Noms de Plume: None
Key Book Titles: Jumper, Reflex, Wildside, Helm, Blind Waves
Years in New Mexico: 13
What attracts writers to New Mexico?
Frankly, it’s the skies for me. The sky is just unbelievable out here.
You’re married to another science fiction writer (Laura J. Mixon). What’s that like?
Well, it’s not recommended. It’s the same issue for anyone, any household of two freelance incomes. It’s the monetary problem. And there’s also some times when the success of a partner’s career may overshadow your career. We’re glad for each other, but there’s no doubt there’s sometimes a little jealousy or, “Why didn’t my book do that well?” or whatever.
What’s your opinion of the current sci-fi publishing industry?
The whole information and intellectual property world is under massive changes right now. It’s never been easier to copy [books, music, movies]. It’s only gonna get easier. So we’re going to have to find ways to continue to make a living, to reward intellectual property creators. But we’re going to have to work in this new model. I do believe books are intrinsic objects in and of themselves. Even though people will sit and read websites and e-mails of thousands of words at their computer, they do it in little bits and spurts and ways that are not compatible with reading a novel-length work. So I still think we’re going to see books for a long time.
Do you think this new way of absorbing intellectual property is necessarily a bad thing, or does it point the way to a new model for the future?
I think it’s a wonderful thing. There are problems. But there is no doubt that there were a fairly finite number of writers [who] were getting published before the ’70s. But when they were published, their books stayed in print forever. And then, ever since essentially the science fiction explosion in the vicinity of the first Star Wars movie, people’s backlist stopped staying in print. Suddenly, you had hundreds of new titles, thousands. Used to be we could read every genre book that came out in a year. But now you have to wade through hundreds to find the book you want. That’s a good thing, that more and more people are getting published, but it’s a bad thing because if your book isn’t continuing to sell, it’s gonna go away, it’s not gonna be in print. Well, this new paradigm, with [self-publishing site] lulu.com and your ability to offer .pdfs or other electronic formats for sale, which have very, very low upfront costs, means that people can actually keep their backlist in print. So when someone finds a writer now they’re going to have more chance of seeing all their works.
What are your inspirations, literary or otherwise?
I very strongly try to achieve what [Robert] Heinlein did in his “juveniles.” They’re young adult novels that can be read over and over again by any age. He had certain problems as an artist, the way he depicted women, for example, that were products of his age and time. I’m not interested in emulating that, but I love the idea of books that can capture younger readers and older readers at the same time.
A number of your books have been geared toward young adults.
The first book [Jumper] was published as a strictly adult novel and immediately picked up by American Library Association for their “Best Books for Young Adults” list. The next book Wildside was also picked up. ... So I kind of stumbled into that. Oddly enough, it’s what a read. I read a lot of YA. I think a lot of it is my daughters are avid readers. One’s 12 and one’s 14, and so we can actually read the same stuff and talk about it.
Your novel Jumper is being turned into a feature film starring Samuel L. Jackson, Hayden Christensen and Jamie Bell. Are you excited or apprehensive?
From the very beginning, it’s been clear they were going to go someplace different than the book. The thing I hold in my mind is A) there are a lot of adaptations that have very little to do with the original books that were still good movies in and of themselves, and B) hundreds of thousands of people will be reading the book because of the movie. And that can’t be bad.
What really happened in the Roswell Incident?
Did Laura talk to you? She was born in Roswell. ... I actually believe something happened. I believe it was probably related to research, strictly terrestrial. It was potentially related to technology from Nazi Germany, possibly with Nazi scientists involved, and as a consequence would have been very unpopular. That’s speculation on my part.