And so the SFF blog tour continues. I visited some of the blog tour particpants yesterday–or their blogs, rather. Tina Kulesa posted a review of the trilogy. Mirtika Schultz posted a guide to pronouncing names in the Firebird Trilogy. Though I confess, while reading the books, I pronounced them all differently than the the guide!
Now to begin the interview. Thanks to Stuart Stockton for his help with questions.
And thanks to Kathy Tyers for the interview.
Where did you grow up and what is your background?
In the 1950s, my part of Long Beach, California was full of apron-wearing moms, white picket fences, and rose gardens. I lived in Long Beach through the 1960s and moved to Montana in 1970, looking for wilderness a la Tolkien (found it, too). I attended Montana State University, and I have a B.S. in Microbiology and an education certificate. I also spent many years during and after college playing my flute in bands, orchestras, pit orchestras, small ensembles, etc. My late husband and I played folk music as a duo for many years. I taught school for three years before “retiring” to start a family, and I started writing science fiction when my family (a.k.a. Matthew) was two years old. I’m back in college now, working on a Master of Christian Studies degree (arts emphasis) at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C.
How did you get started writing and how long after you started would you say it took to get published?
Matthew (born 1981) took long, lovely naps, and I wanted to spend some of that time as “me time,” so I revisited an old hobby. I started writing in 1983 and was published in 1987.
What was your first exposure to the science fiction genre?
The Junior High section at the Dana Branch of the Long Beach Public Library had several of the old Winston (if I’ve got that wrong, I’m sure someone will tell me) hardcover science fiction novels, including Ben Bova’s first published book, “The Star Conquerors.” I was in fifth grade, and I read that book several times before I took it back to the library. I was hooked. Three years later, I discovered Lord of the Rings.
How did the opportunity arise for you to write Star Wars novels, and what was it like working in that mythos? Did you have to do your own research for continuity within the Star Wars galaxy, or did they give you a “Star Wars Bible filled with the current galactic canon material”?
I’d written four novels for Bantam Spectra and was slogging away on a near-future SF novel, which was set in Montana but going nowhere, when my editor (Janna Silverstein, who was a fellow Star Wars geek), called one February morning and offered me a chance to write a Star Wars novel. She asked for five well-developed book “pitches” by the end of the week. During in a conference call with her supervisor, we picked one. By then, I’d already started on my research, which involved a big bowl of popcorn, a yellow legal pad, and the VCR. After I signed the contract, Lucasfilm sent me a box of role-playing game resource books, some of which I used heavily. Lucas Licensing employs a number of people simply to maintain continuity. When I wrote The Truce at Bakura, that wasn’t the enormous job it is today. Several movies and many many books later, not to mention the games and other spin-off materials, it has to be daunting.
What was it like transitioning the Firebird Trilogy and Shivering World from an ABA publisher to a CBA publisher? Did you get to add stuff back in that you had taken out? Or vice versa.
I was able to bring forward the spiritual aspect that previously was “there in a quiet way.” One great (but humbling) pleasure was entirely rewriting Firebird, which was my first published novel. I’d learned a lot about the writing craft in the meantime. I’d still like to polish some parts, but eventually, you’ve got to let go of a project and do something new.
What kind of feedback have you received about having the Firebird trilogy set in a futuristic world in which the Savior hasn’t come yet?
People say, “That’s an interesting idea.” “Interesting” can mean many things. Mostly, the reaction seems positive.
Of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?
The three-in-one Firebird Trilogy volume.
Thanks again to Kathy. That concludes the first half of our interview. Please return tomorrow and be sure to visit the other blog participants.
John J. Boyer, Valerie Comer,Bryan Davis, Rebecca Grabill, Leathel Grody, Karen Hancock, Elliot Hanowski, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Sharon Hinck, Pamela James,Jason Joyner, Tina Kulesa, Rachel Marks, Shannon McNear, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Cheryl Russel, Mirtika Schultz, Stuart Stockton, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith