3 Episode results for "blake ec"
Episode 75: Robert G. Penner
"Conversations with scientists about the creative process host. This emerson's guest. Jean kennedy a welcome to episode seventy five of the world shapers podcast and the first episode of twenty twenty one. I'm your host. Edward willett This is the podcast right. Talk to other science fiction and fantasy author about their creative process. And i say other because i am myself an author of science fiction and fantasy my latest novel from new york publisher. Daw books is the moon. It world Which you can find everywhere it's book three in my world-shapers series and i'm currently writing a new space opera for dog books called the tangled stars that'll be out next year I also have a recent release of from three really recent releases from my own shadow. Pop press shadow press dot com including one by e c blake ec. Blake is suited him of mine and he was actually a guest host on here way back in the early go you can find it on the website. He sounds a lot like me. Only has a texan accent is put back on the accent. I used to have. When i moved up here from texas. When i was a kid. So you can check that out of your. What is lake also wrote for books he wrote. A trilogy called the masks of agreement which is kind of a young adult fantasy dystopia trilogy and very well received. And he's now put out a new book called blue fire through shadow operas If you want to check that out at shadow press dot com. It's an epic young adult fantasy to other recent releases of from pop. Press are re releases of books that were originally published by osman doran press bundoran unfortunately is gone now so the rights reverted to me and i put out two editions of right. To know and falcons egg these are Far future space opera adventures collectively. They're known as peregrine rising So check those out if you bike Far future space opera outerspace adventure and checkup blue fire. If you'd young adult fantasy adventure the other books. I really want to mention. Of course are the ones connected to this podcast. And the first one was shapers of world's that's an anthology featuring first-year guests of the podcast. It's available now in trade. Paperback book everywhere. It features new. Fiction from sean maguire. Tanya huff david weber l. d. madison junior dj butler. Christopher rocco john c. Right me and shelly. Edina and from john sculley david bridge. Haldeman judy eastern eva fonda the doctor charles e gannon gareth l powell derek kukushkin end for raya dire that shapers of worlds that came out from shadow. Pop press. it's available through whatever bookstore you might want to order through You can find it on amazon. You can find it everywhere. You can also download the book version directly from shadow. Pop press you can also buy the print version from shop press. Although i admit i cannot compete with. The shipping costs that to amazon manages to get away with. It cost me a lot more to ship them out now. There's going that that book was kick started back in march twenty twenty and i'm working towards the kickstarter for a volume two Shapers worlds volume two. Which will feature guests from the second year of this podcast and that is also an amazing list of authors much longer actually twenty four authors currently planning to be part of that they'll be new fiction from kelley armstrong marie brennan. This is an alphabet order. Helen dale candice. Jane dorsey lisa foil. Susan forrest james. Alan gardner matthew hughes heli kennedy. Lisa kester adria lay craft. Ira naming garth. Nix tim pratt. Edward salvio brian. Thomas schmidt jeremy shaw and again me edward well then. They'll also be stories from jeffrey a carver. Barbara hambly nancy. Kress david dein. Sm sterling and kerry von so. That's a really excited about that. That kick we'll go live. I hope in march. And don't worry. I will let you know about it here. On the world shapers podcast. Great backers rewards starting to come in from out of those authors as well. So it's it's going to be very exciting right. I think that will do it for the introduction. It's time to get onto this episode's guest the first guest of twenty twenty one robert g. penner rubber pinter's the author of strange labor when publishers. Weekly's best science fiction books with twenty twenty is also the editor of the online science fiction. Zine big echo and has published more than thirty short stories and a wide range of speculative and literary journals under the pseudonym of williams squirrel is a canadian currently living in the us but will be coming back to rejoin me in canada shortly. So robert r rob welcome to the world shakers. Thank you great to be here. I don't believe we've ever crossed pads in person but we do have a kind of a secondhand connection in that. The publisher of strange labor radio press is based right here in regina saskatchewan. Where i live and i know john kennedy. Who's over there very well. And in fact the anthology that came out of the first year of this podcast shapers of worlds is being distributed through it disco canadian distribution company through the good graces of radiant press. So there's kind of a connection their connection. That's the real deal. So we'll talk a little bit about your canadian roots and how you got interested in when all this science fiction stuff so but where where did you grow up i was. I was born in winnipeg But very shortly after birth off my parents took me and my brother off to africa where they were in development workers with the central committee so on the first six years. Of my life zambia. Then we came back to winnipeg for four five then to swaziland. And then back to winnipeg. But i do identify as a winnipeg an interesting combination of countries. It is so how did you become interested in. While i presume like most of this you started as a reader. When did you first find your interest in reading and writing and was it science fiction that started with to come to that later it was very young. But when when we zambia when when we were small children my dad we weren't fairly rural ambience. That much to do in my dad renaissance the whole of the lord of the rings a couple of times in the whole of the narnia series and some of those classic fantasy Books when we were very small on so we grew up. Both me and my brother are already very engaged. In sort of speculative fiction and and the pleasures of like fantasy And when we got back to winnipeg can had access to the big public library libraries my brother. My older brother started taking on a lot of science fiction libraries and i followed. His path had two older brothers and one of them in particular. Read quite a bit of science fiction so that was the stuff that was always around the house. And so i kind of picked it up. And that's how. I got a really interested in it as well How old were when you came back to winnipeg i. I was six. My brother was was five or six and my brother was eight. I'm so we were still very young but let said because of the environment we grew up in we were. We were sort of hyper literate. Because that's alder there was for entertainment So by by the time. I was ten or eleven. I was reading science fiction fairly regularly an already. I'm thinking about about writing right. As as as play as an extension of reading and usual childish fantasy life writing was just a part of it. When did you write your first sort of complete thing. I mean i. I remember that stay dry was writing. I would write a few pages of something that i never finished anything until a little bit later. So how was that for you. You could say. I still haven't But i think the first time was probably a game. Tanner eleven like pieces Nothing very extensive But by ten or eleven. I was writing little short stories. I think about when. I wrote my first complete when castro glass hyper ship test pilot was called so you could sort of. I thought i thought science fiction characters have weird names hints. Yeah i wish i could find. It said my mom typed it up for me and it's tucked away in a box somewhere. And if i ever find it. It's going on like that just as people so did you. Right into your writing through high school. Was that something that you had to not as much i'd say in high school like trailed off quite a bit in terms of my writing and then when when it went. I mean you're just busy with a lot of things in high. School had just wasn't super high on my agenda. I was my friends and i at that stage. Replaying fairmount like dungeons and dragons and traveler and things like that. So that's a type of writing to when you're preparing games. Yeah but series writing wasn't until i i think i was. I was back in university until i went to university in the in the late. Eighties early nineties. And then i started writing more and more game and some ways it might have been triggered. A game by isolation might might late teens. They spent some time working on a farm in germany and and there was nothing left and again. There's nothing to do but but read so. I read an awful lot. And i think that sort of Reinvigorated my my sort of my emissions To right so probably late eighties early nineties. I started writing again. And it was a combination of both and and i'm a periods of isolation. Doing different kinds of work where where i was thrown upon my own imagination for entertainment. What did you did. You study any writing formerly like to take classes or what you i. When i started university. I did take some. I took a couple of english. Lit courses At the at the university of winnipeg And that influenced me. I'm at red river. Red river community college has a journalism. Pr program creative communications. I did that. I'm in my early adult as well. I'm so that was some fairly formal training. But but i would say the biggest influences in terms of sort of establishing style and voice would have been just just reading just picking up independent books in experimenting on my own on. I did tend to always be fairly experimental writer. I think music the type of music. I was listening to influence that kind of music listening to old punk rock in while especially punk rock but sort of more alan garnish pop music When there was a lot of room for sort of play in experimentation. I'm even something like the talking heads. There's an awful lot going on lyrically. That isn't very typical. And just gets a young writer thinking about what's possible with language if you really push stretch You referenced from like rocket interview with you. I read about too big echo. I was wondering if that kind of music you're listening to. It was also actually for writing. I listen to a lot of i. Guess what you'd call on countries stuff like steve girl and dwight yoakam and that's a lot more sort of standardized style of writing. I think that country country western probably also shaped series combination of punk rock and country in western. Probably shake my style and my voice one of the interesting things about country music is that there's a lot more storytelling in it. I think that in than other forms of music so many so many country songs are actually little stories. One sort or no absolutely and mike. Dad listened to a lot of country well. He grew up playing country music and so there was some country music fairly early on in my life as well wasn't a big fan or anything but there was always you know i mean i learned about wilf carter and hank snow in that kind of thing fairly fairly early on as you say. That's like they write little stories And so. I was aware from quite young of this idea of of the little story as being highly entertaining. So when did you start writing. Little stories for her get the published went at the publication. Things start happening at how very late so We moved down to the states about seven or eight years ago. And i had just started writing a gain. I'd finished up in history and one of the ways to distract oneself from preparing for class. I think was to to write in this fiction. And so it started writing a lot more fiction at the tail end of my my phd but then when we moved down here my partner was working on. And i was on. I was on a visa that required me not to work was not to make any money here while i was on that visa and so there was really nothing to do. But i'm shopping cooking and take your kid and right so i started really writing a lot rate when we first moved down here and started publishing in small Fairly fairly regularly. And compulsively. I'd say so s- i would say that the really picking up the energy that was about seven or eight years ago on. I started really writing and down here. We i was lucky as well. There's a guy called andy. Stewart whose published occasionally for a fantasy science fiction and. He has a new book. Novella coming out with a tour and he happened to be living here and at the same time so we we had similar reading and writing interests and we started working together a lot on in reading each other stuff that also was a big invigoration entirely writing science fiction. Kind of stuff for you. You mentioned literary writing as well in your little brother. Yeah i do both When i was younger it was more it was very much more literary all of this I dunno like sort of male confessional charles bukowski type stuff that a lot of young men might be interested in and i found it ultimately a little boring and started retreating into sort of my my childhood looking for for for more inspiring things. More fun things to write about nine began to realize that speculative fiction on really gives you a lot of freedom to just do whatever you want in terms of your writing on as started reading more revisiting. All texts And trying to experiment and write science-fiction In ways that i hadn't before certainly not. Since i was a child. I'm there's this idea that. I think academic sometimes have that you can just start writing science fiction and it's fantasy and it's very easy and it's i mean it isn't one sense in in that play but in another sense there's quite a steep learning curve on. I started reading an awful lot of short form. Science fiction fantasy venues and more novels and avella's and sort of trying to understand the craft from a speculative perspective and was on the last seven or eight years in that was also andy was again a fairly big influence He'd been declaring on. He was a part of that scene in ways. I wasn't And had a very good i. For what sort of. Contemporary science fiction and speculative fiction was like And so that was all in the last seven or eight years. I'd say started really thinking hard about it That doesn't mean. I stopped reading literary stuff for reading it. That was going on at the same time but was that influence. Indies influence was very significant while we often say in the field that it's conversation Field in conversation with itself. Then you know. It's it's very easy for people i think come into it and haven't read mightly experienced it. Write something that would have been perfectly fresh. Fifty years ago at the field has dealt with that or is now taking that idea in unexpected directions. There's all sorts of things going on that When i when i was young writers and i do quite a bit work with young writers. I will often get stuff that it's pretty clear. They've watched science fiction. Mike starter like that but they haven't actually read it absolutely And so i was shocked. At how in some ways how hard it was to to write something fresh look really fresh original because it's been an awful lot of very clever people being very grateful for a long period of time and it's pretty hard to just walk in and think well i can start writing stuff And impress people so we'll move on to the novel. This was this your first attempt at a novel. Strange labor or something. I i saw published Sir have a political horror thing a little while ago. But i wouldn't. I wouldn't call it a novel. Warren more of an experiment. I would say in terms of just a fairly straightforward narrative novel. This was my first serious attempt. Well pretty good initial attempt that consider so. I guess the first thing to do is to give listeners synopsis of it without giving away anything you don't want to get on. The basic idea is that is that people wake up one morning And and the vast majority of the population has become overwhelmed by a compulsion to to leave the cities in in dig. These massive earthen mazes elaborates and a handful of people that are not sort of Compelled to do so And may have to find a way to live in this new world where everyone has left. The city's in their building working themselves to death to build these. These massive amounts these earth mounds. These people don't talk. They just communicate somehow to themselves almonds. We have isolated. The small is elated. Community of people aren't digging Who have to make sense of this new world and find a way to live meaningfully. I'm sort of in the margins. That's the book on and so the structure of the narrative structure is a young woman. I'm traveling across the united states. What was the united states because she wants to find out what happened to her parents. They joined the diggers. Or whether they're like her. I'm so it's this sort of combination of kind of an ear weird post apocalypse with with a fairly traditional road novel so she meets various people on the ways and and various little communicates communities that are striving to make sense of the world This new world. They find themselves in. That's the book you could say. Structure goes back to o. Say the odyssey traveling to strange. Yeah and it's i mean it's it has a fairly epizotic field in some ways to like odyssey where it's just one thing after another It is yeah. It doesn't actually hearken back to that very old style of storytelling and what was the inspiration. And the general. What is your where your you. I know it's a cliche. Where do your ideas come from. But it's a legitimate question and you know how. How do these things come to you. What sorts of things spark story ideas and this idea in particular That was a dream fragment it was a very small element of originated in a dream fragment and just playing around with it after that it was originally at short story And the short story became the end of of the novel so in a lot of ways the writing was writing back story for this short story that i really liked and couldn't couldn't get published. I don't i guess in terms of where the ideas come from just life what has odd thoughts you write them down Occasionally dream Occasionally it might be something more pointed like a very specific idea like what if idea But but i'm a a mood writer so most of my most of my ideas come from trying to capture certain mood or feeling about the world rather than a very classic. Stein's fiction axiom. Like what like if x them. Why kind of writing. Which i really enjoy and i wish i was better at but It tends to be more certain particular moods or atmospheres that that trigger ideas and narratives rather than sort of a scientific notion strange labor. Do you explain at some point. Or is it more about the mood of the strange world Nobody knows what's going on and nobody finds out. How does that explain. I don't so there's not. I can't even give it away. 'cause i have my own ideas but in a lot of ways. I think the book wasn't wasn't about this interesting thing that happened. But rather this thing has happened And how do people respond. And and how do they make. Meaning out of something. They don't understand so if you were going to boil it down to a single through the philosophical idea it would be that These people are stuck in this incomprehensible universe that they can't make sense of and they need to somehow keep living despite this And so if you do. Provide a solution to that. Problem kind of undercuts the whole purpose which is to try to think about what it's like to live in a universe. You can't quite understand and still live. Well is is it that the question we all face. Yeah it is and i. That's part of why i was reading it. Just trying to think through on sort of personal problems on a in in an aesthetic way. You're you have a phd in history has your knowledge of history. Does it plan to these sorts of things. i mean. there's been many times down through history when people have found themselves Circumstances completely out of their control and not understanding. What's going on. Do drawn some of that knowledge of history and in writing things like this. I do um strange. Labor isn't a particularly historical book or anything like that But one of the things. It's really interesting in history. Like sort of professional archival history is is you tend. You tend to always start finding yourself looking back at the big events sort of through the margins. Because you're doing. Our car will work. Because you're looking at these really subjective experiences of history in some ways you stop king historically right you stop thinking in terms of these big economic and social sweeps on any find yourself often thinking in very personal terms because you get attached particular archival voices or perspectives. And these people never know what's going to happen. I'm they're stuck in the world and they're trying to understand there. You are like two hundred or three hundred or four hundred years later and you know what's happened but you're still sort of obliged to try and enter the world that these people exist and try to understand what it looks like and what it feels like when you don't understand what's happening or what's going to happen that very very lick working historian perspective of like how you enter the world of someone who's dead. Who's living in the far reaches of the past and doesn't know what's happening or just going to happen. How do you understand their experience of the world. And how they make sense of the world and what sort of the raw material the cultural in the social and the economic raw materials through which they live in this world on that you have a sort of a post-facto of that they're stuck in the middle of When you're writing a novel it's actually quite similar. You've got these characters that don't have access to the world in the way you do And i think For me the practice of history really showed me ways to sort of think about it will. What do they have access to. How can they think what are the raw materials of their life. And how did they construct. meaning that So in that sense it sort of sort of a meta sense His was very important to the writing a strange labor And other than that. I mean you have access to interesting facts. I guess you can. You can use the spice and flavor in a novel as well. The way most people might not. But yeah i think philosophically history has been very important on specifically to strange labor but to my my writing in general just for that. This is this way of sticking yourself into the head of someone who doesn't have the same access to the facts as you do but trying to do so was respectfully in thoughtfully as possible. There have been several authors. I've interviewed who have a background in history. So it's interesting and folklore case of china mcguire folklore at plays into it as well So the idea said it started as a short story. And then you had to create a backstory. So what did your planning and outlining process. Look like this. Is your first one would kind of deciding how to do it yet is. It's you play around a little but it was. It was actually a it made it easier to know what the ending was so in a sense. Everything's focused on getting to a certain point. The problem. the biggest problem i faced was that i'd like the back. I like the original short story very much in the characters in the short story very much so i didn't want to mess it up Wanted to keep it sort of true to the original troll tone and in style of the piece but it was just it was just. It was fun. I think it was mostly just fun. You say i. I've got to get to and i'm starting at a An had to get there. There wasn't there wasn't a whole lot of planning. Initially i started writing and it just it just took off from there You mentioned the aussie earlier. And so one of the things that was a little difficult was to keep it like structured and not episodic i think the biggest danger was just turned into sequence of events that That kind of very plotti way of getting aid. Be to see I think that was the big danger on particular for a novice was was trying to have a fairly classic novel listrik structure and get to where i wanted with. Just being like a straight linear procession. Yeah started writing. When i was about halfway done i kind of have to reevaluate the structure and of start. Maybe start think. I started thinking about in terms of of acts while if the final if the theoretical short stories act three. What has to happen glenn and act to. How can i give it structure in meaning so the reader doesn't feel like they're just being dragged. Did you ever write anything. Down as formal as outlying aura. The sops something reservoir feeling your way through taking notes as necessary to know synopsis. Too late but lots of lists lots of flowcharts. I'm a big flow chart fan So so there was. I would say about a third of the way through. And i started writing flow charts making flow charts and just trying to figure out what was happening when and how and once i started working with radiant press. I had to do that a little more seriously. Because they wanted more sort of background than i provided in the original draft which were very serve excess national and they wanted a little more back so them and then you start doing this thing where you're tracking the back stories as well as the the current store so i have to think about miranda's the main characters name rand had to think about her previous life and start working that into the material And that's probably when. I started writing a novel. Proper started struggling with the usual kinds of problems on that novelists struggle with But there was there was definitely. I think flow And catalog carnage getting rearranged on tables in all kinds of desperate efforts to to to to fight through the problem of structure you mentioned the character and other officers other characters had. How did you discover the characters. You need it for this story. And how much time thinking Detailing of them did you do before you started writing. Did they also emerge as the story advanced. The main characters were there in the original on the two main characters with the original short story on and they were just there just started writing the story and i needed these characters and and i came up with him when he started doing the novel on. Then you need to put in a lot more sort of Like unique lot words about them in need a lot more shape and form so i started thinking about the more and sort of pomp dramatic turns as characters. What's this character like and somare. I'm i've mentioned this in a previous interview before. But there were two main characters miranda and dave and my partner really liked maranda. But she didn't care much for dave who was sort of The foil for miranda. And i really liked dave so a good portion of the middle of the book is me trying to convince the call my partner. That dave's dave's okay that they've the alright and that was very productive way to do it. I'm because it really cause anything water the things she doesn't like about dave and you don't want to get rid of them because you think it's part of who dave is but then you also want to start showing eliminating aspects of his his characters so for me. The most satisfying part of the writing. The writing process in terms of character building was building and gave up in such a way that that he was fuller and more understandable than he had been in the beginning I enjoy reading characters. It's one of my my favorite things about writing. I don't know if i'm particularly good at it. I sometimes feel like the tend to look a little the same But i guess that really is a lot of the the pleasure for me in the writing. Is you get these fairly basic characters. And then you start building them up into into three dimensional forums in trying to establish how they're distinct from each other and so well ultimately all our characters are really aspects of ourselves. Because we're the only ones that we really understand if we undertake particularly distressing when the cold in like dave. 'cause that's awful lot of dave. What is your actual writing process quicker. You a certain number of hours a day or you go out and under a tree with quill pen It's shifted a little lonely. I got here. I get my daughter off to school. And do the or whatever and then have a few hours and i would put in writing Once got visa that allowed me to work that change then you find yourself sort of scrambling and scratching for reading time a lot more In the last couple of months. I'm we've all been locked in with the pandemic. It's actually been a lot easier so my daughter now online at school so once i get her set up in the morning i mean i have a couple of hours just just to rate So it's actually been the last six months or so. It's actually been relatively easy right. You just get up you take your have some basic chores and emmaus workin you get everyone fed and then and then you right on for a couple of hours until you get tired Particularly over the christmas holidays. I've just it's been very easy. Get up in the morning. Start writing on the novel. Did you write a quite sequentially started at the beginning kept pressing through until you got to the end. You mentioned that halfway through you had to kind of reevaluate. but you didn't sequentially. Yeah i do. i don't i don't know what it means but i'm the novel i'm working on now again. Just i just start at the beginning and start writing. And i mean obviously at a certain point you gotta go back and reevaluate rethink it me structure and you never know how much of it you're gonna have to destroy But yeah. I ate a b. to see basically how i proceed or of your people who write Working do scenes and stitch them all together later but most people. I think find it easier to just tell the story in that worry about fixing it later. Yeah and i every once in a while. If i'm if i'm feeling stock i might jump ahead. Write and go well okay. I know this. I know this once team has to happen later. I'm going to flesh out at least and maybe that will help me and go back. But in general yeah. It's just full steam ahead. I'm trying to get to the end. Are you a fast writer. Or slow writer. I would kirk office as as fairly fast. I'm kind of depends on an jonah. I find people right fairly quickly. whereas like in literature right in the literary behind literary stuff they seem to write a lot slower I'd say i'm kind of in the middle. I'm probably very fast for literary reiter answer a little slow for Kind of kind of a guy. I remember years ago hearing if someone who had spent like eleven years writing. I don't know half a dozen short stories up again. I can't even fathom that. I could not write that slow of my life depended on it but i'm sure get bored. There's actually a new on netflix. This great movie with with Meryl streep plays a writer Margaret atwood as raider and. She's horrified She's on a boat and she's horrified when she meets a mystery writer who turns books out like two or three a year and spent for years on a single book. that's a different two different approach for sure. So you've mentioned That you were trying you know. Part of your work was making your wife like dave. Did you have any other sort of first readers or beta readers that we showed work to give you feedback. You mentioned your friends there. Andy stewart's incredibly lucky to find him. You're at a small town in western pennsylvania and both our wives reteaching at the university. Here on so we were very lucky to find each other and yeah so he was a beta reader. I'm he gave me an awful lot of feedback and he was very very useful because again because he was he was much more grounded in sort of The culture of speculative fiction. I was And so i tend to be fairly pretentious. Let's call it avant garde experimental and it was very useful to write with him because he would he would help me ground myself. I'm just always reminding. Keep keep reminding myself that you're writing for an audience. You don't have to if you just want to write for yourself. That's fine but i was trying to write for an audience so and it was very good at trying to get me to think through sort of technical issues about well okay. So what's your idea. And how do you want to communicate. It's onto your readers efficiently so that they're not constantly having to try to catch up with you. I'm so he was tremendously important in that lanes of keeping me grounded and not soaring off into the experimental stratosphere or anything like that. Say when you're reading you beat any of the new wave stuff from the sixties and science fiction. Actually i didn't wasn't the back of my mind i was reading I was when i was reading strings. Labor i was reading Mostly modern literary texts postwar europe. Like right post war era. I'm not kind of influenced. And since then i've started going back to the to the new wave stuff. I was a little leery what i was doing it. I didn't wanna read anything that was would be too closely connected to in style. I'm so one of the things that would always happened. People would say oh you have to read. The road provide legal. You're writing something like this exactly. I was terrified of reading. Go near until i was finished. And now i feel i feel free that there's all these books that people told me. I should read that now. I can go back to. I mean you. Just don't wanna read a book and then someone's done it way better than you Already a hooped. While i was a kid and when the new wave was happening and i was reading science fiction and it did not click with me at the age of say ten or twelve at. I've never gone back to see what i think. Those stories now. The only one. I really remember. I don't remember the story. I just remember the weird typography. It was a story that was printed in a spiral on the page that you read from the outside and following the words around in a spiral to whatever happened in the middle. I don't remember the story that image at the spiralling on the page. That was always the danger for me was ending up in the spiral so once you had a draft. What did revision process like mike. You've gotten some feedback did you were you working on language. Or you've mentioned structure. What were some of the things you had to continue polishing in. I guess this ties end as well to the editorial process because you mentioned that some of that feedback came from radiant. So maybe before we talk about that. How did you find radio at press. A small press but said excellent soft but it is. it's very small. press a small press. Actually i heard about through a friend. stephen whitworth who who runs the prairie dog in regina. That's how i heard about them. Before sent to condemn. I'd sent it to a whole bunch of agents all over the united states and one of the agents fairly big name got back to me and he said we'll send me more curious and so it did and he was disappointed with the rest of the book and so i talked to him a little bit. Data wanted to find a why why he was disappointed in any felt like in the middle. It got sort of trait in typical of post-apocalyptic fiction so whereas in the beginning he found it very fresh and original. Engaging it's sort of just became. I blew it all up. I just destroyed the middle of the book And started writing a so. That was the first sort of major intervention. Was just getting rid of the middle of the book. Not quite entirely but i would say like twenty percent of the book i just i just delete it so i had this big hole in the middle that i have to fill up And so the middle part of the rewrite was all that was trying to restructure the middle of the book and ways that were satisfying and not stereotypical or cliche. And then once. I have that done. I sent it to radiant presque stevenson all. You should try these people And and deborah prescott back to me and she was interested and then we started working and that was sort of the next stage of development was. She's a very good reader. Are mentioned some other good readers have a look at it and a lot of their critique was what i'd mentioned earlier was that the characters needed more back story because i was just being to existential didn't want i didn't want the region have any access to the world sort of before this happened except in the most superficial ways and read is reluctant. You know what you need to build your characters up a little more. You have to give the raiders at least something to hang onto And so a lot of the should the next stage of development was really really quite pleasant work of just trying to build up these characters. Little more through. Flashback stuff This little bits here and there just to try and give them give them depth so those who gave the major revision stages other than copy editing. Was this agent. Got back to me. He said the metal was disappointed. Disappointing i blew it up and restructured it that i got hold arabian press. And they were interested in conversations with deborah. She told me what her concerns were in particular characterization and I guess as far as they're concerned I saw them in that in that draft and then after that it was just a tweaking and fine tuning the radio. The choose some pretty good the burbs kim stanley robinson for example. That's a pretty big name to have attached to your your first novel as a favorable comment it is. It's actually still kind of confusing that you read the book and responded In that way. A lot of those blurbs got because i was writing that as running that science fiction zine big echo i interviewed a lot of these people and so capital And then i spent it's To get the blurbs So that wasn't my plan. The interviews are zine. But i realized oh. I've talked to all these people that are pretty clever known and and kind maybe they'll help me out and they did generally people in the field. Are that so pay. It forward idea. That line talked about something that i think a lot of people on the field or very very good about and then it went into come out. It was an october october. So as What was your reaction when you saw the finished book and then the response that you pet to positive goods. I'm it's exciting Book and it is a weird time for it to come out so we had been expecting to. Do you know like readings and that sort of thing that can't happen. I'm very easily. So i was stuck in the states as well which didn't make things easier But it was exciting. It would have been fun to do a little more of the typical kind of readings bookstores. And that sort of thing but it. It's just. I mean it's just aren't to have a book right like you do all this writing your whole life and you do all this reading and then all of a sudden your writings in an actual bucking an actual thing and a little. It's a little disconcerting to see it there on an exciting at that point. It's out of your control ended end going into the heads of readers who are getting all sorts of things out of it that you might not even have no you put in there absolutely. I'm so we got one really good review on and that was from publishers weekly's and that's a pretty good one and the reader was fantastic So this this anonymous reader gave it a great regained and they saw a number of things that i hadn't really been paying attention to so for instance in terms of these people digging. I'm versus people digging. There's a suggestion in the book that it has something to do with sort of Nearest to picardy right that there's something near logically different about the people that aren't digging than the people that are digging and so what that reader picked out was that there's a theme here but what it means to be neuro. Typical your typical. Or what have you like. What do these distinctions mean. In terms of what it means to be human that cetera. And i hadn't intended a particularly sensitive or thoughtful. Take a boat that in the book yet this reader picked it out and showed it showed this thing about my book that i never thought was particularly valuable as something that can be valuable to some readers so that was very exciting. Very inspiring actually to see something in your book. That's positive that you hansard of deliberately thought through or put their but the sensitive reader can pick it out and show it to you and say look what you did here. This is good. There's a there's a story that before. On the podcast came out of isaac asimov's opus one hundred which was the first of his autobiographical books. He talked about going to columbia university. I think it was a class where professor was teaching his famous story nightfall and he said at the back and listen to that afterwards. He went up to the professionally. Said said well that was very interesting. So that magic asimov. I wrote that story. And i did put anything stuff in there and the professor said well. I'm very happy to meet you but just because you wrote the story. What makes you think what's in it at interesting god and i think there is certainly we all put stuff in that. We don't know necessarily where it comes from. And then readers find things there that we didn't necessarily think we were putting in specifically and i think it's because i always like to say that writing is actually feels like a loner activity. Something do yourself but a truly collaborative it is. I think that we're instrumentally important than it's collaborative. All the way down so from the very beginning when i start writing project in it's yours and it's your own until you're your beta readers and then if you start publishing you're always having conversations with the publishers and with editors and readers get it there's a whole nother conversation and you really have very little control over the types of meanings that people are going to extract from a text and it could be a little scary when you start thinking about it about how little control you have of the language wants. It's left your once. it's left your grasp. Sometimes they can completely misconstrued what you had in mind but you don't have any either so that's the danger i wanted to go back to the zine which you'd mentioned it i'd mentioned big echo Where did that come from. And you'd mentioned that you had know number writers that you'd interviewed and i was looking at it online. And in some recognizable names had provided the short stories for it. So how did that come about. Boredom things It came from morton mortems. We moved down here. And i had some time on my hands and i had a friend Who does graphics and web pages and also love science fiction. And he was actually. He is in regina to and all of those people. That's right almost all So i said well. Why don't we put together a zine and he said okay and so then we did on and the issue. When you're putting together like that is you don't have money and you can't pay so it's really hard to get on the writers your necessarily interested in so the first year so was a lot of hustle of cold calling writers liked and asking if they'd been intra be interested in contributing something And one of the. I think in the first summer one of the first people i contacted was rudy rucker. Because he's got a cyber cyberpunk fan. I'm he's got. He ran a zine called blurb which was quite similar in and i contacted him and asked if he had anything lying around. we could use In big echo. And he was very excited about it and as you say about heinlein paying it forward. He's a very very generous kind of an artist on and so he gave us a story. That was the biggest name we'd had up to them And then he also mentioned in our conversation that the next time he had a book out if if we wanted we could interview them. And then that just got me thinking of interviews and because it was rocker i could contact. People knew who rudy rucker was and say. Hey really record did this with us. And now we're doing interviews and wondering if you'd be interested so bruce sterling and corey doctoral were both amongst their first interviews. And i'm pretty sure that's a lot of it. I mean both also very generous guys who have a lot of interviews awhile ago. Yeah he's never you never run out of things to say and he's always happy to speak to a lot of people and so both of those guys came on very early on and helped us out and made a big difference once you get a few of those big names in. It's a lot easier to attract other writers on kim stanley. Robinson was actually. He got in touch with him through andy on who mentioned a couple of times already. Andy knew him from california. I think the. I think you might have been taking a class with with stan. I'm not sure so again. It's a lot of it just has to do with like a little bit of hassle right in the beginning and then and then social networks kicking in In in good ways but the field is bigger than it was say. Back in the golden age of but It's still a fairly small group of people that know everybody so everybody knows each other. So i thought i saw on the website that you had the final issue big echo. So is it. Is it done now. We're wrapping up on. I'm just tired It's not a particularly outgoing or or extroverted person on so the the hustle. Part of it is a little difficult for me and not super comfortable as editor. I i don't like a tweaking people's voices or anything like that so it was hard work in that sense. It's also fairly niche. So we're looking for a very particular type of writing and there's only a subset of a subset of science fiction so there's not that much out there it's not. It's not particularly popular science fiction. We were interested in so it was just just kind of running out of gas. It would have been a lot a lot of work to keep to keep up the standard we set and tired so we wrapped it up. We're gonna put out an anthology shortly on probably in the next couple of months. Echoing theology for minimal cost just to try generate a bit of revenue. Just keep the website up just to keep costs so that will probably be the last thing we do with echo. But it's been it's been awfully fun has been a heck of a ride and again i a comeback to the game. What you mentioned about the generosity of people in the field It's really. it's really quite amazing that you can just cold. Call someone say. Hey and putting together zine would you be interested in depending on where they are in their career. They might help you out and generally do. But we're getting close to the end of the time. So i need to ask you the big philosophical questions which is ultimately three of them. Why do you. Why do you think any of us right. And why do we write stories of the fantastic in particular as opposed to limiting ourselves to stories of the here and now so those are the three questions. Why do you write any of us right. Why right science fiction status for me. It's i mean the to the to serve key aspects of inner. Our pleasure therapy. I mean it really ever since i was small. I've i've had a hyperactive assertive. Creative life. I love the play of imagination And it's a way to just keep doing it That you can. You can always be experimenting in playing with language and ideas on with writing It's just fun. it's just flat out fun. I know that's not true for everyone. I know for a lot of people. It's horrifying the idea of writing. But for a i was always an introverted kid. I was always hyper creative. It was just a way a way of of entertaining myself. And that whole thing about if you can't if you can't find a book You enjoy then you need to write your own. I think that's that's true. It's just yeah it's just you can write a book you'll love and it's fun to do And the therapy. I tend to write fairly fairly dark stories on the whole And it's just a way of working through sort of emotional on psychic stresses Assertive certainly when you're living through The last four years of the trump administration As a as an immigrant in the united states the pandemic and there's a lot of psychic stress. Any all the time and so writing about it in a fictionalized zing on the anxieties to feel his way of coping with her as well. I'm so for me that was always important. Why do people right. I think mostly for the same reasons. The the pleasure in the answer to the therapy of it goes hand in glove Think also the collaborative to thing you mentioned is also important. This idea of like you can do for the pleasure and the therapy. You can do that. nobody else has to read it. But there's this next step. Were start getting other people to read it as well. And there's a sort of this collaboration and conversation going on and that's that's very important. All sorts of ways dwell just the sheer fact of exchanging ideas exchange of ideas and views and perspectives. On the world is obviously important but just also again. And i'm the pleasure of having a conversation with someone about about an idea is wonderful on. It's one of the one of the best things about writing Is when you do write something and you get positive feedback from someone. You don't know like someone says oh. I really enjoyed this. This was good or this was fun. That's a tremendous charge It's a big rush I think once that starts happening to someone they probably right more and more and more because it's a really wonderful thing In in a very innocent sort of way to just do something fun and to share it and have people. You don't know saying you know what that was great that was fun and the the final part Why speculation why. Why different tastic. Why science fiction again. I think for me it was really freeing I've been reading a lot of social realism and super serious. It illogical type stuff about like boo capitalism on life sox angry loud music and then and then i started rereading spec fiqh and science fiction and there was just a freedom to it and more more honest sense of one of the reasons we right and we read is for fun on you can be super serious science fiction you know like but there's always an element of fun to it and freedom of someone taking an idea and running with it as far as they can And pushing it to its limits are. That's very exciting and invigorating. So i'm i'm on the least vanish person you'll ever meet But one of the things. I like a lot about science. Fiction and fantasy. Writing is the fan community on the enthusiasm. Just a flat-out enthusiasm for having a stock in good time when reading text To me that's one of the most attractive things about science fiction and fantasy is that is. The audience really wants to succeed because they want to have fun when they're reading the text as well. I think that's to me. What are you working on now. i'm running a historical fiction different kinds of genre a little bit draft into sort of speculative material About the for trade on the nineteenth century for trade in in the hudson's bay territories So it's from the perspective of phd. I wrote about the for trade missions in the fur trade at some other things as well. I'm going back to some of that archival material. I'm trying to turn it into a into a novel. Sounds very interesting. And where can people find you online. If anywhere online arm. I got twitter. Feed will ask bill screw. I think it's probably the safest way to find me is. There's a for the out. We have a webpage. Robert g. dot com and there'll be links on that page to the other social media sites. Okay well thanks so much for for being on the world shapers enjoyed. The conversation will be too. I did much. I'll tell the. I'll tell the radio press that i had talked to you. So they ratchet suggested. Because i didn't know about the the i knew that they were going to publish some speculative fiction because i talked about it and and then the yours came along and then. It's you know getting lots of attention. So i was very happy to be able to talk to you and also it's not very often. I talked to somebody that has any kind of connection to regina saskatchewan so that that was nice to john had nothing but good things to say about you who is very enthusiastic. Great right walk. Thanks so much by the so. Thanks again to robert g. pinner for being my guest. I enjoyed that chat tonight. I hope you enjoyed listening to it. coming up on the podcast We have Kelly rice gerald brandon. Walter john williams. Those are the ones that i have confirmed for the next three episodes. So check back to hear those. And if you'd like to listen to any of the previous seventy four episodes this is number. Seventy five You can find them all. At the world. Shapers website that satu- the world shapers dot com Complete a complete list of episodes that you can download listen to their. You can also find transcripts of most of them. There's a few that don't have full transcripts but most of them do You can find the world shapers. Also on twitter at the world. Shapers find it on facebook app. The world shapers. You can find me on twitter at t e willett tease on willett. You can find me on facebook. Edward don willett and you can find me on instagram. At edward willett author educator. Find me at my own website. Which is edward willett dot com also checkout shadow. Pop press dot com. Which is where you can find Shapers of world's among many other places that you can't buy it directly from there if you wish and you can also find me at edward willett shop dot com where you can buy autographed copies of my books should you to and i. I kind of hope you do. I should mention before it closed that the the world shapers podcast is part of the scotsman podcast network and other than that. I think i've covered everything so again. Thanks for listening to the world. Shapers podcast this time and come back many more times in the future as i to talk to other science fiction and fantasy authors about their creative process and how they shape and create the world's at that we have enjoyed so many adventures in over the years. That's it for this episode of the world shapers.
Episode 82: David Ebenbach
"The conversations with scientists about the creative process hunger hosts every this episode's guest even even welcome to another episode of the world. Shapers podcast right talk to other sites section at fantasy authors about the creative process. My name is edward willett. i'm your host. I am myself an author of science fiction and fantasy quite a lot of it in fact and my latest book is called the moonlit world. It's a book three in my world. Shakespeare series which shares kind of season with this podcast from don books book one was called world shaper book to master the world book. Three is the moonlight world Every story takes place in a kind of world shaped by someone from our world who's been given this world to shape so the first one was kind of like our world The moonlit world is Vampires and werewolves and peasants. Oh i it's it's that kind of a story it was. It was a lot of fun to write book to was called master. The world and it was a a jules verne like story. So that's my latest three books. I also have a book out through. Show press my own. Publishing company called a blue fire. I written under my suit and ec blake ec. Blake also wrote the masks of agreement fantasy trilogy for books. And it's a young adult epic young adult fantasy novel. You can find that well anywhere If you'd like to get the book direct from shadow pop press You can do so you can download all of the books That chanaka press publishes directly from the website. Shadow press dot com. You can get them elsewhere as well and the books are also available in print. You can order. Those shows podcasts. As well. Although i have to admit i can't compete with amazon. The shipping costs the other book. News related to this podcast is Shapers of world's last year. I successfully kick started shapers worlds and anthology featuring authors who refers to your guests of this podcast that is now available e book print And it contains new fiction from sean. Maguire tanya huff david weber ellie bodice a junior dj butler christopher rocky. Oh john c right shelly. Edina and me. Plus reprints from john. Skulls david brin joe haldeman julius tornado funded the charles e gannon gareth l powell there could skin and array a dire so that was shapers of worlds and that was successfully kick started so i did it again and just a couple of weeks ago. kick starters of world's volume two three weeks ago. Now i guess successfully funded and i got the money this week which means i'm now proceeding with the contracting authors in creating a book And the authors this year there's more of them and there's more original fiction this time so shapers of world's volume to coming up. This year will feature new fiction from kelley armstrong. Marie brennan helen. Dale candice gene dorsey. Lisa foils susan forrest james. Alan gardner matthew hughes healthy kennedy. Lisa kessler adria lay craft. 'iran garth nix. Tim pratt edward salvio. Brian thomas schmidt jeremy saul and me and reprints from a carver. Barbara hambly nancy. kress david. D levine s sterling and kerry vaughn. I already have some of those stories in hand. And i can tell you. It's going to be a great anthology. So i'm really looking forward to making that happen As this year goes along and that again will be published by shadow poppers shadow press dot com Let's see the only other thing. I should mention here before we get into the meat of this podcast episode. Is that the world shapers. Podcast is part of the and podcast network right. Then let's get onto this episodes interview with david. Even book david even bach has been writing ever since he was a kid when he kept whole family awake by banging away on an enormous manual typewriter. And he's never wanted to stop. I had a little manual typewriter myself. In fact to david's now the author of eight books fiction poetry and nonfiction and his work has picked up awards along the way such as the drew hines literature. Prize judah reprise the patricia maybe award and more at philadelphia native. these days. David does most of his writing in washington dc where he lives with his family and he uses a laptop now so he doesn't keep them awake and he works at georgetown. University teaching creative writing and literature at the center for jewish civilization and promoting student centered teaching at the center for new designs in learning and scholarship. So david welcome to the world shapers. Thank you so much for having me. And i should say by the way that the typewriter was at least enormous when i was small. It's possible to present as big as i remember. We had this little smith corona portable which took me right to university. And i i loved it because it was mechanical. If there was a key that would occasionally quit working. But i knew how to fix it and as long as i could get ribbons. I actually quite liked it. It had a nice. It was easy to type on and so i kind of miss it some but i don't really miss the sound of the tap. Tap tap tap into carried miscarriage returns flipping or cat. Yeah and when. I started as a newspaper reporter started my career. We were on manual big manual typewriters. So i did. My share of that for sure was practically a weapon. I mean if you picked it up and draft somebody. That would be the last time you talked to them. That's right. I don't think we have. I know for a fact. In fact i think that we have never met. I don't know we might have been at a convention at the same time. But we've never met a person but you came to me through a techie on Publishing your upcoming book how to mars that. We're going to talk about and we were talking before we started about What a great publishing company they are. And i've talked to several authors. Who have worked with them and have heard good things about them. I'm glad to have you on again as another representative from techie on staple of authors. I'm delighted to be here in especially as that kind of representative. I gotta say And it's not just because they're publishing might my novel tacky on his spectacular on their consummate professionals. But they're also just a ton of fun and they they they seem to have hit it just right there publishing just the number of books that allow them to get a lot of stuff out there but to be able to devote a lot of attention to each book so it's just been a real pleasure and the stuff attack on publishes you could easily just ause. You're listening to this interview. You could pause it and go grab a bunch of books from tacky on almost at random and you'd be really happy to have really great covers really like tacky on uncovers. Yes elizabeth story Does the covers or at least most of them and she did mind. That was a great day when i saw that design. We'll talk about how to mars later on. But i i will take you back into the mississippi of time and We will find out we. I know from your bio that you started writing young so out. How did that begin. How did you get interested. I presume you started as a reader and then became interested in writing but ngoepe in philadelphia. So tell me all about that and how you got into this this writing habit. It was the books. Of course you know. I i mean i was reading from a pretty young age and the stuff that little kids get to read is full of wonder and vaccination the first book i ever read out loud. Was a book called cricketer which is about this Sentient boa constrictor. That can hormonal letters of the alphabet and all the numbers but also can thwart crime in paris. Really kind of remarkable snake. In never forget that i still have that And i just absorbed. Turn from everything that i was reading and also things that i was watching so i had this enormous typewriter course and banged out what. I considered my first novel. When i was eight years old and it was i would get me into serious copyright issues if people were looking at it today because the main characters were the smurfs they were close at hand and i just grabbed him and it's this surprisingly violence spy novel about the smurfs. Actually and i still have a copy of that on my on. My shelf in. I was typing with so much enthusiasm. The some of the letters pretty much when through the paper altogether. I left it a letter size letter shaped holes in the paper. And i just went on from there. I still remember very early picture book and it's not exactly obscure triple crayon very much. Remember reading that as a kid. And how much i wanted to be able to create things just by drawing them and instead i create things by writing them so i do think that was an influence on the whole sort of wanting to make up those those very early books can have quite an impact. And you know that that's a really interesting point. You make a and lived down the block from these two really talented artists. They were kids but to my mind they. They draw things that look like things. The my not brothers. And i was not great at that. And so. I had a kind of breakthrough moment one year. When i said well okay. I'm gonna make a comic strip like they're doing. But i i'm going to write the story out and then i'll see if i can figure out how to draw it and then i had this writing of historian i thought. Well maybe this is something already without the pictures And that broke. Open the floodgates for sure so that that transition from the books with pictures to words was a real light bulb moment for me. Where did the giant manual typewriter. Come from my parents. I don't know where in the world they got it. It was very old. You know we just must have been sitting around as junk somewhere in the house. They decided at my hands needed something to do so he got hauled up to the desk. I had in my room. And i'm just bang bang bangs so you were eight. I presume you continued writing then as you went on through school and high school and not work for you. Yeah kept going in high school. I wrote a lot of pretty bad. Twist endings stories for the school literary magazine. I think probably the worst thing i ever wrote. but that i was so proud of at the time is from the point of view of this narrator. Walking through this post apocalyptic landscape. Everything's destroyed it's sort of a nuclear wasteland and then the narrator looks in a puddle and sees its reflection in the last line of the story is cockroaches the soul survivors of a war. That couldn't be one terrible one this narrative the whole time was a cockroach and to me that was like the height of cleverness. But i suppose these gotten started. I did denver world cotton. I suggested a panel that they accepted and it was writers reading juvenilia. But none other places as well. But it was me and connie willis and sarah hoyt and joshua palmer cheer and we were all reading. County actually read from the romance novels. That i romance stories. True romance stories that she wrote when she was starting out for the confessions magazines. But i actually read from some of my high school stuff. So i was. I was brave olive gold. That stuff right. I mean where would we be if we hadn't done that And it not only fan done that but if we hadn't felt good about it at the time we can look back and question but it's great that we had some early moments of pride even around stuff that later on you might be a little bit. Did you have a teacher or somebody. Along the way there that was intial you in the sort of the high school years. Yeah unbelievably so there. Is this teacher. I went to central high school in philadelphia. Which is in big big school. And i suppose you could get lost in there then. Maybe two thousand students something like that but this one teacher carol has taught creative writing class That just brought me fully to life. I felt you know. I thought endlessly about that class. I poured a ton into what i was doing there. And even though she must have seen as a grownup that i was writing things that were kind of silly and kind of predictable in away but she just gave me a lot of encouragement on were more like she gave me a lot of licensed. Keep going in. That really mattered a lot. So yeah i have put her on the acknowledgement of my gloves because she mattered enormously that to the novel michael city bourne. I dedicated to tony. Tunbridge who was my grade seven or eight english teacher because my wrote my first complete short story about that age was called castro glass hyper shipped test. Violent and i can never find it. It's going online for sure. But i don't know what happened to the copy of it but he took it seriously and he you know he said. I don't understand why you're aliens act like this. And i don't understand why your character this stupid thing and and he remarked it up and took it very seriously and i. I've credited him. Because if you find an adult who takes your writing seriously it makes you thank. You know next thing. I'm gonna ride is going to be better at least that's how it was for me now Once you've got to university. Did you study creative writing. I what exactly did you Did you go into a little. Bit of a story I chose my college because it had a strong creative writing program But then i got there. And i felt like everything i encountered was really kind of pretentious. And i really didn't enjoy my grant. Writing classes are just took a couple. And then i backed out and i picked major for me. The dumbest reason that you could pick major but I was taking a psychology class at the time on it was supposed to be philosophy class but my handwriting on my sheet that i filled out for what classes i wanted was so bad that they thought it said psychology ecology class in and. Everybody was really nice. And so i kept going with psychology. And i dropped out of the creative writing the academic piece of that though i was always writing along the side and i went off to graduate school in psychology at the university of wisconsin. And i really enjoyed that there. But all along i was running off and cheating on psychology with creative writing. I was taking classes in creative writing. Jesse lee kercheval is another name of professor who turned my life around by taking me seriously at a crucial moment And it got to the point where they actually enrolled in an mfa program while i finishing up my phd in psychology Because it was becoming clearer to me that that was the direction. I had to go Those a long detour. I don't read it a lot of cool. Things happen in psychology but it is undeniably not a straight path. Well the fact that you did go so far in psychology and you write while characters are all about psychology to certain extent is your trading and psychology help you in it comes to things like characterization and storytelling you. She would think so. You know what the i think the distinction for me was. I studied social psychology. Which is really about on how the environment effects an individual other people. How social pressure and social opportunity affects people. I was really trying to save the world in. How do you make people recycle or take on racism. And i was looking at that. So what you do. Is you run these studies you take averages across lots of people in it's a great way to learn about folks but it's almost in a way the opposite of fiction where in psychology you ask lots of people question and average them in fiction. You look at one person. Really closely in generalize to everybody Or these to a lot of people. So they're they're quite different from each other and it ends up that the fiction way of knowing is much closer to the way i think in the way i i'm interested. So when did the creative writing start to turn into actual published things during that same period Before i enrolled in the mfa program. But while i was doing the psychology degree this teacher jesse lee curtis will just kept encouraging me to take myself seriously into send stuff out and i got really really lucky that the first story that got published first of all it wasn't rejected a ton of times rejected. I think eight times which is nothing in the grand scheme of things and the magazine. That took it this little magazine from florida called and they only had five hundred Subscriptions or something like that but the letter from the editor was an. It's usually not likeness usually. It's we'd like to publish this But this was so detailed about why he wanted to publish that story on. It was so affirming in positive that the publishing can be really bruising but it was such a gentle star that it it may be made it easier. The ruses started coming. They did come. Oh yeah. I had one story that This story i like to tell because it. I it sounds like i'm bragging but then you realize how dark everything is So that my first collection of stories won a prize and the prize that the drew hines literature prize. And that's maybe the prize. I wanted most in the whole world at one another prize as well. I'm in the title story in that collection also wanna prize when it was published but before it was published. That story was rejected sixty one times. Wow so you know. If i had held back maybe it wouldn't be imprint. Maybe that wouldn't exist if i had said well. Fifty rejections is a lot. Maybe i should give up on this thing. Who knows what. I d here now. So the thing. I'm always telling my students. I tell them that story and i say what's the number of rejections before you should give up on a story. Well you should give up. Once you've asked every single magazine that exists. I was going to say. I'm not even sure i could find sixty one markets. At least not. When i started out pre internet days could certainly couldn't have. There's so many places out there. I had my copy of novel and short story writers market and i just went alphabetically. Well i guess we're those. This is really dating me. These would be electric submissions. You didn't have to send them out with postage attached. Unfortunately i appreciate a predate. Bats time so those were all in the mail. Our boy i remember those days particularly fondly. I'm so glad to not be doing that anymore. Though there was something there was a way a nice ritual of going to the post office. And i would kind of wave my hands over the envelopes. God's speed may you find a home But it is much nicer to be able to shoot them out from the computer at home especially these days. Of course i pick. There's a an email rejection is is one thing but when that envelope actually came back with the story still in it. That was always a sad moment. Orlean yeah and sometimes if it was a long story and they sort of jammed it into the return envelope. And i thought why i wasn't even meaning for your return it. I thought you were just going to you. Know send the rejection note and they'd clearly labored to force it into this envelope. It was bad site for sure. You now teach creative writing and literature. So how did how did you end up doing that. Sort of little by little you know had this degree in psychology and the natural thing would have been to teach in that and i did a little bit Just at johns In philadelphia. When i moved back there after the degree but i was really just trying to build up some publications and so i tried to get more and more things published and then we moved to new york and there's a great app. They're called. gotham writers workshops. Mom you may have seen online That they took a chance on me. Who i hadn't hadn't taught reiterating writing before and they just let me try myself out a little bit and Got some great experience there and then you know little adjunct in here. A little agitating mayor got teaching gigging a wonderful college irwin college. For five years out in indiana and then after that Came to georgetown. And it's sort of a weird situation. Georgetown in a very nice way that i teach creative writing in a jewish studies program. Which as far as i can tell. I'm the only person in the world doing that. But basically the program felt what we've got to have some humanities or else this becomes entirely about the holocaust entirely about middle east politics and we can't just have judaism be about conflict also has to be that the things that we've created in made and there are so many wonderful jewish authors that it's not hard to put together some courses where students learn to write and the folks that they're studying our jewish authors so i teach poetry. I teach fiction. I teach a little bit about identity developments. I do some literature. They give me a lot of room to to teach the things i'm excited about. And then i'm in another program That's folks who want to go on in shape. The higher education landscape are in this master's program and i teach a course on creativity for those folks and that's teaching this semester. Sounds very interesting now. I often authors. Who teach. And i've done a very small amount of teaching and mentoring and a writer in residence and that sort of thing. Do you find that teaching feeds back into your own writing in some ways. So that you you know like the line from the king and if you become a teacher by your students who are taught to find that that's true commute true for me it in a variety of different ways sometimes it. It produces a kind of pressure that i hadn't realized i was missing out on so one of the things i've done when i've taught introduction to creative writing and i teach little poetry little fictional non fictional drama and after a while i realized i was teaching drama but wasn't writing it. Something felt off about that. So i started writing plays and i've done a little bit of that since then all because the class made me feel like i bought to turns out there really fun to work with but also i learn a lot from students in particular students are just getting started getting themselves into the most interesting possible messes they write a story and something crazy happens. That makes the story kind of fall apart at the end and i think what is it what went wrong gear and watching that and studying that helps me to see what. How would you need to do to make a story work. And then of course. There's also that when they succeeded something. That's a model to. I think it's the when you're doing any kind of teaching or mentoring. Whatever you're concentrating very much on a lot of different work often but it's that very close reading something and try to figure out what works and what doesn't work. I find that that impacts me thinking about my work when it comes time for revision and that sort of thing as well Now you when did you. First novel come along. Well that That's a sort of ridiculous story. So you know first. Published novel versus first novel. I have seven unpublished novels. Which god willing. We'll never be published Because they're not very good. But i wrote my first one in college. That doesn't count the smirked. One which is actually as an under ten pages calling it. A novel was a little presumptuous But yeah. I wrote a full length novel in college. That was not very good. And i started another one in college. Also not very good. And i wrote five others. That were not very good. Apparently takes a lot of practice to do this. Well so i hit out. But i didn't see it that way. At a certain point. I thought you know what i'm a short story writer by that point. I'd had a couple of short story collections. I felt like okay. Maybe i know how to do stories at least a little bit. I don't understand novels. And i'm not gonna keep forcing it. I have one novel that i sent to agent. Who said you are distorting short story. This should be a short story. And you've turned it into a novel was very kind of her actually to do that so i decided i am not going to try this anymore so i set out to write a short story called ms portland and of course that turned into my first published novel. Because i decided i'm not going to distort this thing i'm gonna take it as long as it needs to go and no shorter and no longer and then it was novel length and apparently worked out in here we are is all of your fiction within fall into the sort of speculative fiction side of things or some fantastic if you written and mainstream fiction as they call. It's actually quite a mix the the novelist. Portland is entirely realistic description. Yeah about a woman who is suffering from bipolar disorder and is trying to figure out how to get her life right. It's quite realistic. But then there are stories in my collection. The guy who didn't invite to the orgy and other stories that are magical realist. Or otherwise title by. Thanks yeah well. I was at an artist colony. One time and somebody's came to the breakfast table and they said they'd heard a rumor about this place before they got there. The rumor was that there had been an orgy. It displays and i thought okay and she said but the thing is one guy wasn't invited. And i thought now that's a story right. I mean an orgy. Orgeon not as story but an orgy were one guy doesn't get invited is a story. So that became the genesis of that whole whole collection so that those range quite a bed. And then you have this how to mars. Which is quite speculative and then the novel i'm working on. That hopefully will come after. That also speculative so. I do range bet though. I think i'm getting more. And more drawn into this speculative world. Wilda talk about why you're drawn into two when i get to the big philosophical questions at the end. I have two things i want to put weaver. Bon mists of time and big philosophical. Questions haven't done it yet. I support you if you you also write poetry which interests me. I committed one book of poetry. So i always interested to but i certainly don't think of myself as a poet. It was a very odd way that came about but what what. When did you start writing poetry. And what drew you into that. Well i just want to applaud your courage and admitting that you write poetry socially unacceptable but we all have to be honest about who we are. yeah i do Hi my name is david. I write poetry And i do it. Because there's material i have. That doesn't make sense in any other form. I've written stories. That didn't wanna be stories and so they had to become poems Because i was more interested in the imagery or the language that i was on the this happens and then this happens and then this happens so i found that poetry is a is a great outlet for me to do different things and i like to have room to do different things so that i don't lose any of the things that interest me. We'll be fair to real poets. My my poetry book came about because of during poetry month. In twenty t nine. Thank the poet laureate of Gerald hill started this thing where he sat out every day. Every weekday during the poetry mond to every member of the scatchard writers guild. He sent two lines of published statue in poetry by publishers. Gotcha poets i should say. And the challenge was to create a new palm using those two lines or creating a poem that was inspired by those two nights and they were you know not necessarily connected in any way and much to my surprise. I wrote a poem every day using the two nine t provided but they're really stories in poetic form. They're not homes in some ways. Because i was still a story writer. But i just put them into a kind of poetic form and they turned out quite successfully and of course at the end of that i had twenty four walls. And so i've been my only book poetries far so far. So far has long had willing. So we'll we'll see how that goes by tumble through the diamond dusters. The titles. it's a. I think there's a lot of room to try a lot of things in this world. I think none of us should allow ourselves get pinned down as being one kind of thing. It's too limiting. I like to imagine write anything that made that just maybe ego but i think people write anything okay. So let's talk about How to mars as an example of your creative process. So excuse me before we do that. Perhaps you should Synopsis it for those who would have read it yet because it's not out so barrena how to mars on a certain level is about these. Six people who for various personal reasons agree to go on a one way mission to mars. And it's a pretty to be honest dubious mission because it's run by a really eccentric organization that's funding the whole thing with a reality. Tv show and they have one rule which is no sex on mars. Because it's dangerous but of course everybody breaks that rule Or actually a couple of people in the in the book. Break the rule so the novel starts with the line. This is how i find out. Jenny is pregnant on mars In the book takes us through the experience of these folks trying to figure out what to do about new life on mars and meanwhile the engineers getting a little bit angrier and more difficult to work with and perhaps dangerous and they're encountering some signs of indigenous life that might not be entirely friendly and they're also trying to figure out whether they really left behind the things that they they mentally behind so that you have this kind of the one level of reading the book and on the other level. I think it's really just about how to live life on given that were thrown onto a planet without a lot of instructions in our case it's earth on in their case it's mars but it sort of how you do this thing. How do you deal with life When we don't know exactly what we're here for what we're supposed to do. How do you do it. How how do you mars earth. So wert watts was the inspiration for this in. How does that compare to the way that you normally find. You mentioned how the story about. The guy wasn't fighted to the orgy. Came about how to stories usually come to. How did this specifically come to you or they comments so many different ways. Sometimes the thing happens in my life. That i'm i'm having trouble getting a grip on so i want. I want to write my way into. Sometimes i hear a really strange anecdote or i encounter something in the news. It's baffling the one thing that holds it. All in common is always starts from a place of me not understanding something and feeling nonetheless. Like i like i want to so. I started writing my way in order to try and figure something out and in this case were you aware as it was happening of the mars. One project oh yes. Yes i remember that. Yeah so if any of your listeners are not aware who is this crazy project. That possibly was a scam on any case. It's gone quite dark now. The original idea was to send some people on a one way trip to mars and they had the rule no sex and i thought well that's crazy. No one's gonna sign up for that. And then they announced something like two hundred thousand people had applied turns out they probably inflated that number but certainly thousands of people applied and i watched a number of application videos in my bafflement. Just ruin grew. I thought who are these folks who would be willing to never see a tree again. Never see the people they love. Some of these folks were married. You know maybe not. Very very happy marriages makes you wonder. Yeah right. i'm some were parents which is sort of inherently tragic They wouldn't feel a breeze on their face ever again unless it came from the h back system inside the dome on mars. So who are they. What would make you want to leave a planet for ever and that became the genesis of the whole book. In of course mars one turns out there. Probably not gonna send anybody to mars but my folks are already there. So i guess i won that how you do make the connection somewhere that i was reading to the ray bradbury's marge stories. Martian chronicles chronicles. For some reason. That name escaped me. It's not like it's a difficult. What's the marsha chronicle. You know he. Obviously i grew up reading in particular the dinosaurs stories but also martian chronicles fahrenheit. Four fifty one all that good stuff and hit what i like about. The way he approaches mars is that he clearly didn't know anything about mars. He i mean it was nineteen fifty. We hadn't sent any probes by so he puts breathe blair on mars. He puts canals full of water. Their birds there. There are martians. Who have families in our psychic and do all kinds of crazy things and so he thrived on the lack of science that we had available to us about mars and he engaged in what he called mythology instead of hard science in to some extent i mean my step. Is i think quite a bit more realistic than that. But it's not totally realistic. And i'm much interested in the science than i am in the people so in that sense. I'm i'm trying to live in his legacy of what kind of interesting things in learn about life and about people by being on his brand not just about mars so once you had the idea. What does your planning outlining process. Look like are you a big out liner or do you just kind of launch into it. I bounce back and forth and this was a particularly unusual case because many of the chapters stand alone as short stories Or at least they originally did a massage the mid so that they they do that a little bit less now but So they sort of popped out one by one here and there. But it's like holding a handful of marbles once you have enough of them we have to get a container because you can't hold onto all of them so i sort of throw myself in and then i come back out and i organized and i make a plan. Usually the plan is substantially wrong. So i come. I throw myself into the plan and i come back out once i realized how wrong it is and i make a new plan and keep bashing myself against it until i have something. That's a back and forth for me. What do you actually write down before you in the way of notes outlining before the first thing. I almost never write anything you know. I started the first of the very first thing that happened to me was the line. This is how i find out. Jena's pregnant on mars in that line just came into my head and i thought okay. Let's find out a lot more about that and i just wrote my way forward And then i wrote a second chapter which is part of the instruction manual that mars knots were given. It's called what you can't bring with you. And it's this list of really strange instructions about what they can and can't bring on this trip In some of it's very physical like you can't bring an umbrella because it won't fit in your bag and some of it's much less practical like you can't bring the view out your backyard Out your back window Can you bring yourself. I don't know you'll have to see. So i just threw myself into those things and then when i had a few of them i said okay. We'll then they go together in an order. What would happen next for this to make sense as a book. And i started filling in some of the gaps and then that kept going forever. You know i send it to my agent. Who took it when he then said but. I think you need a couple more chapters. So i filled in those spots. I on took the book and then they had some ideas about some things. So i feel that stuff in. It's a long long long process and it's not always fun but it is really fun to be on this side of the that's for sure and at times during an it's also very fun. How does that compare to the novels in the way that came together. This portland came together much more. I got much deeper into it before. I had to come out and do any outlining because it's a much simpler story. How to mars has a lot of characters several characters point of view. You get Miss orleans is really just from zoe's view the close third person point of view. And you stay with her. And it's pretty narrow period of time. It's about two weeks whereas how to mars takes place across the length of a pregnancy and a little bit beyond So there's just a lot more going on. And i even had to think about how to write from the point of view of martians that i had made up so i had to come back out a lot more often and do planning and at times i was not sure at all that it was going to work in. There are definitely times. When i thought this can't be book but i guess the secret to being a writer is not listening to yourself. Mary much self from to peak knows for sure. What is your actual. excuse me. What is your actual writing process. Look like it's going to mute for a minute varies to The i think the way. I liked to do it. I actually didn't really do it with this book. The like to write by hand first and then To over type that up into a document well like it because that way i mean it feels good writing i get. I have a nice fountain pen. I bought myself and enjoy using the hat and get china free revision. I type it up. Where i type up is better than what i have down on. The page does not willing to just trying to put it over word for. I can see where things are problematic. But in this case it was mostly done on the computer trend of directly. And that i would when i was working on it i would print out right knows all type up the provisions and and go from there. I always wish. I could still write by hand sometimes but when i tried it a few years ago i realized that i absolutely hate it. Now i like the. I like the idea of it but i i just. I could barely handwrite anymore. Because i type everything and have for so long. It's almost losing banak of it. I think a habit that you can either be in or out of in. It's not always a great idea. You know parts of this book how to mars are in unusual formats the astrophysicists. Her chapters are all in the form of charleston graphs and tables and formulas and that was relatively easy to do in microsoft word would have been really tricky to do in handwriting. So it's not always the best move. But i do take a kind of pleasure in it when i can. Do you get a chance to work for long uninterrupted periods or do you have to sort of fit it in around bobby other things that you're doing it's more the latter. Yeah i'm sitting in and around stuff but over the summer. I typically take a couple of weeks and just take myself somewhere where i can get a lot of time working kind of work all day. There are some retreat centers. One that i go back to a lot is the virginia center for the creative arts. Great place in virginia obviously and There are other artists and writers there and they have interesting conversations over meals. And then you go back to your studio and you just work continuously. And i find that if i could work four hours continuously. It's not like four one hour writing stretches. It's against so much more done in four continuous hours than i do. In four separate one hour sessions. Instead i count on that i get. It's none of my work done in the summer. Our best version of app while there's many but the one that i have been to the banff centre banff alberta right up in the mountains and yeah they do You can do a self directed residency up. There were basically just give you a cheap cheap place to stay and beautiful surroundings and then you just write fifty thousand words in a week up there once working on a book so i've only been twice. I think i've gone for a couple of other programs but only done the writing residency. Maybe only once. Yeah it's it's. It's great to be able to do something like that wasn't it. I mean think about that. Fifty thousand words. It's amazing yeah it was. I was amazed So you have the manuscript whatever for you said you said it to your agent that there was revisions and you said it to the editor and there were revisions was because of the nature of this book. Was that revision process of preps a bit more intense than on your other books. Well i have to say. I always find revision incredibly painful. I i think some people love revisions because it. It's the time when you're getting more right. And i feel that a little bit but mostly revision makes me want to weep Like just just soak my lap with tears. Basically every time. I'm revising on because it's like breaking a vase to try and build a new better. This is how it feels on in reality or like that but it feels that way. So every time i got revisions back i thought. Oh god i went through the five stages of revision which are for me Being overwhelmed being resentful depression. Deep depression. Eventually like i did what i needed to do. Each case and i luckily kept my resentment to myself. Because i got tons of good feedback. My agent is a really good reader folks at tacky on a really good readers but none of it makes me like revision. The only reason i do. Revision is because i care more about the book than i do about whether i feel bad or not on. That's the key for me. it's interesting. I actually kind of enjoy revision. Although i don't enjoy told what's wrong with the book but someone says oh you're a genius. Yeah there's a famous peanuts cartoon where snoopy gotten rejection back. And he's typing says dear editor regard to the recent rejection letter. You sent me. What i really wanted to for you to do is to publish my novel in sydney one hundred thousand dollars. What part of that did you not understand. Enhance so with the Revision and now. You've got your editorial process process and this book is not out yet but the books that have come out What's that feeling like for you. And and what kind of feedback have you gotten from readers. And that's been how does that impact you. It's a really really nice thing for the most part when something comes out when you've got something published even if it's an individual palmer story But it's amplified a lot if it's a whole book because there's a different kind of attention that gets put on a book and i think of it as the victory lab that you you get to just kind of share it with people in you often to share it with them to their faces and see their reactions happen in real time as you read them if it's funny And i hope that a lot of my stuff is funny They laughed right there in front of you. You know if it's sad they they make these little sounds of sympathy i i. I love that. I love when there are reviews that come out. Those tend to be a really nice experience. One thing that's going to be interesting though horse. Is this coming out. May twenty fifth twenty twenty one this year which is to say still kinda during the pandemic. Maybe a lot of people back stated. I still don't think they're going to be a lot of bookstore events so the publicity staff attack on his really energetic and creative bottle and they're you're doing lots of cool things to promote this book but look store readings that really hasn't been one of the things Because are people going gonna wanna go. Sit next to each other Masks or not no masks and listened to a reading so i think this victory lap is going to be much more virtual than the others Which has its advantages. I get to talk to people from everywhere. I'm talking to you right now. While i'm sitting in my bedroom basically but it also means that i don't get to physically go places and interact with people in person and also i have to delay my trip to mars pennsylvania which i am looking forward to doing at some point for a photo op means the flying saucer. They have in their wanted to do. There's a town in saskatchewan. Called rama are ama. And i've always wanted to go there stanford at the sign shake hands with somebody get the picture taken and then posted as a rendezvous at rama. Which of course is a famous actor. See click novel that well. I wanted to go back just a minute because one thing i kind of forgot in the the writing process was about characters i mean i asked you about psychology and characters earlier on but how do you find the characters that populate your stories how do they how do they come to you. And how do you develop them. Sometimes they come to me with a lot already done the the novel. Mrs portland on some level wasn't attempt for me to get a little bit closer to a couple of women in my family Who i lost over the last one dozen years and so things that had always struck me about them were present in his character as i began to write and she went on to become a you know her own person quite different from them in her way but i got started on the page with a lot because they were these life. The folks on mars were not connected to people that i knew and are not connected to people. I know And so it was a slower process in fact one of the greatest things that anyone did for me in. This process is the kenyon review offered to publish the first chapter of the book as story but they wanted me to do some vision. Which made me want to cry. But it was really good advice. They said they just needed to know more about why they were there. Why were they on mars And it was a thing that i had been sort of thinking out and never really solved to my own satisfaction in that question. And it's because there was pressure on like they weren't going to publish this. If i didn't figure that out so there is some pressure there and it was the key question in an unlocked the whole book and from that point i kinda thought i think this is going to be a book. I think this is gonna work and it's really thanks to that editor. Who asked me to question. Characters are always interesting because ultimately the only people we really understand we may not even understand that is ourselves so characters are really versions of ourselves influenced by observations of the people around us. I think is the way. I usually kind of think of that field. There's a lot of you in your in your character sometimes. Yeah i think in one way or another there. There has to be for me. Would it often takes the form of his. My confusion as i say. I'm always writing out of this lack of understanding that seems to be my my perennial problem but as a really productive problems on okay with it on in what i'm writing into these characters are things that i that have stuck in me that i don't understand either about me or about something observed about other people. I'm often trying to write my way into physician of empathy. When i've encountered somebody that i'm not sure i get or even that. I'm not sure that. I like a lot i wanna understand. What's going on for them. Is i really believe everybody has a story that helps us if we knew it would help us to empathize with where they are right now. So the those moments of confusion caused by encounters get lodged in me. And i write characters out of those places a lot of time but this may tie in now to my big philosophical questions. There are three limb. The first one is. Why do you right. Why do you do this. Why why why. The second one is Why any of us right on. You know mike. This species level or the level of humanity as a whole. Why why do people right and the third one is why stories. Fantastic as you said. You're you're getting more and more into that side of of writing so those are the three the three big philosophical questions. We're good ones. thank you those. The why do you write is really tied to what i've been saying about not understanding things. I write basically to figure things out there. So much that i see in the world that that baffles me and that i find Confusing and that. I want to understand better. And so i try. I try to write my way towards understanding so for example when i was looking at this mars one project. I was thinking who would do this. Who in the world would do this in. The answer couldn't be nobody. 'cause i'm looking at the videos and seeing people are signing up to go to mars forever so that made me wanna understand who they might be and what that might mean so that that was motivation there but all of my stuff comes out of trying to figure things out and also on a side note. I just feel good. When i'm you know not necessarily in the moment that i'm writing but if i write regularly i am a happier person. Then if i take long periods of time off you know if i get really grumpy a lot of times my wife will say to me. Would you just go right already. 'cause you're getting in words and i'll grump say something like it's not that when i go right and i come out and say it was that thank you for being nice to me So i do. Also because it's it's the way i'm at my happiest i think that's why do i write. It's a harder question to answer. Why do you. Why do i think anybody rights. I mean my assumption is that there are lots of reasons. There's pleasure that we can have an possibilities. We can encounter when we mess with words. Maybe were trying to learn something or articulate something or capture. Something maybe we're just having done. Maybe we're getting revenge on somebody who was mean to us in middle school. I think there could be a ton of reasons. But i think the one thing that all of us have in common is that we're not just talking to ourselves that when you write you're using a medium that is interpersonal even if you don't share it with anybody you're using language which is an interpersonal tool so there's a kind of an invisible listener and most of us do share our stuff with others so there's a kind of a larger conversation that were participating in order order. We want to. And when i was growing up my mother she was wonderfully. She kept her books in bookshelves out in the hallway or when we moved another place in the living room. They weren't in her room in. That meant that. We all my sister. And i could go beat the whenever we wanted which was wonderful and i looked at those bookshelves and i thought there's a conversation going on here and i want to be part of that and i think that was part of what fueled me is looking at all these authors talking in wanting to get into that conversation. So that's that one and then why antastic stories. Well we talked about ray bradbury earlier. He has a quote that i love. He says science fiction is a great way to pretend you are writing about the future when reality you are attacking the recent past and the present just love that i think we think we read science fiction while this is. This isn't about now. But i think a lot of really good science fiction is about now and i write about intestinal worlds. Because it's a an exciting way for me to write about this or put another way. I didn't write about mars. Because i wanted to study mars. I wrote about mars. Because i wanted to study people. Earth people and marsin like a place where i could just isolate a few of them look really closely and get to know them really really well. Under circumstances that would be likely to test them and show who they really. They really were. And what are you working on now. Well i'm finishing up a novel that has time manipulation at the center of it on that i hope will be my next novel thinking a little bit about whether how to mars is the end of the story or whether there might be room for a sequel or to some you know as i finish up this next. The question becomes what's next. I'm missing mars little bits. And i'm wondering if i wanna go back. And where can your readers find you online well. My last name is a bit of a pain. I'll admit right now. But some website is david even dot com. I would say. Just look at the webpage of the podcast. You're looking at right now and get the spelling from there. So you can find. The david even balked dot com. But i'm also on twitter. Facebook instagram On reddit on one of the rare people rented who uses his real name by me. They're on around do. Google won't have any trouble alrighty. Well that's kind of brings us to the end of the time here. So thanks so much for being on the world shapers. I certainly enjoyed that oak to to thank you. This has been really fun and the book comes out win of twenty twenty one. This year from tacky on publications. I guess is the name techie on books. Right the first time so we'll have links And all that kind of stuff when this goes live which will be still before the book comes out so watch for it in the very near future once. This podcast is out so again. Thanks so much. David thank you. Thanks everybody and thanks again to david. David buck for that. Great conversation. I really enjoyed that. I hope that you did as well. There are many more great conversations to come here at the world shapers. I have an interview with jane. Ulan coming up for example. That's just one and many more to come That i already know about and some that. I am still working on but The podcast we'll continue with these wonderful conversations usually every two weeks just reminder that you can find the world shapers online at the world. Shapers dot com. You can find it on facebook ads. The world shapers and you can find it on twitter at the world shapers. You can find me at edward willett dot com to tease on willett. You can find me on twitter. At e willett. You can find me on facebook facebook at edward. Don willett had you can find me on instagram. At edward willett has i've said before. Missed that memo about where you're supposed to keep the same antle for all of your social media accounts as i'm a bit all over the map but you can find me You can order books. As i mentioned from shadow pop press dot com and also from my online bookstore. Edward willett shop dot com where. I have You can get copies of books from my dau- books for example what you can't get through a shadow apo- press and again. I just want to mention the success of the kickstarter. So watch out for shapers of world's volume to coming later this year featuring second year guests to this podcast shapers of world's volume one featuring first-year guest is available. Now you can find it at amazon or barnes and noble or pretty much any bookstore. You should be able to find order it in and it's also dateable through shadow pop press dot com Just want to remind you one. More time that to the world shapers. Podcast is part of the statue in podcast network and that brings this episode to a conclusion. So please come back committee. More times in the future as i continue to talk to the authors of science fiction and fantasy we've created so many wonderful worlds so many wonderful characters and so many wonderful adventures that we've enjoyed over the years and will continue to enjoy the future. That's it for this episode of the world shapers ooh.
Episode 68: James Morrow
"Welcome to the world shapers conversations with sightseers chancy about the process. Guest. Laura. A. Another. Episode of the World Shapers podcast right talk to other science fiction and fantasy authors about their creative process. My name is Edward Willett and I also author of science fiction and fantasy. I have three projects of my own. I want to mention before we get into the meat of this episode, which is an interview with the Great James. Morrow first is the anthology that came out at a book on September twenty second and will be out in print in mid-november. This shapers of worlds and it features some of the authors who were guests during the first year of the world shapers podcast. I kick started this earlier in the air and I'm very, very happy with the way the anthology came came out We have new fiction from Sean Maguire Tanya huff David Weber L. modest at junior DJ Butler. Christopher Rocky Oh John C right shelby DNA and me and we have reprints from John Skulls e David. Brancheau Haldeman Judah Issur. Native onto Lee doctor Charles e Gannon Gareth. L Powell Derek Kukushkin skin in Thuraya. Dire. So we're talking about world fantasy award winners and you award winners and Pretty Science Fiction Award winners and Award Wenders and Pretty Much every major award in the science fiction fantasy field is represented by a winner or nominee among those those great authors So please check that out it's published by shadow pop press and you can order the e book directly or the print book. Directly from shadow pop press, which is shadow pop press. Dot Com. You will also be able to buy it anywhere that fine books are sold. The book as I said is available. Now everywhere, print will be coming out in mid November and if you're bookstore does it bring it in you should ask them to do so inter library to. to other projects, I WANNA mention of my own I, am currently into the third book could just came out of my series world-shapers from Da Books might mean publisher New York. This one is called the moonlight world. The world shapers takes place in his vast of shaped world's shapers of the world's live in those worlds rather like authors like the authors I interviewed on this podcast living in the world's they create if any of us would actually want to do that. The first book mass a World Shaper introduced my character Shana keys he's shaper she has the ability collier, the mysterious carly sir. Thanks together the knowledge of the shaping of other worlds and save them from the depredations of the adversary who takes Shawna's world away from her in the first book and wants to destroy this old apprehensive worlds and ige rare the mysterious woman at the center of the Labyrinth through put all these shapers into these worlds who come from our role originally to begin with book to Master of the world's takes place in Jules Verne Universe So there are Submarines Weird. Flying Machines and super weapons and all that kind of great Jules Verne stuff and then book three which just came out the moonlit world is. As I keep saying I kept calling it in my head wearables and in peasants by because it is world of werewolves and Vampires and peasants and Shawna and Carl must navigate it and find the shapers and gather knowledge of this world. So they can move on and take that to a greater and they have to do that without being either. Or disembowelled or turned into a creature of the night or all three so. That's so the moon that world and it's available now in trade paperback and e Book. and. The third project I wanted to mention I. Just re released book a now called Blue Fire. This is an epic young adult fantasy. It's under my pseudonym E. C. Blake. EC. Blake of course, interviewed me on this podcast back in the early days. He sounds a lot like me, but with a southern accent and. It's A. Epic why a fantasy as I said it was originally published as flames of Yana by publisher that is now sadly, no longer with us. So. It set in a world in which there are three groups of people who were kind of separated by their gods. After a battle of the Gods there are people who live in cities. There are free folk kind of Gypsies who can move about, and then there are the night dwellers who were altered to become almost feline who only come out at night. The night dwellers kill the day dwellers wherever they find them they city-dwellers hide behind walls and the free folk have access to offense of dismissal force called a blue fire. Dwellers could also use it in a different way and the story is what happens when? Someone gets hold of Blue Fire and wants to take over. And all of these groups and young people from each of these groups have to work together and overcome their differences in order to save the kingdom from destruction. So that's a blue fire by EC Blake. It also comes out from shadow pop press. Shadow pop press, DOT COM or anywhere you buy books and it's it will be out in print at a later date. sci-fi the time to do that. So. Those are my three projects. But that's enough of me. Let's get onto this episode's guest just before I start that just reminder that the world shapers podcast is part of the Scotsman podcast network. All right, and this episode's guest is James Morrow. In nineteen forty, seven james moral has been writing fiction ever since as a seven year old living in the Philadelphia suburbs he dictated the story of the duck family to his mother who dutifully typed it up and bound the pages with yard. Upon reaching adulthood gem channeled his storytelling urge toward the production of speculative literature. The majority of his eleven novels are written in satiric theological mode including the critically acclaimed God had trilogy. He has won the world fantasy were twice for only begotten daughter and telling Jehovah the Nebula. Award. Twice for his story, the deluge and the Nevada city of truth in the Theodore. Sturgeon Memorial award once for the Novello shambling towards hero Shema. In recent years, he's produced historical fiction informed by a fantastic a sensibility including the last witchfinder about the birth of the enlightenment which will be talking about specifically on the podcast Galapagos regained about the coming of the evolutionary worldview and his novel in progress says, Sardonically re, imagines the three, hundred, twenty, five, AD, Council of Zia as what does. The French translation of the. Of His Darwin Extravaganza recently received the Gras greeted imaginaire is most recent work to see print is the purloined republic, one of the three novellas that constitute and the last trump. Shout sound. So gem welcome to the world shapers. Thank you very much happy to hear. Happy to make the connection we I don't believe we've ever crossed paths at a convention or anything in person, but it was. Through Mickey Mickelson who's my publicist and is doing some work as well with the ARC manner I guess. we made the connection because of the trump show sandwiches out are about to come out. Is it outer about to come out? As we talk because it will be out by the time this was life or The Day I. See you're about to appear on the the Coleman show. Yeah I'm also booked on. Yeah, I'm. Doing. Right Yep as we talk this by the time this comes out this will all be a few weeks in the past. I sometimes forget that when I'm doing these things that this is not a live broadcast. But. It does not live. It is recorded and by the time comes out, all of this stuff will be out. Well, let's that start as I do by taking you as I like to say, I'm GONNA. Put on Sunday back into the mists of time. Where as I also like to say that? I'm are. There Mr for some of us and others. How did you become interested in? We mentioned writing your first story when you were seven years old. So obviously that came along early but not just writing but also science fiction fantasies specifically, how did that I'll come about for you and where did you grow up and go to school and all that good stuff? Okay grew up in they suburbs of Philadelphia. Little town called Rosalyn. I guess they're two different tributaries feeding the river of my imagination. One comes from though culture or popular culture other from. A more literary zone high high culture. I'd say unlike. The majority of guests you have on world. Builders I was not. A voracious reader as a kit. Introduction to genre was through the more tawdry venue, famous monsters of Finland magazine I still have the first. far. Ackerman's sort of love letter to the history of of horror films. And And so was watching movie on television that had that fantastic sensibility that. Ultimately I would argue. Ready to. Lead to my. Producing. protection in that genre friends that I. In High School. Subscribe to famous monsters would go to each other's houses to watch these movies and we started our own. So making club Growing up in Roslyn. Pennsylvania was very near a large cemetery. This became the setting for about half the movies. May Redid Muser eight Nov meter. We thought of them as feature films we were we were in them, but we thought ourselves as adult actors but we did adaptations of the rhyme of the ancient mariner pose the tell tale heart and the other films we did titles like Kelly goes through the sorcerer and if you jury ins. but let let me then jump to the other tributary of more literary high culture. In My tenth grade. World Literature Class. taught by the amazing Mr Jerod Donna. I. Under, caned. Understand for the first time that a novel was not simply about following a vicarious adventures of nonexistent people that are novel could be a matrix of ideas and. novelist. Were people who had something to say and this syllabus was just extraordinary. We read. Voltaire's candied. We read Dostoevsky's crime and punishment plays of Ibsen, Kafka's the trial. Madame bovery. By forebear and I just was so entranced by. The. Sensibility of those authors were people who did not settle for the. For the received wisdom of their day, they stood outside of their their cultures they were at odds with. Conventional thought. And and they were data to be very much religious skeptics of doubters. Not, just it was kind of like. My in inverse road to Damascus. I wanted to sign up for the sort of honesty of Albert Camus and I you know. I thought maybe I could do it myself someday. But I could write a novel of Ideas Science Fiction of course. Demands that you play with ideas. It's often called literature ideas of ideas you get this wonderful tool kit. when you joined that club of robots and time travel and rocket ships, all of which. Become. Techniques getting. Perspective on on the world for holding reality reality up to a kind of fun House Mirror and. You know, and then maybe telling people a thing or two. Arguing for a a way of seeing the world. When you were doing the so oh sorry. London. Buy An idea for for my first novel. When. You were doing the the film work were you doing some of the scripting for those films or you writing? Writing. For that they were There were like four of us who are in this who had created this club and I was sort of recognized as one who? Who was? Did pretty well with. Dialogue. Was the writer of the. At, but we all took turns behind the camera. We all took turns in front of the camera. I I usually did the editing as well. I love the editing process I would say. To this day fiction making for me filmmaking by other means that I when I when I cut into a manuscript when I leap into the the The, the rough draft of chapter, it comes pouring out of my printer and I sit down with a Pencil Cup of coffee to me trimming and reshaping the pros is analogous to what I did for many years, editing films, trimming the frames rearranging the the images. I have to ask if you still have the story of the dog family abounding yard by your mother. Have a copy of that. I. That managed to survive I haven't file upstairs. and. I still have most of. Meter movies. that. although I haven't played them recently, I have a feeling the spaces would fall apart and the soundtracks May. have. The tape may have degenerated I'm afraid to find out. Were you writing prose during that time as well. Now, your teen years and so forth and were you sharing those stories with people or was it pretty much you're in that film making side of things. Yeah had urged to tell stories I had A. Feeling for narrative but it but I express myself in in other media the film making We've put on some plays. I used to drop my own comic strips and comic books. And Didn't. Didn't turn to prose fiction. Until. My first novel really though I always I I, love the medium of the novel of from a very young age. I sat there was something magical and numerous about those books in my. My parents modest library that I knew were fiction, and even before it was very adapted reading and way before I would imagine composing Stars Myself I would take volumes off the shelf in my parents live in. And and then I would impose on them by novel I was sort of be telling a story to myself as I was turning the pages of the novel pretending that it was. Something that I had written. I have to ask because so much of your work is as you said in your bio. The illogically. Inspired did you have a religious upbringing where you were you learning? Theological material during their youth. Now I didn't by PARENTS TOOK ME TO A. Presbyterian some day school. but I think they were not. Really. Serious Christians themselves I think they had a kind of inoculation theory. Give, the kid a little bit of. you know last he Sunday show up announcing that he's decided to become a monk You deprive guard how dare you not telling me about the the divine? I honestly. was there that was their theory? So I had a very low level experience. I mean even though I did have the. Inverse Road to Damascus I mentioned earlier. Thanks to to Voltaren. Camus et CETERA. I. Just. Wasn't that much. Is Not that much to lapse from when you're sort of white bread. Middle Class. Suburban Christian so I the the impulse to critique. Christianity, of does not come out of any kind of trauma I was not in rebellion. Against a religious upbringing never been assaulted by non with holding a ruler or anything like that was much more. These voices spoke to me these these doubters like Camus and Dostoevsky Simpson and I just wanted to try that myself. While you mentioned that you didn't really tackle pros until you had the idea for your first novel when did that come along and also What did you study in university? I did. Majored in English and my specialty was creative writing but I still wasn't doing a lot of prose fiction. The my main project was a screenplay. and. I actually had Joseph Heller as teacher were wonderful experience. And we was very. He was It was a course in play writing. And he himself was had a a play running on Broadway at the time called we bombed in new haven. And he was taken with with the comedy. The three act comedy that I was producing In in his class. But I did not come out of the. Program at the University of Pennsylvania. With A. Belief in myself as a novelist or someone who who was going to. Get into this wonderful universe of science fiction I became an educator for a while. and. I had. I used my filmmaking experience to become a media educator and was hired by several public school systems. Teach animation to junior high age kids or teach students how to make slide tapes but At that time. In in my circle media educators that it was a lot of. Discussion about the effect that mass media was having on children and most of that conversation was about the deleterious effects of of. Television and movies on kids were books like the plug in drug getting a lot of attention very great anti anti television and I said to myself. Well, I can understand why people are worried that that TV is turning kids into into lemmings. But. What about the contrary argument the television Performed kind of Cathartic effect and. The television maybe drains off impulses at one otherwise might be inclined. To Act out in the real world, an anti-social impulses and said, you know there's a, there's a kind of science fiction novel in there. What if there was a society? It was tasked totally pacifistic where the never been a robbery or rape for killing. And one of initially this is a mystery. How in the world? Did they achieve this? This blessed state and then it turns out that have technology that lets them sort of hope themselves up to to their television sets except they control the content. If they've had some bad experience that day argument with the boss or maybe getting fired from from their job, you could go home and. And shoot the boss on television and nobody would get hurt and would drain off your. Desire you might have to commit that sort of crime in in the real world and the plot became well, what if when this Utopian Planet A an astronaut arise falls in love with one of these there Cuban. Migrants. Falls in love with them and decides that she needs just a little bit of an aggressive instinct to be fully human that maybe you know you've got to have a dark side as well as it but have that dark side. For Real, not just in your fantasies and so he injects her with a little bit of. The. The the violence that these people drain off into into a river that that a moat that circles their their city, and of course, this is a recipe for disaster. She has no immunity and becomes a maniac, and then he stays with his terrible dilemma. IS HE GONNA kill. The woman, he loves to save civilization. He hates. So the whole thing arrived full blown all three acts and. I found a an agent and we discussed whether this was was this in fact, a science fiction novel or just a novel of ideas we all decided it should be marketed as science fiction she took to To Halt Reinhart Wisden, at the time had a headline of SF they were publishing. Larry. Nevin. And Robert Shackling and they did heinlein. This was a Donald Hunter. The late lamented Donald Hunter at Holt. Often running I never looked back. The book. At didn't didn't become a bestseller, but it got quite a bit of view attention. The Science Fiction Book Club picked it up and came out in paperback. And I said Okay I sort of. A Catholic commitment I made with myself way back in tenth grade to see if I could. Write a novel of ideas. I want to go back to the university and. Studying creative writing I. Often ask authors. Who have done that formerly, if turned out to be helpful, it sounds like in your case, maybe it actually was not every author tells me that it was. So. What was your experience? Frequently Certainly having Joseph. and His. His sensibility was a big influence on me. He was very self effacing. say that you catch twenty two as far as he's concerned, it's it's unbelievable success was kind of a fluke that every every year many worthy novels. Come out and disappear and DIA. A dog's death. Now that said so and So. It was. It was just. Catch Twenty twos as you might imagine a touchstone for for me, James, Morrow the the salaries. That said the other creative writing classes I had. Were happening at a time. This is. Circa nineteen. Sixty eight, sixty, nine. Before was thought that you could teach the crafting of toes fictions. And so the Only thing that went on in these classrooms was. Workshop. Reacting to each other Spanish groups as opposed to you know sort of I wouldn't call. Formulas, but the the sort of. Incredibly a good advice you get would get from let's say John Gardner in his book. called on writing fictions I recall is the title And you know. There was no discussion of how to negotiate the marketplace what it meant to get a literary agent Morton that could be. you know nor was there a whole lot of explicit teaching how you create a character? How do you structure a plot? What are the techniques you can? You can use to engage reader? What is the difference between suspense and surprises Cetera et CETERA. and. So yeah I I can't praise. The other aspects of the? University of. Pennsylvania's writing program at the time I suspected is rather different. Now, maybe much more influenced by institutions like the highlands writers workshops. The play riding interests me as well. I'm an actor done quite a bit of stage work and have written a couple of plays directed them and all that sort of thing and It I, I always feel if that's helpful in writing my fiction in a way that it, I always have a very clear image of where everybody is relationship to each other. In my head in the scene and I take some of that comes from writing plays, and then I also think, of course, the dialogue side of things Do you feel that that background in and play writing and script writing has benefited your fiction? Yes very, very much I sometimes think of myself as a as a playwright. Okay. Though, of course, even harder to convince. Money people to put on a plate of yours then to publish your. Breyer out to say nothing of filmmaking but I do see my. My work as it may be both both play writing and filmmaking. By other means and I'm told. My novels are visual and and visit. And I do. Think in terms of seeds, not not all pros fiction makers do that there may be a little more free form they don't break into into discrete acts or scenes or sequences or the three act structure, but but that's where I on. The these these ethics of mine Are, are. Not only. Patterned on on the structure of films, but but actually draw. Inspiration off a great deal from from. The Hollywood product at least it's always whenever I'm working on. It becomes an excuse to look at a bunch of movies now, I'm going to get energy. When when you, I mean you, you mentioned doing it in high school but have you done acting yourself since then? Very very little now. Fallen away from from that. While you were writing doesn't work out you can always try acting there's a good solid career choice so. WITTICISM from. Houston off who as you probably know it was. A man of many towns, renaissance man and his whole family was into the arts. They were all US editions or writers of. was. Someone brought. To the brought to the family dinner A guy she was dating. And they asked what what does he do for living city was A. Stockbroker. And they said. Stockbroker. Can you make a living from that white? Why don't you go into something safe like like, Oh, a tree. They were all successful. Not The norm that. Know my favorite actor joke which I've heard a few times is what's the difference between an an actor in a pizza and it at a pizza can feed a family of four. So. We're. Being who was it as every kind of science fiction writer pizza? It has the same joke. So, let's go on and talk about your creative process GonNa talk about the last witchfinder, which I've read a chunk love haven't gotten to the end that I certainly tend to This came out a few years ago, but I'll let you give a synopsis of it. explained it his. Yeah I. I handed amazing encounter. this would be thirty five years ago. With a book by. Physicist at the University of Massachusetts called. Named Edward Harrison. The book is called Masks of the universe. And essential argument of the book is the. Human species will probably never know universe with a capital Y-y-you. It will be that. Of Knowledge, absolute knowledge will be denied to us but we have. Our a succession throughout human history of universes each with lower case you. and. This book masks of the Universe is a kind of history of the evolution of human intellectual four. In scientific thought. vis-a-vis all these masks. So Harrison takes us. On a tour from the the Magic Universe of Paleolithic people to the mythic universe of the Sumerians Egyptians and other early civilizations the. The Geometric Universe of the Greeks Divine University, of Medieval Christian Europe? The mechanistic universe of the Newton the age of reason, and that are contemporaneous. relativistic. Universe. Of. Of Modernity Scientific Modernity Harrison is particularly was. particularly. Obsessed with. What he calls the witch, the witch universe that time. When Everybody understood demons were, what were what made things happen that the world was a was not So much enchanted as haunted. It was called the renaissance. Ex post facto but I encountered this amazing sentence and I just. WanNa read it. From page to fourteen in massive mass of the universe Harrison says quote, the supposed renaissance was disordered interlude between Sane universes that is between the then evil and the age of reason. Quote, a bedlam of distraught world pictures terrorized by a witch universe created by leaders with fear crazed minds an agent folded into a man universe on the rampage which would have destroyed European society but for the intervention of science. So I read that sentence and I said, Oh my God there. There's an idea for a novel a Tire Society nearly destroyed by its own theology I. Mean I have to work with that someday, I'll have to be able to turn that into an epic. Even if even if Harrison's overstating the case I think perhaps he was but for the intervention of science, a Europe would have destroyed. So I've got to work with that scene. but I couldn't come up with an entree year in euro. How in the world could one dramatize? event. So large and momentous. And After Jess Station of fifteen years ahead of breakthrough and. I said you know a a character, this case I. Intuitively knew she must be a woman. A woman born in. Born about sixteen, Seventy eight. Would've lived through this amazing transition. This. Rotation from the which universe to what we call. Retrospectively, age of reason, or or the enlightenment. And So the last witchfinder was born and became. The story of Jennifer Stern who makes it her? Her lifetime mission to try to bring down the parliamentary witchcraft statute of sixty four. she has many adventures in the course of trying to fulfill this mission. It's really it's both a mission in a in a a pledge to her. To her aunt Isabella kind of deathbed promise. Isabel. Is Herself. Mistaken for a witch and and executed by the powers that be in. In in the England of of of early modern Europe. And Eventually eventually Janet. engages in a very creative act she she masquerades as a witch. In a sense then put yourself on trial. For consorting with demons and because she's become good friends with with the Benjamin Franklin Jackson. Becomes Lover Benjamin Franklin. This is circa. Seventeen thirty, one she knows she will get. Publicity in. Franklins. Franklins periodicals, Pennsylvania Gazette. So this sort of media circus trial occurs in in Philadelphia and and. Karna takes note of it in England and so this is this is the kind of science fiction I. Guess that would be called secret history or hidden history. This is the the real story that no not known until now, why of why that statute was was finally taken off the books. So when she had this idea. A what did your planning process and and research process? Because clearly you've put a lot of research into this I noticed in your forward. talking about a great deal of this is reality and Tweaks of of what we well, what we think is the real history. Here there to tell the story. So what did you research planning process look like and is this typical of your work? I I always do a lot of research and it's it's mysterious to me I. I don't want to become conscious about self conscious about how does one know when to stop the research and write the day I'm not I mean, my facetious answered your crush would be. I I, I write the novel. Then I do the research. You know said retrofitting, but it's it's. it's more of a dance. It's very complicated A. As as I did the research a lot of actual history kind of. Doubt played into my hand I felt. Very fortunate. That For example. When When Janet Is abducted by Indians around, sixteen ninety five. Now living in, she starts out in living in England and her she goes to the colonies because that's where her family has moved. Up in Massachusetts turns out that in fact, he rural Massachusetts. was. Attacked by by the ABACHI in sixteen. Ninety five. Big. Breakthrough for me. Was I always knew that I wanted to use. Not, only Benjamin Franklin. But also Isaac Newton sort of personification of the two. Of the universe's universities that are in play at this point in history. Franklin sort of the Avatar of the enlightenment cheeky. Contrarian Newton. As opposed to Newton one of the one of pious men who ever lived very much of a piece with with the renaissance. And it turns out they actually almost met. In seventeen twenty, five Franklin is in London he has a commission from. Royal Governor of Pennsylvania to buy printing equipment. And he has a letter of introduction to Newton. From someone in Newton Circle, I think it was the physician. Pemberton who edited the second. The second edition of Principia Mathematica. does not want to beat this cheeky kid from Philadelphia. So the so the meeting never occurred, but in not mine, it occurs I have Franklin and Newton. In Saint carries together. But They talk past each other often wants to discuss electricity. Luton is preoccupied with counterfeiters at that time and with Biblical Prophecy A. and. So it's not simply that they are from two different generations This is the old nickname young Franklin, not just two different generations two different continents. They're really from two different UNIVERSES. Fractured of the enlightenment and Newton of the of the renaissance. So I said well, this is playing into my hands. This is a lot of fun. It's GonNa work and had other facts like The Barrett few who ends up defending Janet at her at the trial she arranges for herself. really could've ended up in in Philadelphia in seventeen thirty one he was. A young a young aristocrat taking the grand tour that European aristocrats always took at that time. There was even according to France, a witch trial in Mount Holly New Jersey at this time and I simply moved it across the Delaware to to Philadelphia. Franklin's account of the witch trial. Makes it clear that it never really happened it simply a hoax that he put into the Pennsylvania because but. Decided to take. Frankly, his word so I guess for me add. A process was like. Walking. Through, a field with all of these sort of pottery shards lying around in. And I pick them up and examine examining and try to fit them to each other and end up with an earn of my of my own design. What I know of Franklin I suspect. So a story. He comes off very very well. Deger outlining I. do like a detailed outline or just a some hit some high points and then go for it. and. What's what's that process like? I do. It's a kind of free forum. Outline. I wasn't. Really sure. Her Up is gonNA end though and that's trove almost all of my now laugh to kind of feel my way to the to the climax of. I would I would never plunge into a project this ambitious. or any sort of novel with without rough sense of what the three acts were to be. You can hear my play writing heritage coming out here. But that said I always appreciate a remark that Director John Huston was made. He said there come the time on every film. When you you throw away scripted make a movie. which is you know, don't let the script become your master master must allow for improvisation things. The actors are going to bring to it. Camera setups you never imagined to your actually on the set and so forth and I think for me at least with prose fiction or comes time when you throw the outline and write the damn novel. The. Talking about the three act structure. It just now occurred to me but. Almost every play I see these days actually to acts. Of, always talk about the three act structure but. Are generally presented as two X. Was was the classic Structure Musicals Right? It was almost like an unwritten button inviolable law it every musical must have. To Act with an intermission. What's your actual writing process? Like? Are you a fast writer? So writer do you? Write with the girl parchment. Quill pen and parchment retriever an apple could follow your hip. I just I wrote my first novel, the wine and violence. In longhand. BIC Pens on legal pads. Never been able to compose on a typewriter I envy writers could do that. So. I'd always have to sometimes I would type it myself, and then would often have higher professional typist to to. To cope with all the notes I would put on my. My first tight draft Nov Chris I use I use word processing. I'm working very hard on not being so distracted by by the Internet. That I stopped because I just have to look fact sometimes even. because. I know spelled the word wrong after stop to correct the spelling these are terrible habits. And if any embryonic late writers listening try to try to never acquire bad habits, James Morrow has. I'm slow methodical it seems to take forever in theory every novel I right should should be a year I remember. A remark that Stephen King makes in his quiz I auto biography his book called Dos macab, any writer captured who said novel Years Merely kicking off and I agree, with Stephen King, but somehow, it always takes two three four years. It's been a lot of time on rewriting. Work shopping showing to friends and colleagues. And I also have to say because. I. Love the medium so much and Regarded as such a privilege to work within the medium of the novel I don't WanNa I. DON'T WANNA surrender given book I'm GonNa live in it. And perhaps because my. My premises are so. Often ridiculous preposterously towing Jehovah. Schlepping the corpse of God to its final resting place in the Arctic. Commission from an angel. Oh come on. That's all and bold and absurd I didn't believe it. I find living inside and retrofitting a whole lot of facts about life aboard a super tanker onto the story. And? You talk talk talking to people who'd actually. Lived on supertankers. And then. Visiting. Visiting a lot of death of God the. Month in month out I started to believe the I started to believe that towing Jehovah could be the case, but it took awhile. With your pros is very rich. You know especially in the last witchfinder, you're going forbid of that too. Archaic. Diction I guess. Is that. What is your revision process look like? The does that kind of language flow out of you naturally or do you go back and? Tweak it a lot to get to that level of Of. Edition. I. which finder was it I difficult? Rug Alling particular because I was trying to. Try To. Hit. The archaic qualities that we encounter in. Restoration drama, and I read a lot of restoration place to try to get that voice right and I read contemporaneous documents. And I have to say. It's the aspect of of bless which under that I'm least satisfied with I'm not sure I got it right but I was determined to to to not settle. For. English that where it becomes arrears job to imagine they're speaking in of idioms. Of of the day, I was very influenced by John Barth Barth the sot read factor, which is said exactly the same time zone as the last witch finder. Restoration England in colonial America. I stole a lot of locution from him that he had gotten from somewhere else. But. Last which was almost seven years in. Creation and much of it was just endlessly revising the dialogue and try to get to sound right. You know the language is in transition there's of shedding. Elizabethan `ISMs to the language of Shakespeare but a lot of that still stayed around and and A. So with. With the novel I did. Subsequently. While there was there was a modern novel in between which was set in Victorian England that was rather easier to do because we have a pretty good idea from Dixon, how the Victorian spoke. But it's is less clear in the in the case of which finder. I guess you still have to also make sure that your languages comprehensible to modern reader. That was the challenge Some Some of the. Positive reviews which fire complimented the on how you. You you adjust to it fairly quickly. It seems very strange. all of this archaic diction, but but you kind of figure it out and you flow with it. I think the book is is easier to go than. Than Shakespeare, for example, when when you read Shakespeare your. It's a, it's a self conscious experience you're you're constantly making. Almost sub-conscious translations in your mind. One reason he works better on stage where you can kind of understand what's going on from the action even if you don't. Exactly, of course, we should I should make the point that at least according to the beginning of the book you didn't actually write it was written by. Isaac Newton's book. Which? Larry as with all these these old books that were you know they were actually writing these new books and the authors I. Really evolved. I guess as the other dimension of witchfinder that owes something to. My Sean Laura background is. Is Essential. It's the last rider is taking place in it, and university isn't quite ours as a universe in which books are alive. They're sentient creatures and who who have thoughts in genders. And and who can nevertheless fall in love with humans just as we fall in love with books rights. And and they write other books. And what I was up to there and was I. Know The book was going to be at one level, a celebration of the alignments. I would argue. that. That Harrison is really onto something age, of reason, scientific understanding of nature came along just when it was needed because the which in verse was was a nightmare of bedlam as as he puts it. At the same time I said, you know I don't I don't want to be common unqualified cheerleader for enlightenment because there is a case to be made against reason and the deification of reason. The sort of church reason that that emerges during the French revolution that's a dead end to. The. The critics of the enlightenment always point to the French revolution that's always exhibit A. in any indictment of of that period. which be was I guess I'm a trial limit I'm a child of Voltaire Candy, but this conceit of of the. Mathematica with when it somewhat sardonic understanding of the world. Let me. Let me enabled me to to. Make the case against the enlightenment through through the voice. Which is privilege which has perspective on all this I wanted to avoid pitfall of a lot of historical fiction of the characters being acutely aware of how their descendant of how their descendants will interpret their actions. Which I think is simply not given to us to know. I had a nickel way of getting this perspective. On history by having. Janet's aunt Isabel. The woman whose death sensor on her great commission having an Isabelle writing. An epic poem, the cheese channeled from the ether that. Recounts what's. What's going happen? After in in the next generation on the rise experimental science, and then I said to myself well, no, that's a kind of mystical idea that would that's at odds with. With the rationalism that I'm I'm defendant in this book. So did something even more irrational? Than at the call I did this crazy this crazy a narrator. I'm glad you. You're funding it. I guess it is Kip. Isn't it? I tend to give it more like an Italian pronunciation but it? Goes. I think those are accepted light. What's the editing process like for you but but to editors come back to you. Suggesting you do in the editing. level. Well when it comes to A. Professional Editors. Whose? Job, it is job description or is to be editor. That's what it says on their door editor. Like the days of Maxwell Perkins I think are over the days when somebody could. Take a manuscript that was kind of raw and rough and say, well, here's how can. I can work with us and I'll enter into a conversation with the author and we'll re imagine. We badging this books with this really GonNa work for for the reader. That's not what editors a paid to do anymore. They they. They're expected to acquire ready to run books on the whole. And so I have rarely gotten. Suggestions that very deep into the book tended you know the editor will will send you to page letter with suggestions and you and I I respect the industry because the author has. Cut. UELI. Rarely. Would an editor ever say if you if you don't go along with this, we're not going to not publish your book. So I I guess what I've said is also Could be boiled down to the notion that. You have to be your own editor. And that's another thing that. protract the composition process for me. Because I don't want to count on sending sending a book out prematurely I feel is one of the. Mistakes, you can make. You can't count on an editor seeing potential potential bidder. Be They're? Upfront. We're getting close to the end of the hours few minutes left. So I wanted to get to the big philosophical questions and clearly you have fun with those so. And there's three of them I. Guess. So why do you right? Why do you think any of us right and why literature of the fantastic in particular? Well why do why? Right? Right to change the world should to make it a better place. Now, we've been talking about those last which finder. and I write because. I. Feel. So privileged to be part of. What I would call the great host enlightenment conversation. The situation we find ourselves in in Madeira were were everything can be put on the table. And we're where you can't. Say Well. Because I've had a revelation. we don't need to continue this discussion. Any further that that argument doesn't work anymore. So I just feel. The that I'm making my little my small contribution to the. to the fight against nihilism relief fight against a kind of secrecy that pretends that mere human beings have ultimate answers and they don't. They don't. Why does anybody right I'll I can't I can't speak to To my colleagues. Some of the law. Would Do it because it's so much fun and and and I make money from it. On the human scale. Then why do humans tell stories? We are. We are storytelling animals, homo narrative. Science fiction particular. I think you have an opportunity. To to. Enrich the the vocabulary with which we address. The big mysteries of the existence, these questions of moving and how then shall we live and you're lucky your your book even ends up in the dictionary Allah Frankenstein One, thousand, nine, hundred, four. Frankenstein in large vocabulary. gave us. The very dean means of or has become synonymous with the idea that. With with the power of science. Must come responsibility and and the the tragedy of Victor Frankenstein? Is Not that he was charged s I would argue are not that he did this. Borderline blasphemous experiment that but once but once he brought the creature into the world, he abandoned it. one, thousand, nine, hundred, four, of course or will. I last time author actually owned a year. Expanding. Our vocabulary with terms like newspeak and double thinking. Big Brother. We have a way to talk about things that previously were not. We couldn't talk about I think of wells and the island of Dr Moreau. Could Metaphor for this brave new world of genetic engineering and the the the the power were developing to manipulate the human genome. Certainly Margaret Atwood in A. handmaid's tale just gave us the concept of the handmade this woman who's under the under the thumb of a patriarchy. Think. So these are all science fiction titles. Even in the case of in case of fantasy. It's important to remember that it also stands against nihilism. They. Sh- fantasy. Does. Not. At any way argue the world is up for grabs. The way the nihilist would do and say, will therefore, my authority is the last word because we all know reality is up for grabs there is nothing grounded anymore. which would be nihilism and in a nutshell. Talking made the point that. In a fantasy saga. The trees are real trees grants Israel grass in the rocks are actual rocks. Is Not a fantasy world in the sense of everything being surreal or absurdist. Is An external reality up they're out there. And The very title Lord of the Rings I. Think IT'S I've always been fascinated point to the villain of the story sorrow. We is that I think it's because the main. Big Idea that that talking is playing with is the nature of evil not in some dopey mannequin sense but just. The you know the. Those who who think that? There is no external reality and therefore they can set the terms. They can set the terms of reality themselves. The the line that again off has let solly beer cloak. It would never occur to song. The Fellowship. Is going to give up this this power. Evil has far less imagination. Imagination then. and people of good will possess and I think that's that's a very affirming idea and and I think that's why a the the novel has the title it does. And It will go watch. What are you working on now but I should mention that you do have something out to brand new novella in the end the last trump's out with cat Rambo who's I've had on the show and a Harry turtledove. So maybe just briefly what is that? I have a pretty good idea but I'll let you describe it. In the last trump shell sound is a. A. Set of Novellas that speculate on a near future USA in which. Donald Trump won a second term. and. This was followed by the election of pence who also got a second term whereupon the states of Oregon Washington, California. Come together under one flag call themselves the nation of PACIFICA and secede from the Union. That was. The premise as it was pitched to me by Shaheed Mahmud Publisher. He hit the publisher came up with this idea because he was shot he was so distressed to see the way that. The Nation. was being torn apart on the macro scale by the by the trump phenomenon and families were being torn apart on the on the micro scale and he just thought well, maybe science fiction writers could make a valuable contribution. To that that conversation. I turned him down initially. I said Shaheed I can't work with this the thought of. Of trumping reelected and pence getting to to after that is so depressing sorry I'm out of here. Within as after I rejected. Membership. In this committee I. I remembered something that Shaheed had said in pitching it to me that which was trump would be dead. Trump would be dead one. On the story opened. and I said, well, what if? What if tense? Is Falling under the spell A. A Spiritual adviser who is not all she scenes and it was in fact working for Pacific. Pence is becomes convinced that he could bring trump back from the dead. That could be a lot of fun aright. So so the very next day said Shaheed is the is the slots still open I still join your project and said, yes. And I'm really glad. So it is still science fiction fantasy. It's not just political commentary these three novels. They're all in the grand tradition of sort of near future. Not Not. Not Prophecy. I. I think the distinction. Or will mix between Warning prophecies is very important. So I don't think we're saying this. This is going to help to be how it turns out. But but we are trying to diagnose what's happening and we all come at it from three very different directions. I hasten to add that the when trump is wreck is actually resurrected. In The Washington National Cathedral what's going on is not supernatural. It appears that. Trump. is comes back from the dead, but in fact, it's audio. and audio animatronic Rogo. Disneyland. Exactly. What else are you working on? Well, let's see I I. Once. I think I actually have written a novel in a year. Stephen King Prescribes it's called those who favor fire and it's about. It's a comedy about climate change. A Title I've always wanted to use many years ago I wrote. A nuclear war comedy. Off Or dark comedy. That saw print as this is the way the world ends a wanted to call it those who favor fire. But at the time another work of fiction with that title was coming out in my editor and I said, well, we don't want them. We're going to avoid confusion. So I finally got to use the line from Robert Frost's poem fire and ice and The title of my climate change novel and very briefly it posits. The hollow earth theory is the case and and there's actually. A race of human beings living beneath the surface. Surface of our. Consensus reality and. And they've got a problem with with ice. Their planet has become or their their side of the planet. Has Fallen. Victim to to global cooling. So it's it's an allegory I guess. The are like to think can. Avoid the usual pitfalls allegory were things just mack neatly onto each other. indication of when that will be out. Well yes. Sure. It'll be done in a year. It'll be out next year except this is James Morrow and I'm sure I will once again trip myself up with. A long rewriting and the workshop process, and it's not it's not a book that's been commissioned by publisher. And you know I think I'll take it to take Martin's press. It did my last novel to see. To see hard cover prints, but there's no guarantees it may may not ever find accrues. As. I don't WanNa Spoil Day. Couldn't happen to you a writer At my age can end up in a condition that's that's called post novel. Where you know you're. Where people take a much harder look at your sales figures and your status in if it's not if it's A best seller becomes really hard. To unload a novel. Yeah well. Here's hoping. Ended those who would like to you know see how you're doing where can they find you online? I have a A website? which if you just w. w. w James Morrow dot net. And I have a facebook presence of sorts And I do some twittering tweety. Okay I will put those links in the. Always, do. And I think that's about our time. So thanks so much for being on the world shapers I enjoyed that I. Hope you did too I. enjoyed it very much lock him. So, thanks again to James Morrow for being my guests. That was a great conversation. I really enjoyed it and I hope you did too. there are many more great conversations to come on the world shapers and there are many great conversations that have already happened. So if you'd like to check back and see some of the interviews that you have missed, they are all available on the world shapers, Dot com website. There's a complete if there. You can, of course, also find the world shapers on twitter at the world shapers and on facebook out to the world shapers, you can find me at Edward, will it to dot com to tease Willett you could find me on twitter at he will it. You can find me on facebook at Edward Don Willett, and you can find me on Instagram at Edward Willett author because I missed that home about using the same. For All your social media accounts clearly. Coming up on the show that see we've got F. Paul Wilson is coming up corey doctor. Oh Frank J. Fleming. Some others already in the works that will be coming up very shortly. So many more great to great people to come I mentioned the anthropology featuring first year guests, shapers of world's now available everywhere as e book and coming out imprint in mid-november that was kick started as I said earlier this year and look for in the New Year a second kickstarter shapers of world's volume to my second year guests will be in that and I haven't heard back from everybody but some of the ones I have heard back from willing to contribute either an original story are reprint people like Kelley Armstrong and Bar Hambley. SM Sterling. Tim Pratt. Another great list of authors that should be great anthology as well. So I hope you'll consider backing the kickstarter once that happens in the new year. Right. Well, that's it for this episode of the World Shapers. Thanks again for tuning and and I hope you continue to enjoy my ongoing conversations with science fiction fantasy authors about their great process and how they bring about bringing to reality the world's that they have created. Characters that inhabit. This time.