Friday, 13 January 2017

Interview: Piers Anthony

Author Piers Anthony is stopping by the blog today for a chat about his writing world. Enjoy!

Hi, Piers! Who are your favourite authors?

If I lost my memory and had my choice of reading matter, I hope my favourite would be Piers Anthony. I try to write what I would like to read. As for other authors, I have admired many in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fields, from Robert A Heinlein on down. I am also an admirer of the plays of George Bernard Shaw, and not just because he was a vegetarian.

What's the best thing about being a writer?

For me, the best thing is getting to exercise my imagination and being independent. I can’t be fired for someone else’s mistakes.

What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

It used to be dealing with publishers, who were like insensitive robots interested only in money, regardless what they claimed. But the old order is passing and the new publishers I am dealing with are generally more compatible. Some of them even like good fiction. So now the hardest thing is facing the prospect of my declining ability with advancing age. I’m not capable of simply letting it go and retiring. So when I no longer write well, I hope I am the first, not the last to know it.

Interview, Piers Anthony, Service Goat, Dreaming Big Publications, Author, Writer, Lorna Holland, The Writing Greyhound
Image: Dreaming Big Publications
What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?

I approve of self-publishing. In the old days only about one aspiring writer in a hundred could ever get anything published. That led to bigger sales for the one percent and tough luck for the 99%. I prefer that every writer has a chance. That’s why I have worked to make self-publishing possible for anyone, notably by my early investment in Xlibris – I am no longer connected – and my ongoing survey of electronic publishers. The playing field will probably never be level, but it’s better than it was. Traditional publishers had dictatorial power for over a century. Now it’s the writers’ turn.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I needed to decide on my college major. I pondered a day and a night, and it came to me: I wanted to be a writer. It was like a light turning on and it has guided me ever since.

Do your family support your writing career?

My wife supported me. She went to work so I could stay home and try to be a writer. That was when I broke through with my first story sale – for $20. But it led to greater things, in time.

Interview, Piers Anthony, Service Goat, Dreaming Big Publications, Author, Writer, Lorna Holland, The Writing Greyhound
Image: Dreaming Big Publications
What's your favourite line from a movie?

Great lines in movies are myriad, but it’s the quiet personal ones that get to me the most that others may not even notice. There was one whose title I don’t remember, where a man, a widower, got a girlfriend he was considering marrying. His early teen daughter lived with him. When the woman made them a meal, the man told the teen to do the dishes. The girlfriend intervened. “No, she doesn’t have to do that. I’ll do it.” Why? “She’s your daughter and I want her to like me.” That disarming candour surely ensured that the girl would like the woman.

What do you like to snack on while you write?

I maintain my college weight, and I exercise seriously. I don’t eat between meals. I’m pretty fit for my age, pushing 82, and mean to stay that way.

What is the funniest thing you’ve been asked during an interview?

At the moment I’m not thinking of anything funny in an interview. But I was amused by a sentence in my fan mail: “Ha! Caught you reading fan mail!” 

Sometimes I do learn things from my fan mail .

I had a suicidally depressive girl in one of my novels (Virtual Mode, if you must know) who regularly cut her wrists so that they bled. So she wore red bands on her wrists to conceal the blood. A reader wrote that I had it wrong: blood dries black, so she needed black wristlets. I suspect she spoke from experience.

Piers Anthony's latest book, Service Goat, is available to buy now.

Will you be reading the book? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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