C. J. Cherryh is a writing tour-de-force and been writing solidly for almost forty years now with sixty books to her name.  I think I may have been reading them for almost as long.  Amongst them my personal favourites are the Faded Sun books.

Cherryh (pronounced Cherry) has an incredible writing style which has been labelled my things including intense third person i which the character at the time will only mention things relevant to the story.  So you will not find long wordy bits about a space station if there is no need for it.  Still, Cherryh writes a hell of a book packed full of action, drama, science fiction and fantasy all rolled into one.

If you have not read Cherryh yet, I would highly recommend… any of them really, but the Foreigner books and Cyteen are just brilliant.  Oh, and of course don’t forget the Faded Sun trilogy.

Here is Carolyn Janice Cherry, better known as C. J. Cherryh.

What genre would you like to write a book in (that you haven’t yet)?

I TRIED ONCE TO WRITE A HISTORICAL, BUT MY ARCHAEOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE KEEPS CLUTTERING UP THE NARRATIVE.

Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?

NEITHER. I CREATE CHARACTERS WHO DON’T ALWAYS LIKE EACH OTHER AND THEN A WORLD IN WHICH THEY CAN WORK IT OUT.

When you start a new story, do you have a title for it? Does that trigger the story?

THE TITLE IS THE LAST THING, USUALLY. IF A TITLE CAME TO ME FIRST, THE EDITOR USUALLY DECIDES IT’S TOO OBSCURE AND CHANGES IT.

Do you see the future of fantasy and science fiction as bright? If so, which authors are driving it?

BRIGHT, BUT RIGHT NOW GOING THROUGH A TIME OF CONFUSION—WE NEED A FEW OF THE SKILLED EDITORS TO BRANCH OUT INTO E-PUB AND WORK WITH THE NEW WRITERS. THERE ARE SO MANY THAT ARE JUST WRITING ODD-TA (ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER) STORY OF INCIDENTS STRUNG TOGETHER INSTEAD OF COMPLEX STORY. COMPLEX STORY IS LIKE NESTING PARENTHESES, AND YOU DON’T FINISH UNTIL YOU GET TO THE END. AN ODD-TA PLOT IS FULL OF MINI-FINISHES.

What themes are being overused?

QUESTS AND WORLD DOMINATION PLOTS UNLESS YOU’VE GOT A REALLY UNUSUAL TAKE. ECO-THEME BOOKS THAT PREACH.

Are movies of books ruining the book?

IF A GOOD SINGLE MOVIE CAN BE MADE FROM A BOOK IT WAS A SHORT STORY MASQUERADING AS A NOVEL.

Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?

E-BOOKS ARE BECOMING TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING. PUBLISHERS CAN NO LONGER AFFORD THE TRANSPORTATION COSTS, WHICH ARE EATING UP THE PROFITS.

Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors? How do you choose which ones to read?

MY EYESIGHT DOESN’T GIVE ME MUCH COMFY LEISURE TO READ, AND SINCE I SPEND ALL DAY AT THE KEYBOARD, I NEED SOME RELAXATION THAT ISN’T READING AND EDITING.

What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?

WHEN WELL DONE, WITH CREDIBLE ‘ANCIENT’ ELEMENTS, HORSES THAT BEHAVE LIKE HORSES AND KINGS THAT ACT LIKE KINGS AND PEOPLE THAT USE THEIR HEADS. IF MAGIC SOLVES THE INTERPERSONAL PROBLEM ALL ON ITS OWN, IT’S A NO FOR ME.

Can I get an autographed book? (lol)

YES. GO TO WWW DOT CLOSED HYPHEN CIRCLE DOT NET. WE SELL THEM. IF YOU ARE OVERSEAS, AND SHIPPING IS OVERWHELMING, WE SELL SIGNED BOOKPLATES, SHIPPING INCLUDED IN THE PRICE.

Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to?

JANE FANCHER AND I AND LYNN ABBEY ARE A WRITING CIRCLE. WE ARE ALL PRO WRITERS. JANE AND I IN PARTICULAR EDIT EACH OTHER’S BOOKS AND OCCASIONALLY COLLABORATE.

How much impact can they have on the whole story?

TREMENDOUS.

Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?

THE INDUSTRY DOES. A NOVEL NOWADAYS IS ABOUT 120,000 WORDS.

Do you have a target each day?

YES. TO GET TO THE KEYBOARD BEFORE THE DAY’S IDIOCY ARRIVES OR SOME COMPUTER BLOWS UP.

Do you write constantly or have breaks between books?

CONSTANTLY.

Do you have characters running around your head? Do they dictate events and their histories to you?

ONLY THE ONES THAT ARE IN THE CURRENT NOVEL. THE OTHERS HAVE TO WAIT THEIR TURN. THEY DO TALK. WRITING IS CONTROLLED MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER.

After so many books, how do you keep them unique?

MY BOOKS DEPEND ON CHARACTER; DIFFERENT CHARACTERS, DIFFERENT STORY.

What is your biggest (self-imposed) time waster?

A GENEALOGY HOBBY.

Do you remember the first time you saw your book in a shop?

NOT REALLY. I KEENLY REMEMBER BEING SENT AN ADVANCED COPY. I REMEMBER STANDING IN MY DRIVEWAY AND LOOKING THROUGH IT AND BEING REALLY, REALLY HAPPY THEY’D PAIRED ME WITH A YOUNG ARTIST NAMED MICHAEL WHELAN.

Do you read other people’s writing?

THE THREE PEOPLE NAMED ABOVE.

Would you read mine?

I DON’T READ OTHER PEOPLE IN MANUSCRIPT EXCEPT IN A WORKSHOP, AND I DO AS FEW OF THOSE AS POSSIBLE. I DON’T LIKE TO DISCUSS WRITING TOO OFTEN. IT’S LIKE THE KEYBOARD/READING PROBLEM. IF I THINK TOO MUCH ABOUT THE MECHANICS, IT’S TIRING. BESIDES, I DON’T GIVE ALL-ENCOMPASSING CRITIQUES ON A MANUSCRIPT. I TELL SOMEBODY—GO FIX, SAY, YOUR OVERUSE OF PASSIVES. [AS IN, NEVER USE THOSE.] TOTAL REWRITE. THEY COME BACK. I LOOK AT IT, FIND THE NEXT PERVASIVE PROBLEM. GO FIX YOUR SET-UP FOR THIS, THIS, THIS. REWRITE. THEY COME BACK. AH, I SAY—WELL, NOW I SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING, BUT YOU NEVER DEVELOPED THIS GUY WHO TURNS OUT TO BE IMPORTANT. GO BACK AND GET HIM IN BY CHAPTER THREE AND SET UP WHAT HAPPENS IN FIFTEEN. AND WHILE YOU’RE AT IT, GO BACK AND INTERLOCK THESE EVENTS—YOU’VE GOT SOME ODD-TA GOING IN THE MIDDLE; GET SOME CAUSALITY GOING. TOTAL REWRITE. I DRIVE PEOPLE TO RUNNING MAD IN THE STREETS, BUT IT’S MY POSITION THAT I CAN’T SEE WHAT I’M WORKING WITH UNTIL THE UNDERBRUSH GETS TRIMMED UP. AND BY THEN ALL THOSE REWRITES HAVE PROFOUNDLY AFFECTED THE BOOK. MY ADVICE TO A NEW WRITER IS—WHEN YOU THINK YOU’RE FINISHED, GO BACK AND CHECK YOUR SETUPS AND MAKE SURE YOUR CAUSALITY IS NOT ODD-TA. ONE THING SHOULD CAUSE ANOTHER AND PROBLEMS SHOULD BE NESTED LIKE CHINESE BOXES. THIS TAKES SOME HEADWORK. GO BACK FOR A REWRITE AND SEE HOW YOU CAN MAKE THIS HAPPEN. BEST GENERIC ADVICE I CAN GIVE, RIGHT ABOVE.

Here’s some links for C. J. Cherryh:

Website, which has links to her blog:  http://www.cherryh.com/

Her store:  http://www.closed-circle.net/

Twitter:  @CJCherryh

Facebook (though you might not find her there much due to the facebook timeline: https://www.facebook.com/#!/cj.cherryh

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