J.D. Sanderson – Author of “A Footstep Echo”
Please tell us about your latest book.
My debut novel is called “A Footstep Echo.” It’s the story of an old widower named Bernard whose life is turned upside down after he meets a young woman who can travel through time. She can’t speak, and is therefore unable to tell him who she is, where she’s from, how she can travel this way, or what is chasing her.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Hopefully more stories in the “Echoverse.” I think I’ll call it that!
How do we find out about you and your books?
You can find me on Facebook @AuthorJDSanderson, or on Twitter @ascifiwriter!
Why did you decide to write science fiction novels?
I’ve been a fan of the genre ever since I first watched Star Trek: The Next Generation with my dad when I was five.
How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
Most of me is in there somewhere, as is much of my life, even if it’s only a hint. Writing is a wonderful form of catharsis.
When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
I’ve been writing short stories since I was old enough to hold a pen. I’ve had six or seven abandoned book attempts over the past 15 years. I’m 35 now, and last year I just decided to stop trying to plan it out and emulate my influences.
Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
This one took me 13 months.
What is your writing routine once you start a book?
Whenever I find time, which is usually at the end of the day.
What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
Watching one of my favorite films always helps!
What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?
I love telling stories. I’ve tried it with art and music, but I find it the easiest and most rewarding when I’m writing. I love being able to build a whole other world! At the end of the day I just love to create.
Where do your ideas come from?
That one’s tricky. I tried to start with a premise that seemed interesting that I hadn’t heard of before and just let my fingers and imagination churn away. It’s difficult to come up with an original idea when there have been so many amazing science fiction stories, whether you’re talking about film, novels, television, or even old time radio. I used to want to write in a similar style to one of my favorite authors, or tell a story that was similar to what I grew up loving. Once I just threw that all out and started winging it, I found more ideas than I could handle.
Do you feel humour is important in science fiction and why?
Humor can have a place in any kind of story. I personally just like to use it like a scalpel rather than a club. If I wanted that, I’d write a comedy. What annoys me personally is when humor becomes a crutch. Stories these days are literally bathing in bathos, especially at the theater. Humor is used so frequently that it ends up coming at a dramatic cost. I like my humor subtle and dry, but that’s just me.
What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?
I’ve actually never read a real romance novel. I suppose I have no problem with romantic interludes in a story if it serves the narrative, but I’ve yet to tackle it myself. I doubt I could sell it.
What kind of research do you do?
I spent weeks looking online for scientific papers on gravitational waves, black holes, green tech, time travel, and so on. I lived on Futurism.com, and listened to tons of free lectures on YouTube. I’m not a physicist, but I believe that if you’re writing any form of “hard” sci-fi, you should have something there to make it plausible.
Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre?
Science fiction is my first love. A Footstep Echo has elements of mystery and cli-fi, both of which I’d be interested in diving deeper into.
What does your wife think of your writing?
Oh man, I was so happy when my wife told me she liked what I was writing. She has incredible taste, and when she said she found the characters and story interesting, I was literally sighing in relief!
Do you ever ask him/her for advice?
All the time!
Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)
My wife and I live in South Dakota with our daughter and dog. I’ve been writing professionally since 2011, although most of it was in website content and SEO. I did have an exciting few years where I wrote for several great websites, including Heroic Hollywood, about movies and television. I love animals, film, and I collect old time radio plays. I’m obsessed Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, and grew up dreaming of the future.
Favorite Dessert? Pumpkin, cherry, or key lime pie
Favorite Season? Fall
Favorite Type of Hero? I’m partial to anti-heroes and vigilantes most of the time. (Batman!)
Favorite Type of Heroine? Either Wonder Woman or Dr. Louise Banks from Arrival.
What are some of your favorite things to do?
Walking my dog, going to the movies, or frequenting an awesome coffee shop.
Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?
My favorite author is Charles Sheffield. My favorite book, however, is Watership Down.
Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?
Frederik Pohl, Clifford D. Simak, Ted Chiang, David Weber, and Keith Laumer are some of my all-time favorites.
What do you think of critique groups in general?
I’ve never taken part in one, although I’m not opposed to the idea.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
How long have you been writing - have you always wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first short story when I was ten, and it was probably terrible! I never thought I was good enough to be a writer, or have a book published. It wasn’t until I just started going for it last year that I realized I might have the right stuff.
ow many books have you written, how many have been published?
This will be my first one. If it does okay, I’d love to continue the story.
After you've written your book and it's been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t planning on it!
Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?
Watership Down is my favorite book, followed by The Ganymede Club and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. As for my favorite hero, I have to defer again to my love of DC comics – Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman…
What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?
Well, this is my first novel I’ve ever completed, but it was much easier than all my previous attempts. Hard work, yes, but I had a ball doing it!
Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
I started out with two characters that I thought would be interesting to write, then I thought of a broad outline for the story. The setting and world building kind of wrote itself.
What is the hardest part of writing and the easiest part for you?
The hardest part of writing was keeping it unique. It’s so difficult to reinvent the wheel, but I tried as hard as I could. The easiest part was the dialogue. That’s where my stories live and breathe.
Have you experienced writer's block---> If so, how did you work through it?
Thankfully it wasn’t much of a problem this time around!
What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
Creating a world and seeing it play out.
If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?
As in a different career? I’d love to work with rescue animals.
Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Well, I don’t know if I’ve earned the right to offer that yet, but here goes – just write and get published wherever you can. Start with a small website. Get your work seen and get feedback. A couple of years ago my writing on a movie was seen by someone starting their own website. He
offered me a gig writing about superhero movies. That gave me the confidence to write my own novel. Write whenever you’re not writing, if that makes sense. Think about scenes, characters, and twists that you would love while you’re just walking around. Above all else, keep it original!