Thursday, August 15, 2013

10 Questions with International Bestseller/SciFi Writer Jeff Carlson (@authorjcarlson)

This Author Spotlight

Jeff Carlson

author of

Jeff Carlson is the international bestselling author of Interrupt, Plague Year, and The Frozen Sky. To date, his writing has been translated into sixteen languages worldwide.

I had the pleasure of reading The Frozen Sky, about an international team of scientists who discovers something incredible on Io.

I'm pleased to welcome Jeff this week to discuss his latest novel Interrupt.

1. How did you get into writing and why do you write?
My father and my grandfather on my mother’s side were both heavy readers and especially interested in science fiction. In fact, my grandfather’s library included autographed copies of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy.

That means I grew up reading high concept, mind-croggling writers like Heinlein, Niven & Pournelle, Haldeman, Varley, you name it. As I grew older, I also discovered more literary blockbusters such as Michener and Auel, then more commercial madmen like King and Koontz.

Eventually I wanted to play, too. I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen. It was bad -- I mean it was atrocious -- but I enjoyed the work.

For me, writing is like playing an extremely good game of chess except to say that I’m not only the good guys and the bad guys, I’m also the chess board. Building worlds is involving and exciting and fun.

2. What do you like best and least about writing?
The best is when the words are flowing well or when a new revelation strikes. (“My God!” Jeff shouts to himself in his office. “What if she was actually the villian!?!”)

The worst is the waiting. The wheels in writing and publishing turn at glaaaaaaacial speeds. You can get old fast in this business, which means it’s always a pleasure to near the end of a project or to finally reach the book’s release day.

The main thing is to enjoy the process itself. Writers are crazy. The job description is sitting alone in a room listening to the voices in your head. It demands patience and persistence.

3. What is your writing process, i.e., do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
Keeping in mind that I’m a family man and we’re not exactly in the tax bracket where we employ maids, gardeners, cooks, and chauffers, I write 5 days a week for as many hours as possible. I’m also juggling all of those other jobs. We’re really, really busy. So my personal goal is six pages a day. Occasionally I achieve more. Often I achieve less. No question there are many writers who are more prolific, but I’m also engaged in real life outside my office.

As for outlining, I usually have several high points or scenes in mind for any given project. I move the story toward those high points, but I hate to outline because part of my motivation is finding out what happens next. If I’ve already worked out every little detail, then I’m just connecting the dots. It lessens my excitement.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
Joel Shepherd writes killer high tech sf. Robert Crais and Nelson DeMille rank among my favorite suspense writers. It won’t surprise anyone that I also enjoy James Rollins and Preston & Child thrillers. Those guys are nuts!

5. Should the question mark in the previous question be inside or outside the quotes?
Outside, you fool. HA!

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I’ve reluctantly grown to love it as should every writer, reader, and editor…

7. What is Interrupt about and how did it come to fruition?
The book is loosely based on a short story I wrote in 2002. Of course the short story was compact. It had loose threads galore. I just needed more parts of the puzzle, and I’m one of those guys who squirrels away interesting articles wherever I find ‘em, magazines, newspapers, web sites. Years later, the rest of the puzzle fell into place for me. Then I sat down and worked through it. Eventually I realized I had an epic disaster novel on my hands.

Here’s the back jacket copy:

“Riveting.” —Scott Sigler
“Edgy and exciting.” —Bob Mayer

In the distant past, the leader of a Neanderthal tribe
confronts the end of his kind. Today, a computational biologist,
a Navy pilot, and an autistic boy are drawn together by the
ancient mystery that gave rise to Homo sapiens.

Planes are falling from the sky. Global communications have ceased.
America stands on the brink of war with China — but war is the least
of humankind’s concerns. As solar storms destroy Earth’s electronics
and plunge the world into another Ice Age, our civilization finds
itself overrun by a powerful new species of man…

8. What’s your current writing project?
A sequel to The Frozen Sky.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Gideon’s Corpse by Preston & Child, Half Way Home by Hugh Howey, plus an awesomely subversive nonfiction book called Everything Bad Is Good For You by Steven Johnson.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
People ask me where I get my crazy ideas, to which I can only reply, “Everywhere.” Imagine what your great-grandparents would think if they found themselves walking down the street with handheld gadgets that allow them to connect instantly with anyone on the planet. We’re surrounded by real miracles in nanotech, robotics, deep-space astronomy, medicine, weapons technology. This morning’s news reads like a Philip K. Dick novel.

We live in an interesting world! That makes it an especially good time to be a writer.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

Books are available wherever books are sold, including at the links below.
Interrupt                       Plague Year              The Frozen Sky

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