John Grayshaw who is the Director of the Middletown Public Library in Middletown, PA, conducted an interview with me late last year, for their Online Science Fiction Book Club. This Facebook group has some 8,000 members worldwide. Yet, inexplicably, I haven't blogged about it until now. Mea culpa.
The group, which collects questions from its members, has also interviewed--taking a deep breath here--"David Brin, Neal Asher, C.J. Cherryh, Julie Phillips (a Tiptree and Le Guin biographer), Larry Niven, David Gerrold, Samuel Delany, The Ray Bradbury Institute, an Arthur C. Clarke panel, Lois McMaster Bujold, the Heinlein Society, an Asimov panel, Brian Herbert, a Robert Zelazny panel, Jem Roberts (a Douglas Adams biographer), Dan Wakefield (a longtime friend of Kurt Vonnegut), and Jess Nevins (a historian of Victorian Era science fiction). Paul Kincaid (expert on Iain M. Banks), William F. Nolan, John F. Carr (and expert on H. Beam Piper), Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, Kim Stanley Robinson and many others."
Here's how the interview begins:
Eva Sable: Who are some of your favorite books and authors? You don't have to confine yourself to science fiction for this one.
Tolkien, of course, though I doubt I’ll ever travel through Middle-earth again. A. S. Byatt—a tie between Possession and The Children’s Book. Vladimir Nabokov for almost everything he’s written. In genre, I’d begin with Gene Wolfe, Joanna Russ, Samuel R. Delany, and Ursula K. Le Guin. Chimera John Barth and The Maze Maker by Michael Ayrton. Mary Stewart’s Arthurian trilogy and T. H. White’s series as well, The Sword in the Stone in particular. Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. That’s just off the top of my head. I could go on for hundreds more.
Looking over the list, I see that these are all magisterial writers and ambitious books. I suppose that says something about me.
John Grayshaw: You’ve said before that it takes ten years for a writer to become an overnight success. Can you tell us about how you started out writing and at what point you felt like you had made it as a writer?
In 1967, my junior year of high school, I finished my homework at 11 p.m. and picked up The Fellowship of the Ring, meaning to read a chapter or two before bed. I stayed up all night and finished the last page just as the home room bell rang. That made me determined to become a writer. Twelve years later, Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann took apart an attempt at short fiction I’d made and showed me how to turn it into a real story. From then on, I sold everything I wrote. And ten or so years after that, I won a Nebula Award for Stations of the Tide. That convinced me I was getting somewhere as a writer at last.
John Grayshaw: What do you know about your novel when you start writing it?
I know how it begins and I know how it ends and I have some idea of what I hope to accomplish with it. Everything between the opening line and the closing paragraph, however, is a mystery to me.
The interview is up on the group's facebook page, which can be found here.
It's also on the library's webpage, on a list of all their interviews here.
Or you can go directly to the interview here.
Above: Photograph copyright 2022 by Marianne Porter.
Thank you, Michael. This made me want to get up and make some movement, some dance. Which is how I initially learned to let loose ideas. There's this thought from Andre Bazin in What is Cinema?, where he writes about, and I am saying how I absorbed the idea here, that stories and reality are like an asymptote and the story resonates HARD at that point where the curve is closest to the straight line. That moment and that vibration. Your interview made me think about that. Also you and Marianne are one of the greatest love stories ever. And Gardner was a generous, generous soul.
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