August 3, 2009 Austin Brown, The King Speaks...SciFiCrush...

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August 3, 2009 Austin Brown, The King Speaks...SciFiCrush...

Postby D Pope » Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:40 am ... interview/

The King Speaks…Kevin J. Anderson flys into SciFiCrush for an Interview!
By Austin Brown • August 3, 2009

I know that War of the Worlds was the film that made you want to get into writing.
Can you talk a little bit about its influence on you and what you thought of the new
Spielberg version?

When I was just a kid, this film made my imagination explode. It was exciting, scary,
and really involved me. I wanted to tell stories like that. I read the Wells book when I
was 8 years old and loved it. In high school, I got hooked on Jeff Wayne’s Musical
Version of War of the Worlds (and two years ago saw it performed live in Melbourne,
Australia). But the Spielberg version…sigh. Some good scenes, but it missed the target
by a long shot. Please, just watch the original George Pal version. Please.

You talk about your big collection of rejection notices for writing while you were
working a day job and trying to follow your passion. Can you talk a little bit about
what was going through your mind during those days, knowing you had this talent
inside you but struggling to find the correct path to express yourself? A lesser person
might have given up.

I kept writing and submitting and, I hope, getting better. I knew the odds were
against me because even editors of small magazines received way more submissions
than they could possibly publish. But I took it as a challenge, and I was very goal oriented.
I had dozens of stories in the mail at any one time, and then I started working on novels.
It’s like training to become an Olympic athlete — you can’t expect to try once or twice
and then get the Gold medal. It’s a long process, and I was very determined.

You eventually got stories published and even novels that were critically acclaimed
but had not been quite as successful financially. You then made it as a writer in an
artistic sense which is what most of us strive for when we are starting out, but you
weren’t selling as many books as you wanted. What was that feeling like? Did you ever
think about giving up?

The books weren’t bestsellers, but they did sell enough that the publishers kept
offering me contracts for further books. When I broke into the business, I thought
that publishing a novel or two would be enough to establish my career so I could make
a living… Not quite. In Colorado, I spend a lot of my time climbing mountains, and
there’s a phenomenon called the “false summit” — because of the steepness of your
ascent (like the tough climb to becoming a professional author), you might be fooled
by a lesser summit in front of you that blocks the real summit that’s much further away.
I struggled very hard to get one short story published, and once I accomplished that,
I had to work just as hard to get a professional sale, and then to publish a novel, then
to get a multi-book contract, then to have a bestseller, then to earn enough to support
my family completely with the writing . . . And it keeps going. I could always see a
bigger challenge, a greater reward, and I kept plodding along.

Let’s jump forward a few years – your editor at Bantam submitted samples to
Lucas Film unknowingly. What was that phone call like when you were informed
that they wanted you to write three sequels to the Star Wars films? Were you
intimidated to be stepping into such a big franchise with some of the most
dedicated fans?

It was a jaw-dropping experience, absolutely unexpected — and an amazing
expression of faith from both Lucasfilm and Bantam Books. I realized immediately
that my life and my career had just changed dramatically. It was a daunting task to
step into one of the most beloved franchises, but I was a big fan myself, and Lucasfilm
had read my books and had decided I was the right writer for the job. For some fans
(many of them frustrated authors themselves), *nobody* would be acceptable to write
SW, but you don’t write for them. You write for the majority of the fans, the ones who
love Star Wars and want to follow the characters into the Extended Universe.

When did you find out that Darth Maul was going to be using a double edged light
saber in Star Wars Episode 1 similar to the one you had created in the Star Wars
comics? Was it a thrill for you to have such an influence like that?

We first found out about it when we saw the trailer for Episode 1. It was quite a
thrill. In the Tales of the Jedi series, created by me, Tom Veitch, and Christian
Gossett, we had Exar Kun use the double lightsaber. Now, since we were working
for Lucasfilm, they own all the ideas we added to the stories; I am very pleased that
George found the idea so interesting that he decided to use it.

How did you make the transition from the Star Wars universe over to the X-Files
and Dune universes? Do you have a favorite world to write in?

Chris Carter, creator of the X-Files, had read my Star Wars books and enjoyed them
enough to specifically request me as the author of his XF novels (Chris even did some
book signings for my novel GROUND ZERO because he liked it so much.) The Dune books
are a little different, though, because Brian Herbert and I are really the only ones
working on the project (with approval from the Herbert estate). I have not worked in a
media universe that I did not already love, but I feel I have invested the most in the
Dune novels with Brian.

I know that your new Dune novel with Brian Herbert THE WINDS OF DUNE which is the
sequel to DUNE MESSIAH is coming out this week. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

Frank Herbert’s classic DUNE MESSIAH ends with Paul Muad’Dib — blind and
despairing, having lost his beloved Chani — simply turning his back on his turbulent
empire and his newborn children and walks off into the desert, abandoning everything.
The next novel, CHILDREN OF DUNE, begins nine years later, skipping over all the
terrible chaos and disruption. Our new novel THE WINDS OF DUNE fills in that gap,
describing how Lady Jessica, Gurney Halleck, the Regent Alia, Duncan Idaho, and
Stilgar struggle to hold the unraveling empire together.

Just recently released was your novel THE EDGE OF THE WORLD.
What a great title! Can you talk about how the idea came about to write this?

I’ve always been fascinated by sailing ships and bold explorers who search for
unknown lands. I set the story in a fantasy world very much like our Europe in the
Age of Discovery, when Prince Henry the Navigator sent out great explorers to
chart Africa. In my novel, though, sea serpents are real, and a little bit of magic…
and a clash of continents and religions.

Equally amazing is the crossover music CD which you collaborated with your very
talented wife Rebecca Moesta. What is it like collaborating with your spouse? And
how did you begin to put together the Dream Team of Progressive Rock legends on
the accompanying CD?

Those are two big questions. Collaborating with my wife–well, we always work
together, even on our individual books. But we’ve been married 18 years now and
we’ve done nearly 30 books together, so I think we’ve figured it out.

As for the rock CD companion to THE EDGE OF THE WORLD — that was an amazing
crossover project, something rarely seen in our field. Since I was always influenced
by rock music while I write (Rush, Kansas, Styx, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Tool)…
and I knew that a lot of those musicians were influenced by SF/F. So why not marry
the two? Working with Shawn Gordon, owner of the label ProgRock Records, we
developed a synergistic music CD –writing the lyrics, adapting part of the novel — that
was produced in tandem with the novel. We got an incredible lineup of performers:
Erik Norlander, renowned keyboardist and composer, his wife Lana Lane (the Queen
of Symphonic Rock), James LaBrie from Dream Theater, John Payne from Asia Featuring
John Payne, Michael Sadler from Saga, the violinist from Kansas, the guitarists from
Shadow Gallery and Ghost Circus, and more. We called our super-group Roswell Six, and
the CD is doing incredibly well; it’s gone into a second pressing only a few weeks after
its initial release. You can hear several sample tracks on

One of the more legendary relationships for Comic Book fans is Batman and
Superman. How did you prepare yourself to write about the meeting of the minds
and partnership that takes place in ENEMIES & ALLIES? Did the new Batman films
influence the book much?

I’ve been preparing to write ENEMIES & ALLIES for much of my life, because I’ve
long followed the comics, the films, the TV shows, the cartoons featuring Superman
and Batman. The Christopher Reeve films, the new Batman films, the Frank Miller
comics, the Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale versions of the characters. By setting the novel —
the first meeting of Batman and Superman — in the 1950s during the Cold War and the
flying saucer craze gave me an opportunity to place them on a fresh stage and also play
upon the deep nostalgia I feel (and I think many fans feel) for these characters.

Finally, can you talk a little bit about the state of the publishing industry and how it is
affecting genre books? Where do you see the future of publishing going?
I don’t think anybody has much of a clue! Are e-books the future? I have a Kindle and I
love it…but will it replace print books entirely? Should I turn my library into a rec room
instead? Major publishers are cutting their old bread-and-butter midlist sections of genre
SF/F…but other publishers are picking up the slack and releasing plenty of titles.
I think the good stuff will rise to the top and the mediocre stuff will settle out, but
for the average author it’s getting harder and harder.

Now for our lightning round of questions. Please pick the answer you
like better and feel free to comment if you like!

Steven King or Dean Koontz?


Moon or Mars?
It’s awfully hard to get to Mars unless you set a base on the moon first.

Apple or PC?
I identify much more with Justin Long than John Hodgman.

Twilight Zone or Outer Limits?
Outer Limits.

Pancakes or Waffles?
All those carbs? Give me bacon and eggs, please.

Regular or Decaf?
If I drank decaf, how in the world would I ever meet my deadlines?

New York or LA?
LA — the drivers are less crazy, and you can find a parking place.

Superman or Batman?
Read ENEMIES & ALLIES to find out.

When a brand knew urinal puck showed up in the bathroom of my studio, I knew what I had to do.
D Pope
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