Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jeremy Erman on "The Tower" in GIFTS OF DARKOVER

On a wondrous planet of telepaths and swordsmen, nonhumans and ancient mysteries, a
technologically advanced, star-faring civilization comes into inevitable conflict with one that has pursued psychic gifts and turned away from weapons of mass destruction. Darkover offers many gifts, asked for and unexpected. Those who come here, ignorant of what they will find, discover gifts outside themselves and within themselves. The door to magic swings both ways, however, and many a visitor leaves the people he encounters equally transformed.

Gifts of Darkover is available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and other venues.

Here Jeremy Erman talks about his story, "The Tower."

Deborah J. Ross: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. What about the world drew you in?

Jeremy Erman: I started reading Darkover novels in the late '90s when I took off a few years between high school and college. I loved the combination of fantasy and science fiction, and the fact that I could read the novels in any order I wanted. The Ages of Chaos especially appealed to me because they were more "fantasy" than "science fiction," but I was also fascinated by the origins of humans on Darkover, and wanted to know what happened to the original settlers. I searched for months until I found a copy of Darkover Landfall. It answered some of my questions, but not all of them!

DJR: What inspired your story in Gifts of Darkover?

JE: Ever since reading Darkover Landfall, I was fascinated by how quickly the original settlers abandoned Earth technology, and wondered if any of them tried to hold on to it even after most people decided it couldn’t be done. It occurred to me that decades after landfall there might still be people who remembered Earth, and their memories would essentially be the only records of Earth technology and culture on Darkover. What would such a survivor do with this knowledge, and how would someone born and raised solely on Darkover react to such an “alien” mindset?

DJR: What have you written recently?

JE "The Tower" is the second story I've sold. The first was "In Dreams" to Daily Science Fiction. I also wrote a review of Tad Williams' novel The Dirty Streets of Heaven for Black Gate.

It turns out that each of these pieces has a connection to my past: the Black Gate article includes a reminiscence about meeting Tad when he visited my middle school; "In Dreams," came from an idea I had in high school; and writing “The Tower” brought me full circle to my very first rejection letter—it was from Marion Zimmer Bradley, and she said my story took too long to make its point.

Fifteen years later while finishing "The Tower," I had the uncomfortable feeling that it started too slowly. I agonized, not sure the story would work without the beginning I’d polished so carefully, but I remembered MZB's words and finally cut most of the first two pages. As soon as they were gone I didn't miss them. I submitted the story two days later, and I think this “last minute” cut, prompted by MZB’s advice on that first rejection letter, was a large part of what made it saleable.

DJR: What lies ahead?

JE: I'd like to sell more stories. I currently have a story out on submission, and several others finished but not quite polished. I also finished a novel in April (my third) and started a new one in June. I've been trying to work more methodically, which basically means writing a little every day until I'm forced to write THE END.

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