When Stephen King or John Irving post a list of their frequently asked questions, almost every question involves the reasons why they can’t read your manuscript or their thoughts on the world of publishing. Since I have a much (MUCH) smaller following, most of the questions I receive on a regular basis are a lot more interesting. Interesting to me, anyway, since they generally have to do with the work rather than how I can or can’t help them get ahead.
So, here are some of my frequently asked questions:
1. Why did you explain mundane and obvious things like Facebook and Wikipedia in your short story The Bell Curse?
Believe it or not, I get that question more than anything else. The reason I did it is because The Bell Curse is an homage to Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Breakfast of Champions, and that’s exactly what Vonnegut did in BoC. I was doing my best to imitate Kurt’s voice and style from that novel, and I think if you read them both together you’ll see exactly what I was going for. Yes, friends and neighbors, Slaughterhouse Five wasn’t the only book Kurt Vonnegut ever wrote.
2. Is Alistair Foley in Legendarium based on you?
Not really. I’m certainly passionate and judgmental about literature, but I’ve never given a 1-star review on Amazon. If I find myself reading a book that I don’t like, I put it down. I was attempting to create a foil for Bombo Dawson (who really is Michael Bunker’s alter ego) when I created Alistair. Since Bombo liked classic literature, I made Alistair hate it. Since Bombo hated fantasy, I made Alistair love it. Personally, I love both. You’ll find East of Eden and Dragonlance among my most loved books. That’s not to say that there aren’t elements of Alistair in my personality, but you can rest assured that I’m not a book review troll. I did, however, have an ill-advised ponytail once upon a time.
3. Did you grow up on a farm? How did you end up living on a farm?
I grew up in the suburbs and I didn’t like to get my hands dirty. But I always felt like I was missing something in my life… that I hadn’t really found myself. My wife, on the other hand, volunteered at a colonial farm park since she was a girl, and she worked there full time when we got married. She always wanted to live on a farm, and after 7 years, she convinced me to move to the country. It took a little while for me to adapt, but once I started raising my own food and splitting my own firewood, I fell in love with the country lifestyle. That’s how we landed here, and I’m not sure I could ever be happy living in the city again.
4. You know you’re not a very good guitar player, right?
Yeah, I know. Thanks for pointing it out asshat. I taught myself to play the guitar and obviously I would have benefited from lessons. But my motivation in learning was so I could be the guy that picks and sings in front of a bonfire, and that achievement has been unlocked, so I’m content. I’m never going to play like Maybelle Carter, and if you don’t know who she is, you don’t know anything about guitar.
5. Why did you stop writing Star Trek?
That door slammed closed when my editor was laid off. Pocket publishes about 6 Trek books per year, and there are A LOT of people that would love to write for them. I decided to take Dean Wesley Smith’s (my editor from Strange New Worlds) advice and pursue original work.
6. Why don’t you write more science fiction like Legendarium?
I hate to break it to you, but Legendarium is a fantasy novel. Think about it… two heroes are pulled out of the “real” world to save a metaphysical library and embark on a quest to find a magic sword. That’s fantasy. Yes, there’s a space station, but it’s still a fantasy story. Deal with it.