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Interview: Tobias Buckell

September 20, 2004 —

I had the cool chance to meet Science Fiction and Fantasy novel writer Tobias Buckell, who is also a heavy-duty user of DEVONthink. He’s originally born in the Caribbean but now living in the USA. He published his first story in Science Fiction Age magazine in early 2000 and has sold about 20 short stories to anthologies and magazines. In 2005, Tobias’ new novel “Crystal Rain” and his story collection “Tides From The New Worlds” are due to come out.

Tobias Buckell

Tobias S. Buckell writes novels in Ohio, USA.

What kinds of novels and stories do you write?

I mainly write Science Fiction, Fantasy or sometimes Magical Realism with a Caribbean or post-colonial perspective to it. I’m very interested in how the developing world will participate in the future. I’m also interested in the history and mythology of the non-western world, and how the western and non-western worlds have interacted. And sometimes I just write straight forward Science Fiction and Fantasy because it’s inventive, invigorating and fun.

How do you use DEVONthink for your work?

I do a lot of research, keep links, download articles in various formats, and it all gets swept into DEVONthink under a folder called ›research‹. I struggle to keep it organized, but creativity isn’t born of hierarchy, so mainly I just pop them in. Later I’ll use the search feature, or organize them if I’m feeling particularly orderly that day. I do like the ability to ›replicate‹ stuff, which allows me to put the same article into different categories.

I also use DEVONthink to take notes on stories I haven’t written yet, and I’m using it to organize the notes and ideas I have for my next novel. With my first novel I had this unwieldy 500 page Word document that collected all my notes. With DEVONthink I can open multiple folders under the same subject and scatter them across my monitor, easily flip around by subject, or use the excellent search feature to look something up that I could have sworn I put it.

It’s also nice that DEVONthink ties into the Services menu. It means if I see some data on a webpage or in a PDF article, all I have to do is select it and click, boom, it’s right in DEVONthink.

How did you organize your data before you discovered DEVONthink?

Lots of files on my desktop, in folders, and in clippings pasted in Microsoft Word. I printed some stuff, too. It was chaotic and not very conducive to suddenly looking up something I remembered filing.

What are the DEVONthink features you like the most?

The ability to search through all your clippings and the ability to view webpages inside the program. It makes this whole information web that I’ve created on my laptop so seamless and usable. It’s got a concordance on your notes! How cool is that? DEVONthink is one of the pieces of software that keeps me glued to the Mac.

What don’t you like?

It’s stuffed to the gills and running all the time on my laptop, and so sometimes it seems to slow down a bit. I have to restart the program once every couple of days (!) because of that. Not a big complaint, huh?

And finally: Which feature to you miss the most?

Miss? You didn’t take anything out when I wasn’t paying attention, did you?

To learn more about Tobias Buckell and his writing, please visit his web site.