1. What made you decide to be a writer?
I put it off for as long a I could, but eventually I couldn’t ignore the nagging feeling that writing novels would be lovely. I experienced a push-pull about writing. On the one hand, I had an urge to try my hand at something that I felt I (somehow) could do. On the other hand, from things I’d read, I had formed an opinion that it would be very difficult to break in. And then, even if I did sell a novel, I knew writing would not support me, so writing fiction would absorb much of my evenings and weekends when I wasn’t at my day job (transportation planning at the time.) Did I want a life like that? Apparently I did.
2. What do you write?
After six stand-alone science fiction novels, I have just completed my first series. It is science fiction with a fantasy feel, a story about a universe next door that tunnels through our own–and is, literally, a tunnel–a beautiful one! To my complete surprise, it has gotten the best reviews of my career. It started with Bright of the Sky and just ended with book four, Prince of Storms. There are more details at my website, Writing the World. I would describe my work as character-based adventure with an emphasis on world-building.
3. Why do you write what you write? And what’s your favorite type of story to write?
This is a complicated question for me. If I had time enough, I would write lots of different things, including screenplays and literary novels and poetry. But an author spends a lot of time building an audience, and publishers want you to have a brand, so my novels are science fiction and fantasy. Fortunately I love that genre. But I do find it limiting.
4. Why do you write in the first place?
I would love to have a lofty answer for this one, but to be perfectly honest, it is fun. Nothing quite matches the exhilaration of finding scenes, sentences, and words coming to my fingertips and onto the screen. Secondly, after a fifteen year career, writing is wrapped up in my identity. I see myself as a writer: my goals, my hopes, my values. I am afraid of what life would hold (or wouldn’t hold) without writing. What do people Do with all that time? (My kids are grown, you know.) I am not terribly social, so the solitary life of writing suits me, I guess.
4. If someone was going to buy just one thing that you’d written, what would you advise them to buy and why?
Oh, definitely Bright of the Sky. It was listed by Publishers Weekly as one of the top books of 2007. And I’d like people to have the highest possible opinion of me, natch. Furthermore, it introduces the milieu of the Entire, a pocket universe that seems to have garnered a lot of attention for its . . . I don’t know, audacity? This series turned into a big, sweeping epic, and took a huge chunk of my life. I may never do anything as ambitious again. (My next book will be a stand-alone contemporary fantasy.)
5. What do you like to read/ who do you like to read?
Lately I’ve been reading Naomi Novak (fantasy), Jess Walter (literary), and an old book, Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott (literary.) I have also been reading about the 19th century and Darwin, the Raj, Winston Churchill’s early years, and natural history museums. (Much of this is connected to my next project, which I can’t talk about; the books I read for pleasure tend to be the same as those I read for research.) I tried to read a vampire book, set it aside. Why, why do people think vampires are cool? I am totally unsympathetic to characters who kill to stay alive.
6. Tell us about yourself.
I am a big supporter of aspiring writers. I started a writers conference in Eastern Washington where I live, called Write on the River. This year our keynote speaker is Terry Brooks. I also blog on writing fiction at my website, Writing the World. Apart from things writing related, I hate sports but do play golf. My favorite color is orange. I become discouraged late at night but am raring to go in the mornings, so I never write at night and Hate interruptions in the morning.