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By Patrick (2007-01-10) Q: After what can only be called an illustrious and prolific career, what motivates you to keep on writing?
Nobody will pay me to do anything else.
Q: What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?
I've always concentrated on the inner life of the characters, so the readers feel as if they've lived inside somebody else's skin.
Q: EMPIRE seems to be rather different from your previous works. What compelled you to write such a novel?
I try never to write the same book twice. I hope all my novels feel different from all my other novels. This time, though, the difference is one of genre -- Empire is a "thriller," which means it centers far more on action and adventure than most of my other work. Also, it's quite contemporary, which means I have to fit it into the real world rather than simply making up whatever details I need.
Q: Without giving anything away, what can you tell readers about EMPIRE?
An officer working at the Pentagon has been assigned to guess what plans terrorists might use to cause mayhem in the DC area. He is shocked when one of his plans is actually used by terrorists to assassinate the President -- meaning that somebody in the Pentagon has leaked his plans to the enemy. What is more devastating is when this turns out to have been only a prelude to the conquest of New York City by, not foreign terrorists, but Americans in an attempt to start a blue-state-vs.-red state civil war. Instead of taking sides, the heroes of Empire try to quell the war before it can get fully started.
Q: What advice would you give a younger Orson Scott Card concerning his writing career? Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
Actually, I think I -- and my agent and publishers -- have done about as well as we could at every stage. Even the mistakes were what allowed me to learn to do better the next time -- so I can't even wish I hadn't made them!
Q: What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write both the Ender series and the Tales of Alvin Maker?
The Tales of Alvin Maker was a deliberate attempt to answer Spenser's Faerie Queene with an epic poem in the American vernacular, using American folk magic as part of the setting. The resulting poem, "Prentice Alvin and the No-Good Plow" became the root of the Alvin Maker series.
"Ender's Game" began when I was sixteen and had just read Asimov's Foundation trilogy. I thought: I want to write a science fiction story. My brother had just come back from a stint in Korea, and using his experiences in training and in the military, plus what I had learned from reading over the years, I tried to imagine how one might train soldiers for combat in the three-dimensional battlefields of space.
Q: Will MASTER ALVIN bring the Tales of Alvin Maker series to a close?
No matter how long the seventh volume is, it will be the last one. Which is not to say I can't do additional side-stories, like "Grinning Man" and "Yazoo Queen," which have already been published separately from any of the Alvin Maker books.
Q: In light of the current market, are you tempted to write one of those enormous fantasy epics which continue to be the most successful series at the moment?
Not just tempted. I have wanted to do so for a long time. But I love working with contemporary fantasy, where characters from our world have to deal with magic from other times and places, as in Magic Street and Enchantment. So ... look for something rather soon from my "Mithermages" universe (only "Sandmagic" has been published from that world, though a soon-to-come anthology edited by Gardner Dozois will include the story "Stonefather," which is one of the best I've written in years).
Q: What project will you be tackling next?
Mithermages, as soon as I get the Ender Christmas book done. Not to mention my rewrite of Taming of the Shrew. And the retelling of Hamlet for a ghost-story anthology. Just little things.