Monday, April 17, 2017

10 Questions with Nebula Award Winner @LindaNagata

Author Spotlight


author of

The Bohr Maker
Limit of Vision

Linda Nagata is a Nebula and Locus-award-winning writer, best known for her high-tech science fiction, including The Red trilogy, a series of near-future military thrillers. The first book in the trilogy, The Red: First Light, was a Nebula and John W. Campbell Memorial-award finalist, and named as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015. Her newest novel is the very near-future thriller, The Last Good Man, due out in June 2017.Linda has lived most of her life in Hawaii, where she’s been a writer, a mom, a programmer of database-driven websites, and an independent publisher. She lives with her husband in their long-time home on the island of Maui.    

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I was a science major in college, but in my last semester I decided I’d rather be a writer. I remember feeling cocky and not at all impressed with the quality of books I’d been reading, and I decided to address the issue by writing books of my own. I started right after I graduated—and needless to say, it took quite a few years before I saw my first novel, The Bohr Maker, in print. That novel is now part of the AI Storybundle!

Why do I write? That’s a question I keep asking myself. Why? Why do I do this to myself? Seriously, I think it’s a fascination with the creative process—to see something complex and coherent come into existence, essentially out of nothing, and then to hear from the readers who’ve enjoyed my work.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

I once tweeted a writer’s lament that went something like this: “The hardest part of writing a novel is the part I happen to be working on at the moment.” It was one of my most popular tweets among other writers. Personally, I find the whole process a struggle, but there’s real satisfaction when I begin to feel the work come together. The best part though is when the words flow, rising up out of nowhere, and the story seems to write itself. That doesn’t happen nearly often enough!

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I’m a terribly undisciplined writer. I don’t write every day. I never have, though I try to write as often as I can. When I start a new project I usually have just a vague idea of what I want to do. For example, with my forthcoming novel, The Last Good Man, I knew I wanted to do another military-themed book to follow up on the Red trilogy, which I’d just finished. I decided it would involve a private military company, and that the protagonist—in defiance of all marketing wisdom—would be a middle-aged woman, a mother, and a warrior herself. So I had a main character and I knew some of the themes I wanted to tackle. I just needed a story...

Yes, I do outline. I spend a lot of time outlining, though I treat it as a general roadmap, one that changes a lot along the way. Other writers have told me they need to visualize the next scene before they write it. I’m the opposite. I usually just have to sit down and write with no real idea of what the scene is going to look like until I work with it for a while.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

I like to read a variety of books, both to keep up with the market and to learn new ways to approach the craft. I’ve also become a huge audiobook fan. One recent favorite is a debut novel, Summit, by Harry Farthing, a complex mountain-climbing adventure. If you’re interested in the AI bundle, you’re probably interested in cutting-edge science fiction, so two other debuts to look at are Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit and Ada Palmer’s Too Like The Lightning.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
Umm...I pay a copyeditor for a reason.

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

7.What is your book The Bohr Maker about and how did it come to fruition?

The Bohr Maker was inspired by the vision of nanotechnology described in K. Eric Drexler’s Engines of Creation and by my background in biology. It takes place in a story world where advanced nanotech is the norm—for both good and ill. As with our world today, technology—or at least the ability to understand and manipulate it—is unevenly distributed and not all laws make sense. When a stolen bit of highly advanced and illegal nanotech—the eponymous Bohr Maker—escapes into the wild, it sets off a domino effect of unforeseeable events in both Earthbound slums and in the glittering Celestial Cities of space.

My second contribution to the bundle is Limit of Vision, a near-future tale of runaway biotechnology
—fast-forward evolution set mostly in the Mekong Delta of a future Vietnam.

8.What’s your current writing project?

Right now I’m getting ready to publish my newest novel, The Last Good Man, a very near-future military-themed thriller that will be released on June 20. Once that’s well on its way, I’ll return to work on one of the three novels I started over the past half year.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

My current audiobook is Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. And I just finished Alastair Reynolds’ Revenger, a wonderfully creative story of life in the remnants of a Dyson swarm.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

More and more, it’s the real world that inspires me, the incredible onslaught of new technologies and frightening politics. So much that exists in the world today, or that is on the verge of existence, was seen as science fiction just a few years ago. Robotics, big data, AI, oligarchs, surveillance on and off line, smart phones—the future is here.

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

Kudos to Lisa Mason for putting together this StoryBundle. If you need even more to read, you’ll find links to all my books at my website, Most are available in both print and ebook editions from the major vendors. My most recent project, the Red trilogy, also has an audio edition.


Thanks, Linda. Congratulations on your writing success. Keep the books coming!

Be sure to check out Linda's books. Grab the Artificial Intelligence StoryBundle if it's still available. You'll be glad you did. Otherwise, visit Linda's website to purchase these and any of her groundbreaking books.

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