GW Talks to Alan Dean Foster

Recently, Alan Dean Foster, author of (among many others) Kingdom of Light which is a novel your Fantasy Editor actually owns (and will eventually review) took the time to answer our questions!

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

Everything I see, everyone I meet, every bit of knowledge I encounter, is grist for the mill. A good writer should be able to make a story out of anything. It's a matter of application more than inspiration.

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

I like to read the world news off the web before I start writing. It settles my mind and gets the neurons fired up. I can just start typing, but the other method is more relaxing...and more enjoyable. The trick is to imagine the other place...the place you're writing about...and just go there.

3. Who are your literary influences?

In SF, they would be Eric Frank Russell, Murray Leinster, and Robert Sheckley. Outside the genre, Herman Melville and Carl Barks.

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

On average, I do a novel every four months. I have taken as long as six (MAORI, which required a great deal of research) and as short as three weeks (THE APPROACHING STORM, ALIEN). The rough draft is usually 85% of the finished work. I do one polish/revision, and some clean-up work in the first set of galleys.

5. How do you deal with writers-block?

I have never had writer's block.

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?

Impossible to say. I like different works for different reasons. MIDWORLD is certainly an early favorite. I'm very proud of CYBER WAY, and the Montezuma Strip stories, as well as my short fiction, which I believe shows different aspects of my interests and my self.

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

Again, it's difficult to chose. I identify most closely with Truzenzuzex. I have admiration but mixed feelings about Kees vaan Loo-Macklin, from THE MAN WHO USED THE UNIVERSE. And I suspect everybody, secretly, would like to be Mudge (from the SPELLSINGER books).

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

Other than the obvious, like imagination and the ability to properly employ language, I think you have to have the ability to detach yourself from reality. You really need to insert yourself, as an observer, into your stories. Good ideas are not nearly enough. The reader needs to believe in the functionality of the world you create, whether it's the Earth of the future, an alien world, or Sinbad's ship.

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

Updates are always available on my website ( Currently, I am doing the book version of the forthcoming Universal film RIDDICK, which is a sequel of sorts to PITCH BLACK. My first film novelization in ten years. After that, I will be completing THE TAKEN trilogy. The first book in that series, HOME IS WHERE, should be out from Del Rey next year. There are some film projects I can't talk about right now. And always a short story or two.

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

Education is the key to the salvation of humankind. Eat some chocolate.

(Editor's Note: Okay, Alan, I think I will...*gets cake from the kitchen*)

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