Monday, December 21, 2015

Interview with Ken Lizzi, Author of ‘Under Strange Suns’


Sci-fi novelest Ken Lizzi is the author of Under Strange Suns. Lizzi is an attorney and also the author of an assortment of published short stories. When not traveling, he lives in Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife and their daughter. He enjoys reading, homebrewing, and visiting new places. He loathes writing about himself in the third person. Ken took the time to speak with me about his latest novel and the writing life. Connect with Ken onFacebook and Twitter.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Under Strange Suns. When did you start writing and what got you into science fiction?
Thank you. I started writing early, probably around the age of twelve. I recall writing a Star Wars short story, likely in imitation of one of the Han Solo books by Brian Daley. I always read omnivorously. I don’t remember the first science fiction or fantasy book I read, outside the fairy tale canon all kids read. But likely it was picking up The Fellowship of the Rings as an 11-year old that generated my interest in speculative fiction.
What is your book about? 
Under Strange Suns is an updating of the Sword-and-Planet genre, telling the story of a burned-out, former Special Forces soldier hired to find the lost inventor of the Faster-Than-Light spaceship drive. At the same time, he is searching for a renewal of purpose. Hijinks do not ensue.
What was your inspiration for it?
Reading Edgar Rice Burroughs. And Leigh Brackett. And C.L. Moore. I like the concept of a lone human on an alien world, cut off from Earth and most technological crutches. But the conceit of simply waking up on Mars (I’m looking at you, John Carter) just wouldn’t fly for today’s readers. So the inspiration came from figuring a way to freshen the genre.
What type of challenges did you face while writing this book?
Since I wanted to maintain a level of scientific plausibility, I needed to create a certain verisimilitude. This meant reading up on theoretical spaceship designs, space stations, the Coriolis effect, solar system mechanics, etc. I like science fiction, but I’m not a scientist by education or vocation.
What do you hope readers will get from your book?
I hope my readers will get a few hours of entertainment. I hope they will experience at least a portion of the pleasure I get from reading the old pulp novels that served as the progenitors of Under Strange Suns. I hope, in fact, that my book might lead some readers to scrounge through used book stores for old Sword-and-Planet stories.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
Yes. Writing is a job. A second job, in my case, but a job nonetheless. And holding down a job demands both a schedule and discipline. I sit my butt down to write five days per week, whether I feel like it or not.
How do you celebrate the completion of a book?
My celebrations generally involve beer. Preferably an Oregon craft beer. Likely an Imperial Pale Ale. Mmm…beer.

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