Noms de Plume: None
Location: Near Lamy
Key Book Titles: Circuit, Circuit Breaker, Star Trek: Tears of the Singer, the Wild Cards series
Years in New Mexico: “Since I was 5 months old”
What is it about New Mexico that draws so many Sci-Fi writers?
I think it’s the landscape. There is something [here] unlike anyplace else in the world. The way the light hits, it’s almost alien in its setting. I also think we’ve got the advantage of the three cultures. In a way, it’s a microcosm for what we’re dealing with when we talk about distant worlds, different alien species interacting. We live in a culture where, as an Anglo, I have the pleasure of being a minority. I think that’s an interesting and healthy outlook on the world.
You worked in Hollywood for years as story editor for “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” What’s the difference between how Hollywood treats writers and how the publishing industry treats them?
It depends on what part of Hollywood. If you’re a television writer, and you create shows, you have a great deal of respect and authority. On the feature film side, writers are treated as extremely disposable and expendable. They’re not viewed as terribly important to the process. I think book publishing still does value writers in a way Hollywood doesn’t, because the words are all you have in publishing. In Hollywood, the pictures can help carry it even if the story isn’t that good. You don’t have that luxury when it’s just you and the print. ... Although, I’m afraid that might be changing, too. I’ve heard some of the business people refer to books as “product.” That to me is really scary. “We pushed how many units of product?” That’s nerve-racking for a writer.
What are some of your inspirations, literary or otherwise?
I’ve always been thinking up and telling stories, from the time I was a little kid. I think a lot of it comes from people in a situation and how they grow and change and react. To begin with, I’ll suddenly have a flash of a particular person in a particular situation, and I wonder how they got there. I go backwards from there. So it’s more driven by character than by event. I’m more interested in how humans react to a situation than in plot twists. In the beginning, science fiction was a lot about the Interesting New Idea. I think that’s changing as we end up kind of living in our futuristic world. I have basically a computer in my purse, an iPod. No one ever dreamed that was going to happen. We have to fall back on different ways to tell stories that aren’t just about the Cool New Idea like our predecessors got to do.
Rumor is you’re working to revive the old Wild Cards series from the ’80s.
We sold a new triad to Tor Books. The first book will be out January of 2008.
Will that involve New Mexico writers, like before?
Yes, a number of New Mexico writers and a number of new writers--one of which was a fan when she was a teenager and is now writing for us. It makes [co-creator] George [Martin] and I feel terribly old, but it was really exciting to see that kind of excitement being generated. We just finished the first draft on the second book, called Busted Flush. The first book is called Inside Straight. And I had written a spec script for a feature film based on Wild Cards, which is making the rounds. I’m still hopeful that we’re going to be able to sell it. Right now, the superheroes are kind of hot, and Wild Cards did it earlier than “Heroes.” And frankly, I think, better. But I’m biased.
What happened in the Roswell Incident?
Um, nothing. ... I wish that the aliens were contacting us, but I find it hard to believe they choose to do that by abducting farmers off tractors on country roads. That doesn’t strike me as the behavior of an intelligent species that’s crossed light years.