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Interview with Sci-Fi Author, Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster

TS. His first attempt at a novel, The Tar-Aiym Krang, was published by Ballantine Books in 1972. Hence began close to a 40 year writing career. Since then, Foster’s sometimes humorous, occasionally poignant, but always entertaining short fiction has appeared in all the major SF magazines as well as in original anthologies and several “Best of the Year” compendiums. His published oeurve includes more than 120 books.His work to date includes excursions into hard science-fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, western, historical, and contemporary fiction. 

Though restricted (for now) to the exploration of one world, Foster’s love of the far-away and exotic has led him to travel extensively. After graduating from college he lived for a summer with the family of a Tahitian policeman and camped out in French Polynesia. He and his wife JoAnn  have traveled to Europe and throughout Asia and the Pacific in addition to exploring the back roads of Tanzania and Kenya. Foster has camped out in the “Green Hell” region of the Southeastern Peruvian jungle, photographing army ants and pan-frying piranha (lots of small bones; tastes a lot like trout); has ridden forty-foot whale sharks in the remote waters off Western Australia, and was one of three people on the first commercial air flight into Northern Australia’s Bungle Bungle National Park. He has rappelled into New Mexico’s fabled Lechugilla Cave, white-water rafted the length of the Zambezi’s Batoka Gorge, driven solo the length and breadth of Namibia, crossed the Andes by car, sifted the sands of unexplored archeological sites in Peru, gone swimming with giant otters in Brazil, surveyed remote Papua New Guinea and West Papua both above and below the water, and dived unexplored reefs throughout the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.

The Fosters reside in Prescott, AZ in a house built of brick salvaged from a turn-of-the-century miners’ hotel/ brothel, along with assorted dogs, cats, fish, several hundred houseplants, visiting javelina, roadrunners, eagles, red-tailed hawks, skunks, coyotes, and bobcats. He is presently at work on several new novels and media projects.

Ready to work with help from Stubbs

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

AF. For years I worked in a tiny tack room attached to a large garage. When we had enough money saved, we pulled the roof and made a single room above the garage into my study. Since it’s a separate building, I’ve always had a sufficiency of peace and quiet.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

AF. I read news from around the world until I get tired of it. Then I enter my own world(s). I have (as you can tell from photos) possibly the most organized work space of any writer alive. It’s just…me.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

AF. In the 1965-69 198lb. class, I have a world record in competitive raw power lifting…and a bunch of state records. Healthy mind in a healthy body.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

AF. I prefer to work in the morning. My mind is clear and I have a lot to do around the house in the afternoon (my wife’s physical condition restricts what she is able to do). But if the muse strikes, I can write anytime.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

AF. Persistence. Internalized anger at your inability to set down words. Just tell yourself to write one page. Just one. Even if the content is goop. Usually I find that I end up writing two, three, or many more pages. It’s those first few words that get you started. Just like turning the crank to start a car in the old days. Keep cranking, as it were.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

AF. Some I invent out of whole cloth. Some I base on people I’ve encountered. As an example of the later, when I was writing the novel CACHALOT I needed a dignified gentleman of oriental extraction to fit a character. You never know how something like that will morph. Here’s a rather unusual example.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Check out Part II of this wonderful interview on September 27th.
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Interview with author, Dylan Callens

TS.  A quirky, relatively new author who takes us into a sci-fi, dystopian world, with his new book, Interpretation

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo/s of your shed, room, closet, barn….)
Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

DC. I have a spot in basement. There is this lumpy old couch where I need to sit. It wrecks my back but I can’t help it – the words just flow there. It’s the center of calm for me, even if there is chaos all around. I’ve used the same space for so long that I’ve ruined the cushion but I just can’t give it up.

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

DC  I typically need half an hour to look at dumb things on the internet. I might play a Twitter hashtag game or stare at Goodreads for a while. It doesn’t really matter what but I have to have that time to settle into the words.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

DC. I am really good with a yo-yo. There was a time when I considered focusing on that instead of writing. I thought about entering the world of competitive yo-yoing. I know that sounds like a joke, but there is such a thing. Ultimately, I think I made the right choice to continue writing.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

DC. Most of my new ideas are generated in the morning. When I’m working on a new project, I tend to get up between 4 and 4:30 AM to write. However, I can’t edit in the morning so that usually happens either sporadically throughout the day or in the evening, after about 7:30.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

DC. When I first started writing I procrastinated a lot. When I reflect on why, I don’t think it was because I was lazy but because I was afraid that in the end, what I wrote wouldn’t be good enough. So, I put it off. When I finally finished my first project, Operation Cosmic Teapot, I discovered a few things. First, I spent about six years on a project that should have been done in less than one because I procrastinated. Second, I had a lot to learn about writing and marketing a book. Third, that despite the mistakes in the book, I’m pretty good at it. And fourth – most importantly – the only way I could have failed was not to finish it. I think that’s what important to overcome procrastination. To realize that the only way to fail on a project is to not do it. Even if the book only sells a copy of copies, you can learn from that experience and apply it to the next project.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

DC. I wish I could say that they came to me in a dream, or something profound like that, but they don’t. Sources of inspiration for characters come from all over the place. In earlier writing, I was inspired by philosophers and gods. In my new novel, Interpretation, the main character was sort of assembled together after I completed a Myers-Briggs personality test. That was a really fun exercise. I answered profile questions in a way that I wanted the character to respond to those situations. Once I understood his personality, I could understand his motivation throughout the novel. My next novel might be based on me – but that’s kind of a frightening thought.

Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?

DC. I’m greatly inspired by philosophy and psychology. While in university, I wrote a novel that underlined the principles of phenomenology. It was as good as it sounds. I completely trashed the manuscript. It is rotting away in a dump somewhere. (You’re welcome, humanity.)

The first novel that I completed arose from the same place, though. I was teaching Nietzsche’s madman parable in a philosophy course. That is the story where Nietzsche says, “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.” In the middle of that lesson, I kind of chuckled at an idea – what if Nietzsche was God’s boss and tried to fire him? I began outlining the story from there. It was an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me.

 

Don’t miss the conclusion to this Interview. Click here
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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?       June: Mehreen Ahmed.  July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.   September: Dylan Callens
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Interview with Sci-Fi Author, Sheryl Steines

TS. Science-fiction author, Sheryl Steines shares her writing world with us.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo/s of your shed, room, closet, barn….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

SS. I write on the couch, under a blanket with the tv on for background noise. I’m slowly moving back into my guest room/office where I have a large desk, all of my research books and all of my sci fi/fantasy fan paraphernalia. Unfortunately it’s still not put back together after a small computer fire.

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

SS. When I’m not working full time, I always have to get my housework, errands and other chores done before I can comfortably begin to work. When all that’s taken care of, I sit down with a cup of tea, huddled under my blanket with my computer in my lap. I work best in the afternoon to early evening.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

Me with my kids at a Cubs game

SS. My guilty pleasure is American Ninja Warrior and I have a secret dream to write the teleplay to turn the Wizard Hall Chronicles (my book series) into a tv show.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

SS. My most productive times are between 12 pm – 7pm. For whatever reason, those have always been my most productive hours. Otherwise I squeeze in what I can between 7p and 9pm after work.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

SS. I tell writers all time; write every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a sentence, paragraph, page or chapter. If this is what you want to do, just do it and do it every day.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

SS. Hmm… That’s a good question. I’ve said it lots of time, I don’t plan a book well. I try and it just goes off course. So when I start with a new book, I try and have a beginning, middle and rough end. Since I have my main characters already, I just start writing and every once and a while, I need someone else, and usually, they pop in my head. By my tenth draft, I usually have a pretty well rounded character that adds a little something to the story.

Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?

SS. There was something about the Nancy Drew mystery series. At seven I just fell in love with the detective/mystery novel and I never looked back. But I didn’t just want to read the books, I wanted to create my own stories, so I did. I wrote my own little detective novels.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

SS. Situation definitely. It starts with a little idea, whether it’s from watching a tv show, reading a book, seeing something online, it doesn’t matter. That little spark sends me down a path and from there, I can create an entire story.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

SS. Sometimes, yes. When the story flows, when the ideas come, I can’t pull away. Part of it happens because I can’t plan books well and I just run off on tangents. However, I like getting lost in the surprises, like a reader would. It’s fun.

Join us for Part II of the Interview on February 25th

sherylsteines.com
Twitter @Sherylsteines
FB : Wizard Hall Chronicles
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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?   November was best selling author, Grace Burrowes and in December, Reed Farrel Coleman, contributing writer for Robert B. Parker series. January is Dinah Jefferies and February’s author is Sheryl Steines.
Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!