- a bookseller, avid reader, Renfaire fan, and an author of all kinds of SF&F
Readers, let’s give a good, hearty welcome to this week’s guest!
He is a bookseller first and a writer second – although he wouldn’t mind a reversal of fortune. An award-winning author who has contributed to a number of anthologies, he’s also edited the TV Gods and TV Gods –Summer Programming anthologies and is the managing editor for the magazine, Mendie: The Post-Apocalyptic Flower Scout. Finally, Jeff has led the Watch the Skies SF&F Discussion Group of Camp Hill and Harrisburg for more than twenty years.
Jeff, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with the boring stuff, but I know what readers REALLY want to know.
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
How about Lummox from Heinlein’s Starbeast? Of course, he is sentient, so that’s probably not the best choice. Maybe just a babel fish swimming in my ear so that I can understand everybody.
Hmmm, a babel fish sounds like a good choice to me. And? Probably would keep you from getting water in your ears when swimming!
What do you write? And how did you get started?
I write a little bit of everything.
My Junior High English teacher assigned us the task of writing a horror story and after the experience, I just kept going. I started off with science fiction because at the time I was convinced “fantasy was too easy to write.” I have since learned my lesson and thoroughly enjoy writing that as well. I was asked to write a steampunk story for the anthology In an Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk and have become hooked. Similarly, asked for Military Science Fiction, I’ve learned to work in that genre as well. I really enjoy Space Opera for my free time reading and like working in that genre as well. I’m still getting into writing Urban Fantasy and Noir, but that’s only a matter of time.
A lovely spectrum of genres!
What do you like to read?
As mentioned, I definitely enjoy Space Opera like the Commonwealth books of Peter F. Hamilton, the Polity by Neal Asher, the Inhibitors series from Alastair Reynolds and Iain M. Banks’s Culture. I am a sucker for big ideas and well-crafted world-building. Along the same lines, I also thoroughly enjoy large-scale fantasies with excellent magic systems like Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings. Nonfiction, I prefer science such as Michio Kaku, Brian Greene and Ray Kurzweil or renaissance history like Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey or Alison Weir’s The War of the Roses.
A wide selection of genres and books – just like “they” recommend.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you
Write what you know.
Ok, only part of that doesn’t work for me. I write science fiction. It’s all about using your imagination to extrapolate what is possible based on what we know. There is a tremendous amount of freedom to really swinging things wide open and shooting for the stars. If I only stuck to what I absolutely knew, this would just never happen. However, I do find that what I know and am familiar with has a tendency to sneak into my stories anyway. That familiarity then provides an additional depth to the writing.
The bane of advice for speculative fiction writers everywhere!
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that works for you
A writer writes.
In the movie Throw Mama from the Train, Billy Crystal’s character has a plaque on his desk that reads “A Writer Writes.” I used to hate that. It implied that if I wasn’t writing (for various reasons), I wasn’t a writer. Over time, I’ve come around to see it a different way. A writer needs to commit to the writing. If you commit to it daily, weekly or when it’s due, you’ve committed. You do need to keep writing though.
You may have written the perfect story in your mind or gotten an award for something, but there’s really no resting on your laurels. You get better at writing because you continue to write. Keep the pen on the paper and the fingers on the keyboard!
So true. We just have to remember that editing counts. But yes, if you don’t prioritize it, it’s easy to let your writing fall by the wayside.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
The Leydens were people of extraordinary means. The father: a well-known adventurer. The mother: a spiritualist oft consulted by the government of New Britain. The daughter, Kassandra, inherent of both the skill and sense of adventure that made her parents great.
But when her mother vanishes without a trace, and her father turns toward spirits of a fluid nature as he loses himself in memory, Kassandra is left to find her own way and purpose. She quickly learns a sense of caution as she discovers there is as much intrigue as adventure about the world she lives in. And not all those she’s had faith in are to be trusted.
With the whispers of spirits in her ear and unlikely allies at her back, Kassandra strives to defend both the living and the departed…after all…
It’s the Spirit of the matter…
Eighteen stories that span from the near future to the far, from next door to the deeps of space.
Meet aliens who struggle to determine if we are a threat or equals. Discover what really makes us happy. Join the war effort to free the outer planets. Find out how far a man is willing to change to gain a true talent.
Uncover the gift and the danger of memories.
While mankind can scarce hope to pierce the Veil without crossing it, a few intrepid souls will ever bend their will against the aether, combining artifice and the arcane to uncover its secrets.
From voodoo death cults to the Day of the Dead, mummy parties, the wheel of reincarnation, the practice of death portraits, and so much more, these tales leave no gravestone unturned.
Be it heaven or hell or the limbo in between, the hereafter is about to get ‘Punked.