17 January 2007

Author Answers with Syne Mitchell

Hey sci-fi fans -- this week's author is Syne Mitchell. Mitchell's latest book is The Last Mortal Man.

For more about her, check out her website.

WN: Why should a reader pick up one of your books?
MITCHELL: For a thought-provoking and fun read. I write what I call "firm SF" in that I work hard to get the science details right, but my real goal as a writer is to tell a great story.

WN: On your blog, you mention that Last Mortal Man will be the one and only volume in the Deathless series… as a writer, is it hard to let go of one idea and move on to the next project?
MITCHELL: I had the next two novels outlined, with the expectation that the series would continue, so yes, it was a disappointment when they weren't picked up. But I've got a head chock full of story ideas, so there's no end of material. My current project is something quite different: epic, modern day, a subtle twist of fantasy. I'm very excited about it.

WN: How much research do you have to do to get the science part of science-fiction to be real and/or believable? Where’s the line between the science and the fiction part?
MITCHELL: I have a background in science, and groan when I read a book or watch a movie with blatant scientific bloopers. When I taught, I often had to work to correct misconceptions that my students had picked up from entertainment media. So when I sit down to write a book, I try very hard to get the details right. Especially if it's a field like microbiology, which I haven't studied. I read books, ask questions through email, do scientific calculations, interview specialists, and even take tours of research facilities like genetics labs. Do I still make mistakes in my books? Of course. I'm only human. But I hope my readers give me credit for trying hard to get the details right.

WN: What’s your writing process like?
MITCHELL: I'm currently playing around with that, trying new things. Before, I always outlined each book, building a solid skeleton for the story before I wrote a word. Now I'm writing more organically, letting the story evolve as I go along.

WN: If you got stranded on a desert island with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
MITCHELL: Dyson Rader from THE LAST MORTAL MAN. (Dyson is actually Dixon Tully from TECHNOGENESIS with the serial numbers filed off. I loved that character so much that I sneakily brought him back under a different guise in my latest novel.) He's competent, sexy, smart, fun. The kind of guy who could probably find a way off the island; but with him around why would you want to?

WN: What is the best/most influential book you have ever read and why did it inspire you?
MITCHELL: It would be hard to point to just one. I love the work of Larry Niven, Tanith Lee, Peter S. Beagle, Spider Robinson, Ursula LeGuin, Octavia Butler, and gosh, so many more. I'm an omnivorous reader and in my school days would read a novel-and-a-half a day. (Thank goodness for libraries!) I loved different books for different things. Larry Niven's books for the brain puzzles, Spider Robinson's for the humor and heart. LeGuin's work for it's epic grandeur. Tanith's for the marvelous settings. The list is endless...

WN: What is your favorite word and why?
MITCHELL: Any word I know that my husband doesn't. Having two writers in the family, we get a bit competitive.

WN: What piece of advice helped you out the most as a writer?
MITCHELL: "Apply your bottom to the chair and write!" to paraphrase a quote from Marion Zimmer Bradley.

The most important thing about being a writer is to write. All the agents, editors, readers in the world won't be a lick of help if you don't write the darned thing down. If it's bad, you can always fix it later.

To put it simply: Writers write.

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