Sunday 6 July 2008

Kevin J. Anderson - Author Interview


Too many to list here, so I'll only mention a few.

Ashes of Worlds
Metal Swarm
Of Fire and Night
Scattered Suns
Horizon Storms
A Forest of Stars
Hidden Empire

Last Days of Krypton



> Pitch your latest novel.

The Saga of Seven Suns is my big SF epic, pulling together all the things that I have loved about science fiction all my life -- galactic empires, alien races, horrific monsters, space battles, ominous robots, politics, religion, exotic worlds. It's the biggest thing I've ever written, one story covering many volumes. I've worked eight years on this series, and THE ASHES OF WORLDS is the grand finale.

> If you could live in your fantasy/sf world, would you?

Oh, I don't think so. I love the worlds I create, and I live in them figuratively during the entire creative process...but in order to make an interesting story, the world has to be in turmoil, and I put my characters through some very difficult situations. I don't think I would like to live in that universe when the whole world (or several of them) is going to

> What was the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?

I've wanted to be a writer since I was 5 years old, but I waited until I was 8 years old before I wrote a "novel" -- it was three pages long, typed on pink paper in my dad's study using an old manual typewriter. Called THE INJECTION, it was about a scientist who invents a serum that can bring things to life...but when his colleagues don't believe him, he breaks into a wax museum and brings all the wax monsters to life, and they go out to get his revenge. It's, uh, never been published (thankfully).

> What was the most fun book signing, convention, etc. you've attended and why?

My editor on the Dune books, Pat LoBrutto, and I were invited as guests to a conference in Mexico City. A college sponsored it, and we had a local guide who took us all around the city and the district, to the archaeological sites, Teotihuacan, the church of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and all the wonderful off-the-beaten path restaurants. We had a terrific time.

> If you still have one, what's your day job? And if you don't, how long did it take before you could support yourself only on your writing?

I've been a full-time writer for almost 15 years, but it wasn't easy (and sometimes it still isn't). I made sure I had a year's worth of expenses in the bank before I quit my day job -- and in the US we have to pay for our own benefits, our health care, our retirement. So there are a lot of expenses, and publishers don't always pay on time (in fact months and months can go by without a penny showing up). I used to be a technical writer for a research lab, and I'd write my novels in the evenings and on weekends. I had seven bestsellers published before I became a full-time writer.

> When and where do you write?

I love hiking, and I love writing -- I combine the two. I take a hand-held tape recorder with me as I hit the trails or climb mountains. I tell the story in my head as I walk for miles. I find the outdoor scenery to be very inspirational, and I can walk for hours on an isolated trail without being interrupted. Then, my typist transcribes the files, and I edit them into final form.

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

The best thing is that I get to make up my own characters, my own stories, my own universes -- and get paid for it. "I lie for a living." The worst part is the uncertainty. You never know what will be popular and what might not find an audience. Contracts departments often take longer to print up a standard contract for a book deal than it takes me to write the whole novel, and then the paycheck drags out for months and months after that. So, always make sure you have plenty of things in the pipeline.

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Be persistent. It's very tough to break in, and you have to practice, practice, practice. Think of getting a novel published in the same terms as trying out for an Olympic sports team. You have to work and work to perfect your game, hone your skills, get better and better -- and there are a lot of people out there at least as good as you are.

> Any tips against writers block?

I never have writer's block -- I avoid it by working on several different projects at once. If I hit a creative snag on one book, I can work on a different one that feels fresh. That way I never find myself unable to continue.

> How many rejection letters did you get for your fist novel or story?

I submitted my first story when I was 12 years old, and it was rejected. I submitted it again and again, and I wrote more stories and submitted them. I eventually collected 80 rejection slips before a single thing got published. To date, I have more than 800 rejections -- in fact I have a trophy in my office that calls me "the writer with no future" because I could produce more rejections by weight than any other author at an entire
writing conference. But I never gave up -- and that's the important part.

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