Kevin J Anderson is someone I would like to meet.  I have spoken numerous times now and have only found incredibly generous with his time and advice.  This amazes me given the amount of writing he does in the meantime.  If I ever do make it over to America, I will definitely be asked him!  Kevin, did you hear that?

I asked him once how many words he thinks he would do.  His answer was without boast.  All it said was ‘About 100000 words a month, especially in first draft.’  He shares his techniques with his people, including how he marketed the Terra Incognita trilogy to publishers – with the actual outline.

On another ocassion, Kevin sent out an email to his mail list saying that he had just found a box of old novels which were taking up room.  Would any of his American readers like a copy?  I bet the response was huge!!  But I tweeted that I was in Australia and was unhappy I had to miss out.  Kevin contacted me directly and told me he would find a way to fix it.  He did, and not only did I got one X-Files novels, I got three plus some other goodies.

Just as a little aside – I remember hearing about Kevin and Brian attempting to finish the Dune series by Frank Herbert and was sceptical as was almost everybody else.  I have read them now – each and every one of them and I know that Frank would be proud of their effort.

This is one author that understands his fans.  I am proud to introduce Kevin J Anderson to you.

Who would you like to collaborate with (being living or dead) and why?

If it’s somebody I haven’t previously worked with, then I think I’d have to say Frank Herbert. I’ve always admired his work and the depth of his ideas and development; I’ve had a chance to immerse myself in his notes and correspondence, and talk with Brian Herbert and Bill Ransom, his other two collaborators. I think it would be a very gratifying experience.

What would be the best piece of advice you would offer a new author?

Be persistent. It may take you years to break into print, and years more after that to attract an audience, but nobody ever said it would be easy. If you have the drive in you, you’ll keep writing, no matter what roadblocks are thrown up in front of you.

Is routine important to you?

I very much like to have a set schedule and a writing routine, but that’s usually not possible with as many trips and book-signings as I do. I prefer to keep regular writing hours, but I also have to train myself to write or edit anytime the moment is possible.

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

I think I’ve written in everything that’s interesting to me — SF, fantasy, horror, humor, thriller, mystery, historical, urban fantasy, epic fantasy, western.

You acknowledge music within your books. Do you listen to music during all processes of writing? Do you listen music you know or new music when writing?

I always edit to music, usually from my collection — I don’t listen to the radio because it’s too distracting to me. The music of Rush and other prog rock bands is the most inspirational. I write when I’m out hiking, so no music there.

Have you read a romance novel? Do you think you could write one?

I’ve read a couple of romance novels and I have several friends who are romance writers. I could probably write one if I studied the form and immersed myself in the requirements of the genre. (But I’m so busy with other deadlines, that’s not going to come up any time soon.)

What sport did you play as a younger man? Were you good at it?

I was never much good at any sport when I was a kid, especially not team sports. Now, at least, I’m very fit and go hiking, mountain climbing, and snowshoeing whenever I get the chance.

When you are coming up with an idea, do you look at the market for trends? Or do you write for you?

I have dozens of possible ideas at any one time, and I choose the ones that most interest me. But I am also aware of the market, and if I have ten ideas ready to go and one is likely to be more popular than another one, then I can factor that into my decision.

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

How do the rest of you stop the ideas from coming? They are everywhere.

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

The idea, characters, and scenes come first. Often, the title will be obvious; other times it emerges as a natural extension of the writing. Only rarely do I get stumped.

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

Of course it’s bright–SF/F are among the most popular genres in modern culture, and growing more and more mainstream with each passing year. The *vehicle* of those stories might change, though — magazine stories might become a smaller and smaller portion of the market, but web stories are increasing. Many writers used to make a living writing scripts for radio plays; that market vanished, but SF/F still remained strong.

Are movies of books ruining the book?

No. When a book is made into a movie, even a mediocre one, huge numbers of people buy and read the book who would not otherwise read it. Even if the film is not a good adaptation, the original author still gets many more readers for the work.

Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?

Ebooks are *changing* traditional publishing and distribution in extraordinary ways. Whether or not a traditional publisher feels threatened depends on their ability to embrace and keep ahead of the change…or fight the change and get swept away.

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

I read a particular novel that interests me, either because it’s been recommended or because the idea looks good, or it’s part of a series I have enjoyed.

What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?

I like the stories and the world building and all the possibilities.

Can I get an autographed book? (lol)

sure, come to one of my booksignings. I do dozens of them a year.

Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to? How much impact can they have on the whole story?

Yes, I have a good group of test readers who have been well trained and chosen for specific skills. They read each manuscript and chew it up so they can make it better. I listen carefully to their critiques.

Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?

No, I write the length that the novel needs to be.

Do you have a target each day?

When I can work with a routine I try to write at least two new chapters each day.

Do you write constantly or have breaks between books?

I write constantly, at different stages of projects at the same time.

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

I spend a lot of time with my characters; they are my imaginary friends, and I put them through some grand adventures or gruelling tragedies. I work with the characters and the story to come up with the best book possible.

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

Each story is very personal to me, and I live that adventure as I write it. I write in many different genres, so I can keep my attention fresh. For example, I just wrote three books in a humorous horror series about Dan Shamble, Zombie PI, then I wrote my half of the next novel in the Dune series, and now I’m starting work on a sequel to my Saga of Seven Suns. So, all different.

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

Travel, probably. I do a lot of travel, booksignings, convention appearances, talks, interviews, and although I find them enjoyable and a great way to experience new sights and cultures, it does take a lot of time from actual writing.

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

Yes, it was very exciting (but they only had 2 copies…)

Do you read other people’s writing?  Would you read mine?

I barely have time to read my own manuscripts! I used to be in a critique group and we shared our comments, but I don’t read or critique other manuscripts anymore.

Kevin’s page is:  http://www.wordfire.com.  You find a hug amount of his books here, as well as some bundles and specials available nowehere else.  Well worth checking out.

Twitter:  @TheKJA.

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