Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Because no good interview should go unused

Early this year I prepared a written Q-and-A-style interview -- for a venue that ceased operations before the interview posted. That's life in the glamorous world of publishing. Well, I operate my own venue, now, don't I? 

So, here 'tis that interview. (For more about any title mentioned in the interview -- or about any title of mine, for that matter -- click its thumbnail cover on the righthand column.)

My first book
(in its original edition)
When did you start writing? 

I began writing as a (very) part-time hobby in 1982. My day job at the time, supervising a software-development department, was very demanding—but at least by that October I’d completed the master’s degree program which for years had been consuming all my evenings and weekends. For diversion beginning late that year, I started on what eventually became my first novel (the technothriller Probe), which I sold in 1990 and was published in 1991. Also in 1991, I began a new day job, my most demanding yet. After that, I scarcely had time to write anything new for the next several years.

In 1999, I gave myself a sabbatical to try out the full-time writing life. Fun! After about a year, though, I returned to a day job. Not until 2004, with a contract in hand for my second book (the science-fiction novel Moonstruck, published in 2005) did I become a full-time writer. A second sale suggested the first book wasn’t a fluke.

What drove you to come up with your debut book?

It was on a dare! I was reading something entirely forgettable—and so, its name and author forgotten—and complaining about it. My wife said something like, “I suppose you can do better.” Clearly, I had to try. It turned out I could write and that I enjoyed it. 

Tell me about your published works. How did they happen? 

Mu most recent novel
As I type, I have 23 published books and two more in the final stages of pre-publication. Each one has (pardon the pun) its own story.

Mainly, I write science fiction and technothrillers that revolve around new—or possible future—technologies of particular interest to me. Many of the novels involve space flight. (This seems like a good time to mention that for seven years I worked as a NASA contractor. I know things about space flight.) Other books deal with artificial intelligence and computer science. (By training, I’m a physicist and computer engineer.) I won’t claim to have personal experience in First Contact with aliens or with medical science—but they are interests, and I’ve written novels exploring those topics, too.

Series starter
All that said, sometimes there’s simply a story demanding to be told. That’s how I got involved with a far-future space opera in collaboration with science-fiction Grandmaster Larry Niven. Our first project (Fleet of Worlds) went so well, and was so much fun, we eventually ended up with a five-novel series.

What is your latest book; what does it deal with?

My most recent book
My latest novel (Déjà Doomed, 2021) is science fiction: an archeological, alien-contact mystery—and also a geopolitical thriller—set in the near future on the Moon. Oh, and the stakes are existential. 

My most recent book, however, is a career-spanning collection (The Best of Edward M. Lerner, 2022) with science-fiction stories at all lengths, touching upon every imaginable SF theme. Time travel, space travel, travel between universes, and so much more … they’re all represented in the collection.

Do you deem yourself a pantser or plotter?

I work both ways. At book length, I usually write from a detailed plot outline. If a novel has several point-of-view characters, I always work from an outline—it’s the only way I can keep all the details straight. When a novel is told in first person, however, I sometimes let that character run with the story; that’s the seat-of-the-pants scenario.

For anything shorter than a novelette, I’m quite likely to go the pantser route. 

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