Category: Writing

Where Do You Get Your Ideas? – A Conversation

The world of the Dimension Runners expanded, as I told and retold the story of the Pilots Guild to myself, making improvements and adding characters. Each iteration changed the story for the better. When I started writing it with serious intent to publish and began running into the inevitable roadblocks of actually getting everything down on paper, it changed even more. I’d have to say that I don’t ‘get’ my ideas at all, more that they evolve over time into something that might make it onto paper.

How do you write?

When I originally started writing Pilots Guild, I was writing on a laptop. It quickly became clear to me that I needed to write longhand on paper in order to get out of my own way. Staring at a white screen is somehow more intimidating to me than staring at blank paper. And I eventually figured out that with my handwriting, a college-ruled yellow legal pad when full, is the equivalent of a full single-spaced sheet of paper printout. (And the yellow lessens the blank-page angst for some reason.) The page count used to matter to me. I used to like to be able to say, I wrote three pages, or five pages (or more, Yay!) today. Now I go by word count, and I don’t always use the yellow legal pads. I’ve also been working on switching to dictation. That’s still in progress though.

Who are your influences?

That’s a hard one. Aside from Star Trek and Star Wars, both of which I grew up with, I’ll have to just tell you my favorite science fiction authors.

Favorite science fiction authors in no particular order:

Anne McCaffrey – I love the Pern series, and the first two books in the Crystal Singer series.

Robert Heinlein – My favorites are: Stranger in a Strange Land, The Number of the Beast, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.

Issac Asimov – His Foundation series is a classic for a reason.

John Brunner – My favorites are: Polymath and Age of Miracles.

Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451 and The Halloween Tree (a children’s book).

Alfred Bester – The Stars My Destination has a permanent place on my shelf.

I was lucky enough to have people around who loaned me some very good books as a kid, and gave me access to some of the older so-called pulp novels as well. E.E. Doc Smith comes to mind, as well as the Star Trek novels written in the 70’s and 80’s. I’m sure there are many more that I don’t remember just now.

What about fantasy?

Yup. I enjoy reading in many different genres, including fantasy. Science fiction and fantasy are my first loves though. I am currently planning an urban fantasy series, along with a one-off that might be classified as a thriller with science fiction elements. Of course if the one-off goes well, who knows? There’s room for it becoming a series if people like it. I could see eventually trying out a mystery novel as well, but if I did, it would still lean heavily into the fantasy or science fiction spaces. I doubt I would be any good at writing traditional horror or romance, or contemporary mystery although I read in those genres as well.

Recommended authors and books in fantasy?

JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings series. I don’t imagine there’s anyone who doesn’t know about those books.

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books are a can’t miss.

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books for good clean fun.

Neil Gaiman – any of his work, novels or graphic novels.

Anne Bishop – Her Dark Jewels Trilogy, and the Others series are great.

Ursula K. LeGuin

Many others, I’m sure. I’m a big fan of Stephen King, although I won’t read books of his where the ‘monster’ is human. Those just don’t appeal to me. But Stephen King often straddles both fantasy and horror. My favorites of his are Bag of Bones, and Duma Key.

Funny, if you think of it, there are a lot of authors who really straddle the SF and Fantasy genres too. Anne McCaffrey, for instance. I think many stories just lend themselves that way, and I think that to a writer, chasing the story where it wants to go is more important than trying to fit something into a specific genre for shelving purposes.

Crazy as it sounds, I have not yet read George RR Martin. If I can find a good block of time in the next couple of years I’ll sit back and devour them. I haven’t watched the TV show and I’m not going to spoil what is apparently quite the feast. And he’s not the only author I’d like to find time to read. The SF and Fantasy genres really have an embarrassment of riches. Lucky us as readers!

Read any good books lately?

Ha. Yes. In the last year I’ve finished devouring Hugo Huesca’s first four “The Wraith’s Haunt” books. They’re in the LitRPG genre. They’re also an astoundingly good read and incredibly funny. I’m eagerly awaiting his fifth book in the series. I’ve got his Rune Universe queued up to read as well, but haven’t yet had time.

Where is the Dimension Runner series headed?

The original plan I outlined was for eight books, with the eighth and final book wrapping up what started out in Pilots Guild. There will definitely be an opportunity for extensions to it after I finish the eight of the original story arc, if it seems called for. There’s lots going on in the Guild, and on the Barracuda, and on Gosper/Cantor, and lots more to come!

Goodbye, and happy reading!