Author Interview Part 2

By Lance Erlick

Why did you choose science-fiction as a genre to write in?

I grew up with science fiction stories, movies, and TV shows. I’ve found myself drawn to this genre because of the ability to speculate about our many potential futures. I like to explore the future implications of social and technological developments on people, the characters in my head. Science fiction in its broadest sense considers itself the big tent, bringing in traditional science fiction, fantasy, horror, historical time travel, and alternative history, all of which speculate about different worlds and different ways we can relate to each other. I find this to be an exciting place to write.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write because you have a passion for stories. Write because you have characters in your head that you want to share with other. Write because you have stories rattling around that keep you up at night because they need to be told. Write because you want to take the journey with your characters and believe others will want to come along.

Whatever you do, don’t write with the goal of striking it rich. You have a better chance of winning the lottery, though winning it through writing will be far more enjoyable, plus you can share it with your fans without impoverishing yourself. In writing, don’t copy what you believe will be popular if you don’t have passion for the stories themselves. Your readers can tell and you will be frustrated with the result.

Make sure you know where your story is going before you write, otherwise you could end up with a flat, or even circular story that doesn’t go anywhere. Don’t be afraid to experiment and test your boundaries. You are bound to grow from the experience even if that particular story doesn’t sing. An example is writing from the points of view of different genres and people who are on the surface different than you. When you stumble onto writers block, I find it best to frame the problem and move onto something else, letting my subconscious sort out a solution. It might not always work, but I find trying to bulldoze a solution never does. Then edit, edit, edit some more. Your potential readers deserve the best experience you can provide.

Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?

I’m working on several story ideas right now, more than I have time for. I’ve sketched out another novel in the Regina Shen series that people are asking for. I have two completely different alien stories I want to tell. Then there’s is a time travel story that shoots back into ancient history and a futuristic computer hacking story. That’s the short list.

Writers Block

I’ve been asked how I deal with writers block.

Writer’s block plagues most writers at least some time during their writing careers. They stare at a blank page and nothing comes forth.

I’ve been fortunate so far to have avoided such writer’s block. I attribute this to my approach.

The human mind has two ways of experiencing the writing process: creative and editorial critique. It’s a natural response to parental, teacher, and peer criticism over the years to have an editor sit on our shoulder. That critic says things like, “That won’t work.” “That’s not the right word.” “That’s trash.”

This editor will stifle our creative process if we don’t turn it off. There will be time later to rework and polish our story. Creative writing is like modeling clay. We can’t mold the clay until we get it on the spinning wheel.

Assuming we silence the critic on our shoulder, the other problem I’ve seen is trying to write a story before we’re ready. We get our protagonist into a fix and have no idea how to get him or her out. At times like this, it helps to step back and let the subconscious mind mull the problem. When I return later, the answer often presents itself. Forcing the answer rarely does.

While writing Rebels Divided, I had a problem. I needed Annabelle and Geo to meet in such a way that would throw them together despite mutual distrust. Rather than pushing through this dilemma, I moved around it by writing other parts of the story. When I returned, the answer presented itself in what I hope readers will find as creative and satisfying ways.

Lance Erlick