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This Interview has been provided by Orbit, and is printed with their permission.
Orson Scott Card is one of the true stars of SF and fantasy writing. His Ender saga and Homecoming series have won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and his books make regular sorties into the bestseller lists - last year's ENDER'S SHADOW proving no exception. This month sees the publication of its stunning follow-up, THE SHADOW OF THE HEGEMON, as well as the reissue of the first three Tales of Alvin Maker. And somehow Orson has still found the time to chat with us.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
There are two reasons why anyone becomes a writer. One is: "That book was so good, I want to be a writer so I can create something like that". The other is: "If that piece of crap can get published, then I sure can". I think the second motive is the more productive one, for instead of imitating you'll be forging your own path. The truth is, both motives have some part in every writer - a love of literature mixed with contempt for or resentment of certain rules or schools of thought.
Did you have any other jobs prior to becoming a full-time writer?
I was a copy-editor and rewriter for a university press and a religious magazine. There's no better training than trying to find the core of someone else's idea and restructuring it so it will actually work. And by being a copy-editor, I learned all the rules that I now break when it suits my purpose.
Of the books you have written, do you have a favourite?
Every book was the best I could do at the time I wrote it, and every book was a story I still care about and believe in. There are personal connections, though, which make some of them have a particular sentimental connection. For instance, Lost Boys is my only semi-autobiographical work, so it brings back a couple of important years in my family's past. Saints is the story of my ancestors. Enchantment may be my best novel, period; Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus may be my best science fiction novel; the Alvin Maker books are a pure joy to write; the Homecoming series was my reinvention of a story that is very important in my life, and I think it absolutely succeeded; Hart's Hope may be my very best writing (though it's also my darkest book); and so on, and so on. By the time I'm through with a list of "favourites," I usually end up having listed every book I wrote ...
What is your favourite book?
My favourite all-time work of fiction: Lord of the Rings. My favourite all-time nonfiction book: Guns, Germs, and Steel. Ask me again next week, you'll get a different answer. My favourite recently-read novel: Sean Stewart's "Nobody's Son"; my favourite recently-read nonfiction was a new biography of Benjamin Franklin.
Who is your favourite contemporary author?
My favourite contemporary author is Richard Russo. He doesn't write enough, however, so in between I look for books by Ann Tyler, Sue Grafton, James Lee Burke, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Robert Crais, Robert Parker, Dave Wolverton/David Farland, Octavia Butler, Lisa Goldstein, Jane Yolen, Charles deLint, William Sleator, Robert Cormier, William Goldman, Stephen Saylor ... these are writers that are dependably excellent. And the list of dead authors that are worth discovering or rereading is even longer.
What book would you make compulsory reading?
I would punish elitist English professors by making them read Ulysses over and over until they admit that it's a long, well-written joke on literature. I would require people who think they hate science fiction to read Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy. I would require people who read only science fiction to read Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo or Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Ann Tyler. And I would require people who never read at all to read William Goldman's The Princess Bride or Robert Cormier's I Am the Cheese. In truth, though, the world would be a better place if everybody just read Leonard Pitts's book on fatherhood.
Copyright© 2002 Orbit
. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. The interview has been provided by Orbit
and is printed with their permission.