9Apr11 Arafaat Ali Khan interviews kj on his UAE trip

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9Apr11 Arafaat Ali Khan interviews kj on his UAE trip

Postby D Pope » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:40 am

http://sffportal.net/2011/09/an-intervi ... -to-write/

An Interview with Kevin J. Anderson on his trip to the UAE,
sci-fi in the Middle East, and finding time to write

Posted on 04/09/2011 by Arafaat Ali Khan




You visited the UAE recently, what did you think of sci-fi fans from this
region as compared other parts of the world that you frequent?


The difficult availability of Arabic translations of major science fiction and
fantasy novels has always made it problematic for Arabic speakers to read
the most important works in the genre. I have written many books in the
Dune universe with the son of the original author Frank Herbert; Dune is
the single best-selling science fiction novel of all time, and has been made
into two films… and yet I don’t believe it has been translated into Arabic.
When I visited the UAE, I was surprised to find that many of the science
fiction fans I spoke with were not familiar with it.

However, many English books are available for import, and those are widely
read. I was very surprised and thrilled to have long and involved conversations
with other fans who are so completely dedicated to the genre. We were
glad to introduce some of my works to new readers, and most importantly
to exchange ideas with people from a different culture, which sparked a lot
of story possibilities!





The Dune series of books takes a lot of elements from what seems like the
Arabic language and culture – the most famous I imagine would be (Paul)
Muad’Dib. Do you research Middle Eastern/Arabic references when creating
new names, places etc.?


Frank Herbert originally created Dune, and I know he studied Arabic language,
culture, and religions extensively (although I don’t believe he traveled in
the Middle East). He was very astute in extrapolating the culture and influence
into the far future. For the further Dune books I’ve written with Brian Herbert,
I’ve tried to do my research to pick up on the details and way of life; in addition
to the UAE, I’ve been to Qatar, Morocco, Turkey, and Egypt. Now, remember,
these stories take place tens of thousands of years in the future, across
many planets, so the details can’t be exactly the same are they are in everyday
modern life, but the flavor should be correct.





If you could give just one piece of advice to budding fiction writers in the
region what would it be?


You have more opportunities now than ever before in the history of the genre.
Thanks to the wide dissemination of fiction as ebooks, as serialized stories on
websites, a writer’s location is no longer any sort of hindrance. Get involved
with other writers worldwide on social networking sites, on discussion groups,
and submit stories to publications, whether they are based in the US, the UK,
or anywhere else. I think fantasy and SF readers are very interested in stories
with Muslim/Arabic/Middle-Eastern influences.





What got you started and at what point did you think you could make a
career from writing sci-fi and fantasy?


I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a child. I started writing
stories when I was eight years old, and just kept writing them. Many people
were practical and discouraged me, pointing out that it was extremely unlikely
I could ever make a living as a writer. Our cliche is of unemployed, nearly
starving writers struggling to get their novel published. But I never gave up.
I took a full-time job as a writer of brochures, papers, posters, and articles
for a research laboratory, which paid the bills, and I wrote stories and novels
in my spare time. Eventually, I did get them published, and they began to
earn me money, and within years I became a Real Writer.





What’s the most challenging part of the creative process?

This might sound strange, but the hardest part is finding the blocks of time.
I write very large, epic novels with many storylines and countless details of
alien or fantasy worlds. But when I’m trying to write, I have so many other
obligations, interviews, appearances, phone calls, and the like that it’s nearly
impossible to carve out the time and find hours just to concentrate on my
big stories. Sometimes, that gets frustrating!





With fantasy in particular it must be difficult to create original characters
and story lines-how do you do it and is it important to be ‘original’-i.e. who
cares so long as it’s a good story!?


Millions of stories and novels have been published since the beginning of
the science fiction genre. I don’t think you can find anything that hasn’t
been done in some fashion before. But when I write a story or a novel, I do
it in my own personal way, adding my touch to it. I think the most important
thing is to tell a compelling story, with plot twists, engaging characters,
interesting settings, and maybe something meaningful thematically. If the
readers enjoy it, then I have succeeded.





Sci-fi and fantasy continues to grow as a percentage of book sales-what
do you think the appeal is to fans?


I think we all like good stories with imaginative settings. When I was a kid,
very few mainstream people ever admitted to reading sci-fi and fantasy,
but then came the popularity of Lord of the Rings, and Dune, and Star Wars,
and suddenly everybody enjoyed it. We love to be entertained by something
different than our daily lives-and SF delivers the right stuff.





With the launch of Game of Thrones on HBO and a number of other fantasy
series rumoured to be in production, do you expect a boost in new authors/titles?


I certainly hope so. Game of Thrones is about the best I can imagine for
a long-standing fantasy series, and it opens many doors, proving that we
can create an epic-length story with sustained quality, something much
more than a single movie and not designed to be episodic ‘adventure of
the week.’ (I only hope someone gets interested in my Saga of Seven Suns!)






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