28 May2008, Travis Heerman, Blog the Muse, kja interview

Moderators: D Pope, SandRider

28 May2008, Travis Heerman, Blog the Muse, kja interview

Postby D Pope » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:59 pm


Blogging the Muse
truths, triumphs, and trageties of the writing life.

Author Interview Series #11
– Kevin J. Anderson

Award-winning Kevin J. Anderson kicked his
writing career into high gear working on some
of the biggest properties in the SF field, Star
Wars, the X-Files, and Dune, which are
probably the places most people have seen
his books. I first encountered his work in the
Star Wars Jedi Academy trilogy. But he created
an impressive body of original work both before
and after those series, and in recent years, he
has branched out into film production and comics.

And with all that work in hand, soaring among
the stratosphere of SF-dom, he still took the time
to answer a few questions for Blogging the Muse.
What a guy! If you would like to read more about
him after the interview, check out his websites,
http://www.wordfire.com and http://www.dunenovels.com .

TH: You’ve had a lot of success with Star
Wars and Dune novels in recent years, but can
you give a brief arc of your career as a

KJA: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a
kid, and I began sending my stories to magazines
when I was 12 years old. I finally got a few
things published in small magazines, then a first
novel (RESURRECTION, INC., nominated for the
Bram Stoker Award), then several more novels,
and after I had established myself as a
successful author in my own right, I was asked
to write STAR WARS books, which I loved. I kept
writing original novels during all the years I
worked for Lucasfilm, was nominated for the
Nebula Award on one, sold another to Universal
Studios, but the SW work also vastly increased
my audience. Chris Carter at the X-FILES read
and enjoyed my SW work, and he asked me to
write the XF novels for him. I also got into writing
comics, launched my own novel series, then
partnered with Brian Herbert to carry on the DUNE
series. My “Saga of Seven Suns” series has been a
great international success, my DUNE books with
Brian keep doing very well and the two of us have
just become co-producers on Paramount’s new DUNE
film. Brian and I have just agreed to do three more
DUNE novels, and we’ve sold an original SF series,
HELLHOLE, and I’m working on a fantasy series,
TERRA INCOGNITA, about sailing ships and sea
monsters. I’ve done two novels for DC Comics
and the forthcoming FIRST ENCOUNTER about the
first meeting of Batman and Superman in the 1950s.

Career arc? I worked hard for my dream job, and
now I’m doing my dream job.

TH: What are the pros and cons of working
in someone else’s universe, like Star Wars and
the X-files?

KJA: Wow, that’s a few articles’ worth right
there. In short, you do have the constraints
of working with already-established characters
in a well-defined fictional universe. Sometimes
the licensor is very easy to work with and they
respect you as a creative professional; other
times they are very difficult and rigid and don’t
understand writers at all. However, my Star
Wars, X-Files, and Dune work has earned me a
very large and loyal audience who have followed
me to my original fiction. But I was already a
devoted fan of those universes, so I loved
working in them.

TH: What did you do prior to diving into
writing full time?

KJA: I was a technical writer for a large
research laboratory, working with scientists
to do technical papers and presentations.

TH: What is The Story of Kevin? Is it a
novel? A short story? A poem? A limerick?

KJA: It’s a thick novel with lots of different
plot threads. (And a very charming and heroic
main character <g>)

TH: When did you know that you wanted
to be a writer? How did you know?

KJA: After I saw the film of THE WAR OF
THE WORLDS when I was 5, I was so captivated
by the imaginative story, I started making up
my own stories. I wrote them down from the
time I was 8 years old. The stories kept coming
to me, and I would watch my favorite TV shows
and make up further adventures of the characters.
(I think I wrote several hundred Star Trek
adventures in high school.) There’s never been
any doubt in my mind.

TH: A lot of established writers seem to
have a stack of writing somewhere that will
never a see the light of day, like the five
novels the author had to write before he
could get to the good one. Do you have
anything like this?

KJA: I’ve got some, but I did manage to
get a lot of it published in small press markets
when I was clawing my way out of the
slushpile. Of course, now when I see some of
those old stories in magazines I cringe.

TH: I sift through the slush and critique a
lot of short fiction for a couple of online venues,
and I see a lot of stuff that simply is not
publishable. Was there a point where you had
an epiphany, where suddenly some major
cornerstone of publishable writing fell into
place for you? Or has it been more of an
ephemeral/incremental evolution, an
organic process?

KJA: I had 80 rejections before I had
anything accepted, and even then it was
still a long, gradual process. I’ve written
hundreds of short stories, and a hundred
novels. I think all that practice and training
finally sank in.

TH: Of course, most writers want to have
bestsellers or make some sort of artistic or
literary impact. Is there some unrealized
accomplishment that you’re striving for in
the near future?

KJA: I’m very satisfied with my work and
my career. I am writing original novels that
I love, and DUNE novels that I love. I have
a wonderful wife (married almost 18 years),
and I live in the beautiful state of Colorado.
So, I’m content with where I am. Been a long
road to get here — 25 years since my first
publication — but my main goal is just to keep
doing better and expanding my craft as a writer.

TH: What is the biggest challenge that
comes with working your dream job?

KJA: Trying to deal with all the distractions.
As I get more successful, it seems that the
days become a bigger and bigger avalanche
of interruptions, phone calls, e-mails, visitors,
travel obligations, promotional requirements.
Sometimes it seems as if I never have a few
uninterrupted hours of writing time.

TH: What are some of the things
that inspire you?

KJA: I like to learn new things, see new
things, have new experiences. I do most of
my writing when I’m out hiking or mountain
climbing, and I love the wilderness. Moab,
Utah is one of my favorite places in the world.

TH: What are the most successful ways
you have used to promote yourself and your
work? Are there any promising marketing
avenues that you might yet explore?

KJA: There are so many opportunities now,
the only big question is the lack of time and
energy. I do have a lot of book deadlines and
that’s my main priority, but of course I want
them to sell well, too. I do a lot of interviews,
blogs, book signings, conventions, a newsletter.
It’s awfully hard to rise above the noise, with
so many other books clamoring for attention.

TH: Have your reached the point at which
you realized that you had “made it” as a
writer and author? If so, can you describe
the milestone or circumstances? Do you recall
how that felt?

KJA: Going full time was a big step, and even
after 11 bestsellers and about 20 published
novels, it was still a risk. We made sure we had
a year’s worth of expenses in the bank before
we took the leap. But I never want to let myself
be satisfied — I want to keep pushing myself to
be more ambitious, more intense, more thoughtful
in each book. My “Saga of Seven Suns” was my
masterpiece, I think…and now I just have to do
better next time.

TH: Some say that professional writers
have to look at themselves as a business,
a branded commodity.
Do you take that approach?

KJA: I think you have to treat it as a business,
definitely. It’s really quite complicated and risky,
because the biggest problem is cash flow — I can
have 6-9 months go by without receiving any
payment at all, and virtually all publishers take
FOREVER to pay (though I always turn in my
books on time). As a writer, you have to know
the tax laws, what you can deduct and what
constitutes a “business” activity.

As for being a “branded commodity”, I think that
suggests a writer produces the same sort of
thing every time. And some of them do, but I
tend to do a lot of different books.

TH: What can readers expect to see from
you in the near future? What are you working on?

KJA: The last book in my “Seven Suns” epic
comes out in July — I worked eight years on t
hat series, and I think it’s the best thing I’ve
ever done. Brian Herbert and I have PAUL OF
DUNE out in September, and all our test readers
seem to think it’s one of our very best in the
series. Rebecca Moesta and I have just finished
our CRYSTAL DOORS trilogy, a young adult
fantasy series, and I’m writing my TERRA
INCOGNITA series right now.

TH: What is the most memorable moment
(good, bad, or other) you have had in your
life as an author?

KJA: I found it very moving when a mother
brought her young son to one of my signings.
She introduced him, told me he was severely
dyslexic and that his teachers had given up
trying to teach him how to read. But the kid
decided he *wanted* to read my STAR WARS
books, and so he taught himself how to read
so he could read JEDI SEARCH, and now he’s
an avid reader. That’s what it’s really about.

When a brand knew urinal puck showed up in the bathroom of my studio, I knew what I had to do.
D Pope
Posts: 476
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:16 pm

Return to Kevin J. Anderson

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest