GUEST POST - DAVID FARLAND - PART TWO
Me - In your daily newsletter you've talked about how there is no recession for writers. Could you expand on that?
DF - Sure. I mean that while in many other areas of the economy we are seeing downward trends, the book industry—at least for fiction writers—has long been considered “recession-proof.” Overall, BookScan (a service that keeps track of book sales electronically) showed that fiction sales in my genre—science fiction—actually rose in the last quarter of 2008. Now, sales in other areas were down. Religious book sales dropped more than 25%. All of those self-help books on how to make a fortune? Nobody wanted them. Sales to schools went way down, too. Schools suddenly had to pay $5 per gallon for the gas to keep their buses going, so they decided to wait for another year to purchase books. So in some fields things were down, but in feel-good genres like romance and fantasy, we did just fine.
Me - What steps, direction or advice would you give to someone wanting to make writing a career right now instead of just having writing be a nice hobby?
DF - Get serious about it. Read good books and study what sells. Get a writer’s education. For some people, that means that they might need to go to college and study works that take them out of their comfort zone. Other people might want to join a writers’ group. For those who want to study intensively, I teach writing workshops from time to time—as do Kris Rusch and Dean Smith, and Orson Scott Card. I recommend them highly, but there are plenty of other good places to study, too. What you need really depends upon you individually.
Me - How important is regimen and routine in building a writing career?
DF - You know, I suppose one could put it that way, but I don’t like to. “Regimen” sounds too much like work to me. Personally, I love to write. It’s play for me. I find that what I really need is time to think, to focus, and to put my words down on paper lovingly.
Me - How important is mental attitude?
DF - Now there’s the right question! See, I don’t think that “forcing myself” to hunch over a keyboard and pound away until my fingers bleed really works. But having a playful attitude with your writing (Remember Shakespeare’s admonition, “The play’s the thing!”), an attitude where you’re having fun, where you’re entertaining yourself, where you keep competing with yourself so that you try to re-imagine a scene over a dozen ways until you get it perfect—that’s what you have to do. As soon as you find the joy in writing, you can’t stop. It’s like the words get unleashed, and you lose all control. I’ve found myself at times having written for fourteen or sixteen hours straight, and I’ll be bathed in sweat from working, and I’ll be grinning like a fool because I’m so happy to have written a story. Right now it’s eleven thirty at night. I’ve been working my tail off since seven this morning. What a fun day I’ve had!
Me - On a more personal note, readers like to know something about their favorite writers. What do you read for fun?
DF - I’m a habitual reader, so I read everything from the back of my Cheerios box on. I like to keep up with science, so I read a lot of science magazines. I do a lot of research via the internet and through books, but if I’m reading for fun, I will typically read either a fantasy novel or a thriller. I read lots of thrillers these days.
Me - What do you do to rejuvenate your creative juices?
DF - Frankly, I study. I often study history, archaeology, or other cultures. I also like to go to different countries to help get me out of my shell, or visit intriguing places. So I’ve gone out into the bayous of Louisiana at night to spotlight alligators, and I’ve hiked through forests in Tasmania, crossed the Gobi Desert in China, and climbed hills in Scotland.
I still have a lot of places that I want to see—Africa, the Amazon, and plenty of places in Europe.
Me - Do you have a favorite book? Movie?
DF - My favorite book of all time was Lord of the Rings, followed closely by Dune. At least, those are my favorites based on how often I’ve reread them. I suppose that Swiss Family Robinson has to go on that list, since I reread it often as a boy.
My favorite movie, based on that criterion, would have to be Star Wars. I saw it some thirty-five times in the first six months after its release. I was a real Star Wars geek. I have some pictures that I took of myself when I was nineteen, playing with my light saber. (I’d read about how you needed to study special effects in order to get a job at Industrial Light and Magic, so I bought a camera and began practicing various effects. I did a lot of macro-photography in nature, and spent a lot of time working with lighting effects.
But the truth is that I’m not sure if those standards for choosing favorites are all that wise. What do I read and reread now? I read Shakespeare—his historical in particular. I also read the poetry of Roethke, Frost, Yeats, and Thomas. As for movies, I don’t re-watch them very often.
Me - (Total Katie Couric question) Brandon Sanderson said he’s where he is today because he took your writing class. How does it make you feel to know your class had such an impact on him?
DF - It makes me feel great. Of course, I’ve taught a number of New York Times Bestselling Authors—several dozen. I used to keep track of how many young authors I helped get their first sale in short fiction or books, but I stopped when I reached a couple hundred. That was more than a dozen years ago.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
David Farland is a pseudonym for Dave Wolverton and is the author of several series including The Runelords epic fantasy saga, the Mummy Chronicles, The Golden Queen, Star Wars tie-in novels, and the Benjamin Raven children’s series. Dave has been nominated for both Hugo and Nebula Awards and is a judge for the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest.
BERSERKER LORD book eight of The Runelords to be released October 13, 2009.
ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY:
Yes, you can get free stuff!. In particular, a copy of one of Dave Farland's books. And all you have to do is comment on all three installments of this interview. Easy! One week after the third installment I will randomly pick a name from a hat for the the free book.