10 Questions for Melinda Snodgrass
Local literary master Melinda Snodgrass, who makes her home in Santa Fe, recently released her latest book in The Imperials Saga, titled In Evil Times. She will make a stop at Page 1 Books (5850 Eubank NE, Ste. B-41) on Saturday, July 15, to discuss her latest space opera novel. I took the opportunity to get to know the multi-talented iconic New Mexican author a little better.
1) What's the first book you ever loved?
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Oh, and The Silver Brumby, which was a book about a wild horse in Australia. I’m horse crazy and own two Lusitano dressage horses.
2) How about the first sci-fi book you ever loved?
I have to pick two. A Princess of Mars and the Lord of the Rings [series]. I think I’ve read Tolkien’s trilogy at least eight times since it was purchased for me back when I was 10 years old.
3) The last book you read?
Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson. Also Emma Newman's latest book in her terrific Split Worlds series.
4) Favorite space opera novel?
Apart from mine? (That's a joke.) Walter Jon Williams' wonderful Praxis series.
5) Favorite local author?
Oh, that could get me in trouble. All of my friends are really good in different ways. I'll go outside my field and pick John Nichols. I adored The Milagro Beanfield War.
6) Favorite place in New Mexico?
7) Red chile or green?
Red chile at The Shed, green chile at Tomasita's. I sometimes do Christmas, but I lean a bit more to the green.
8) Biggest inspiration?
My father. He encouraged me to do anything, be anything I wanted. To take risks because while you might fail you can never have the big win if you don’t try. He lived that too. He was a candymaker, a hotel owner, had a flight school in 1927, ran booze during Prohibition. He was a terrific musician [who played] five instruments and [was] a singer. He had a sailor dance hall and a jazz club. Lost everything in the crash of ’29 then came back to become a businessman. I inherited my musical ability from him, and he even sent me to Vienna, Austria to study opera. Now that is supportive. I went to law school because he encouraged me to. He wanted a big political career for me, but I think he would have been proud of me for walking away to pursue writing. It’s the kind of thing he would have done.
9) Best bit of advice you've received?
From George R.R. Martin. When I was writing the spec script that got me my job on “Star Trek,” I was debating about saving the idea that became “The Measure of a Man” [episode] for my pitch since George had told me that you never sell your spec script. When I discussed that with him he said,
“Never hoard your silver bullet.” Meaning, lead with the best idea you’ve got. It was great advice because I sold that script and got hired on the show. It launched my Hollywood career.
I’ll add one more. My boss on “Star Trek”—Maurice Hurley—once said to me “Just say the words.” Sometimes novelists can get too wrapped up in being subtle. Sometimes you just need to … well … say the words. Especially when you are writing a script. Now that doesn’t mean boring, on the nose writing, but sometimes a simple declarative statement or sentence is your friend. Don’t be too cute by half.
10) How does it feel to publish your latest novel?
I hate to say this, but after all my solo novels and all the Wild Cards [series] books, it feels normal. The first time I saw my book on the shelf in a bookstore it was an amazing high. But hearing actors on a sound stage delivering the lines that I wrote and bringing them to life topped even that first sight of my very own novel.