|A Conversation With Sarah Zettel|
|interview courtesy of Time Warner Trade Publishing|
All of this got me thinking about the history of the westward expansion, and got me to wondering how the exploration of the Solar System would be changed if there were an indigenous presence out there. Then, I realized that there is an indigenous presence in the Solar System. It's us. So, then, I got to wondering what would happen if a more technologically advanced society moved next door to us, the way we moved next door to the American Indians.
So, one of the things I was doing with the aliens in The Quiet Invasion was creating that advanced society which had ideas about morality and proper use of natural resources that were radically different from ours, as the Europeans were from the American Indians. I did not want to write a story about the invasion of Earth, so I had to create a race capable of living nearby, which meant to either on the Moon, on Mars, or on Venus. I picked Venus.
I've also recently been rediscovering the works of Ray Bradbury. He is capable of combining language and images to create stories that stay with you across the years. Once you read "When Soft Rains Gently Fall," it does not leave you.
Octavia Butler, of course, is brilliant and disturbing. Mary Doria Russell's, The Sparrow is absolutely fascinating.
I'll have to add Terry Pratchett to this list. I was introduced to his Discworld books when I was living in London in 1986, and I have been reading them avidly ever since. Oh, and for capturing the wonder and magic of fairy tales and turning that into fresh and modern stories, there is no one around to the Neil Gaiman.
Wow, this answer is getting fairly long, and it could get longer yet, so I think I'd better just move on.
What's in the CD player right now? I've just gotten a CD of Robert Service poems set to music by a folk singer named David Perry, and another of Rudyard Kipling by a duo called Barrands and Roberts. I've also picked up Fiona Apple's latest, and I've finally gotten the CD of Paul McCartney's Venus and Mars (how appropriate, do you think?).
As for watching, we just recently rented The Iron Giant, which is a magnificent animated movie, highly to be recommended. I've seen the new version of Mansfield Park, which, while it may not please Austen purists, I found to be a very good movie. I don't watch a whole lot of television, but I am absolutely addicted to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and am enjoying the new series, Angel, a lot.
More seriously, the ideas come from current events, either in the news, or recent developments in science. They also come from my reading histories and biographies, and scientific memoirs. An idea can come from absolutely anywhere. Once, I got an idea for a short story during a Halloween concert while watching someone play the bones during the performance of Dance Macabre. Actually, after while, finding the ideas is the easy part. Sorting them through and turning them into stories, now, that's the hard work.
If I get blocked, it is generally because I don't know enough about some aspect of the story or the characters. The answer for this is generally more research, or making more background notes, so the place and person can be more fully realized inside my own mind.
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