Interview – Jody Lynn NyeJuly 2nd, 2010 by Sara
Having been a fan of the Pern novels for a long time, I finally got my hands on one of the ‘choose it yourself’ books, written by Jody Lynn Nye. After immersing myself in it for a number of days, I contacted Jody with regards to my University dissertation. Having passed the deadline however, she graciously accepted an interview for I.Q. instead. Read and enjoy!
1) Having written novels both by yourself and with other authors, how different would you say the processes are, and do you prefer one to the other?
It’s enormously different, mainly because for a collaborator I have to express and/or set down details about the story that I merely keep in mind when I am working by myself. I have to provide as much background and character study as I can so that my vision becomes part of the shared work. I also find that working with someone else I can go faster than I do alone. I think it’s the synergy of bouncing ideas off another mind. Some of the greatest fun I have ever had is when two of us start feeding off the other’s ideas and laughing because we are creating something in the air between us. When Bob Asprin and I were plotting Class Dis-Mythed in a restaurant at a DragonCon, we had a wonderful time hooting at the other’s suggestions and trying to top them. I think the mood between collaborators infuses the story.
I have to prefer to work alone, since most of my projects are individual ones, but I enjoy my collaborative works. Writing is a solitary profession, so sharing the experience with someone who knows *exactly* what you are doing is fantastic.
2) In the 80′s, you wrote a ‘choose your own adventure’ set in the ‘Pern’ universe. How difficult did you find that sort of project compared to novel-writing?
I wrote two Pern “Crossroads” adventures, Dragonharper and Dragonfire, for TOR Books. Since I was already experienced in writing game materials (for Mayfair Games), I had only to incorporate that discipline into my writing. The greatest challenge was to make certain that Anne’s fans would be satisfied with my presentation of her world and her characters. I love her work, so I was very respectful of it. I have been told by readers that the books worked for them, both as games and as novels. I still have the charts showing the story progression and the various unsuccessful outcomes of the adventures.
3) What has been your favourite project to date?
I can’t pick one favourite. I’ve just turned in a book that I have wanted to write for years, a sort of Jeeves and Wooster in space (View From the Imperium, coming in 2011 from Baen Books). But I also love my Mythology books, which are light and funny and positive. I had a blast doing Strong Arm Tactics, a humorous military SF novel. I am very proud of the work that I’ve done on the Myth-Adventures with Robert Asprin.
4) If you could invite any three authors to tea, who would they be and why?
Terry Pratchett, Mark Twain and Dorothy L. Sayers. I love writers who can catch me off guard and make me laugh — or make me think. There’s a good deal of collective wisdom in these writers’ books. All of them understand the human condition in a way that I envy and hope to be able to emulate one day. It would take paragraphs to describe what I love about these writers, but their work means a lot to me as a writer and a reader.
I’ve left out dozens of other writers whom I admire and would also like to have to tea. Can’t I make it a large garden party instead?
5) I’ve heard of different authors having a strict writing regime that they stick to. Do you tend to follow a timetable or do you find it better to write only when you’re in the right frame of mind?
As a working writer I have to make my frame of mind right. I hit the keyboard in the morning right after I feed the cats and make my morning cocoa, anywhere from 5:00 to 10:00 AM. If I have not started working by 11 AM, I step away from the manuscript and do other things, such as taking care of my files. I never look at my e-mail in the morning, or I will do no work. Once I get going, I try to stay at the keyboard until I reach a natural ending, such as a scene or a chapter, or the end of a short story. If I have to stop, I try to follow CJ Cherryh’s suggestion to leave a cliffhanger to come back to. That makes me eager to jump back into the story and finish that part. In any case, I am usually finished writing about 4:00 in the afternoon.
When I am very close to finishing a book, the story itself drives me. I keep going until I can’t stay awake, sleep for just a few hours, then go on, sometimes as much as 20 hours a day.
6) What are your views on the e-book Vs paper book debate?
I think e-books are part of the future of literature. I do think that there will always be physical books. As each electronic system is superseded by better technology, a lot of material will be lost as unrecoverable pixels. I can’t find anyone who can read my old Apple IIg disks from ten years ago, yet, we have paper or parchment books that are hundreds of years old.
That’s not to say that I dislike e-books. Some of my work is already being sold in electronic format. I am necessarily concerned with the piracy issue. I would love to embrace e-books wholeheartedly, but I need to be paid for my work. I have no problem with the Creative Commons license, and will probably release some stories in the future under it, but the rest can’t be free for the taking. Pirate copies hurt everyone. A fair commercial system needs to be established and supported. I think that the music industry set a very poor standard by waiting so long to create an e-music model that people got used to downloading any albums or songs they wanted for free. Literature, which makes a tiny fraction of the money, can’t afford that sharp a learning curve. I think we’re getting there, though.
E-books also provide a market, free or otherwise, for up and coming writers who can’t find a place in the print market. It’s been a great boon to both readers and writers.
I think e-book readers and audio books are terrific. They are just perfect for people who are going on a trip and don’t want to fill their suitcases with chunks of paper. For a week away my husband and I have a minimum of six books apiece, one for each plane or train ride, and four in between, not to mention newspapers and magazines. We were just given an e-book reader, and I have been playing with it. The next time we have a holiday, I’ll load it up. As an SF fan myself, I am eager to try out futuristic gadgets. Who knows? It may give me some ideas.