Tuesday, June 3, 2014

INTERVIEW: Steven Harper on Stars of Darkover

STARS OF DARKOVER – not just the glorious night sky over the world of the Bloody Sun, but the authors who have been inspired over the decades by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s favorite world. It will be released on June 3, 2014, to celebrate Marion's 84th birthday.

Steven Harper is the pen name for Steven Piziks, a name no one can reliably spell or pronounce. Marion Bradley bought his very first short story for Sword and Sorceress IX way back in 1990, and his keyboard has been clattering ever since. He's written some twenty novels over the years, including The Silent Empire series and The Clockwork Empire steampunk series. Steven also teaches English in southeast Michigan.  When not writing, he plays the folk harp, dabbles in oral storytelling, and spends more time on-line than is probably good for him.   

Deborah J. Ross:  How did Marion Zimmer Bradley influence your writing career?

Steven Harper: Marion forced me to learn how to write women.  Back in the early 90s, when I was a new writer, about the only short fiction market for the sword-and-sorcery stories I wanted to write was Marion, and she wanted strong female characters.  So I learned to write strong female characters, and I sold her more than a dozen stories over the years.  She also taught me how to be a professional--writing daily, accepting criticism, understanding how to deliver what a reader (and editor) wants, and seeing writing as a business as well as an art.  As a result, when I sold a novel, the first person I called was Marion.  "Help!" I said.  "I need an agent!"  She laughed and made a recommendation that led to the agent I have to this day.

DJR:  Tell us about your story in Stars of Darkover.

SH: I wrote and discarded three--THREE--stories before I came up with "Kira Ann."  This story came from a long-ago conversation I had with Marion in which she said that the essence of Darkover is the conflict between the Terran and Darkovan societies.  I decided to bring the least likely kind of Terran I could think of to Darkover, and came up with a hard-boiled detective.  Everything came quickly after that.

DJR: What have you written recently? What lies ahead?

SH: The Havoc Machine, the fourth novel in my Clockwork Empire steampunk series, came out last year.  Now I'm deep in a fantasy trilogy.  Iron Axe, the first book, is due out in January, 2015.  Watch for it!

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