10 Questions With Piers Anthony

July 26, 2003: In our very first Fantasy Interview, the creator of the Xanth fantasy series (as well as many other novels and series!) answers ten questions about his work and writing in general!

1. How did you first come up with the idea for the Xanth fantasy series?

I wanted to work with editor Lester del Rey, and he handled fantasy, so I wrote a fantasy novel. I worked out a story, and the background filled itself in. I realized later that it was Florida with magic added. It wasn't even a series; I though it would be a singleton novel. But Xanth would not be denied; it expanded into a trilogy, then a trilogy squared, then a trilogy cubed.

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

When I'm in a novel, I start my day with personal thoughts in my private journal, then make notes on where I am in the novel, organizing for it, and then I start writing. I normally do about 3,000 words of text a day, and maybe 500 words notes, and maybe 1,000 on my journal. But interruptions buzz in like flies, so the routine can't be absolute.

3. Who are your literary influences?

I've never been able to trace my literary influences. I do my own thing.

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

Depends on the novel. Xanth is familiar and easy, so I normally write a novel within three months. Other novels are more challenging, and can take up to six months. I'm a fast writer, because I'm steady. 3,000 words a day five days a week (the other two are taken by mail) comes to 60,000 words a month.

5. How do you deal with writers-block?

I don't get blocked. When the text hangs up, I go to my notes and figure it out. Other writers curse me for this, but I regard Writer's Block as mainly an excuse to avoid writing. I love to write, so have no problem.

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?

Tatham Mound and my GEODYSSEY series. But my favorite to be in is ChroMagic, just now getting published. That's mature, sexy fantasy that doesn't cater much to Puritan hangups.

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

The Demoness Metria in Xanth. She's just so full of sexy mischief she enlivens scenes that might otherwise be dull.

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

Bleep if I know. Some can do it, some can't.

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

Right now I'm writing a kind of novel-length boigraphy of my late father, as seen by the four major women in his life, the most difficult of which was my mother. I don't regard this as a commercial effort, so I doubt it will be in the bookstore.

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

Sure, from Xanth: "Never let a man get the upper hand; there's no telling where he might put it." Oh - you mean about writing? If you have a dream, follow it - but don't depend on it for your living. If you want to write, make it part time, or have a working spouse. I did.

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