1 – What’s your latest book about?
I'm in the middle of writing a Star Trek eBook for Simon & Schuster. I can't spill plot details yet, but I'm having a blast writing a story that was developed between my editor and myself. It's very character driven, and it's fun getting into the heads of these iconic characters and trying to spin out fresh takes on their lives in Starfleet.
My latest published work is a short story, The Squire and the Valet, in the shared-world anthology Native Lands. It's the third anthology in the ReDeus series, perhaps most easily described as an urban fantasy, with all the gods of ancient cultures returning to Earth and demanding to be worshiped.
2 – Who’s your favorite author and/or what’s your favorite book?
It's hard to narrow down to one, so I'll give a shout out to Ray Bradbury as one of my favorite authors and The Lord of the Rings as a favorite book. But what about Umberto Eco or 1984? Margaret Atwood or Winnie-the-Pooh? So many authors, so many books.
3 – What’s your favorite aspect of writing?
I like creating the characters and trying to give them a life and voice of their own. When working in science fiction or fantasy, I also enjoy the world building that's necessary for those genres. The bottom line is always the characters, though.
4 – Any good anecdotes about being a writer?
One of my favorite anecdotes goes all the way back to my first sale, my Tamarack Award story, The Mailbox, in Minnesota Monthly in 1987. Shortly after the issue came out, I had ordered a delivery pizza. The pizza guy took my check, looked back and forth between my check and face, and said, "Hey, you had a story in Minnesota Monthly." That was the first time I was recognized as a writer, and it was decades before that happened again!
5 – What was the most helpful writing advice you've ever received?
I've gotten a lot of great advice over the years, starting with my college writing professor, Joe Maiolo at the University of Minnesota Duluth. But one comment I got recently from my friend Marco Palmieri, who's an editor at Tor, stands out. We were talking about a novel I'm developing, and he asked me, "What are the journeys of the characters aside from the plot?" I thought that was so succinct, the way it focused on the importance of character development alongside the nuts and bolts of the story. It's a question I will continue to ask myself as I work on various manuscripts.