Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NEWSLETTER: Spectra Pulse: November 2007

November 2007
Spectra Pulse
Spectra Pulse recently asked Kim Stanly Robinson, author of Sixty Days and Counting, to give us an inside look at his writing life and his novels. Here's what he shared with us.
Writing habits:
I usually work Monday through Friday in the mornings after the family has gone off to school and work. If the weather is at all conducive to being outdoors, which it often is in the California central valley, then I take my laptop outside and work in our front courtyard on a cafe table under a Japanese maple. There is a swale that can become a pool if I want to look at water in between sentences. Gates can be closed to close me in, very important, and ever since writing The Years of Rice and Salt I will often light a stick of incense in order to mark the ritual nature of the moment, which says Now You Are Writing. The courtyard itself is something I've built in the last several years, putting in patio and table, and with the help of a friend, fence and then gates. I often have a boom box out there to play music, almost always instrumental and contemplative, like Debussy's piano music or Bach's cello suites. While doing first draft, that morning session is about as much as I can do in a day, though I look over what I've done in the afternoon sometimes, and revise. As I get closer to the end of a novel I put in longer hours, increasing to much longer hours, like every waking hour every day (and some sleeping hours too). Then the music shifts to Beethoven's late quartets, which mark You Are In the Final Stretch.
What challenges you the most about writing:
Getting started is hard. It's best to have that moment made into an invariable habit, and ritualized somehow, so there is less of a decision involved. It's like jumping into the ocean, the cold shock of starting is a bit intimidating. Once in, it gets better.
Best moment in the writing process:
The best moments are those hours that pass in what seems like a minute, because I am deep into it. That usually happens when revising; first draft is more stop and go, with time to think and notice time pass. But revision becomes a process of reading and changing, reading and changing, and that allows me to dive really deep. It's like meditation I suppose, though I have never been able to meditate so I'm not sure. Anyway it is certainly the best part of writing, and all of the rest of the business ranges from good to bad, but is more than worth it to support those writing hours.
Favorite scene/bit in the book:
I like all the scenes in which Washington DC is transformed into a snowscape suitable for cross-country skiing, winter camping, animals on the loose, Potomac frozen over, and so forth. Those were a lot of fun to imagine and to write.
Favorite character in the book:
Frank Vanderwal is I suppose my favorite, although I like all of them a lot. The scientist that is so scientific that they try to live their life scientifically is one of my favorite comic situations, in life and in fiction, and I've done it before: Sax Russell in the Mars books was that kind of character, starting as a kind of geek scientist; Frank Vanderwal starts as a jock scientist, and has a different character beyond that basic type, but his attempt to make up a "paleolithic postmodern" lifestyle based on "purely scientific" reasoning was one of the great pleasures of the book for me.
Scene in the book you're most surprised you wrote:
Now that you mention it, I'm surprised I ever found myself having to write a president's inaugural address. I wasn't expecting that but the book seemed to demand it, and I have started a little tradition of including unusual documents in my novels--constitutions, programs, journal abstracts, blog posts--so now when the book asks for such odd things, I try to comply.
The one line high-concept:
Climate change hammers us and we come out better than ever. This can happen if we play it smart.
Ways in which the book has fed back on your life:
There are so many of these. Now we have photovoltaic panels on our roof, which I did in part as research for the book (but too late as it turned out). Lifestyle changes, different awarenesses of how we live and why. Many attempts to burn less carbon dioxide. A lot of pleasure in the simplest pleasures.
Main inspiration for the book:
The Greenland ice core data at the start of this century showed that abrupt climate change can be as fast as three years, and change things drastically. We are probably headed for something like that, and it seemed like a good scenario for a science fiction novel, both interesting and important.
What's next?
I'm writing a novel about Galileo, which will be published in February 2009.
Book currently on nightstand:
I'm reading the Robert Penn Warren collection of Melville's poetry, and just finished Karen Joy Fowler's upcoming Ice City, and am also re-reading Clifford Simak's Time and Again, and John Banville's Doctor Copernicus, and am starting Balzac's The Wrong Side of Paris.
Place you'd most like to visit (real of fictional):
The Sierra Nevada (always), also Switzerland, the Shetland Islands, Nepal, Crete, Ross Island, Devon Island, Glacier Bay, Patagonia. Basically, you name it, I'd like to visit it.
Why do you read:
I read to get into other heads and live other lives, and think about what things mean.

Your Reviews for BLOODFEVER are in!
Karen Marie Moning
"If you liked the X-files, you are going to love Bloodfever! It had me at the edge of my seat from the first page. [Bloodfever] is full of suspense, interesting characters, and things that go bump in the night. I can hardly wait for the next book in the series." —Connie S., Scottsdale, AZ
"Bloodfever is chick lit gone bad in the very best way. Mac is engaging and compelling with her combination of pink-garbed debutante and savage warrior. I loved the book, and Darkfever, the first in the series, is now on my to buy list." —Margaret F., Reno, NV
"I couldn't put down Karen Marie Moning's Bloodfever. Her contemporary and creative interpretation of faery life is somewhere between fantasy and science fiction. The third installment of this series, Faefever, can't get on the bookshelves fast enough for me!" —Marjorie K., Saint Paul, MN
"I was enthralled and drawn into MacKayla Lane's life from the first page to the last page of Bloodfever and intend to go back and read Darkfever. This is not a traditional romance story, it follows along the likes of Laurell K. Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong, or Kim Harrison's series. I highly recommend this." —Linda N., Mableton, GA
"A real page-turner . . . as many questions are asked as are answered. My only complaint is that we have to wait another year for the next episode." —Kathy M., Richmond, VA
"Bloodfever is not a book that I would normally pick up, but I am so glad that I read it. I was captured by Mac's plight from page 1 and couldn't put the book down. I found Moning's writing style to be very entertaining—the book had the right mix of humor, fantasy, mystery, and romance . . . Very suspenseful right up to the last page. I highly recommend this book!" —Julie P., Mechanicsburg, PA
"Bloodfever was riveting from the beginning. I had never read this author before and soon realized that this was a sequel, but it was not necessary to read the first book to completely enjoy this one. Karen Marie Moning is an outstanding writer and . . . her vision is quite different than any other author I have read with similar themes. I strongly recommend both her Fever books." —David O., Shakopee, MN
"Bloodfever captured my complete attention. I just finished it a little while ago and I'm ready for more of MacKayla Lane and her mysterious protector Jericho Barrons. One of the most interesting books I've read this year."
—Vicki K., Longview, TX
"Bloodfever was a fascinating and exciting story. The romance and mystery is nicely blended together and . . . there were plenty of twists to keep me up reading late into the night. I look forward to many more books by Karen Marie Moning. I love the characters and will definitely recommend this series to my friends." —Linda H., Elizabeth, NJ
"Bloodfever is the first book by Karen Marie Moning that I've read but it won't be the last . . . hard to put down."—Brenda S., San Jose, CA
"This is a book that is easy to like as soon as you open the cover. I don't usually think of myself as a fan of romantic fantasy but I found the world that Karen Marie Moning has created to be appealing enough to consider a return visit." —Joel C., Placentia, CA
"Bloodfever, the second book in Karen Marie Moning's Fever Series, gets you from the beginning and keeps you hooked! MacKayla Lane comes alive on the page. The description of the Fae creatures she encounters in her search for a way to catch her sister's killer are so detailed that they are easy (and scary) to picture. I can't wait to see where she goes in the next book." —Jill B., Macungie, PA
"This second book in the series finds a stronger, fiercer, and more daring Mac. However, we meet a few new characters that will either hinder Mac or help her in her quest with what needs to get done. Will she be able to face and defeat the nightmarish monsters, or will she succumb to living a life far worse than a mortal death? Find out in this exciting second book in Karen Marie Moning's Fever series." —Bridget C., Port Charlotte, FL

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