Once again Fralerighe is proud to bring you the column “It’s a long way to the top”! This time we will interview one of the most world-known sci-fi writers of our time, David Brin!
1) Please, can you talk a little bit about yourself? Who is, really David Brin?
David Brin is a scientist, tech speaker/consultant, and author. His new novel about our survival in the near future is Existence. A film by Kevin Costner was based on The Postman. His 16 novels, including NY Times Bestsellers and Hugo Award winners, have been translated into more than twenty languages. Earth, foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and the world wide web. David appears frequently on shows such as Nova and The Universe and Life After People, speaking about science and future trends. His non-fiction book — The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Freedom and Privacy? — won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association. (Website: http://www.davidbrin.com/)
2) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I earn my living as a writer. In other words, as a magician, shaman, metaphorist. By chant and incantation — and with the active collaboration of my clients, the readers — I create images, characters, alternate realities in other minds. It is an ancient, venerable profession. All tribes have had storytellers, who wove legends round the campfire. My specialty involves epics not about long ago, but times and places yet to come. It attempts to weave realistic might-bes, and vivid might-have-beens. Above all, it is the literature of change.
3) Which are the origins of your books?
Sometimes a character is the beginning. Or a situation. Or some aspect of human destiny. Or a warning of some possible danger. Stories can originate in many ways. The important thing is to make it a thought experiment that explores all-angles. How will this affect the characters? Other people? Civilization? Everything ties together.
4) Do you feel affection for your characters?
Of course. They become family. And hence, they often fight me!
5) Please, talk about your first positive meeting with the Publishing. How was it?
My own first published work — SUNDIVER — was a murder mystery because that style of fiction teaches basic plotting… indeed, the first homicide victim was kept away from CSI by dumping his body into the sun! That novel was published almost two years before my doctoral thesis, so I suppose I was a published author before I was a credentialed scientist.
I had spent three years developing my skills. So when I submitted my first work of fiction, the first publisher bought it.
6) Currently, what is your way to approach an editor?
I always listen. Before my books go to the publisher, already forty pre-readers have given me feedback. You can find their names at the back of each book! I want to know where the pace was slow, or where they were able to put the book down.
7) If you should start again from the beginning, is there a thing you would avoid to do, professionally speaking? If yes, please can you explain it?
I might write more often from outline.
8) Often a new writer does a lot of mistakes during the drawing up of his novel. According to you, which is the most frequent error a new writer could do?
Failure to study basic skills. Conversation, action, and especially point-of-view… these are very difficult to master. You can learn by re-typing an especially good scene, by a fine writer. Learn their methods. Then invent your own.
9) And what about the errors made during the delivery stage to the editor?
Take care of those with pre-readers!
10) Some people think about the editor as a Mr. Fix-It. Others, instead, cherish the hope that web-reviews could enhance the sales. According to you, which is the most frequent false hope?
Most new writers think they are farther along than they are. They skip the important steps of workshopping their works with other (often harsh) writers.
11) Think about courses in creative writing. How do you consider them? Have you ever attended one? Are you a creative writing teacher?
I used to attend such classes. More often to get a deadline, requiring me to write ten pages per week or more. But also to see how my works would confuse the other students. Every confusion was my fault! Once I learned that, progress happened quickly.
But do not concentrate or specialize in “creative writing” in school! Do something useful and perfect your art on the side. If it is meant to be, then the art will “take over.”
12) What kind of relationship do you have with your readers? Do you try to satisfy their wishes or you like to astonish them?
Both. Many writers create the same kind of story over and over because their readers like that. My readers demand: “take me somewhere I have never been, before.”
13) Each author wish to reach certain goals during his carrier. Generally, he likes to imagine the moment, and often thinks to know how it would make him feel. Since you have achieved these kind of goals (like the Hugo Award), what can you say about them? Which are the aspects that the aspiring author cannot imagine?
Being the hot, new author only lasts a few years! Then you are a venerable old guy!
14) Have you ever been approached impolitely, or even offensively, by an aspiring author?
Of course I have! But I find that if I am kind, then usually that sets the tone.
15) As a conclusion, do you wish to give some advice to rookie writers?
I have a whole web site — and video — dedicated to such advice.
Good luck and stay bold. Explore! And make us believe it.
Cliccate qui per la versione italiana dell’intervista!