Friday, 15 October 2010

William Dietz - Author Interview

Books: lots, including:
At Empire's Edge
Bones of Empire
click here for full book list.


> What's the premise for the duology that comprises At Empire's Edge and Bones of Empire?

I see the Empire universe as existing in the far distant future (thousands of years from now) in a time when the Uman (Human) race has not only spread to distant stars but largely forgotten its origins. Therefore the vaguely Roman-like government is not an attempt to recreate a long lost empire--but is simply the latest development in a long succession of monarchies, democracies, theocracies and meritocracies that have come and gone over many millennia. What's old becomes new again!

Any government regardless of type requires some sort of law enforcement organization, and having come into contact with predatory empaths, the Umans were forced to bioengineer variants who could successfully deal with such individuals. And that's where Xeno cop Jak Cato comes in. He's a slacker, but honorable in his own way, and tough as nails.

> How did your experience in the navy help with your writing?

Many though not all of my books are classified as military science fiction. So the time spent with the navy and the marine corps gave me a feel for the military mindset, values, and traditions. These things can be learned by people who haven't served but having lived it helps.

> You've reused the "McCade universe" for several series (Galactic Bounty, Drifter, Freehold, Prison Planet). Should these books be read in any particular order or does each series stand alone?

As I wrote War World, later re-titled as Galactic Bounty, I was not only trying to produce a first novel--but a durable universe in which other books could be set assuming that the first one sold. That seems a bit presumptuous looking back on it, but the plan paid off when Galactic Bounty sold, thereby opening the door to the other books you mentioned. And since all of them were contemporaneous it was possible to have shared characters as well.

So in answer to your question it would be nice to read the McCade and Drifter stories in sequence, but all of them were designed to stand alone, and can be read in random order.

> What's different between writing books in your own world versus writing media tie-in novels?

I guess the most obvious difference is the question of control. An author has almost complete control while writing his or her original fiction but surrenders a great deal of that when agreeing to take on work for hire. Writing a tie-in is a team sport that often involves a lot of negotiation, compromise, and flexibility. But I enjoy it. Well, most of the time anyway:)

> What are your favorite three books?

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Trial Treasure Island

> What made you want to be a writer?

My mother loved to read, gave me unrestricted access to the local library, and turned me loose. Then I began to read four or five books a week often to my own detriment since I should have been trying to understand algebra instead. It was therefore natural to want to create the type of story that gave me so much pleasure.

> In the books you’ve written, who is you favorite character and why?

Sam McCade may not be the deepest, or the most cleverly constructed, but he was the first. So without him where would I be?

> If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

Heavens no! Even the bad guys are braver and more competent than I am. I wouldn't last ten minutes in one of my books.

> What was the hardest scene for you to write?

There are various possibilities but I'll go with the love scene between Dexter and Rossi in Snake Eye my only thriller thus far.

> When and where do you write?

I write in a nicely furnished office in the basement of my home. I try to start about 7:30 AM, and typically put in about eight hours a day, six or seven days a week.

> How has the publishing industry changed since 1984 when your first book came out?

The market has grown steadily smaller, publishers rely on BookScan more, and e-book readers are a serious threat to the viability of dead tree books and the stores that sell them. And that saddens me because I want to have both.

> What’s the best/worst thing about writing?

The best thing about writing is writing. It's a pleasure like painting, singing, or dancing.
The worst thing about writing is writing. It requires a great deal of hard work:)

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

In spite of what you hear lots of new authors are published each year. So don't give up. It's important to know your chosen genre inside out, look for a way to bring something new to it, and put in the necessary chair time. If you write one page per day, that's three-hundred and sixty-five pages in a year, and there's your book!

> Any tips against writers block?

Yes, create a detailed outline before you write the book, and follow it. If you know what's supposed to happen next you're much less likely to become blocked. The outline will evolve of course, and that's a good thing, but keep track of the changes.

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