And here is the second part of my interview with Jane Lindskold. Today we talk about inspiration, themes, and publishing in today’s world. My questions are in italics. For the first part of the interview, click here.
For more information on Jane and where to find her books, see her bio, below. And remember to follow her blog, which she updates each Wednesday, with additional weekly features on Thursdays and Fridays.
Several of your short stories play with words, especially words with multiple meanings (“Cheesecake,” from which I’m still recovering!) or customary usages that on reflection seem odd (“Good Boy”). Most writers love language, but would it be fair to say that for you words themselves act as sources of inspiration?
Oh, yeah. Definitely! Glad “Cheesecake” had an impact. I read that one at our local con this past summer and really enjoyed the audience reaction. I love words on all sorts of levels. I deeply regret that I am pretty much monolingual, because the windows words provide into a culture and its values fascinate me.
I’m a long-time (as in long, long before the current fandom was even born) fan of Japanese anime. I prefer subtitled to dubbed because, while I don’t understand Japanese, I have picked up fragments of form of address, common usages, etc., and these let me get that tiny bit closer to understanding the cultural subtext.
Other than those mentioned above, what themes do you see running through your work? What questions perennially draw you?
Despite—or perhaps because of—my background in English literature (I hold a PhD from Fordham University), I am not interested in being deliberately “literary.” That some people have found my works such is lovely, but it’s not a goal. I see myself as a storyteller first and foremost.
Therefore, I actually go out of my way not to think about themes or suchlike. That’s for other people, if they care to do so. I shocked a couple of writer friends recently when I mentioned that I have deliberately destroyed the handwritten first draft manuscripts of some of my early novels. I’m not interested in leaving a literary heritage. I’m interested in telling a good story.
On your blog, you recently urged prospective authors to write for the love of it rather than in the expectation of being published. How do you see the current publishing climate, especially for debut authors? What changes, if any, would benefit writers and readers?
We both know the climate is terrible for writers. I think it’s actually easier to be a debut author than an established one. However, since an author can only keep that Wow Factor for one, maybe two books, that’s cold comfort.
Why the excitement about the New Flavor? Mostly because publishers seem less willing to cultivate what used to be called the “midlist”—those authors with a solid, non-bestselling but strong following—and are constantly looking for the next bestseller.
They don’t seem to have noticed that the Big Excitement of a few years ago, is no longer so. Maybe they’ll figure out that people like George R. R. Martin were solid midlisters for a long, long time before becoming bestsellers. Maybe not.
Jane, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Best wishes to you and your writing!
Jane Lindskold has published twenty-five or so novels since Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls in 1994, as well as over seventy short stories and a nonfiction collection, Wanderings on Writing. Some of her best-known and most highly acclaimed books appear in four series: “Athanor,” “Breaking the Wall,” “The Firekeeper Saga,” and “Artemis Awakening.” She has also written two “Stephanie Harrington” novels in collaboration with David Weber. Learn more about her at her website and via her interview with New Books in Science Fiction and Fantasy.