When did you start writing?
If you mean when did I seriously start writing, that was in 1977, the year I graduated from University. I really got serious a year later which was when I took a rough coming-of-age story and started turning into Magician
, my first published novel. Where do you write?
I have a home office. What are the pros and cons of being a writer?
The same as with any self-employment: you’re your own boss, you set your own schedule, you determine the quality of the product, etc. The downside is you have no corporate safety net, no unemployment insurance, no health care benefits, no retirement plan, so you bear responsibility for all of those things. It is not a job for the timid. What writers have inspired you?
Too long a list to cover them all. Anything good, in one fashion or another influences. There are some very obvious names, to begin with: Shakespeare, Marlow, Dickens, the Russians, Twain, Melville, and some slightly less obvious, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexander Dumas, Anthony Hope, and the other "boy’s adventure" authors. Also, historical authors like Mary Renault, Rosemary Suttcliff, and Thomas Costain. And the pulp authors: Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Ridder Haggard, A. Merrrit, and among fantasy writers, Fritz Lieber. Toss in as diverse a range of writers as Zane Grey and Louis L’amour in westerns to Dashel Hammett , Raymond Chandler, and John D. McDonald in mystery, to comedic writers like Max Schulman and Dan Jenkins. I could keep going, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. How important is a sense of place in your writing?
Tough question to answer in brief; every element in a fantasy has to “make sense” to the reader. You can not condescend to your art because it’s “make believe,” so even though the place in which I set my work is a fantasy world, it has to feel “real” structurally, else the reader will ultimately be unhappy. Do you spend a lot of time researching your novels?
Only enough to convince the reader the characters know what they’re doing. I don’t have to be the expert; I just need to be persuasive. Do your characters ever surprise you?
All the time. In fact, as I get older, more and more often. I suspect this is a function of my subconscious coming up with better story notions than I had originally planned. How much of your life and the people around you do you put into your books?
In specific, none of it; in general, all of it. The old saw is that writers write what they know. It’s like what actors call “sense memory.” You have to sell emotion and there has to be a foundation of validity or it will not work. How did it feel when you saw your book in print for the first time? A little disbelieving, and very pleased.If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing now?
Probably looking for a job, given this economy. My last one was in the health field as an administrator.