21 June 2009. Rdube, LoveToKnow Sci Fi, Interview:...KJA

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D Pope
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21 June 2009. Rdube, LoveToKnow Sci Fi, Interview:...KJA

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http://sci-fi.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Inter ... n_Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a well established and respected name within the Science
Fiction genre. With sequels covering storylines like Dune, Star Wars and his
DC Comics series - there are not many science fiction fans today who have
not heard of him.

In His Own Words: From Writer to Novelist

LTK: Now that you've spent years writing over a hundred novels, many of
which were national or international bestsellers, could you describe how it
felt when you sold your first novel, Resurrection, Inc?

KA: I have always wanted to be a writer. It’s been my dream since my
early years as a child, and I did more than dabble with it, even as a kid. I
hammered out stories and even rough novel manuscripts on old typewriters,
and I started submitting to magazines (and getting rejected) when I was 12.
I kept writing, and kept submitting, and eventually had a few stories
published in small magazines, which was very exciting. But I wanted to publish
a novel. I had written several of them -- real novel-length manuscripts,
350-500 pages long -- starting in high school, and on the basis of my handful
of short story publications, I was able to get an agent.

I wrote one novel, then another, and the agent submitted them to publishers.
After trying so long, it was a bit of a shock to come into my office at work
(I was a tech writer at a research laboratory) to see the blinking light on my
answering machine. “Kevin, this is your agent. I just sold your novel. Give
me a call.” Of course I ran up and down the halls, excited...and by the time
I came back, somebody else had called and left a message over the old one.
Well, that couldn’t diminish the thrill, but I wish I could have listened to the
message a couple more times. The next big thrill came when I received the
cover in the mail. I knew what it was, and I held it in my hands for several
minutes before opening it, imagining what I wanted on the cover art. Then
I opened it up and took a look. I was thrilled. (Though, in retrospect, it’s a
fairly awful cover, one of my worst!)

LTK: Having worked as a technical writer at Lawrence Livermore National
Lab, have you ever drawn upon your experiences there in any of your books?

KA: Definitely. Working for years in a real government research lab, with
real scientists on large-scale projects gave me an understanding for big
science in ways I had not imagined. I had a security clearance, I went to
many government meetings, I picked up on things that were very different
from how they are portrayed in movies and books. With my coauthor Doug
Beason (whom I met at Livermore), I wrote several books that drew on all the
things I learned - Virtual Destruction, Fallout, Lethal Exposure, Ill Wind - and
on my own I used that bureaucratic/government background in my X-Files
novels, and I even had a star-system-sized Imperial research lab in my Star
Wars: Jedi Academy trilogy.

That work experience gave me an interesting background to draw from,
and I think it added realism to my books.

LTK: Your bio mentions that you do quite a bit of hiking and camping in
and around the Rockies, and write using a hand-held recorder. Are there
any specific books you've written that you feel were most inspired by those
long walks in the woods?

KA: That’s basically the way I do all my writing. I have hiked out in Death
Valley and in the Great Sand Dunes while writing my Dune novels with Brian
Herbert; I’ve been among the Anasazi ruins and cliff cities of Mesa Verde
while dictating chapters in alien ruins for The Saga of Seven Suns. I’ve been
on snowshoes crunching through drifts while dictating scenes on frozen ice
caps for my Star Wars books. The isolation and dramatic scenery inspires me
(and let’s not minimize the fact of being far enough away from people and
phones that I can just concentrate without interruptions).

The Writer With No Future?

LTK: Many writers work diligently at getting published, yet constantly
receive rejection letters. Your bio mentions that you've collected over 750
rejection slips in your lifetime - yet you are now one of Sci-Fi's most popular
authors. Do you have advice for writers on how to deal with those painful
rejection slips?

KA: Fortunately, most of those rejection slips occurred early in my career;
they don’t happen quite so often anymore. I do have a trophy in my office
that says “The Writer with No Future” because I could produce more rejections
by weight than any other writer in a weekend workshop.

You just have to be persistent, keep trying, and keep improving yourself. An
Olympic athlete doesn’t win the gold medal the first time he or she tries the
sport. It’s a lifetime of training, stretching, practicing, falling down and
getting up again, and pushing ahead. If you give you, you will certainly fail.

<Ads by Google removed>

LTK: Regarding the popular Dune sequels that you've worked on with Brian
Herbert, did you find it difficult to expand upon Frank's world of Dune as
opposed to starting such a fictional world from scratch?

KA: There are advantages to both, and I’m seeing both sides right now.
The Winds of Dune, which comes out in August, is our eleventh book in the
series. We have both read and studied the Frank Herbert originals so many
times, we are both writing in a well-established universe. Both Brian and I
have the detailed roadmaps, as it were.

Just last weekend, though, I spent several days with Brian brainstorming the
detailed outline and developing all the details of the new, original novel series
we’re writing, Hellhole. Instead of picking up the torch from a master like
Frank Herbert, who had already established so many of the details, now we
find we have to create the whole universe, the planets, the government, the
transportation systems, the economics, the religion, all of it. That is both
liberating and difficult -- doubly difficult, in fact, because doing the writing
with a collaborator requires that we both have a very thorough understanding
of all the new material.

LTK: Could you describe the premise of your upcoming novel, The Winds
of Dune, coming out in August of 2009?

KA: In our Dune books so far, we have told stories from ten thousand years
before the original novel Dune to five thousand years after. In The Winds of
Dune, as well as last year’s Paul of Dune, we are going back to the core
classics, setting these stories as “in-quels” (rather than prequels or sequels),
stories taking place between and after Dune and Dune Messiah. It goes back
directly to the basic characters and stories that made Frank Herbert’s classics
the most beloved novels in science fiction. Winds picks up immediately after
the end of Dune Messiah, after Paul Atreides has walked off into the desert,
leaving his empire behind. The story focuses around Lady Jessica, Alia, Gurney
Halleck and Duncan Idaho as they try to stop the empire from tearing itself
apart, and saving Paul’s newborn twins.

LTK: Finally, for your avid fans, are there any long-term plans beyond The
Winds of Dune that fans can look forward to?

KA: As I mentioned above, Brian and I are doing our own trilogy, Hellhole,
but we will interweave those original novels with new Dune books -- at least
two more under contract, The Throne of Dune and Leto of Dune.

However, my big current focus is a solo original fantasy trilogy, Terra Incognita,
all about sailing ships, sea monsters, and the crusades. The first book, The
Edge of The World, just came out from Orbit Books and I think it’s the most
powerful thing I’ve ever written. I really hope my fans will take a look. I have
already written the second book, The Map of All Things, which I’m editing now.
As a very exciting and innovative crossover project, my wife and I have also
written a rock CD, Terra Incognita: Beyond the Horizon, from ProgRock Records,
with music written by Erik Norlander of Rocket Scientists; we have performances
by some of the biggest names in rock, the lead singers from Dream Theater,
Asia, Saga, as well as Lana Lane; we have the violinist from Kansas, the
guitarists from Shadow Gallery and Ghost Circus, a real “supergroup,” which
we called Roswell Six. You can hear sample tracks and see more about the
project at the Myspace profile.

And for my other projects, and sample chapters from Edge of the World,
see my website. And follow me on Twitter.

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