An Update AND Free Books!

In case you missed it, my interview with STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS author ALAN DEAN FOSTER went live yesterday. Catch it HERE.

I have a number of free titles available this weekend. Have a browse through my catalog and see if any of them take your fancy. Find them at my Author Page.

Some of you are asking about Black Nova, still. It is coming. So is the sequel to Operation Chimera. So is the sequel to The Bloody North. So is the . . . you get my point. I am one man. I’m fast, but I ain’t THAT fast! Hahaha.

However, I’m doing my best. My latest novel, IN HER SKIN, is being read. I’m really pleased with it. No idea yet on what I’m doing with that one, so stay tuned.

Next up I am writing the first 6 parts of a new series, something a little different to Far From Home. It’s called COLONIAL WARS. I will have those 6 written by the end of August, and they will be out every couple of weeks over the summer. Here’s the cover to the first one:

Colonial Wars 1

To repeat, it is not connected to Far From Home in any way. Why am I writing these and not Black Nova? Because the story came alive for me, and I’ve learned that when that happens you have to go with the flow. I promise my readers will enjoy it. It’s a fresh spin on something I’ve been doing a little while. I wanted to tell the story of a war that was humanity v humanity, instead humans v aliens. I also wanted to follow several different characters, and have different plots intersecting with one another. That’s been really fun, and liberating. I do believe that the maximum I feel comfortable with (as a reader) is 3, so that’s what I’ve stuck with.

All 6 of these will be available on the Kindle for 99c, and will be FREE to Kindle to Amazon Prime users. At the end of the summer I will bring them all out in one package, so you have the choice of reading it as it develops, or waiting for the whole shebang.

I have projects tumbling from my ears right now, but I do intend on tackling my half of Operation Chimera 2 (that’s a working title, btw), and then writing the other 4 parts of Black Nova. As always, take care. I hope to do another update at the end of July, so you know where I am with Colonial Wars.

Trust me, you’re gonna like it.

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Tony Healey’s Author Page

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My interview with STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS author ALAN DEAN FOSTER

This is not the first time that I’ve interviewed Mr. Foster. Click HERE to read one, and HERE to read the other. In those older interviews, Alan touches on not only his work in the Star Wars universe, but Star Trek too. We also discuss his experiences with the legendary Harlan Ellison.

Please be sure to Pre-Order your Kindle copy of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS by clicking HERE.

Well Alan, it’s been awhile since we last spoke. I understand you have a new Flinx & Pip novel called BY THE THROAT which will be released the year after next. How did that come about? Were there always plans to revisit such great characters?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: I wasn’t sure if I was going to let Flinx (and Pip) retire or not.  One problem was: what do you have your characters do after they’ve saved the galaxy?  Fans kept asking for more, and I didn’t quite know what to give them.  Then something occurred to me in re Flinx’s particular, peculiar abilities, and that combined with a method of communication that I love, and together they became the impetus for the new book.

 

For readers who maybe haven’t had a chance to read the Flinx & Pip books, what’s your suggested reading order?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: There is a chronology of the P&F books on my website http://www.alandeanfoster.com The same chronology is also viewable within a chronology of all the Commonwealth books, so readers can see where the F&P books fit, time-wise, in relation to all the other Commonwealth novels and short stories.

 

I saw on your site they are all due to be released in ebook editions. Looking on Amazon, I noticed that some are available as ebooks and some aren’t. I assume this big re-release will finally see the entire series readily available as ebooks in its entirety?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: Yes.  That’s a major reason for the delay in publishing.  The intent is to release all the F&P books as ebooks over the course of one year, probably with several titles packaged together in a very affordable, uniform price, and to conclude the re-releasing with the new book.

 

I make sure to check your site the first of every month and have done for about twelve/thirteen years now. One of the things that always amazes me is how much you get about. You wrote an account of some of your travels, PREDATORS I HAVE KNOWN. Where have you got to recently?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: Due to progressive health issues, my wife can get out of the house only rarely.  I am her caregiver, so I haven’t been anywhere in a couple of years.  The last trip was to Dubai and Oman in 2013.

 

If you had access to unlimited funds, the means to go anywhere in the world, is there anywhere you’d like to visit that you might never get a chance to? I’m thinking locations that fall within the “I wish I could . . .” category.

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: Not anymore.  If you have the time, funds, and inclination, you can get anywhere on the surface of the planet, or under its waters.  Time and good health are more important than the funds.  If you’re not physically fit, spending a couple of weeks in a tent in the Amazon, for example, probably would not be a viable travel option.

 

Will you ever write another account of your travels? I’m sure your readers would love to learn more about your experiences across the globe. I would, at least. I’m sure you’ve found yourself in one or two amusing/alarming situations over the years . . .

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: A fan who read PREDATORS I HAVE KNOWN said, “Now you need to do the bunny edition”.  Meaning encounters with non-predators.  Or just a general travel book.  But there are so many of the latter, it’s hard to get inspired to do still another one.  On the other hand, there are tales of such things as eating barbecued cui in Peru, searching for birds-of-paradise in Papua New Guinea, getting ants out of a five-star hotel in Borneo, doing 140mph on the autobahn in a Ford station wagon, discussing Stalinist architecture in Russia…I suppose there is enough material.  It’s all a matter of organizing what are basically anecdotes into a book, and finding a publisher.

 

Do you manage to write much when you travel? Or do you treat it as much deserved downtime?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: A lot of it is being a sponge.  Soaking up material for future projects.  This includes everything from observing people to just noting your surroundings.  For example, I once wrote an entire travel article on the wrought iron work visible in St. Petersburg (Russia).  Not in any guidebooks.

 

There are several of your projects I’ve been following with great interest. One of those is MADRENGA. Will that be coming out in the near future?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: MADRENGA is still in search of a publisher.  But there are five other novels coming out.

 

I know you self-published your novella, BOX OF OXEN. Would you consider self-pubbing again?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER:  Sure.  It’s a great way to get out material (like BOX OF OXEN) that you as an author feel very strongly about, but that doesn’t fit comfortably into publishers’ niches.  Especially for material of an awkward length, like a short novella.

 

I’m excited to see another foray into original scifi with RELIQUARY, due in 2018. Can you tell us much about the novel, and what readers can expect?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER:  It’s about the (presumably) last human being in the galaxy, who has been raised by aliens.  More than that I’d rather not give away.

 

Open Road are publishing THE DEAVYS later this year – is it a departure from your other work, writing for a YA audience? Was that a conscious decision on your part, or did it just develop as YA fiction?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: It wasn’t a conscious decision.  The main characters just happened to be teens (and a cat).  Not like Flinx, who was always conceived as a teen.

 

The other project I am extremely pleased is going to make an appearance is OSHENERTH. Am I correct in saying it is a trilogy, with one of the volumes called Blue Magic? Or has that changed in the interim following your initial announcement?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: In the interim between writing and finding a publisher, another book with the title Blue Magic has appeared.  So that’s out as a title, even though I could use it.  At the moment, it’s just OSHENERTH.  It’s written as a stand-alone.  Right now, possible sequels/trilogy are only a glimmer on the water’s surface.

 

I know from reading your site that you have a busy life. Do you find much time for reading?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: For the past thirty years or so, my eyes have grown very bad for reading.  From a foot out, they’re fine, but close-in….  It’s very ironic, when you think of it.  Even reading with enlarged fonts and the correct prescription lenses gives me a headache after twenty minutes or so.  But I’ll rest, and then go back to the material I’m perusing.  I don’t have the time, either.  But I still delve into history and biography and science whenever I can manage it.

 

I remember some years ago you shared some shots of your writing space. How important is it that you have a stable environment in which to write? I know several writers who do the majority of their work in coffee shops. I could never do that. I’d be wondering if anyone was looking over my shoulder. Do you view writing as a solitary act?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: I’m always put in mind of the film THE FRONT PAGE, set in the world of ‘30’s newspaper work.  People writing amid the most incredible cacophony.  I could never do that.  I need quiet.  No music, no nothing. Sometimes I’ll put on heavy earphones to shut out every bit of surrounding noise.

 

Is there anything in the realm of writing fiction that you’ve not tried yet? Any genre or style you’d like to give a shot one day?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER:  I wrote a straightforward mystery, RAW ON THE ROW, set in my hometown of Prescott, AZ (no publisher yet).  It probably needs a do-over.  Other than that, I love writing articles on nature and (obviously) travel, but I don’t have the time to pursue the appropriate markets.  Or they’re not interested.  I have done a fair number of articles on scuba diving for assorted publications.  I also like writing poetry, but I’m not very good at it.

 

A writer friend of mine emailed the other day, and in the email he wondered if a writer can ever run out of ideas as he or she gets older. We were talking about projects, and he was saying how many different projects he has cooking at any one time. He sort of hoped that would always be the case. I’ve often pondered that notion myself. When you see writers hit their late seventies, early eighties, and they’re no longer putting out new work. Is that because they’re simply worn out, tired, ill . . . or do you think the well really does run dry one day?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: It depends entirely on the writer.  Look at Jack Williamson, still selling SF novels into his early 90’s.  Other writers get burned out early, and many just get tired of the time it takes out of what remains of their days.  It never gets easier.

 

Before we move on to the last part of this interview, I wouldn’t live with myself if I didn’t mention a pretty big project of yours out in December. That would be THE FORCE AWAKENS. I know you cannot say anything with regards to the story itself, but you’re in a uniquely privileged position in that you know the whole story. Have you seen any of the movie, or did you work from the screenplay alone in writing the novelisation?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: Just the screenplay, plus some concept art and production visuals.  I really wanted to have access to the latter so that if I describe something, or someone, in the book, it matches what actually appears on the screen.  You know how fans are.  If I give someone sideburns and in the film that character appears without them, it will give rise to 468 blog entries.

 

You adapted both Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness. I did hope you’d do the novelisation of THE FORCE AWAKENS, and was over the moon that that was the case. I understand Lucasfilm have AFTERMATH by Chuck Wendig coming out this winter, and that they’re really trying to ensure everything forms a cohesive whole in terms of canon. Did you have any contact with the Lucasfilm story group during the process of writing the novel?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: Yes.  I of course had to have some leeway, but the group certainly made their opinion(s) known.

 

It must seem a lifetime ago that you wrote STAR WARS and SPLINTER OF THE MIND’S EYE (I have a copy of both sitting on my shelf right now). How does it feel to be adapting Star Wars again? To quote a certain Dark Lord, is the circle now complete?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: Depending on one’s age, it was a lifetime ago.  And yet I can see the interior of the original Industrial Light & Magic warehouse, on Kester St. in Van Nuys, CA, with the Death Star run models out in the parking lot, as clearly as if it was yesterday. 

The circle will never be complete as long as fans continue to enjoy the Star Wars universe.

 

What is it, do you think, keeps people going back to Star Wars? Generation after generation, it seems to connect with people like no other property I can think of.

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: It reduces storytelling to enjoyable basics.  Good guys vs bad guys, with a few variants to keep things interesting.  Not unlike WWII tales.  You sit back and enjoy.  It’s cinematic/literary comfort food, like a good hamburger or grilled cheese sandwich.

 

When I think of the Star Wars universe, there’s infinite storytelling potential there. In my opinion the same could be said of your Commonwealth books. Would you welcome an adaptation of your stories? And I suppose the flip side of that question is, “Where do they begin?”

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: Commonwealth adaptations would have to begin with NOR CRYSTAL TEARS.  Which would be a story Hollywood has never really told; i.e., an entire film shot and told from the alien’s point-of-view.  As to the Flinx & Pip books, that’s a related matter, and those books have been under option for filming for several years now.

 

There is an art to novelisations, and I’ve read quite a few over the years. Some of those have been excellent. Some have been dire, just a word for word rehash of the screenplay. Yours are never like that. Whenever I read one of your novelisations, they seem to add to the original material. Often you find a new angle to scenes from the movie, and it really embellishes what is already there. In my opinion it’s what makes your work stand out. Is that a conscious choice on your part?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: My feeling is that if the reader doesn’t get a good deal of original material in a novelization, the publisher might as well print the screenplay and let it go at that.  When I do a novelization, I get to be the complete fan and do my own fuller version of the film; my own Director’s cut.  Every fan does that.

 

So to wrap this up, a little something I do from time to time. I am totally stealing from James Lipton here, so forgive me.

These are the classic ten questions from the French “Bouillon de Culture,” hosted by Bernard Pivot. I’d like you to answer with the first thing that comes to mind, as honestly as possible.

If you’d rather not answer a specific question, that’s fine too.

 

What is your favourite word?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: thersitical (In German, it’s “allgegenvartig”.  Eng. Translation: omnipresent)

 

What is your least favourite word?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: don’t have one.  They all work for me.

 

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: great music, an unblemished night sky, drifting in clear water, the rainforest.

 

What turns you off?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: my tribe/nation is better than yours.  Bullies.  Brussels’ sprouts.

 

What is your favourite curse word?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: fucker

 

What sound or noise do you love?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: waves on a beach.  Distant thunder.  My wife’s laugh.  Any bird.  Lions bellowing.  Cheetahs (or any cat) purring.  Pan pipes.  A grand orchestral crescendo.

 

What sound or noise do you hate?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: People in the film industry cursing because they think it makes them appear macho.  Any animal in distress.  Twelve country music songs in a row that all sound the same.

 

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: Composer (classical).  Sculpture.  Travel guide (no, wait…I already do that).

 

What profession would you not like to do?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: Anything that requires sitting in a small office.

 

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

 

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: “Have you heard the one about the human race…?” or… “Sam Clemens was right.”

Everyone, you can find out more about Alan Dean Foster at his site, which is appropriately named http://www.alandeanfoster.com Be sure to check there every month for updates, and have a look around. You’ll find pictures and video from his numerous trips around the world, and a wealth of other information concerning his many series and media tie-ins. Of all the authors I have had contact with over the years, Alan is by far the most gracious and humble. You can drop him a line via the message board on his site, by email, or tweet him at @thranx1

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Tony Healey’s Author Page

The Broken Stars Book 1 Cover Blank

Thoughts On Harlan Ellison

In 2011 I found myself submitting a short story to the anthology Resistance Front featuring none-other-than Harlan Ellison. Suffice to say I didn’t know that much about Harlan, only that he’d written the best of the TOS episodes, City On The Edge Of Forever.

I asked Alan Dean Foster if he would be interested in contributing to it as well, and was surprised when he agreed. I passed him over to Bernard Schaffer, editor-in-chief of the project and set about conducting interviews with all the writers involved. When it came to getting one from Harlan, he told me point blank he didn’t do email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. However he would grant me an interview if I could source him several magazines available here in the UK featuring him. Suffice to say I didn’t bother (sort of walking away from my first contact with the man rather deflated). It wasn’t until I did some reading online that I learned what kind of man Harlan Ellison was, and why it was not out of sorts for him to expect me to send him stuff for an interview.

In early 2013 my good friend Bernard did an interview with Matt Posner (author of School of the Ages), and he had this to say:

Harlan . . . I’ve never spoken openly about what happened with Harlan but I think enough time has passed to do so. Harlan was always one of my literary heroes. He still is. I’d kill for him, so don’t misunderstand anything I say. Over a period of a month or so, I was in constant contact with him. Emails, faxes, phone calls, mailed packages. He is a font of information and even his simplest emails will make you feel embarrassed to call yourself a writer. We talked about life, love, family, politics, his experiences as an author, Dangerous Visions, everything. In the midst of all that, Harlan offered to edit Old-Time Lawmen. I was flabbergasted.

To go from a kid who stood in line at Philly Comic Con to get his signature to an author working on a project with him was staggering. But it gets more amazing. He actually rewrote the first page of my story and signed it. I have, in my possession, a one of a kind Harlan Ellison manuscript that contains my characters and world in his words. He gave me a very honest, and correct, critique of the story and I told him I would get to work right away. I went into a frenzy of writing. It was like his insight to my work unlocked something in me, and I completely overhauled my style. So, it was with great enthusiasm that I sent him the new version. I thanked him for his honesty and told him how he’d helped me, and I waited.

 Now, let me back up a moment.

 Harlan is very ill, and what I think happened was that the month we were in such close contact, he was feeling better. He had some energy. He was excited about the project. That all changed when his illness reared up. The last phone call I got from him was that he’d received my story, and that he could not do anything more for me. I had, to quote, “Gone beyond the boundaries of imposition.” I had no idea what to say. I muttered an apology and he told me to save it. And then something really crazy happened. I knew this was it, so I thanked him for everything. What else could I say? He’s a literary giant and I’m a peon and he took the time to share a little of his insight with me. I told him I would always be grateful.

 He said, “Yeah, I’m just a wonderful fucking human being.”

 And then he hung up. We never spoke again. In more ways than one, it was a definitive experience for me as an author. Probably as a person.

I do believe that after that interview Bernard did have some contact with Harlan again. But that was his experience working closely with the man. Perhaps, reading it, it was not completely out of character.

Side note: Alan Dean Foster did his interview with me to promote the anthology and had the answers back the same day. I’ve had email contact with Alan on and off for years and have always found him very pleasant and approachable.

So I read about his famous bust-ups (including the Sinatra fiasco) and his lawsuits (my god, Terminator?). I found myself fascinated with watching his video clips on Youtube, his interview segments. I read the story he’d contributed to Resistance Front, an original version of Emissary From Hamelin. I grabbed a copy of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream and read the entire collection. I went on to read Shatterday, Approaching Oblivion and his version of events surrounding the aforementioned Star Trek episode City On The Edge Of Forever.

When Hard Case Crime reprinted his classic crime novel Web Of The City, I managed to get myself an uncorrected proof of it.

Have I known him personally? Apart from two exchanges on his message board, no. My only real connection with him is to be published in the same anthology.

No, I came to know Harlan Ellison the writer, the artist, the champion of short fiction, the uncompromising voice. And I’ve got so many works of his to seek out and devour. I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. But thus far, I dare anyone to read I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream (the story) and not feel dumbstruck by the intense darkness of the piece. Or read One Life, Furnished In Early Poverty and not have your heart broken.

As of this writing, Harlan Ellison is laid up after having had a major stroke. But apparently his mind is still there. Well, I don’t find that hard to believe. The man is an unstoppable force, a creative cyclone. And one day the vessel that carries him will die. But not Harlan Ellison.

That master of words will live on forever.

#KINDLEALLSTARS ALAN DEAN FOSTER

WHO ARE THE KINDLE ALL-STARS?

A series of 20+ short interviews with the team behind the Kindle All-Stars short story anthology ‘Resistance Front’ posted daily in the run up to its publication.

Please be sure to check any relevant images and links for each individual at the end of their interview.

Today I talk to Alan Dean Foster. You can see my previous interview with Alan HERE

Hello Alan. Thanks for agreeing to this quick interview. Firstly, thank you for joining the project. It means so much to so many of us involved in the Kindle All-Stars anthology that you are contributing to it. We’ve all grown up reading your work and enjoying it – – and now we get to be involved in something alongside you!

ADF: It’s my pleasure. Giving back to worthy causes is a better measure of a human being than just about anything else.

You’ve appeared in a fair number of anthologies over the years. Do you think the short story is a dying breed? Or do you think it’s just finding itself a new habitat?

ADF: It’s a whole new world out there, short story-wise. Maybe not yet the heyday of the pulps back in the ‘30’s, but with the advent of on-line publishing there are multitudinous opportunities that never existed before that short story writers can access. I put up a novella, BOX OF OXEN, via Kindle publishing that no genre publisher would touch. Only grossed a couple of hundred bucks so far, but the little checks keep coming and more importantly, the work stays “in print”. It’s a fascinating time to be writing short fiction.

I know from visiting your site over the years that you’re always at work on something, whether its an original novel or a novelisation. How often do you write short fiction, and do you do it more or less than you used to?

ADF: It all depends on someone asking me for a story. I love a challenge, and themed anthologies are always fun to contribute to. Occasionally, but only occasionally, I’ll write something just for myself…like the Mad Amos Malone stories, two of which recently appeared in the magazine of Fantasy & Science-Fiction. I love writing shorts.

Your story is called ‘Redundancy’. Is it a story you wrote before hearing of the Kindle All-Stars or did you write it especially for the project?

ADF: REDUNDANCY originally was commissioned for an issue of an in-house computer magazine designed to focus on a specific kind of artificial intelligence.

Without giving too much away, what’s the story about?

ADF: How a machine intelligence might logically reach a beneficial conclusion without the benefit of being specifically programmed to do so.

And what gave you the ideas behind the story?

ADF: As I said, it was a specific commission intended to address a fairly narrow topic. That it has appeal beyond that is very gratifying.

Harlan Ellison is also involved in the project. Have you ever met Harlan? He certainly comes across as a big personality… is he like that in real life?

ADF: I first met Harlan in 1969 when I was a grad student at UCLA and trying to sell stories. David Gerrold was putting together a couple of anthologies. I submitted one to David called SILENT SONGS IN STONE. David couldn’t use it but thought it might be suitable for a little anthology Harlan was putting together called DANGEROUS VISIONS. So I moseyed up to Harlan’s house and handed him the story. He loved the ending but hated the story itself. Would I be interested in rewriting it while taking into account some suggestions of his? I said that I would, and proceeded to do three revisions, none of which made the grade. I then sent the story to John W. Campbell at Analog, who had published my first story. Campbell loved the story but hated the ending. Very valuable lesson there for a young writer. Over the decades Harlan and I occasionally throw things like classical music suggestions at one another. I believe he has stopped calling me “kid”. This is sad, as I have now missed any opportunity to call him “pops” or “old-timer”.

Last time I spoke to you, your fantasy novel Madrenga was finished. Have you sent it off yet? Has it got picked up?

ADF: It’s off, it’s being read. News at eleven.

Before I go, are there any developments on your Oshanurth Trilogy? I’ve been hearing about it for a long time via your site. I loved Cachalot when I read it, and can’t wait to see what you do with a story set in the water again.

ADF: Same situation as MADRENGA.

This last question might be a bit tricky for you Alan. It’s a bit of a ‘Sophie’s Choice’ type question, but if you were going to recommend one of your books or series to a Kindle All-Star reader whose never read your work before… which one would you choose as a starting point?

ADF: MIDWORLD. Not too long, 100% me. For something more recent, SAGRAMANDA. And any of the short story collections.

Well that’s it Alan! I don’t want to take up too much of your time as I know you’re a very busy man. Hopefully we will chat again soon!

www.alandeanfoster.com
www.kindleallstars.com

INTERVIEW: ALAN DEAN FOSTER

What follows is an interview with one of my favorite authors, Alan Dean Foster. You’ve no doubt heard of him, and probably have read at least one of his books if not more.

As far as novelisations are concerned, he has done Star Wars, the new Star Trek, Transformers, Terminator Salvation, the Alien films, Alien Nation, The Black Hole, The Thing, Dark Star, Starman, Clash of the Titans, all of Star Trek: The Animated Series, and the Chronicles of Riddick.

When it comes to his own material, he is just as prolific. He has written 8 books in the Spellsinger series (my personal favorite), his Journeys of the Catechist Trilogy, The Taken Trilogy, The Icerigger Trilogy, The Damned Trilogy, The Founding of the Commonwealth Trilogy, 8 Commonwealth novels, 14 Pip and Flinx novels, 23 stand-alone novels and 7 Short Story Collections. He has recently completed The Tipping Point Trilogy, and The Oshanurth Trilogy, as well as a new fantasy tome called Madrenga.

INTERVIEW – ALAN DEAN FOSTER

Firstly, a big welcome to you Alan. I’m really grateful for you agreeing to this interview. I first started reading your books when I was about 12 or 13, when my uncle introduced me to Spellsinger and I’ve been a fan ever since. I’d like to start by talking about The Tipping Point Trilogy (the second volume due out the end of this year) can you tell us how you came about the ideas behind the trilogy and what spurred you on to write it?

ADF: What if you could look like anyone…or anything…you wanted to? And have the modifications made cheaply and quickly? Who would be distinctive? Would people simply grow bored with the novelty and elect to remain as they are? Or would everyone opt for some kind of change? Modern primitivism attempts what changes it can, but science will soon be able to make far more radical changes. I was intrigued by the kind of society this might produce. The books also deal, peripherally with the effects of global warming…and something else entirely.

You’ve recently completed a fantasy novel (Madrenga) – can you tell us something about it without spoiling it for us?

ADF: I wanted to write a longish, utterly traditional heroic fantasy. That lasted about five pages, and then a couple of new ideas shoved their way into the story, including one that’s a bit radical for traditional fantasy. Might be too radical for publishers. We’ll see.

You said on your site that you split from tradition with this one by writing it without a plan. How did you find the experience and do you normally like to plot a novel before you sit down to write?

ADF: I no longer fully plot out a novel, but I do always have a general idea how it’s going to end up. Not with MADRENGA, and deliberately so. That’s what led to the bit of radical intervention. As far as not planning it out much in advance, it was wonderful fun. I just trailed along behind the characters and went wherever they happened to take me.

So far your Oshanurth Trilogy has yet to get a publisher – is there a lot of upheaval in the publishing world at the moment?

ADF: People getting fired right and left as publishers “downsize”. This is a euphemism for “We’re controlled by a multinational corporation now and so it’s accountants and not editors who make the most important decisions.” And Oshanurth, which takes place entirely underwater, isn’t exactly your standard fantasy trope either.

You recently published Predators I Have Known which covers some of your travels over the globe and your encounters with some of natures more extraordinary animals. How did that project come together?

ADF: Over the years people would ask me repeatedly why I didn’t write a travel book. I could never think of an approach that interested me enough to get me started. I didn’t want to do the standard “Here we are in London at Westminster Abbey…over there is Big Ben, over there is….” It occurred to me that everyone loves animal stories. I’ve been fortunate enough to have made the acquaintance of a fair number of critters. Restricting to the book to those that are more than typically dangerous seemed another way of drawing interest.

Where do you think the future of publishing is headed? Do you see us moving toward an entirely digital realm or do you see a mixture of digital and paper books? Will there still be a place for traditional books?

ADF: I think there’ll always be room for traditonal books. The number of people who read a digital edition and then decide to buy a hardcover copy for their permanent library is surprising. And of course there will always be serious collectors.

You recently self-published Box of Oxen on the Kindle. How did you find the process?

ADF: Very easy, actually. You follow the instructions on Amazon’s site and hey presto, your digital edition appears on their site. Putting together a cover was more problematical since it involved downloading and using new software.

Do you see yourself publishing on the Kindle again? Or perhaps writing a book with that specific purpose in mind? Some authors like Barry Eisler and J A Konrath have foregone traditional publishing altogether and are self-publishing their latest work direct onto the Kindle. Do you think this is a good thing, or do you think it lowers the standard of what’s being published when you take editors, etc out of the equation?

ADF: I’d like to keep a mix. I still prefer traditional publishing. What’s wonderful is that if a project is repeatedly turned down, authors now have an option. What will be difficult is for beginning writers to get their work noticed. Formal review sites help but aren’t always available for more esoteric material.

Predators I Have Known covers some of your travel experiences. I know from visiting your site on a regular basis that you travel a lot. When did you first become fascinated with travelling the planet and learning as much as you could about it? Was it from an early age?

ADF: When I was four, my parents bought me subscriptions to a dozen or so comic books. That’s how I learned how to read. My favorite was Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge. Oftentimes a story would take up the entire comic. Barks sent Scrooge all over the world, and researched the destinations he used. So I owe my initial wanderlust to the business trips of a short, old duck.

And is there anywhere you’d like to visit that you haven’t yet?

ADF: Dozens of places, if not hundreds. Tibet, mainland China, Vanuatu and the Solomons, the Marshalls, the Middle East, central Asia…tons of places. My first choice would be the Chagos Archipeligo, but that, sadly, is off-limits.

Where are you off to next? Have you picked your next destination?

ADF: I’m going to London in July for the BBC’s production of Havergal Brian’s Gothic symphony. From there I go to the Ukraine, where I’m a member of the USA team that will be competing in the Eurasian RAW powerlifting championships. I plan to visit Chernobyl, the Crimea, and Moldova while I’m there.

I am a huge fan of Arthur C Clarke’s work. I remember reading a post about him on your site just after he’d passed away. What was he really like to meet in person?

ADF: Charming and incredibly enthusiastic, especially where advances in technology were concerned. He truly loved his adopted home of Sri Lanka. He was also a killer ping-pong player.

They say that Clarke stipulated in his will that none of his private work be released until thirty years following his death – do you think we’ll ever see an unpublished masterpiece come out of the vault when that lapses?

ADF: It’s possible he worked off and on on something private. It wouldn’t surprise me. He was always involved in a dozen or more projects. I’d bet there’s a story or two lying around. But not much. Anything with an Arthur C. Clarke byline on it was a pretty could bet to find publicatin.

I also noticed you managed to work a little nod to AC in your Star Trek novelisation…

ADF: I think he would have liked what I did.

A little while back you had another Star Trek book scheduled to come out, following on from your novelisation of the new movie. It got pulled, along with a few others which were also due out – do you know if we will ever get a chance to read it? Is it a case of the publisher wanting to wait for the next film to come out to make sure they’re not stepping on anyone’s shoes?

ADF: I believe the decision was Paramount’s, to pull the books so that there would be no chance anything in them could contradict, or more importantly restrain, possibilities for the second film. I hope they do see publication one day. I’m very pleased with what I did, and it’s not the sort of story that’s likely to run roughshod over the new iteration of the show.

In the late seventies you were involved with Star Trek Motion Picture. How did you become involved in that? Did you have much to do with the late Gene Roddenberry as the story for that film was developed?

ADF: That’s a long, complicated, and ultimately sad story that’s been researched in detail in a number of books. Fans can find oodles of material concerning it on-line.

>FYI you can read the Wiki article for Star Trek The Motion Picture HERE

What would you like to see Star Trek do that it hasn’t done before? And for you, when do you think it’s at its best?

ADF: It’s at its best when it combines true sense of wonder with the interaction of characters we’ve come to know and love. Always a tough trick to pull off, in any work of SF. As to what hasn’t been done yet, I’d really like to see some crewmembers who are alien and not just people in prosthetics. Although M’ress, from the animated ST, would be fun to work with…and immensely popular, I think.

The sequel to 2009’s Star Trek should start shooting soon. Perhaps you’ll do the novelisation for that as well. Where would you like to see the next Star Trek film go? They’ve got the family together, the ship… everything is in place. I suppose it’s a case of ‘where do we go?’ ‘what do we do?’ for the writers.

ADF: Well, I wrote the sequel novel. That pretty much expresses where I would have taken the story. Of course, these days in Hwood everything has to be “bigger”. Not necessarily better…just bigger.

Alan, as with all of my interviewees, I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you five questions:

1. Favourite book/series of books

ADF: Mine? Impossible to choose. Different books for different reasons. But as to a series I reckon I have to go with the Commonwealth stories. That’s a nice piece of galaxy.

2. Who would play you in Alan Dean Foster: The Movie?

ADF: Never been asked that one before. I’d go with Robert Downey.

3. If you could stipulate an inappropriate song choice for your own funeral, what would it be?

ADF: That’s easy. The march section from Brian’s Gothic symphony, last movement. Maybe with less than the requisite thousand performers, though.

4. Which website would you say you visit the most on a regular basis?

ADF: NYTimes and BBC.

5. And last but not least, what do you see yourself doing in five years time?

ADF: Exactly what I’m doing right now.

I think everyone would love to see Pip and Flynx make it onto the big screen – do you ever think it will happen?

ADF: The world is full of surprises, but the odds of anyone’s work making it to the big screen are abysmally low.

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtsman, whose work you’ve adapted a few times now, have recently brought Joe Hill’s Locke and Key comic series to TV. I think it airs this year. Would you be happy with some of your work being made into TV series, if done correctly and respectfully with regard to the source material?

ADF: Sure…MAORI in particular, which is structured in six parts and would make a nice mini-series. I always thought Peter Jackson would like the book…and it would be a change for him.

I for one would love to see some of your work hit the screen, as long as whoever wrote the script stuck to the original novels. Well, that brings us to the end Alan. It’s been a pleasure. I hope you’ll be willing to chat again soon. There’s so much I could ask someone like you. I didn’t get a chance to ask you about Star Wars and The Black Hole… but I’ll save that for another time if that’s alright!

ADF: Any time.

By the way, before I go… any chance you can tell me a little bit about what you have in-store for Jon-Tom and Mudge? Is there going to be more Spellsinger?

ADF: I hope to have some mildly exciting news concerning those two before the end of the year…perhaps in time for the Rainfurrest convention in Seattle in September.

Thank you for your time Alan. It’s greatly appreciated.

You can find all of Alan’s books available for purchase as both traditional paperbacks and ebooks HERE

You can catch-up with Alan, and interact with him, at his site: www.alandeanfoster.com