Monday, April 5, 2010

Science Fiction: Other Places, Other Universes

One quick note: If you like cherry blossoms, I've posted several shots I took during sunrise last Friday on my other blog: Simply Saradise. I'll be updating it with more for the next few days!
I mentioned last week that I'd gone to several panels at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Science Fiction: Other Places, Other Universes being one of them. The panelists were: David Louis Edelman (Infoquake), Katherine Kurtz (Deryni Series), and Kim Harrison (White Witch, Black Curse). 

David Louis Edelman (DLE) wrote Infoquake (think: Doon meets the Wall Street Journal). The novel is half satire, half serious about running software on human bodies. Natch, the MC is an amoral entrepreneur.

Katherine Kurtz (KK) wrote the Deryni Series--a 10th & 11th century medieval fantasy, set in the land of Gwynedd, one of the fictional Eleven Kingdoms, about both humans and Deryni, a race of people with inherent psychic and magical abilities. (I LOVED this series--though I misplaced it during one of my many post-college moves. I'll get it again someday soon for sure.) She wrote the Adept Series--set in present day Scottland, and she's also got an urban fantasy coming out called St. Patrick's Gargoyle--set in Dublin with the premise that gargoyles used to be God's avenging angels. 

Kim Harrison (KH) writes The Hollows series (think: Buffy meets Columbo)--set in an alternate reality in the 40s. The series will cap after book 12--not because the publisher mandates it, but because Kim is ready to move on to something else. She's also started a young adult series, staring 17-year-old Madison Avery, who is killed by a "dark reaper" named Kairos on her prom night. But by stealing Kairos's amulet in the process, Madison manages to retain her soul.

The moderator asked questions and the panelists answered. Here are the questions and responses:

QUESTION: Do you write people that you know into books?

KH: Bits and pieces of other people and lots of myself

KK: You can't help but have parts of people. I give villains names of people that piss me off. A close fan friend passed away and I wrote her into my current book as a mother--the friend had always wanted to be a mother, but never had the chance.

DLE: Started as a dot-commer and used the dot com employee patterns in Infoquake. Once, around 1998, my boss refused to pay $75 for electricity at a trade show. Instead he brought an extension cord and stole the electricity from someone else. (I believe he said he wrote this into his book.)

QUESTION: How do you handle writer's block?

KH: It doesn't happen often to me. When it does, it's usually when I try to make a character do something they wouldn't really do. If that happens, I'll either rewrite the scene or create a history for the character so that their actions would make sense.  I outline all of my novels--I don't always necessarily stick to the the outline, but I replot it when I need to. I also always write the dialogue first and then go back and fill in the blanks.

KK: Unconscious causes writer's block. When it strikes, I play with my characters--look at their geneological charts to determine interactions that make sense. I also stick to a writing schedule.

DLE: Editor deadlines help writer's block. I also set goals.

QUESTION: Something about outlining the worlds of your story--world building...

KH: I build a part of the world and then throw a character into it. The two grow together.

KK: Planning only gets you so far. The world doesn't actually exist until you write it.

DLE: Plotting and writing go hand in hand.

KK: Build the bones of your story and start flushing it out.

QUESTION: Who are your influences?

KH: Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke. I consider myself a science fiction writer--though  my novels are urban fantasy--because I set up the pacing a lot like science fiction novels. Characters are killed off, etc.  

KK: History is fascinating because of the people who made this stuff happen. Dune made a huge impact on me. Robert Heinlein also.

DLE: Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, Stephen Donaldson. William Gibson is my current influence.

QUESTION: What is the most tedious part of the writing process for you?

DLE: Getting from awesome scene A to awesome scene B. The "fill in" stuff. Granted, after rewrites, I end up enjoying what I used to consider filler.

KK: Figuring out where to start and rewriting chapters when you belatedly realize you have to start sooner.

KH: Page proofing nuts and bolts. GRAMMAR. 

QUESTION: Do you correlate music with writing/characters?

KH: I use music to help me figure out characters--I think it helps to free my subconscious.

KK: I don't use music to help with writing because I only listen to music that I love and when I listen to it, I don't want to be doing anything else! I sometimes use gregorian chants. I did use Song for Athena to help write a funeral scene.

DLE: I don't listen to music while writing either. I often find that writing goes at its own musical pace and real music would compete with it.

And then the panel was out of time, so the panelists wrapped up.  So there ya have it!   

♥ me


  1. Wow. Great post. Thanks. And how very cool for you. It sounds like you had a great time at the festival and got to see some really fantastic panels.

  2. So my main question is whether you wore matching boots to the panel discussion.... ;)

    Nicely done, good lady. Sounds as though you got three different answers out of the three different authors every time. Which is as it should be.

  3. I find it interesting that Kim Harrison considers herself a science-fiction writer.

    Sounds like a great festival!

  4. Ugh, just tried to post a comment and it went all nuts on me (I was signed in and everything!)

    So now you get a bulleted list of what I said:
    -Thanks for typing it up!
    -Jealous you got to go
    -Totally agree w/ the stuff about worldbuilding
    -Love the comment about writing having its own rhythm (well he said musical pace but as a music person I'll call it rhythm.)

  5. Thanks for the insights - very cool! :)

  6. This is great stuff, Sara - thanks! :-)

  7. Awesome interview!! Love their answers. And I love cherry blossoms too :)

  8. I love how Katherine wrote her friend who had passed in as the mother she always wanted to be. What a way to honor her memory.

  9. Wow, I feel like I cheated...getting all this info without actually having to attend! Thanks for taking your time to post it :)

  10. Very cool! I used to read some K. Kurtz back in the day. And Katherine Kerr. I always got them confused.

  11. What an inspiring post. I liked the part about setting goals and pushing through.

  12. I really want to be able to go to a book festival one day...there's just not a lot of those close to where I live. So thanks for sharing this with us:)

  13. You know, I was most fascinate by the answers to what they find the most tedious. So glad to know that it's not all roses and buttercups for these guys.

    Thanks for posting this. Next time maybe I'll be able to go with you ;)

  14. Thanks for typing all this up for us and sharing.
    I like Kim Harrison, and found it interesting she thinks of herself as a sci-fi writer.


Yay! I love when you have things to add :)