Monday, March 11, 2019

Citadels of Darkover Author Interview: Steven Harper

Coming in May 2019
Strongholds of rock . . . fortresses of the spirit . . . a planet set apart . . .

Citadels can be psychic, emotional, and cultural as well as military, and the wonderfully imaginative contributors to this volume have taken the basic idea and spun out stories in different and often unexpected directions.

Pre-order it at:

Here I chat with contributor Steven Harper:

Deborah J. Ross: How did you become a writer?
Steven Harper: I started writing when I was nine years old because the library didn't have any of the kinds of books I wanted to read.  I set out to write them myself.  That's still how I operate!

DJR: Were there any pivotal moments in your literary journey?
SH: I made my first pro sale when I was thirteen.  That was pretty pivotal!  I wrote a letter to the editor of The Mother Earth News, which was a major international magazine at the time.  I included my age with my signature, and the editor wrote back to say he could see that I could write and that I could type.  Apparently both were equally important.  If I wanted, I could query him about writing an actual article.  I was raising rabbits at the time, so I wrote a query letter on that topic.  When he wrote back to say he'd like to see the entire article, I was ecstatic--jumping and shouting all the way back from the mailbox.  It took me a month to write the article, and the editor finally sent an acceptance letter.  I remember finding it in the mailbox and reading it with a, "Well, that's nice" frame of mind, and I didn't understand why my parents were so thrilled.  I had somehow gotten the idea that the go-ahead on the query was the actual sale.  I didn't know back then that the getting the go-ahead on a query was actually the easy part.  Selling the piece is the hard part!

DJR: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover.
SH: I didn't come to Darkover through the novels, believe it or not.  I came to it through the anthologies.  I read maybe two or three of the anthologies before I got around to looking up the original books.  As a result, Darkover in my mind is always a place for short stories.  It may be why I come with story-length ideas for the place.

DJR: What about the world drew you in?
SH: I've always been drawn to men with red hair.  Make of that what you like.  So a world ruled by redheaded men sounds pretty awesome to me!

DJR: What inspired your story in Citadels of Darkover? How did you balance writing in someone else’s world and being true to your own creative imagination?
SH: Here, I was a little mercenary.  I'd already written and sold a story for Stars of Darkover on the premise of having a hardboiled Terran detective arrive on the planet and investigate a mystery with the help of a native.  "Kira Ann" was great fun to write, and I think the idea worked very well.  I wanted to do it again, so I used the same characters to track down a murderer in Citadels of Darkover.

DJR: Is there another Darkover story you would particularly like to write?
SH: Yep.  I'm hoping to follow up on my story "Sight Unseen" for Masques of Darkover.  A few things were left unresolved, and they need exploring!

DJR: What have you written recently? What is your favorite of your published works and why?
SH: I just sold a YA novel about a teenaged boy on probation who joins a summer theater program to keep his parole officer happy.  To his surprise, he promptly falls in the love with the male lead in the show, and hi-jinks ensue.  The working title is Behind The Scenes, but the publisher has another book with that title in the upcoming lineup, so we'll have to call it something else.  I hate coming up with titles!  My favorite work is whatever is the most recent.  I'm like a parent who always favors the youngest!

DJR: What lies ahead for you?
SH: I have a story in the upcoming Lace And Blade 5 anthology, and I was very proud of the way that one turned out.  I've been out of novel circulation for a while because I've been working on a mainstream novel, and I had to write the entire book before my agent could market it.  It put a hole in my calendar, so to speak.  I usually do a book a year, but this time around, I was "only" writing.  My most recent book is Bone War, the final book in my Books of Blood and Iron fantasy trilogy.

Steven Harper Piziks was born with a name that no one can reliably spell or pronounce, so he often writes under the pen name Steven Harper. He lives in Michigan with his husband and sons. When not at the keyboard, he plays the folk harp, fiddles with video games, and pretends he doesn’t talk to the household cats. In the past, he’s held jobs as a reporter, theater producer, secretary, and substitute teacher. He maintains that the most interesting thing about him is that he writes books. Most recently, he wrote the Books of Blood and Iron, a fantasy trilogy, for Roc Books.

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