Interview with author A. C. Crispin

MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: Today I’m pleased to be interviewing A.C. Crispin, whose new novel is PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE PRICE OF FREEDOM. She’s best known for the novelization of the 1984 V TV series, but also for her bestselling Star Wars novels THE PARADISE SNARE, THE HUTT GAMBIT, and REBEL DAWN — although I first discovered her through her Star Trek novels: YESTERDAY’S SON, TIME FOR YESTERDAY, THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDERS, and SAREK.

Ann, You’ve been able to write novels in some of fandom’s favorite stories. How did you manage that?

A.C. CRISPIN: After I wrote YESTERDAY’S SON and V, publishers with franchises approached my agent when they had projects they thought would be a good match for my skills.

If your readers want to read about how to get an agent, soup to nuts, they should read “Notes on Finding a (Real) Literary Agent” on my website.

VENTRELLA: Do you make proposals or do the studios come to you directly now?

CRISPIN: For original novels I write book proposals. For tie-in work, they pretty much come to me.

VENTRELLA: Let’s discuss THE PRICE OF FREEDOM. How much freedom were you given to develop Jack Sparrow’s background?

CRISPIN: After a considerable amount of back and forth on the part of the Disney studio liaison, during which several detailed outlines were not approved, the studio liaison decided that instead of writing the project I had been originally hired to write (the story of the Isla de Muerta mutiny re: the Aztec gold) I should instead write the story of how Jack Sparrow worked for the EITC and wound up making that bargain with Davy Jones. So I knew where the story had to end up. How I got there was left pretty much up to me.

I did consult with both my editors on the book, the acquiring editor and the editor who completed the project. For example, they both agreed that there should be a “Lady Pirate” as a character, so that’s how Doña Pirata was born. The Legend of Zerzura plotline was my creation, but my editors suggested having talismans as a way to get into the Sacred Labyrinth and reach the treasure. So I then came up with the bracelets.

By the time I finished with my outline, it was over 70 single spaced pages long. Of course, THE PRICE OF FREEDOM is a long novel, some 235,000 words.

VENTRELLA: Did Disney censor any of your ideas or tell you to make major changes?

CRISPIN: My Disney editor (somewhat regretfully, because she really liked them) bowdlerized my hottest sex scene. I’m not sure you’d call that a major change. After all, we are talking Disney, here. (The scene was hot, but not graphic — she felt that it was a bit too hot.)

VENTRELLA: What were your main goals in trying to develop his character?

CRISPIN: To create the character of “Jack becoming” so that people would recognize Jack Sparrow, but also know this wasn’t quite the Jack they see in the films … this was a younger, more vulnerable, more trusting and less cynical Jack. He gets more cynical and “savvy” during the course of the book. He’s not the same Jack at the end as he was at the beginning. Of course that’s the goal of good fiction, right?

VENTRELLA: What adventures in your novel help shape Jack into the character we all know?

CRISPIN: Oh, Jack experiences betrayal, disappointment, fear of imminent death, hatred, and as a result learns to be much more wary and cunning, and to trust almost no one. Readers who want teasers can read the excerpts on my website. There are six there.

VENTRELLA: Do any other characters from the film appear in the novel?

CRISPIN: Edward Teague, Cutler Beckett, Hector Barbossa, Pintel and Ragetti, and a certain squid-faced Captain.

VENTRELLA: Were you given a peek at the script for the most recent film in order to work in some foreshadowing?

CRISPIN: No. I was given the script for “At World’s End” before the film released, but my book was finished before the script for “On Stranger Tides” was written.

VENTRELLA: The most recent movie is loosely based on Tim Powers’ novel ON STRANGER TIDES. Did you use that novel at all for reference?

CRISPIN: I’ve read ON STRANGER TIDES a couple of times, but aside from the fact that it’s an excellent pirate yarn, no.

VENTRELLA: Will there be more books in the series?

CRISPIN: That will be Disney’s call. I imagine they’ll base that decision on how well THE PRICE OF FREEDOM sells.

VENTRELLA: What’s your favorite of the Pirates movies?

CRISPIN: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

VENTRELLA: Do you find using established characters in your media novels to be a limitation?

CRISPIN: Nope. I find it a challenge to have them grow and change in ways so subtle that the studio doesn’t realize I’ve done it.

VENTRELLA: You’ve also written your own series: Starbridge. Tell us about this!

CRISPIN: Funny you should ask about that. There’s a good chance that the seven StarBridge novels will soon be re-released as e-books. There have been quite a few requests for them from readers, over the years. The series is about a school for young people from the Fifteen Known Worlds who come to an asteroid in deep space to learn to be diplomats, planetary advocates (known as “interrelators”) and explorers. The books focus on First Contact, and explore what it would be like in a galactic society.

VENTRELLA: Do you find writing books based on your own work easier?

CRISPIN: Not really. I put my full efforts into both my media tie-ins and my original novels. With the original novels, it’s generally a bit more work, because I have to create the world, the technology, the history, the geography, the society, etc. World-building and universe-building have to be done well if you want to create the illusion of reality –- something that’s essential to writing s.f. and fantasy.

VENTRELLA: We met at Balticon this year. Do you enjoy conventions and do you advise authors to attend them?

CRISPIN: You can learn a lot at conventions, and once you’ve gone pro, you can do a fair amount of networking and business at gatherings such as the Nebulas, Worldcon, etc. I enjoy conventions, still, even after all these years.

VENTRELLA: Let’s talk about Writer Beware. How did the idea for this come about?

CRISPIN: Back in 1998, Victoria Strauss and I both realized, independently of each other, that writing scams were proliferating on the internet. At some point our investigations brought us into contact with each other, and we decided to do something about it. SFWA gave us its blessing and sponsorship, and that’s how Writer Beware was born.

VENTRELLA: I meet many authors who have gone the vanity press or self publishing route and then wonder why no one takes them seriously. Other than “don’t do that” do you have any specific pieces of advice for these authors?

CRISPIN: I advise them to go to Writer Beware and read our articles about POD, vanity publishing, etc., so they’ll go into self publishing with a clear vision of what it can and can’t do for an author. E-publishing has taken off in the past six months, and it can now be a realistic way (provided the author has the sales numbers) to break into commercial publishing (advance and royalty paying publishing with a major press, that is). This is generally not true for POD and hardcopy “self publishing.” But there are exceptions.

The main problem with “self-publishing” is when authors confuse it with commercial publishing and expect their books to be on the shelves in bookstores nationwide, plus have other unrealistic expectations. It is really not a shortcut into a successful writing career for the vast majority of those who do it. I believe it’s still true that most POD and self published novels still sell fewer than 100 copies.

VENTRELLA: What bugs you most about the publishing industry and what would you change about it if you could?

CRISPIN: Here are my top two picks for that:

(1) I’d go back in time and eliminate the Thor Power Tools Supreme Court ruling. That had a terrible effect on a publisher’s ability to keep books in stock. Look it up.

(2) I’d get rid of the Internet for two reasons (A) the internet has given aspiring writers the idea that they’re entitled to be published, no matter how well or poorly they write, and (B) because of the internet, writers are getting scammed at an appalling rate.

VENTRELLA: Who do you like to read for pleasure?

CRISPIN: Terry Pratchett, Elizabeth Peters, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Margaret Mahy, Ursula K. LeGuin, George R.R. Martin, Lois McMaster Bujold, Charlotte Bronte, and too many others to name.

VENTRELLA: Of what work are you most proud?

CRISPIN: I do my level best on all my books. I’m pretty proud of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE PRICE OF FREEDOM, because I had to do so much research. It took me three years to write, and the whole time I was writing it, I was doing research on the historical period and the nautical stuff.

VENTRELLA: What is your writing process? Do you outline heavily, for instance?

CRISPIN: For tie-in work I HAVE to produce detailed outlines, so I’ve gotten used to working that way. I don’t like writing myself into corners, and a good outline usually prevents that.

VENTRELLA: Fantasy has grown tremendously in popularity over the past twenty or thirty years and now outsells science fiction. Why do you think this is? What is it about fantasy that appeals to readers that they can’t get from science fiction?

CRISPIN: I have no idea. Personally, I prefer science fiction, though I read both.

VENTRELLA: What advice would you give to a starting author that you wish someone had given you?

CRISPIN: Learn to read and analyze publishing contracts. Agents aren’t perfect, and you really need to be able to read a proposed contract and spot pitfalls.

VENTRELLA: What is the biggest mistake you see aspiring authors make?

CRISPIN: Here’s my top five list:

1. They spend years writing a Star Wars or other tie-in novel without ever researching whether they can actually submit the thing and have a chance of having it published. (With Star Wars, for example, they won’t even read the book; all Star Wars novels are contracted for in advance.)

2. They look for shortcuts, such as “self publishing” or POD publishing, often with a scammy publisher like PublishAmerica or Strategic, because it’s the easy thing to do.

3. They develop “golden words syndrome” and can’t see any flaws in their writing, and if someone points them out, they get mad. This is death to any aspiration to ever be a pro.

4. They submit first drafts.

5. They want to write fiction, but they don’t read it. I’ve never yet encountered a single writer, in the dozens, maybe hundreds of workshops I’ve taught, who wrote fiction well but wasn’t a reader. In order to write well, especially fiction, you must be an inveterate reader. No exceptions.

VENTRELLA: What question do you wish interviewers would ask you that they never do?

CRISPIN: Where readers can buy my books. There are links to purchase all my books on my website.

Cutlass and Musket!

Avast! There be a new pirate story from that scalawag Michael A. Ventrella! This one tells of another adventure of Captain Irad and Greenie, and it be called “Get Kraken!” It be the lead story in a new collection called CUTLASS AND MUSKET: TALES OF PIRATICAL SKULLDUGGERY available now from Wicked East Press. Ye can order a copy here.

Here be the opening of the story…

Bart swallowed deeply as his hand subconsciously rose to his neck.

Through the cage bars, he watched mournfully while the hangman placed the noose around the neck of Captain Irad of The Prickly Rose. Once the hangman finished off Irad, Bart and the rest of the crew would be marched up the gallows, one by one, to meet a similar fate. The crowd stirred impatiently, anxious to see the famed pirate meet his maker.

“It not be fair,” Bart grumbled. “I been with the Cap’n only a few weeks, and never did no raids on the English.”

“Quit your complainin’, Greenie,” Sonia Laveau said in her heavy Creole accent. “Just ‘cause I’s hitchin’ a ride I be captured, too.”

Dogbone snorted. “I always said women be bad luck.”

Sonia raised an eyebrow. “You want to see what bad luck is, boy?” She pointed a finger at the crewman.

Dogbone’s eyes widened and he sat forcefully down in the small space available. “No, ma’am. I be quiet.” His head shrunk into his shoulders and he looked away through the bars, avoiding eye contact with the famed voodoo queen.

The other crewman had long since given up hope. They crowded together, staring out to sea, resigned to their fate.

Irad suddenly looked up. His mane of reddish blonde hair whirled around him like a fire as he tossed back his head and laughed.

“Lieutenant Higgins!” he said. “’Tis a pleasure to see ye! And here I be worried ye’d miss all the fun.”

Higgins crossed his arms and smiled broadly. The bright Caribbean sun gleamed off his shaved head, making it difficult for direct eye contact with the man. His red coat was neatly pressed, buttons polished, and his regulation sword hung by his side like a trophy.

“Ah, Irad. It’s such a pity that our friendship must end in this way.”

Irad grinned. “Ah, ‘tis indeed sad. We’ve had such great adventures together, like that time in Bermuda…”

Higgins’ smile disappeared. “Yes. Well. Goodbye.” He walked away, signaling to the hangman to do his job.

“Good luck gettin’ off this island and back to Bermuda with the kraken on the rampage,” Irad said over the noise of the cheering crowd. “The man who defeats the kraken will surely be promoted and rewarded beyond his wildest dreams. Too bad ye be killin’ the only man who knows how to do it.”

Higgings turned and held his hand up. The hangman paused.

“What is this trick, Irad? What’s your scheme?”

“Arrr, ye cut me to the quick, ye do.” Irad shrugged the best he could with his hands tied behind him. “’Tis just a shame, that’s all. The kraken’s been attackin’ ships in this area forever, and just when I discover how to defeat the beast, I get hanged, taking the secret with me. Ah well, that be life. Or death.” He laughed at his own meager joke.

Higgins shook his head and smiled. “Very well, I’ll bite. What’s this secret?”

“Come now, Lieutenant. I not be that stupid.” Irad gave a reproaching look. “I not be telling ye this for nothin’.”

“Bargaining for your life, are you?”

“Of course! You think me daft? Let me and me crew loose and I promise the kraken will not be a problem no more.”

Higgins climbed the steps to the gallows and the hangman backed away to give him room. Planting his feet forcefully in front of Irad, Higgins once more crossed his arms.

The crowd grew silent. Bart pushed his way past his fellow prisoners to get a better view.

“You must think me a fool,” Higgins finally said. “How can I possibly believe you? The minute I set you free, you’ll disappear and never face the justice you deserve.”

“I give you me word as Cap’n. I promise that me crew has a foolproof plan to defeat the kraken, which cares not what flag a ship be flying. If we fail, then we be dead anyway. This I swear.”

Higgins stared into Irad’s eyes for long seconds. “Your promises are meaningless.” He walked away and motioned to the hangman, who came forward and grasped the handle that would send Irad through the trap door, ending his life.

Irad merely grinned. “I have given me word, and that is not enough for ye?”

“Three,” said Higgins.

“Ye can grab the reward. I promise.”


“I swears, I tell you. I swears I’ll do this!”

Higgins held up his hand and began to speak the final word. The crowd held its breath.

“The Pirate’s Code!” yelled Bart. “Swear on the Pirate’s Code!”

Higgins spun around to stare at the prisoners in the cell.

“Greenie, ye damned fool!” said Irad. “Be quiet!”

“Swear on it!” Bart yelled. “That way he’ll know ye can’t break it!”

“Greenie, I’m ordering ye! Shut yer bloody face, ye blasted blowfish!”

Higgins turned to Irad. “Pirate’s Code? What is this ‘Pirate’s Code’?”

Irad stared back defiantly. “No such thing. Ignore the lad; he be crazy from the heat.”

Turning his back on Irad, Higgins marched down the wooden stairs of the gallows. His steps boomed in the crowd’s silence.

The cage holding the crew of the The Prickly Rose stood about twenty feet from the platform. Armed redcoats surrounded it, and a prominent lock taunted the dirty and crowded inhabitants. Higgins stomped and stood before Bart.

“What is your name?” he asked in a deliberately quiet and calm voice.

“Bart, sir, but everyone calls me ‘Greenie.’”

“Well, Bart, you look a bit young to be traveling with this crowd of villains.”

Bart nodded. “Aye, sir. I only just joined them. I done nothing illegal at all. I just needed a job, sir.”

“Greenie, I order ye to shut the hell up!” yelled Irad.

Higgins pretended he didn’t hear him. “So tell me about this Pirate’s Code.”

Bart looked at his fellow prisoners, each of whom had murder in his eyes. He gulped. “It be a magical Code, sir. All pirates have to swear by it, in blood. It binds us so that if we makes a promise by the Code and don’t keep it, we gets gravely ill. Boils erupt on our faces, our limbs rot, and within a month, we be dead.”

“Is that so?” Higgins scratched at his nose. “How interesting. I wonder why I never heard of it before.”

“Because it be death to he that mentions it!” Irad yelled. “Greenie, yer a dead man!”

“Please, sir, make him swear on the Code and then set me free. There be no loyalty from me to him.”

Higgins marched back to Irad. Bart winced as the other pirates kicked him.

“Well, Captain Irad. Here, then, is my deal.” Higgins grinned. “I will release you and your crew and will provide you with a ship—no, not your ship, but a nice vessel that will serve your purpose. I will captain the ship to make sure you keep your promise.

“You will swear that you will obey my orders as Captain and that no harm will come to me. That includes locking me in the brig or otherwise restricting my movement in any way. A faster and more powerful English ship will follow at a safe distance. I will send them regular signals in a code you won’t know. You will use your secret to defeat the kraken. Once this is completed, I will return you to a port where you can go free.”

“And me ship?”

“I’m allowing you to live and you want your Pickled Rose back, too? I don’t think you realize that your negotiating power isn’t very strong right now.”

Irad growled and mumbled under his breath. “It be The Prickly Rose, ye scum-sucking—”

“You must swear all this on the Pirate’s Code.”

“Ye blasted sour-faced bugswallower! Ye don’t leave me no choice. Right, then.” He took a long breath. “I swear, on the Pirate’s Code, that I will obey ye as Cap’n, make sure no harm comes to ye, not lock ye in the brig, and will use all me powers to defeat the kraken in exchange for the freedom of me and me crew.”

Higgins grinned. “There now, that wasn’t so terrible, was it?” He turned to his soldiers. “Wheel the cage down to the docks and get the crew on board the Fitzgerald. Make sure none of them escape.”

“What about me, sir?” asked Bart.

Higgins shook his head. “You are too useful to me, boy. I need you with me.”

Bart wiped his forehead as Irad’s laugh echoed in his ears.

Rum and Runestones

Yarr, ye scurvy landlubbers! There be a new collection of short stories about pirates and magic! It be called “Rum and Runestones” and a picture of the tome appears before ye!

‘Tis edited by Valerie Griswold-Ford and contains short stories from many gifted writers, including Yours Truly, who apparently thinks today is “Talk Like a Pirate Day.”

My story be called “X Spots the Mark”. ‘Tis about Irad the Pirate Captain and a treasure map — but was he fooled into buying a fake one? With almost all of his crew gone, victims of deadly traps, will he complete his quest to obtain the booty of his hated enemy Rummy Jack? Well, since this be a Ventrella story, ye can be sure of some rough sailin’ ahead with many unexpected twists and turns!

Other contributors include:

Danielle Ackerly-McPhail

Danny Beauchamp

Danny Birt

M.J. Blehart

B.A. Collins

Tara Fullbright

Laurel Anne Hill

Stuart Jaffe

Gail Z. Martin

Misty Massey

James R. Stratton

Some of these scoundrels were seen at a convention in Virginia recently for a book release party, standing before a jolly roger and enjoying quite a lot of rum while tryin’ to scratch their autographs on the parchment! And thar be Ventrella himself in his pirate hat. Yarr!

The book can be purchased on Amazon now, so what are ye waitin’ for?

Interview with World Fantasy Award winning author Tim Powers

Tim Powers has won the World Fantasy Award twice now, for LAST CALL and DECLARE, the Philip K. Dick award twice for THE ANUBIS GATES and DINNER AT DEVIANT’S PALACE, and has multiple Nebula award nominations.tim-powers

Tim Powers has always been one of my favorite authors. I look forward to every new release and move it to the top of my “Must Read” pile. My wife likes his work too, and turned him into a piece of dryer lint art which Tim purchased and now has hanging on his wall. (No, I’m serious — check out my wife’s page at

I met Tim at a convention a while ago and now it gives me great pleasure to be interviewing him.

MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: Tim, one of my favorite books of yours is the pirate novel ON STRANGER TIDES. Let’s start with the big news then: How did this end up as the fourth Pirates of the Carribean film?

TIM POWERS: Disney optioned the book a couple of years ago for a projected fourth Pirates movie, and now it seems likely that the movie will happen! I imagine it’s the Fountain of Youth element in the book that they mainly want to use, but I haven’t talked to the script writers or anything, so I’m only guessing. In any case, I’m very pleased with this new attention being paid to a book I wrote 23 years ago!

VENTRELLA: Are you worried that the book may change too much upon being transferred into a film with already established characters? Do you have any say in this?

POWERS: No, I have no say in it, and that’s okay with me. I never feel that a movie must accurately reflect a book it’s based on — look at “Bladerunner”, or “To Have and Have Not”! Both were great books made into great movies, and the movies had very little to do with the original books. And obviously this movie can’t be based at all closely on the book, since the movie is using characters that are already separately established. I mainly want to be surprised when I see the movie!

VENTRELLA: Is it true that you get to have a cameo?TIDES

POWERS: No, that was an internet rumor. I’ve often said that if anybody were to make a movie of one of my books, I’d have three non-negotiable demands: (1.) That my wife and I get parts as extras in some crowd scene; (2.) That we get a free lunch from the catering truck; and (3.) that we get six of those cool jackets they make for the crew, with the movie logo on the back. This was, though, a joke!

VENTRELLA: Most of your novels follow a technique unusual for other writers, in that you take items from real history and find ways to make them interconnect in magical and fantastic ways that cause a reader to say “Aha! That makes perfect sense now!” when in fact it’s just make believe. How did this style come to being?

POWERS: Back in the mid-’70s, Roger Elwood proposed a series of books in which King Arthur was reincarnated at various points in history to save Western civilization. K. W. Jeter and Ray Nelson and I signed up to write these books, and I drew three places in history: 1529 (the Siege of Vienna), 1650 and 1810. Elwood’s project collapsed, which was just as well, but by then I had noticed the virtues of historical fiction! Such as — you get your exotic world ready-made, with its geography & maps, climate, government, currency, cuisine, mythology –! Even a lot of usable characters and events come with the package, all free. All you’ve got to do is look at the settings and the events and figure out a story that could be woven among them without knocking anything over. Find the inexplicable bits and connect the dots. It’s much easier than making up a consistent other-world, and I like to think it makes the supernatural developments more plausible, since they occur in places and among people that the reader has actually heard of.

VENTRELLA: Do you look for the connection first, or do you read a lot of history and biography and then see what jumps out at you?

POWERS: I approach it sort of like a paranoid detective. I read heaps of biographies and journals and whatnot, and my attention is polarized to look for things that don’t fit — which any biography has. And I ask myself, “Aha! What was really going on there?” And I make it a rule that nothing is a coincidence — if Keats did something on the same day that the King of Prussia did something, they’re secretly connected. And as I look for clues to the secret back-story, I eventually come up with one!

VENTRELLA: Has it ever not worked? Have you ever decided “You know, I’d love to do a book about X” and then after research, determined there wasn’t enough there?

POWERS: Not so far! I think anybody’s biography — Louisa May Alcott, Beatrix Potter — if it was thorough enough, could provide this sort of clues, this sort of evidence of a secret supernatural real story. Of course I’ve got to let the clues dictate it — it might turn out to involve vampires, or ghosts, or werewolves, or anything. If the research is going that way, I let my story go that way too.

VENTRELLA: What do you think of Dan Brown’s work? Do you think he is just copying your style, but not as well?

POWERS: Well I doubt that he’s copying me! That is, I doubt he’s read my books. But if I were ever (per impossibile) to collaborate with him, I’d tell him, “No, our made-up history has to be plausible enough to at least stand up to a quick search in the Encyclopedia Britannica!”

VENTRELLA: What gave you the idea for THREE DAYS TO NEVER? never

POWERS: It started with me noticing that, in all the photographs of Albert Einstein, his hair was white after 1928. So I wondered what had happened to him in that year — the biographies said he had some sort of stroke, or heart attack, or seizure, but I thought, “I wonder what really happened?’ So I started reading all the biographies of him, which led me to histories of Israel, and Charlie Chaplin, and Kaballah, and God knows what-all else. And of course at every turn I found odd details that couldn’t entirely be explained. One significant thing was this “maschinchen” or “little machine” that Einstein was working on for years; I eventually concluded that it must have been a time machine.

VENTRELLA: Were you a Chaplin fan before that? Or was it just research that led you to including him in?

POWERS: I wasn’t really a Chaplin fan, before I had to research him! Now I love his movies, especially “City Lights” and “Modern Times” and “The Kid.” Eventually I realized that the reason I had thought I didn’t like Chaplin was because I connected him with people like Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett doing imitations of him. Hardly fair.

VENTRELLA: You’ve commented before that you dislike it when authors try too hard to give messages or when readers try to read too much into the work. Have you been the victim of this, and how do you counter it?

POWERS: If people claim to find themes or messages in my books, that’s okay with me, as long as it’s nothing nasty. There may, for all I know, be themes and messages in them! But certainly I don’t have “things to say” in my stories — any themes that may show up are from my subconscious, not from any deliberate intention of my own.

VENTRELLA: What do you know now about the publishing industry that you wish you had known when you first started out?

POWERS: Oh — hard to say. My first publisher, Laser Books, surprised me by re-writing bits in my books, but nobody’s done that since. Really I haven’t learned anything that would have made me behave differently if I’d known it from the start! I guess I have no real complaints!DECLARE

VENTRELLA: What sort of advice would you give an aspiring writer that you wish someone had given you?

POWERS: Finish what you start, don’t do dozens of unconnected “Chapter Ones” that extend for only a couple of pages each. That’s kind of obvious, I know, but you specified what I could have benefited from hearing. To aspiring writres in general, I guess I’d say — read a whole lot, and not just in the field you want to write in and not just in the century or centuries you’ve lived in; and try to ditch your reflexive 2009 mind-set when you’re reading the old stuff. Don’t be cynical or ironic or tongue-in-cheek or Post Modern — that is, take your characters and their concerns at least as seriously as you take the elements in your own life. Don’t fret about the fact that your first drafts are dumb; they’re supposed to be. Print your stories out in the correct format and send them to editors — and start with the best publishers and magazines, don’t anticipate disappointment by starting with the lower ranks. Don’t self-publish.

VENTRELLA: And finally, what work would you like most to outlast you? What do you want to be remembered by?

POWERS: Oh gee — I suppose ANUBIS GATES or LAST CALL or DECLARE! I think those are my best. After I’m dead I won’t care, of course, but there’s something charming about the idea of somebody a hundred years from now finding a book of mine in a junk store and enjoying it, and trying to find more!

%d bloggers like this: