Things always get crazy before a holiday, and today is no exception. But sit back and enjoy–I have an interview today with Edward M. Grant, science fiction writer who has also worked on indie films. You can find out more about Edward at the links below:
1. So what first inspired you to write a book?
I’ve been writing for as long as I remember. Even as a kid in primary school, the teacher would ask us to write a story, and I’d come back the next week with a novel. I’m sure they were dire, but I clearly had determination, if not talent. In the 90s, I became fed up with rejections from publishers and switched to writing movie scripts instead while I worked on indie movies in the UK. It was only when Amazon made self-publishing viable that I began writing novels and short stories again.
2. I see you like science fiction. Why? What about this genre appeals to you?
When I was a kid, the Apollo program was coming to an end with American and Soviet astronauts meeting in space, Concorde was just starting to fly, and we all knew we’d be travelling around the world at five times the speed of sound and living on the Moon by the time I grew up. The present of 1970s England might have been perpetual strikes and power cuts, but SF told us the future was going to be much better. Well, it didn’t work out that way, but SF remained one of the most interesting and optimistic genres, and one which often made today’s Big Issues seem quite laughable when compared with issues humanity will have to face in the future. I suspect many of us are writing it so we can imagine the future we’d like to have been living in, had things turned out differently.
3. I understand you have a series of short pieces, the “Dirk Beretta” series. Tell me about that.
Dirk Beretta is a tough but dumb retired Space Marine, who quit the service after most of his friends were killed by Space Weasels at the Battle of Din Bin Foo, which is now a high-class tourist resort. So far, as he searches for another line of work that suits his destructive skills, he’s rescued a damsel in distress, saved an alien planet from the perils of democracy, and another from an environmentally unsound mining company. The next story, which will hopefully be out by Christmas, takes him back in time to ancient Egypt, in a desperate attempt to save the bagel. I wrote them for fun, after inventing the character for a writing exercise on a web forum, and never really expected to sell many copies. I was surprised when ‘Space Weasels’ sold more ebooks than all my other stories.
4. What do you have coming out next?
I’ve just finished ‘Smiling Is Contagious’, my attempt at a hard SF zombie short story, and plan to release it for Halloween. I wrote it a couple of years ago for an SF anthology, but the story I ended up with wasn’t quite what they were looking for. The new version is about three times as long, and I’m going to expand it into a novel for NaNoWriMo this year. I have a horror short story in the upcoming charity anthology, ‘For Whom The Bell Trolls’, and will have an SF story in the Kboards flash fiction anthology. After that… well, I was just looking through the unfinished novels on my computer, and I have about a dozen that I need to finish off and publish!
5. Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
I’ve sung karaoke–badly–on British TV.
6. Who is your favorite writer, and why?
If I had to pick one, it would be Arthur C Clarke. I have many of his books on my book shelves, and re-read some now and again. His non-fiction was always insightful and thought-provoking, even when later events proved his predictions wrong. His fiction, while often dated and weak on characterization, generally tried to build realistic stories based on the scientific understanding of the time.
7. I think a common perception is that science fiction writers have to be scientists. What’s your background, and how has it helped or not helped in your writing?
I studied Physics at Oxford, so I’m definitely in that category. I’m not entirely sure it does help, as I’m constantly wondering whether the things I’m writing could actually work, and then going into hours of research to see whether I’m right. Other writers would probably just pick something that seems plausible and leave it at that.
8. What advice do you have for other writers?
No matter how much you think you’ve learned about writing, in a year or two, you’ll look back on today’s stories and realize how little you knew.