Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SFOO interviews sci-fi author David Boop

Interview by Ann Wilkes

AW: What do you read besides science fiction for story ideas?

DB: I don’t have to read much for story ideas, as I have more ideas right now than I’ll ever probably write, however, I have three main places I generate ideas: dreams, conversations and research. I joke, when people ask me where I get my ideas, that I don’t sleep at night. This isn’t totally untrue. I wake with concepts and try to jot them down immediately. This is where “She Murdered Me with Science” came from. I also find myself in discussions with my son, friends, and peers and hit upon a lot of ideas that way. I’m co-writing stories with a few authors now that came from intense discussions. Finally, while doing research on one novel or story, I sometimes hit upon a fact that spins an entirely different story out of it.

AW: What first sparked your interest in writing? In science fiction?

DB: I blame it on Star Wars action figures. I didn’t just play with them. I built stories, with full three act structures to them. They had character development, epic battles and comedy. I had friends (Well, two to be exact. I was a nerd in WI, after all) that would come over to watch them play out. However, I had a hard time getting them down on paper. This was the era of the typewriter still, and I found revision due to mistakes almost physically painful. It wasn’t until many years later I was diagnosed with ADD. The advent of the word processor allowed me to finally overcome the majority of that condition and viola! A writer is reborn!

AW: Do you find it easier to write in short bursts, turning out short stories and comics, rather than novels?

DB: Short stories are the palette cleansers between novels. I used to get deeper into the writer’s trance, allowing myself anywhere from five to six hours of writing time. I can’t do that, as I get older, due to a combination of life responsibilities and just aching body. I’ll finish an act of the novel, and then slide out to catch up on short story deadlines. I come back to the novel fresh and ready to tackle the next section. Certainly, one doesn’t have to go as deep into the trance for a short story as a novel, so it’s easier from an investment POV, though some stories are just as demanding from a craft POV.

AW: I noticed from your website that you are a two-time winner of a community college literary contest. What are your thoughts on contests in general and the benefit of paying to enter them?

DB: To be fair, technically, I won one essay writing contest, and was accepted into the college’s literary magazine, which they ran as a contest. So, that’s how I got two. I’ve rarely paid for contests. When I do, it’s usually a low ante. The only ones I do these days are writing challenges, where you have to write to a prompt and with a time limit, such as the 48hr Film Festival. Everything you do as a writer is a contest, when you break it down to the brass tacks. Magazines, anthologies, e-zines. You’re entering a competition to get included in an issue or a book, earn money and get recognition. Some contests are better than others, such as “first chapter” ones, where you can earn yourself a publishing contract or agent. The competition is rough in them, maybe rougher than other arenas. Research the group running it, the judges judging it, the winner’s from previous years. Don’t drop money on anything you can’t validate. Remember, money should flow TO the writer, not away.

AW: Can you share your thoughts about web comics and the future of printed comics with everyone so often plugged into an e-reader or an iPhone?

DB: I recently downloaded the Marvel Comics app and read a few of their free comics. I had to keep turning my phone depending on the panel. I found this annoying. Four panel comics, such as “Control-Alt-Delete” I find work better than full page comics, but I may just be old. LOL! I think single comics will go away, replaced by daily pages from sources like the Marvel app, but these will be collected quarterly into trade paperbacks for the people who want something tactile. I could read “Dreamland Chronicles” or “Looking for Group” online, and have, but I still buy the graphic novels and find I’ve missed something every time.

AW: If you could spend a month anywhere and anywhen on Earth, where/when would it be and why?

DB: Previous to becoming an author, I’d romanticize the past, but as I research various eras for stories, there is always a dark side. Unless you’re one of the rich, things don’t work out to well for the commoner in most places in history. I’d love to spend a month somewhere, sometime in the future, maybe a colony world. Hopefully, unlike the past, it won’t smell nearly as bad.

AW: What are you working on now?

DB: Looking at the WIP board behind me, I have a novel to finish. The follow-up to SMMS called “Murdered in a Mechanical World (and I’m a Mechanical Girl!)” I have two novellas and four short stories I’d like to finish in the first quarter. I’d also like to try my hand at editing an anthology next year. Additionally on my plate are two other novels, a comic, a short film and a TV pilot. It’s going to take the Mayan apocalypse to slow me down in 2012. And chances are… I’ll still be trying to make a deadline even then.

Read more about David Boop at davidboop.com.

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