Author: Cristopher DeRose

Publisher: BearManor Media

ISBN: 9781629333182

As a book reviewer and author interviewer, I always enjoy picking the brains of authors to find out what makes them tick. When Cristopher DeRose's The Complete Scribes of Speculative Fiction: A Collection of Interviews came to my attention, I could not resist requesting a copy.

According to DeRose's biography on Amazon, he describes himself as a father, writer, photographer, and musician. Cristopher has had over 100 works published in the likes of Filmax, Cemetery Dance and was a Staff Writer for the (then-spelled) Sci-Fi Channel for several years. He worked as Editor for Dark Matter Magazine: A Chronicle of the Speculative Mind for its three-year run. His books range from the non-fiction as Cobra on My Left, Leopard on My Right; and Scribes of Speculative Fiction Vol. I and II and fiction including To Cast a Violent Shadow, Black Moon, and Immortals.

In The Complete Scribes of Speculative Fiction, DeRose interviews seventy well-known authors who focus on writing speculative fiction. And if you don't know what is speculative fiction, it is basically fantasy, science fiction, and horror. To be more precise, it is fiction wherein the author hypothesizes upon the results of changing what is real or possible, not how a character reacts to a certain event.

What stands out in these treasures of interviews is the tremendous amount of sage advice, wisdom, history, and generally the modus operandi of these writers and authors. The questions and replies are thoughtful, provocative, and penetrating and can easily serve as a reference source in a creative writing class. For the most part the interviewees are forthright and honest, even if they sometimes wander.

When Ben Bova, who has written more than one hundred and twenty fiction and non-fiction books since 1959, is asked “What defines character?” His reply is: “a character's actions are driven by the conflicts within the character's soul. The consequences of those actions define the environment in which the character operates.”

Did you know, as pointed out by David Brin, that only a fraction of speculative fiction authors have a background in science? He goes onto to state that a better name for this genre might be “Speculative History-extending the human saga in what Einstein called gedankeneksperimenten, or collaborative thought experiments, with the reader as an active partner.... In a general sense, SF is about expanding the available range of settings, beyond the parochial present or familiar, freeing literature by extending the human story into realms of the possible.(Fantasy goes further, by diving into the improbable).”

Bruce Balfour, who not only made his name in speculative fiction but has also been a NASA employee trained in the field of Artificial Intelligence is asked what was the reaction from NASA co-workers to his work, his reply: “Mocking laughter, thrown garbage, burning me in effigy-the usual sort of thing.” He furthers his reply by stating that many people are working for NASA because they were introduced to this kind of speculative thinking by reading science fiction.

When Christopher Golden, the best-selling author of The Ferryman, Myth Hunter, and Strangewood, is asked about his thoughts as why people read as well as write horror, his reply was he believed “horror is cathartic. If you can frighten or excite someone to a level of true anxiety, and then relieve that anxiety, you've done them a service.”

These are only a tiny sampling of the dozens of questions and replies that can be read in order of the interviews or randomly, it works either way. And if you ever attempted to write or even wondered about the speculative fiction writing process, these interviews will have you riveted. In addition, they contain all the advice and wisdom an aspiring writer needs not only insofar as speculative fiction is concerned but any genre. Briefly, these interviews are unexpectedly revealing and even at times funny as they pry into how writers get their words onto the page.