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Interview: Joe Haldeman

Joe Haldeman is the author of the classic 1974 novel The Forever War. That book and many of Joe’s other works are based on his experience of being drafted to fight in Vietnam, where he was wounded in combat. His most recent book is a thriller called Work Done for Hire.

This interview first appeared on Wired.com’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, which is hosted by David Barr Kirtley. Visit geeksguideshow.com to listen to the entire interview and the rest of the show, in which the host discusses various geeky topics.

Your new book is called Work Done for Hire, and it’s the story of a man named Jack Daley. Do you want to tell us about him?

Jack Daley is a guy who was drafted into a slightly future army, maybe just as little as ten years from now, and having trained as a sniper, he goes off to a place that they just call “The Desert.” I think that it’s Iran, but I’m not sure what it is. I don’t really care because he’s back from it when the story starts. He was wounded. He lost a finger—from another sniper, evidently.

But he’s getting along okay. He’s got a little disability pension, and he’s writing, and basically, when the story opens up, he gets an interesting contract offer to write a treatment for a movie, and then within a few days he gets a more sinister kind of proposal. There’s a knock on the door, and when he opens it, there’s a long, rectangular box, and inside it is a sniper rifle, exactly the kind he used in the war, with a little note saying, “Would you kill a really bad man for $100,000?” They give him $10,000 down as earnest money, so he’s kind of in a quandary. He definitely is not going to kill anybody for hire, but it is a little bit tempting, and he did kill a lot of people for not any great reason as far as he is concerned. He can entertain it as a thought experiment, even though he is not going to say yes. But then he finds out that the people who are offering the money will also punish him if he doesn’t take it, and they threaten to kill his girlfriend. It starts to get more complicated.

You mention that it’s set in the very near future, but it’s essentially a straight thriller novel, unlike most of your work, which is more science fiction. Did you set out to write a more realistic novel or did the story just develop that way?

It really just developed that way. As often happens, I just started writing without any plan as to what the novel was going to be about, and I’ve been reading about the war in the Gulf, and I read a couple of books about sniping, and I’d been interested in that for an earlier novel about ten years ago.

[Sniping]’s always been an art that’s well studied. Although I’m not a very good shot myself, and the army didn’t have me do any sniping while I was in Vietnam, it was always kind of an interesting thing: This illusion of godlike power—and being able to murder strangers and be paid for it, which is just a strange kind of a fantasy.

So I was drawn to write a story about a sniper, but I didn’t want things to have gone well for him. He didn’t enjoy being a sniper. He was always sort of morally confused, and slowly going mad during the job, so he carries that into civilian life, and he doesn’t really have a chance to recover from it when he’s approached by these people who want to take advantage of his experience.

You mentioned that he is given this sinister offer to be a contract killer, and he’s also given this offer to write a screenplay novelization. Could you talk a little bit more about the title Work Done for Hire, and just what that means for writers?

“Work done for hire,” in terms of contract law, is a book or a movie or whatever that you agree to do, but you will not take credit for it, and you will not get the copyright—the copyright will be assigned to a third party. Basically, I’ve done works done for hire myself. It’s kind of an ambiguous sort of achievement. It means somebody thinks you can do a book, and is willing to pay you for it, but they’re also willing to take the copyright themselves. Usually it’s associated with Hollywood. I’ve done two of them, and then did not do the third. It’s not too uplifting an exercise.

Could you tell us a little bit about the work for hire assignment that Jack is given in this book?

In this one, basically, they call him and say—or rather his agent gets in touch with a book producer in Hollywood—and the book producer wants Jack to write the treatment for a movie from a two- or three-paragraph description of what the story will be. He says, sure, he can do that, and really he just rattles it out without too much concern for literary value or anything. I drop chapters from that book into [the novel], and he actually has a lot of fun with it. But then it takes a sinister turn, and stories start to come together.

The story that he’s writing: It’s about a private investigator who’s hired to track down a serial killer, and the serial killer believes that he’s an alien.

The serial killer thinks that he’s from another planet, and we, the readers, are given to understand that that’s probably just a fantasy that he’s living through. But no external, objective proof is given for either assertion. I try to keep the reader a little off balance there.

The serial killer character, who calls himself “Hunter,” is himself a science fiction fan, so there’s sort of like different layers to it. He’s a science fiction fan within a science fiction story within a novel. One novel that we see Hunter reading is called The Poems of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt. Does that title have any particular significance?

The Poems of Null-A was a great classic of the 1950s which is often used as an example of how horrible science fiction was in the 1950s. Van Vogt was a really good writer of adventures and a certain kind of freewheeling science fiction which does not bear close analysis from a modern or postmodern point of view. Poems of Null-A was one of his most successful of these, but if it came out today it probably wouldn’t have been published, even though it’s a classic in the way science fiction and genre fiction books can be classics and still have bad writing. Really old-fashioned, and people who love them probably love them for their being old-fashioned.

But they appeal to serial killers and aliens probably?

[Laughter] Yeah, probably. That was just another thing that came to me. I wrote a short story from that guy’s point of view, which was in an anthology a couple of years ago.

Which anthology?

I’m trying to think of the name of it. The thing is, I’ve written so many stories, and if I don’t have my list in front of me, it’s hard to pin them down. It was a big red book. Does that help? It was a thing that I wrote for a friend, and then thought it had some real possibilities as a more commercial novel, and then I thought, “Well, no, I’ll use this as the secondary novel in this more literary novel about a hack writer.” So, it gets more and more complicated, I’m afraid.

What is it like using a writer for a protagonist? Are there any particular advantages or disadvantages to doing that?

One disadvantage is you probably know too much about it, and you want to be accurate about the details of a writer’s life, and yet you want to make a good story out of it. I know more writers than I know [people in] any other profession, except perhaps professors, and I can guarantee writers don’t have exciting lives. They basically sit there and type away and eventually rewrite the thing until it is in shape to be sold, and then they start another one, and it goes on. To me, it’s an exciting life because I think that writing is exciting, even other people’s writing, but I can see that an objective observer would look at me sitting here, and it doesn’t look very exciting. Probably a pharmacist or even a drugstore clerk probably sees more interesting stuff, and in some ways has a more exciting life.

It occurred to me, reading this book, though, that one advantage of using a writer as a protagonist is that you can give that character almost any skill you can imagine because you just have to say, “Oh, I wrote a book about this a couple of years ago, and I had to research X.” And they could do it.

Yeah, that was fun.

Because Jack has all sorts of obscure knowledge involving telecommunications and things like that in the book.

Right. And weapons, and all sorts of stuff you would expect an adventure writer to know.

He also spends a lot of this book on a bicycle, and I know that you’re a fairly serious bicyclist, so how much of your own cycling experience did you draw on to write the book?

Just some mechanical stuff. Actually, the part of the trip where he rides was part of a trip I made with my wife from the East Coast to the West Coast. We took a set of maps that a national organization published years ago, and we just followed that. It was fun.

So when I wanted to write this part of the book, I pulled out my old maps, and put it in the middle of a part of the American South. A place where somebody would hang around if he wanted to be able to kill people and spirit them away. I don’t want to give away too much of the book, but there is a fellow like that in there.

I was reading a little bit about your cycling trip on your blog. There was some funny stuff in there—like you helped put out a house fire at one point?

That was very fun. We were just pedaling along, and there were all these people standing around a lawn which was on fire, and they were sort of carrying a little bucket back and forth, and so we got off our bicycles and ran in to help them put on blankets and things to actually put the thing out. We were dressed like superheroes in spandex, and they were this little bunch of country folks in Georgia, and they thought we were much more exciting than the fire, I think. So that was our fifteen minutes of fame.

From reading your blog, it sounds like you had a bicycle accident and didn’t finish the trip.

I did finish it up, ultimately. In Alabama, I had an accident at a pretty high rate of speed for a bicycle, and landed on my helmet, and broke the helmet and my shoulder, and got scraped up and such. But all we did was, we had an RV, so we just went to an RV park, and sat and drank beer for a few weeks, and then took off again.

You say in your blog that you were planning to turn that trip into a book called Road. What happened with that?

In fact, I wrote about thirty pages, and my agent said, “Don’t do this.” He said, “You don’t have any idea how many hundreds of manuscripts that are exactly this, a record of a bike trip across America. You couldn’t sell that if you were Ernest Hemingway.” I thought, “Oh, okay.” I’m not a really practical man, but I thought that was pretty practical advice.

You were able to use that in Work Done for Hire, though, to some degree.

Yeah, in fact, quite a bit of it.

One thing I was wondering about in Work Done for Hire is one of the places that they pass is called Carlinville, and there’s just this line about how this was once the home of the woman H. G. Wells called “The Most Intelligent Woman in America.” What is the story behind that?

The story is: I got that out of a book. That is a book that was describing various small towns we were going through, and I thought, “Oh my god, that is so cool.” I had to put it into my own book. I don’t know anything about it except for that one quote.

You don’t know who the woman is or anything?

Nope.

I’ll have to Google it. You mentioned that doing work for hire writing is this ambiguous sort of thing, and you mentioned that you did two novels, and you have actually had some dealings with Hollywood as well. You worked on a screenplay for the movie Robot Jox.

That was a lot of fun.

Tell me if this is true. The story I heard was that this wealthy Hollywood producer or something invited you and your wife to come with him for a couple of months and work on that screenplay.

That’s not quite it. Actually, we went to Rome and stayed in a hotel. The producer did have a chalet, just a wealthy man’s dream, which was about fifty or sixty miles outside of Rome, and we did go there for an all-day feast and a walk around the town that was basically like a baronial estate. It was fun to see how the other half lives, but no, they didn’t offer to put us up there. But they did pay for a really, really nice hotel.

I gather that they made a lot of changes to the story though.

That’s Hollywood. I don’t have any real ambition to do that again. I wanted to do that once, and that was enough. It was fun. But ultimately, it is work done for hire, and you work hard, and somebody else gets the credit. It’s not a great deal.

So, basically, that and contract killing are two things you don’t have much interest in?

[Laughter] Well, I’m not a good enough shot. They’d find out and fire me. That would be a bad bunch to get on the wrong side of.

You had another book that came out recently called The Best of Joe Haldeman, which was edited by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe. Could you talk a bit about how that project came about?

Basically it’s the best short stories that I’ve written. I’m actually a novelist. I don’t write that many short stories, so I looked at the list of all the short stories I’ve ever published, and I found that their [selections] comprised almost exactly half of the stories, so there is room for another book which is “the worst of Joe Haldeman.” The mirror image of all those wonderful stories. But I haven’t actually proposed it to anybody.

Has anyone ever done a “worst of”? You’d think maybe just the novelty of it would get it some attention or something.

I wonder. I’m sure that somebody has done it as a title. In fact, I do remember a “worst of”—it was an advertisement in Publishers Weekly. That’s all I know of it. But somebody years and years ago did a “Worst of Mike Jacowsky” or something.

For this “Best of” book, you wrote a note for each story. What was it like looking back at all those stories? Did you see patterns or see ways that your writing had changed or things like that?

Yeah, it was fun. I saw my writing become more sophisticated, of course. But pretty quickly—I learned the game five years or seven years after I’d started; I was producing some of the things that were the best I’ve done, which I shouldn’t be too proud of. I guess I haven’t improved that much over the last thirty years.

I saw patterns repeating which had been pointed out to me before. A guy wrote a book about my work, and he identified this trope of beheading because about half the stories I’ve written have somebody being beheaded, which is kind of a singular habit for a writer. But in fact, I saw somebody beheaded in Vietnam.

I don’t study the people who write about me. I think that way lies some kind of madness. And I don’t write to satisfy critics and such. I write for myself and for my readers secondarily.

It seems like you also write for friends of yours, because a lot of the stories in this book were written for various editors who requested stories for themed anthologies.

It’s not a selfless thing, of course. They offered money, and I thought, “That sounds like a cool idea.” It’s kind of fun because the decision basically is made for you about whether you should write the story or do something else. When you tell someone you’re going to write a story about shoes in the future, you have to sit down and figure out something about shoes in the future, and go ahead and write it. It’s fun in a way because of the smaller personal investment in it. If the story sucks, you can say, “Well, it was his idea.”

Could you say what some of those themes were? Were any of those themes really challenging or did you write a story that you never would have written in a million years if not for that theme?

If I had the book in front of me, I could probably think about that better, but no. By and large, it’s somebody who is doing a theme anthology, and they give you a lot of latitude. I’m trying to think of the title of one. Janis Ian coordinated a book, Stars, it’s called, and the stars are various writers who she wanted to write stories. And we each wrote a story about one of her songs, and that was an interesting challenge because, of course, the song was its own narrative, and then you want to incorporate the pattern of the song into the story, so that someone who knows the song will recognize it in the story, but if you don’t know the song, it doesn’t hurt. The story is still coherent. That was fun to do.

That was kind of like a hat trick. I got to satisfy all these friends. A lot of the stories that I wrote back in the ’70s and ’80s were based on cover illustrations or paintings or drawings that somebody had done that a magazine had purchased, and then they were getting somebody to write a story about it. So I’m up here with my hand up, so I got chosen for some of those.

“Tricentennial” was one of those, right? That was written for an illustration?

That’s right. It was as restricted an assignment as I’ve ever had because the illustration had all sorts of singularities in terms of physics and art, and I had to satisfy all of that at once. It was tremendously successful. It won awards and everything. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, it was not the kind of story that I could expand into a novel, so I couldn’t get into that particular category.

But this Best of Joe Haldeman, it does include your story “Hero,” which was expanded into a novel, into The Forever War. I read The Forever War years ago, and I just read “Hero,” and I was really struck, in your author’s note, like you were saying earlier about Work Done for Hire, that you didn’t really have any outline or anything when you sat down to write it. And I was just amazed by how much detail there is in this story, and how well worked-out everything is regarding the suits, and the environment on Charon and stuff. I was just wondering, did all that just come straight out of your head, or did you research and then go back and rewrite it or anything?

What I did was: I did research on the fly. Of course, that story was written before computers, and so I basically was going into the library every day and looking up stuff so that I could write about it tomorrow. That was my pattern in those days. I basically wrote my fiction during the morning hours, and in the afternoon I’d go out and do research, and so computers probably save me a certain amount of shoe leather, but I don’t get as much exercise as I did back in the day.

Another thing that really struck me about “Hero” is that it doesn’t feature what I think of as being the central conceit of The Forever War, which is the idea that the Earth is different every time the soldiers come back. Had you come up with that idea at that point or did that come later?

In fact, I came up with the idea before “Hero” came out. I wrote a short story for Amazing Science Fiction which was exactly about that, about people who go out over the course of years, they go out to be soldiers, and they come back and years have passed on Earth when only months have passed in their own lives. That was the basic point and the plot logic of that short story. I looked at the two stories, and I thought, “I can cross-fertilize these two and get an actual novel out of the situation.” Although I don’t remember, there was never an “Ah-ha” moment saying, “Oh my god, I can make million dollars this way.” But it’s obvious if you look at the two stories that the end result is The Forever War.

What was the title of that story that was published in Amazing Stories?

It’s called “Time Piece.”

I’ll have to go check that out. Another thing in “Hero” that really struck me is the way it portrays women in combat. For those who haven’t read the story: There are women who fight alongside men, and also the enlisted soldiers are all expected to have sex with each other.

I got a lot of flak for that one.

Could you talk a little bit more about the reactions you got to that?

I didn’t get much reaction from feminists, or rather I got positive reaction from feminists, because the guy who edited Analog showed me the file of letters they got over that story. It’s hundreds of letters, and they were mostly about, “How dare you think that we could be so inhumane as to make women into combat soldiers.” And those probably outnumbered twenty-to-one the ones who said, “Yeah, this makes sense. Why should men have to do all the fighting and killing?” Which is basically my own thinking behind it.

But the subtext is no longer obvious. When I was writing in Vietnam, the North Vietnamese did have female combat soldiers, and we thought that that was just bizarre. We wouldn’t do that to American women, at least not in the 1960s or ’70s. Of course, now women do fly combat missions, and they work hand-in-hand on the battlefield with men, and I think by and large it’s a good thing.

How about the aspect of the soldiers being assigned to have sex with each other? Do you just see that as an alienating sort of thing or do you think that that might actually happen in a hundred or two hundred years?

Of course it happens now, to a certain extent. People are not assigned bed partners or anything like that. I think at the time I wrote it, it was just a weird kind of wishful thinking. If you’re going to have women fighting side-by-side with you, I’d think that intimacy would be, not a guarantee, but it would happen pretty often. Talking to people who are fighting now, it still is kind of a fantasy for men. The idea of fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with women, I think, has helped the cause of feminism a lot, but it hasn’t made being a soldier any simpler or being a woman any simpler.

I’ve heard you say that you, to this day, get letters every day from veterans, people who are serving in combat right now. What kind of things are they saying in recent letters that you’ve been getting?

Well, not every day, but probably once a week I get letters saying, partly, how amazing it is that forty years ago I was able to predict the present day military; it’s not predicted at all, but it’s just that metaphorically there are things that are startling considering how old the story is. I get letters from people who are soldiers now who say, “Wow, you really got it. You know exactly what it’s like here.” But I’ve got news for them—it hasn’t changed that much. If I could get a letter from somebody fighting in the Civil War, it’d probably say, “You know? That’s pretty accurate. That’s the way we feel. Although we don’t have disintegrating rays now. We don’t even know what rays are.” But it’s just the way soldiers are.

Given the sort of anti-war perspective of a lot of your writing, do you have any optimism that war is becoming less common or will become less common in the future?

It would be a nice thing to believe. I suspect that war will become obsolete only when something worse supersedes it. I think we’ll keep using force to bring about political ends, but the way the force manifests itself may be more sophisticated in the future.

Like killer plagues and stuff like that, you mean?

We’ve used plagues, and we’ve used them to help conquer the West with the blankets we gave to the Indians, but I’m thinking more in terms of weapons that don’t look like weapons. I’m thinking of ways you could win a war without obviously declaring the war in the first place. That seems to be a direction that combat could go. Nanomachines and biological warfare are the obvious directions for the future.

So you’re thinking more in terms of mind control or super propaganda or something like that?

Propaganda that actually works and is predictable would be a first order weapon for the future. One hopes that they never will be able to use mind control kind of weapons, because we’re all done for if that happens. I don’t want military people or political people to have that kind of power over those of us who just [live] day to day.

Speaking of letters that you’ve received, I like the note for your story “Angel of Light.” In that story you invent this imaginary religion called Chrislam, which is a combination of Christianity and Islam, and in your author’s note you say, “Please don’t write me any letters about how wrong I’ve gotten it, or if you do please make them interesting.” Have you gotten angry letters about that story?

I actually haven’t. I’ve gotten a couple of notes from people who are Muslim who appreciated the sympathetic nature of the character. But most people go, “Okay, he’s a science fiction writer, so he’s taking a science fictional look at a religion.” I tried not to be offensive. I have to admit, I read The Idiot’s Guide to Islam to try to not make too terrible mistakes about the basic parts of it.

Another really, really great story from The Best of Joe Haldeman is your novella “The Hemingway Hoax,” which you also expanded into a novel. It’s funny, I bought a copy of that book at a convention years ago, and I had you sign it, and while you were signing it, your wife said that while you were writing that story that she could hear you in your room laughing out loud the whole time that you were writing it.

I don’t often write deliberately funny books, but that one was. I had a riot with it. I was the perfect audience for it, of course, being a writer who writes about Hemingway.

The premise of the story, we should say, is it’s about a Hemingway scholar who tries to produce a fake version of the manuscripts that Hemingway lost early in his career that his wife left on the train.

Yeah, so that was pretty fun. I came up with the whole idea for it in about ten seconds. A friend was putting me on an airplane to Australia or New Zealand, and we had some time to kill in the airport; basically, on the way back from the men’s room, I had this whole idea about the story, and I wrote it down as soon as we stopped—which was in the Galapagos—and that was fun to write. I loved writing that book. It was like not working at all. I’d just type it up, and as my wife said, I was laughing all the way through it.

You’re something of an amateur Hemingway scholar yourself, right? You attend the Hemingway conference every year.

That’s true.

What’s hot in Hemingway studies these days that people would talk about at a conference like that?

There’s a kind of a backlash from the usual cliché of Hemingway being anti-women and anti-feminist and so forth. Hemingway studies cover an awful lot of stuff, and in fact, part of it is because his life is so tremendously well documented. He wrote thousands of letters, and they were all kept, and because he was famous, every little thing that he did was written down, and so he must be the most public American writer right now.

On your blog, you quoted from The New York Times Book Review, and you quote this article that says, “by the mid-80’s, the brawling, womanizing train wreck that had characterized so many of the Lost Generation and post-war writers had gone out of style, replaced by weedy, thin-haired minimalists who had learned their craft at writers’ colonies and lived in college towns teaching in master’s programs.” What was it about that line that struck you?

I just think it’s so true because I’ve known writers . . . The guys who were like twenty years older than me whom I hung around with in the ’60s and ’70s when I was still a young writer—they were very much influenced by this kind of hairy-chested Hemingway myth. You say it changed over the next twenty or thirty years to a kind of obvious rejection of masculinist ideals, and I guess Ray Carver is the obvious avatar of that. I may have mentioned him in that article. But you don’t want to be a hairy-chested, overly male writer because it’s way out of fashion.

Do you think that that represents a cultural maturity, to move past the macho writer, or do you think something has been lost to people who went out and experienced life and got in bar fights and stuff like that?

I think that particular kind of experience would not help anybody’s reputation, but they still do go out and do things, and the idea of a writer as an activist is still strong. But no, I think you get more points for being politically concerned, if not correct, and not being such a selfish . . . I’m trying to use some sort of polite language here, but you don’t want to be a jerk. Hemingway was a jerk. I mean, he was really a great jerk. He was a good writer, and he did all sorts of things that I would never have the courage to do, but I don’t think I’d enjoy being in the same room with him. He’s not my kind of person.

In “The Hemingway Hoax,” it’s actually suggested that the sort of macho effect that Hemingway had on the culture might lead to World War III.

I had fun with that one. You get two leaders, one in the United States and one in the Soviet Union, who both were totally influenced by Hemingway, and a man doesn’t back down, right? A man fights his fights. And if they both have nuclear weapons at their disposal, that’s really a bad attitude for them to have.

Was that just sort of a fun idea, or do you think that fiction actually has that sort of impact on the world? Do you ever write a story and worry that you might start World War III if you write the wrong thing?

I don’t think so. It’s a foolish and funny idea. I had to carry it out to its end. I suppose in some world, men of action would be so much influenced by literature that they would go off the deep end because they read a book that would reward them for it. I don’t see it happening in our society. In a simpler world, the world that we all came from, yes, one piece of writing could profoundly change the course of human events. The Gospel of Matthew, for instance, could change a lot. I don’t know. Uncle Tom’s Cabin definitely did. But you don’t hear about books that were pivotal that way anymore. I’m trying to think of any one in our culture.

Of course, in other cultures where the distribution of literature is more strongly controlled, you can get political things succeeding, because they’re not in an open market of ideas. If everybody is reading and agreeing with the same book, you have a different kind of a situation.

I’ve heard anecdotally that totalitarian regimes are famously hostile to science fiction because they don’t want people thinking about possibilities.

Well, that’s true, or it seems to be true. When I was in the Soviet Union, science fiction was considered a part of children’s literature, and paradoxically that gave them a certain freedom, if only because the critics who read science fiction were the critics of children’s literature, and they didn’t go into politics deeply. They were more about entertainment and amusing ideas and this and that. So the science fiction writers, they could say some amazing things. They could criticize the regime with broad, humorous strokes, and the readers saw the game that was going on, but the critics just brushed it off because they had more important things to do. It was a very interesting time to be a science fiction writer, the ’70s and ’80s.

We’re sort of short on time here, so we should start wrapping this up. Recently you announced that you’re stepping down from your teaching position at MIT. Could you talk about that?

I turned seventy, and that’s old enough. I’d taught for thirty years, and that’s long enough. So, basically, I want to try living a simpler life and just writing. What I’d done for the past thirty years was go up to Cambridge every September, and then come back to Florida every December, and it’s just an awful lot of packing and unpacking and traveling, and just a more complicated life than I want to live, basically. I enjoy teaching, and I think I’m okay at it, but I’ve always been mainly a writer who just taught as a hobby. I don’t need hobbies so much as time right now.

We’ve had Junot Diaz on the show twice, and he also teaches at MIT. Have your paths crossed there?

Oh yeah, we had dinner together every now and then, and go to movies. Junot loves movies, and so do I. When we can, we hang out, and he’s a lot of fun to play with. He lives both in New York and Cambridge, so I never know when I can get him.

Now that you’re going to be writing full-time, do you have projects you have in mind, or do you have anything in the works?

I’m working on a complex science fiction novel now, which is taking all of my time and effort. I haven’t even sent in a proposal for my next novel yet, but I’ve never had any trouble coming up with ideas, and for many, many years I haven’t had trouble getting contracts for the books that I want to write, so basically I’ll just work on this one for another six months or so, and then I’ll work up a proposal for the next one, and they overlap, so I’ll turn in a manuscript and basically rest for a week or two, and then can start writing the next one. That’s been my pattern since the ’70s.

We’re definitely looking forward to seeing whatever you come up with. I’d really like to thank you for being on the show today.

I’m glad to do it. Thank you for thinking of me.

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The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy

The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction/fantasy talk show podcast. It is produced by John Joseph Adams and hosted by: David Barr Kirtley, who is the author of thirty short stories, which have appeared in magazines such as Realms of Fantasy, Weird Tales, and Lightspeed, in books such as Armored, The Living Dead, Other Worlds Than These, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year, and on podcasts such as Escape Pod and Pseudopod. He lives in New York.