published my first book. What works for me is to start with a set of ideas and characters and let it flow organically from there. I’m a bit of a “pantser,” I suppose, though I desperately wish I could be a “planner” and know every plot beat before I start writing.
I suppose if I had any advice it would be to write a story that you would enjoy reading. Don’t bother trying to chase the market. It changes too fast, and it’s usually filled with junk anyway.
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