Author Interview: John Scalzi

If you’ve somehow missed the announcement, here it is: Hugo Award-winning author John Scalzi is coming back to Fort Collins!

We’re a stop on his tour for the second book in his Interdependency series–the space opera that started with The Collapsing Empire and is continuing now with The Consuming Fire. We emailed him some questions to answer and he was kind enough to respond. So without further ado–the interview:

1. You’re one of the kings of current sci-fi, and have discussed Heinlein, Card, and Haldeman as influences on your trajectory to the stars. Was there an inciting incident that got you into space and space-adjacent fiction? 

Given my past position at SFWA [Science Fiction Writers of America], I prefer to think of myself as an ex-president of Science Fiction. That said, the inciting incident was actually flipping a coin. What happened was, about 20 years ago, I decided I wanted to write a novel. But I couldn’t decide between science fiction or mystery. So I flipped the coin. It came out heads, which meant science fiction. I always wonder what would happen if it had come up tails.

2. The Flow, the faster-than-light travel system you’ve devised for the Interdependency series, is described as a river that changes course. If given the chance, would you ever jump in that river and see where it takes you (and where would you most want to go)? Or would you rather keep your feet firmly planted on Earth? 
I would definitely go with the Flow, if it had already been sufficiently explored. I realize that doesn’t sound very adventurous of me, but in fact I do have a lot of things going on here on the planet Earth, so I wouldn’t be in a rush to drop everything and go explore. That said, if I knew that there was an interesting place on the other side of the Flow, I would definitely give it a try.
3.  You’ve been writing your blog, Whatever, for 20 years, and have published something like 30 books in less time; how do you maintain pace? What writing habit have you found most helpful for maintaining both the blog and the novels? 
I think it’s just that I really like to write, and also, I have training as a journalist. That means that I have some experience banging out copy very quickly and to specification. That makes it easy to do a lot of writing.
4.  Your first published novel, Old Man’s War, was originally serialized on your blog as a chapter a day. Presumably you’d written the whole book before beginning to post, but was there a different feeling to writing for a day-by-day audience as opposed to just having the full, finished book done and out all at once?
They’re eerily similar, in that when people get to the end, whether it be a chapter or a novel, the first thing they usually say is, the where is the rest of it? They always want to know what’s coming next. So in that respect, there’s not much difference.
5. Inevitably, we must ask you about bacon. Does the bacon ever creep off the Canonical Bacon Page and into your non-internet life? 
I mean, I eat bacon all the time, so. Actually, though, right now, what I get the most out of is people reacting to my burritos, which are usually horrific sort of food experiences. What they really are, is me putting leftovers into tortilla so that I don’t have to waste food. But, the mix and match nature of them apparently disturbs many people, including Wil Wheaton. I kind of enjoy that.
6. What is the best and/or worst interview question you’ve ever been asked?
I can’t remember either the best or the worst. I think best is hard to quantify, because a lot of it will depend on where your brain is at at the time. As for the worst, I think I’ve mostly blocked them out. That said, I have done the thing where I have gotten a bunch of questions from an interviewer in email, and I was unhappy with them, and sent them back saying, “Look, I get asked these particular questions all the time, can you give me some new questions? That way you will get a much more interesting interview than if I just respond with rote responses, which is what I will do with these particular questions.” So I guess the worst questions are the ones that I get asked a hundred or even a thousand different times.

7. What author, dead or alive, would you most like to have dinner with, and why? 

I have been very fortunate that I have been able to have dinner with a lot of the authors that I would answer this question for! But mostly, I don’t think of it in the sense of who is a great author that I would love to have dinner with. I would rather just have dinner with a bunch of my friends, who happen to be authors. That’s a lot of fun.

Thank you so much, John! (Thanks for not sending the questions back to request new ones… though we would have been happy to provide!)
John Scalzi will be joining us at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (2000 Stover Street) on Sunday, October 21st at 7pm to celebrate the release of The Consuming Fire. The event is free, but a ticket is required–call or email the store to reserve your ticket today!
You can find out more about John here, at his website and blog, Whatever.
The Consuming Fire comes out on the 16th, so you can pre-order online here, or call the store to reserve a copy!
Happy reading!

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