December 16, 2014
Recently I spent several very pleasant evenings with Jane Lindskold's Artemis Awakening. It is, as I mentioned on Facebook, my kind of book. Griffin Dane lives in the far future, in a time when humans are spread across a variety of worlds. He has an interest in historical mysteries, and goes looking for what really happened on Artemis, a planet that had more or less dropped off the timeline five centuries earlier. I've known Jane for a long time. She'd recently read Coming Home, so a conversation or two was probably inevitable. Here's the one about AA.
1. Jane, it's obvious from your work that you have a fascination with mythology. What prompted that?
I can't really say "what" because I've been fascinated by mythology since I was quite young. By the time I was nine I'd read The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid all in adult versions, because I was already familiar with most of the characters and that provided a framework for the larger, more complicated, epics.
The fascination has continued lifelong, though. I keep reading and re-reading. I don't know why. Maybe "Truth" is hidden in between the various tales about how we (humans, the world, the rest of the creatures) came to be. Maybe it's just because they're good yarns.
2. The other kids in the fourth grade must have just loved you. The giant really had only one eye? Are you kidding? You also enjoy using intelligent animals as characters. What advantage does this provide?
I'm not sure it's an "advantage." So many people automatically discount anything with animals in it as "not serious" or "fable." Never mind that beast tales and fables have a long tradition of being very serious indeed.
Intelligent animals as characters… Well, the idea that animals are not intelligent is a relatively modern view, one strongly colored by the hierarchy that puts God (or some divine element) at the top, angels (or some spirit/supernatural) next, humans next, then animals, and lastly plants.
Maybe it's all that mythology I read, but I tend to think of all animals as intelligent, just differently intelligent than we are. In my stories, rather than getting all pedantic, I provide whatever justification is needed, whether the "Royal" beasts in the Firekeeper books or the genetic engineering in Artemis Awakening or none at all.
3. You clearly have an affection for cats. I've killed off a few major characters over the years, but the death that seemed to seriously irritate readers was that of Chase Kolpath's kitten, carried off by a hawk when she was a child. Honor Harrington and Adara both have large feline companions. Is there a back story?
Coincidence, though Weber and I both have (or are owned by) domestic felines.
When Weber asked me if I wanted to collaborate with him on prequels to the Honor Harrington novels (the "Star Kingdom" novels, which feature young Stephanie Harrington), I'd already been thinking about doing something with felines. I might even have already written the proposal for Artemis Awakening and my agent was shopping it. I can't recall precisely.
Anyhow, the two projects came "live" at right about the same time. Fortunately, treecats really are aliens, not felines. They have prehensile tails like monkeys, are six-limbed, and owe as much to a weasel as to a cat. They also aren't really that large, about two feet in the torso, though their long tails double that.
Sand Shadow, the puma in Artemis Awakening, is much larger. Although she has a few tricks, she is closer to the real animal. Making the transition between books wasn't all that hard.
4. Sand Shadow and Adara constitute a couple of characters you want on your side. Griffin Dane was lucky they were there when he needed help. Will we see these characters again?
Yes. Artemis Invaded (which is NOT military SF) is scheduled for late June of 2015. Sand Shadow is in it and Honeychild the bear has a much larger role. Oh, and there are some humans, too…
5. I got drawn into Artemis Awakening from the opening lines with Griffin's crash landing on a world lost to history. It's the kind of science fiction I especially enjoy. Why do we love SF so much?
I don't know about you… I love SF because it's the literature of possibility. That's why I get frustrated when I see a novel that is a thinly veiled allegory for some current problem. Thank you for not doing that! Even when Hutch is fighting for the budget for the space program, we get to go to new places, see new things… That makes why we want a space program so much more intense.
When I was in college, I discovered Larry Niven's "Known Space" tales. I wanted to be an asteroid miner, mix with Puppeteers and Kzinti. Great stuff.
6. Jane, you must have some fascinating secrets. Tell us two things about yourself not generally known that would be of interest to your readers.
Nope! I'm a very private person, actually…. I can't imagine anyone would be interested in my quirks.
7. I think the most common question writers hear is how did they get started? Especially since the chances of success seem so remote. What prompted you to begin writing?
Writing was a means of sharing the stories in my head. Although I love the art and craft of writing (for my sins, I have a Ph.D. in literature), I think of myself as a storyteller, not a writer.
8. And of course writers are all passionate readers. What are you reading now?
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater, the third book in her excellent "Raven Cycle."
On audio – I always have at least one print novel and one audio going at a time – I'm listening to Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold. I think I read parts of it when it was first released – maybe in Analog? – but I never read the full novel.
9. Visit an SF writer and the house is inevitably filled with loaded bookcases. One tends to be SF. But readers are frequently surprised at the range of interests possessed by people who write about the future. How about you? Outside SF, what do you read? Who are your favorite non-SF writers?
I love classic mysteries: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, Josephine Tey, Rex Stout.
I read a lot of history, mythology, folklore. Oddly, I rarely read fictional treatments of these. I'd rather read the source if I can.
10. Speaking of things to come: What can you tell us about future projects?
Well, let's see… I dipped my toe into self-publishing with Wanderings on Writing, which is based on something like four years of posts on my Wednesday Wanderings blog. I'm in the process of putting together a collection of short stories. I've published something over sixty, most of which were in anthologies that are hard to find now. I was pleased and surprised when a poll of my readers requested a collection.
I have a couple new short stories either recently released or forthcoming. (There's an updated list on my website.) In fact, what I'm working on now is a short story which I hope will be in the Shadows and Reflections anthology in honor of Roger Zelazny. Roger was very important to me. The story is set in the same general "universe" as Lord Demon, one of the two novels I completed for him, at his request, after his death.
Thanks. Jane. I'll be watching for Artemis Invaded.