Interview with Best-Selling Author Kevin J. Anderson
JMW: Hello, this is Jean Marie Ward for BuzzyMag.com. With me today is international bestseller Kevin J. Anderson. Welcome Kevin.
Kevin J. Anderson: Thank you very much. You had to be persistent. This is like the third year we’ve been trying to do this. We never manage to cross paths.
JMW: I know. Yes but everybody from D.O.D knows I’m a nudge.
Kevin J. Anderson: If you, I mean you’ve been seeing some of the background noise going on here. It is just a wild circus of Dragon Con. I’ve been signing books and meeting fans and constantly running around. Thank you for a chance to just sit still for a second and talk.
JMW: We’re glad to have you and we’re glad to having you sitting because we don’t want you to fall over. You’ve got a lot more books to sign. I understand how discipline and talent allowed you to move from being a civil servant to writing over a hundred books and 50 best sellers. How the heck did a civil servant get into rock and roll?
Kevin J. Anderson: That’s where I started. When I was growing up in a small town in Wisconsin, we didn’t have any record stores. What we had was the Columbia Record Club. You had this mailing every month. They had little stamps in the mail that you could pick albums from. You got like 12 albums for a dollar if you signed up for their club. When I signed up for it I didn’t know what most of these albums were but there was science fiction looking albums in there. There was a group called Rush from Canada. A Science Fiction one called 2112. I listened to it and I got hooked. That’s how I started listening. They were inspiring my stories and eventually it’s come full circle. I got to know the band members over the years. I just wrote a book called Clockwork Angels, which is the novel based on their new album.
JMW: That is so cool. That’s not the only new project or series you’ve got in the works. Could you tell our viewers a little bit about what’s happening in your life in the next few months?
Kevin J. Anderson: A lot. One of the other fun things, which is completely different from my Star Wars and Dune, or even the Clockwork Angels book, I have a new series that features Dan Shambles, Zombies P.I. These are really hilarious, laugh out loud detective novels featuring a zombie detective. He solves crimes with ghosts and witches and mummies and werewolves and vampires. It’s like a hard boiled P.I. but it’s also laugh out loud.
He got killed while investigating one case but you can’t keep a good private eye down. He’s back from the dead and back on the case. I’ve got the first three of those books out. I’m about to start the fourth one. I just think that’s hilarious. They’re fun to write and the readers seem to love them.
I have a new one that’s coming out from Amazon in October that they’re going to serialize, like the old Charles Dickens stuff so there will be a chapter or two a week, every single week until the book is done. That’s called the Dragon Business. It’s a very funny fantasy this time about a group of medieval con men who go from kingdom to kingdom selling their services as dragon slayers even though there’s no dragon.
JMW: Well hey that wouldn’t be the first time people sold what didn’t exist. Of all the genre’s and types of fiction you’ve written over the years, what was the biggest stretch? From science fiction to fantasy novels to comics. Dune to zombie comedy. What was the biggest stretch and why.
Kevin J. Anderson: Wow. I just have multiple personalities I guess. I can read all of these things and I write all of those things. I enjoy doing all kinds of different, so I’m not stuck in the same kind of books over and over and over again because I write a lot. I write five or six books a year. I like to switch it up. I’ll do a big science fiction one and then I might do a super hero novel. Then I’ll do a zombie detective series. Then I might do a fantasy. I like to read a lot different things, so I like to write a lot of different things.
JMW: And in different formats, with the comics and the novels.
Kevin J. Anderson: Yeah I mean, with comics, novels. For a long time I tried to get something into script form for a TV show or for movies.That’s even harder to break into than publishing. I’ve planted seeds all over the place. I’m getting readers from lots of different directions and still enjoying what I’m doing.
JMW: That’s the important thing. You’ve written a lot of collaborations. Frank Herbert and all that. What is the best and the worst thing about writing collaboratively.
Kevin J. Anderson: The best thing is, I love to brainstorm with people. So, if I’m with a collaborator and we’ve got an idea for a book, we just spend days throwing out ideas, and seeing where the story can go and what the characters can do and what twists we can come up with. And the way we build on each other is like a jazz performance. I’ll play something and he’ll play something. You riff off of each other. It turns out really better than anything either of us could do the same.
The harder part is people don’t understand that when you have two people writing a book it’s not just half as much work. It’s almost as much work to make my chapters mesh with the co-authors chapters. And for him or her to do the same thing and it goes back and forth.
It is a more intensive process than if I get to just write my own book and do what ever I want. I’ve always been able to play well with others. We have a good time and that’s what allowed me to do all the Dune books with (inaudible) Herbert and some other books we’ve got. Thrillers with Doug [Beeson] and fantasies with my wife Rebecca. All of it turns out well and I do my own stuff too.
JMW: Yeah. The best of all possible worlds.
Kevin J. Anderson: Yeah, it’s not an either or, it’s an all of the above.
JMW: That seems to be the theme of this interview. It is all of the above. You’ve been nominated and have received many honors over the years. Which one was the most fun?
Kevin J. Anderson: Most fun. Well, the book I wrote with Rush, the Clockwork Angels book, has been getting a lot of attention. I won some awards for that one. What was interesting was it was nominated also for the Colorado Book Award which is a very prestigious, high end literary award. Also nominated for the Scribe Award which is done by the Media Tie In Association. Which some snotty people might consider it sort of a low end award. I have always been a member of that organization and I think it’s very much an honor. To get that much attention from both the Media Tie In Writers and the Literary Circles for the same book was kind of a cool thing.
JMW: That is so cool. We’re coming up on the end of the interview. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Kevin J. Anderson: We have so many irons in the fire. If you don’t think that you can find one of my books that you’ll enjoy then try a different one. We’ve got lots of different things there. I want to thank everybody for buying my books because it helps me have the best job in the world.
Jean Marie Ward writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between, including art books, novels (2008 Indie Book double-finalist With Nine You Get Vanyr), and short stories such as WSFA Small Press Award finalist “Lord Bai’s Discovery” and “Personal Demons” in the award-winning anthology Hellebore and Rue. Her videos include author interviews and tutorials.