Sunday, 22 April 2012

Author Interview with Stephen Goldin

Born in Philadelphia in 1947, Stephen Goldin has lived in California since 1960. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Astronomy from UCLA and worked as a civilian space scientist for the U.S. Navy for a few years after leaving college, but has made his living as a writer/editor most of his life.

His first wife was fellow author Kathleen Sky, with whom he co-wrote the first edition of the highly acclaimed nonfiction book
The Business of Being a Writer. His current wife is fellow author Mary Mason. So far they have co-authored two books in the Rehumanization of Jade Darcy series.

He served the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for close to three years as editor of the SFWA Bulletin, and another three years as the organization’s Western Regional Director.

He has lived with cats all his adult life. Artistically, he enjoys Broadway musicals and surrealist art. Philosophically, he is an atheist.

Enter below for a chance to win an ebook copy of one of these great books by Stephen Goldin!


When did you first consider yourself an author? Do you see writing as a career?
Well, I've been making up stories since I was about 10, playing with little plastic figures of spacemen and reading science fiction books. As I grew more mature, I realized that stories had a structure and a plot, so I became more disciplined. I got a typewriter for my 13th birthday, and started committing the stories to paper. The more I read and the more I wrote, the better I became. A writer must be a reader first, because you have to realize the discipline of the writers who came before you. I considered myself a writer from age 13, I guess, though I didn't sell anything until I was 18.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I'm actually semi-retired these days--still writing, but at a more relaxed pace. I try to produce one to two pages of rough draft a day, usually in late morning or early afternoon. When I was writing fulltime I could reliably produce about 8 pages of rough draft a day, usually 3-4 in the morning and 4--5 in the afternoon. I feel very disappointed with myself that I can't keep up that pace any more, but age is just slowing me down.

What was your main source of inspiration your stories?
Most of the time I try to find a character I like, and then build a story around him/her. That's why I tend to write series; I like my character and want to see more of them, watch them in action. My characters are part my friends, part my children, and frequently I don't want to say goodbye to them.

What do you feel is the hardest part of writing?
The hardest p[art of writing is forcing yourself to commit words to paper (or, these days, to computer). Making one word follow another in definite and purposeful sequence is much harder than it seems, because there are so many temptations to do other things. Writing letters to fans, surfing the Web, reading, even taking out the trash are wonderful distractions, and they certainly feel like you're doing something useful--but if you let them take over your time, you end up accomplishing nothing. You have to put all these wonderful distractions away and concentrate on the job at hand.

Is there a message in your story that you want readers to grasp?
A story is all about a character overcoming a problem...and since most of my books have happy. or at least positive, endings, I have to show my characters overcoming their problems. My message is that almost any problem can be overcome if you face it squarely and deal with it with courage, diligence, honesty, and imagination. That's what my characters do, to the best of their ability, and I like to think that people can do the same thing in real life.

If you could do it all over again, would you change anything about your first novel?
My first published book, Herds, was written in my early 20s, when I was much more naive about life, so the book was pretty simplistic. If I were doing it over (which I definitely will not do), I'd make it more complex and nuanced.

How long does it generally take you to write a novel, from start to finish?
At the peak of my career I was writing about 3 books a year. These days, at my slower pace, I'm lucky to do a book every 1-2 years. I'd prefer to be more prolific--I have plenty of ideas--but time seems to slip away from me.

Is there a person in your life, an author, a teacher, or maybe a family member, who influenced you or encouraged your writing career?
Robert A. Heinlein, the greatest science fiction writer, was a vicarious father to me, influencing my thoughts about life and personal honor and morality. His books taught me to think and be responsible for what I do. I reached a slightly different philosophy than he did, but I thought it through, and that's the action I think he would most have approved of. Another writer, Andre Norton, influenced a lot of my writing because I learned from reading her books how to put the main character into trouble at the very beginning and not let up until the very end. I learned about plotting and pacing from her.

What book are you reading now?
I'm going through a book every week or so, mostly science fiction and mysteries. I'm just about to start rereading Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds, which I read and enjoyed many years ago. I haven't quite decided what will come after that.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I'm currently about halfway through the rough draft of Jade Darcy: Run Out of West, which is a prequel to the books in my wife's and my Jade Darcy science fiction adventure series. It's set about 5 years before the first book of the series, Jade Darcy and the Affair of Honor, and it explains how the main character came to the planet Cablans which is now her home, and how she met some of the unusual characters who people that world.

Where can you find Stephen Goldin?
Parsina Press, my online book site, is http://parsina.com/index.html
My personal Web site is http://stephengoldin.com/
My bibliography (books, at least) is at http://stephengoldin.com/bibliography.html
Goldin Rules, some personal words of wisdom, is at http://stephengoldin.com/rules.html
My Facebook fan page is http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/AuthorStephenGoldin
My Twitter handle is #stevegoldin
My personal blog, The Ingesterie, is http://stephengoldin.blogspot.com/


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6 comments:

  1. I'll read anywhere as long as I have my Nook with me! Thanks for holding this giveaway!

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  2. I think guys read more sci-fi than girls when they're young, so I missed most of Heinlein, but what a beautiful tribute to him, thinking of him as a vicarious father. That says a lot about Stephen Goldin and his high ideals. Judith

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    1. I think you're right about the guys/girls ratio...and his so-called "juveniles" were written for places like Boys Life magazine and aimed at young men. He's witty and entertaining, and seldom boring. I hope you'll give him more of a try now that you're not quite as young. He's a devotee of strong, self-reliant women. God knows his wife Virginia was one. He did teach me about life through his work, things a young person is supposed to learn from his father.

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  3. I love to read on my back patio in the shade with no one to bug me but the bugs LOL Thank you for taking the time to share with us and for the lovely giveaway opportunity.

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  4. My favorite place to read is on my bed. I can lay in any way and get comfortable with the book that I am reading at the time.
    If I had a hammock or a trampoline then it would surely change to those but for now it is my bed :D

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  5. My favorite place to read is on my deck drinking iced tea!!! Thanks for this giveaway! Gale

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