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GW Talks to Susan Shwartz

And now for something completely different. Sci-fi/Fantasy author Susan Shwartz contacted me regarding GW and said she'd love to be interviewed. Less than twenty-four hours later, the interview is complete and online for your reading pleasure!


1. How do you come up with the ideas for your stories? In other words, how do the muses work for you?

For me, it's synergy. I see something and things start coming together around it. And then there's the "Aqaba" method, after that scene in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, where he walks in the desert all night with the Onde Martinote and the rest of the symphony making whooshing noises, and at dawn, has his inspiration: attacking Aqaba by land.

2. Do you have a special routine when you're writing, or can you just sit down at a computer and start typing?

I have to lead into it. I'm the sort of writer who writes fiction in bursts and starts, as opposed to nonfiction during the day, where I have got to be able to sit down and just do it. Fiction? First, I have to get up a head of steam that can sometimes make me run to my computer. Then, I have to check e-mail. It helps, sometimes, if I have the music I want to listen to. And then I write, cycling back and forth from e-mail to my files, to talking a walk. Over and over. For hours at a time.

3. Who are your literary influences?

Shakespeare. Verdi. Andre Norton.


4. Generally how long does it take you to write an average novel? How many different revisions do you usually go through?

It depends. I did HERITAGE OF FLIGHT in three months. Other novels, like GRAIL OF HEARTS, took over a year. Rewrites? I don't know: I revise as I go along, and then again at the end, before I send it in.

5. How do you deal with writers-block?

I figure it's a sign I need to get more sleep, or put more thoughts and images in my head than I've been taking out of it, and I let myself rest.

6. Out of everything you've written, which would you say is your favorite; which gives you the most satisfaction of a job-well-done?

The book I have just finished at any given time.

7. Do you have a favorite character that you've created?

Several. I love Leo Ducas in SHARDS OF EMPIRE and CROSS AND CRESCENT. He is, without a doubt, the kindest and best person I ever created. I have a tremendous respect for Cam Marlowe in SECOND CHANCES because she's funny, an adult, and a survivor. And I truly do care a whole lot about Ruanek, the Romulan "spear carrier" who took on independent life in the STAR TREK novels I've done with Josepha Sherman. He's showing up again in a short story and in VULCAN'S SOUL.


8. What do you think makes a good fantasy author?

Practice, man, practice. Loving what you write and being willing to put in the time. Not taking short cuts. Allowing oneself to be passionate and insane.

9. Can you tell us what you're currently working on and when you expect it will be available in bookstores?

VULCAN'S SOUL: INFERNO, a STAR TREK novel, will be out next year. And HOSTILE TAKEOVERS, a hard SF novel about investment, First Contact, and the asteroid belt, should be out in October 2004. I'm crazy about that one: I've worked on Wall Street for the past 20 years.

10. Random quote or piece of advice you'd like to share to end this with?

What are you reading this for? Log off and start WRITING!

Editor's Note: I would just like to point out that I agree entirely with Ms Shwartz' answer for number eight. Especially the last sentence. *grin*


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