Guess who was lucky enough to get to dream up questions for the enoumously talented, superbly big brained John E. Stith? That’s right, this girl! Be jealous people, this guy is amazing! Mr. Stith has had an amazing career (it’s not over yet)! He’s written several hard core Science Fiction Books, Mystery and countless articles and blog posts. Seriously, check him out!
(I totally stole the picture from your website, I hope that’s ok)
Let the fun begin…
Meli: You have a long list of nominations and awards, which is the most satisfying?
Stith: The Nebula Award nomination would have to be the best so far. Any award process can prove fickle, but the acknowledgement from my professional colleagues was a giant feel-good moment.
Meli: Which book, or other work, are you most proud of, and why?
Stith: MANHATTAN TRANSFER and REDSHIFT RENDEZVOUS stand out for me, MT for the large scale spectacle (Manhattan being kidnapped) and RR for the culmination of a lot of research and tough work to take a very hard SF idea and transform it into a story (a hyperspace craft hijacking in a slow-light environment).
Meli: What is your writing environment like? Do you like it quiet, or write in a coffee shop? Do you prefer a computer, pen and paper or an old school typewriter?
Stith: I much prefer my quiet office and a computer. A few of my peers in Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America were surprisingly resistant to move to computers when the revolution came. I jumped in head first.
Meli: What type of writing environment do you find gives you the most bang for the buck, so to speak?
Stith: I love a dual-monitor setup so I can see the manuscript in a large window and have my research and note files constantly visible, too. An Internet connection to the web has transformed my workflow.
Meli: When are you at your most creative?
Stith: Generally I peak during work hours at home. It’s not always predictable.
Meli: Who is, or was the biggest influence in your writing and your writing style?
Stith: Two groups of writers. Group one includes various favorite writers who inspired me to write, including Robert Heinlein, Robert B. Parker, Clifford Simak, Dick Francis, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Andre Norton, and many more.
The other group of writers includes friends I workshopped countless manuscripts with as I improved my skills: Ed Bryant Jr., Cynthia Felice, Simon Hawke, Dan Simmons, Steve & Melanie Tem, Connie Willis, David Zindell, and many others.
Here at Groovey.tv we like to toss in a few odd ball questions, otherwise it just wouldn’t be us!
Meli: If you were a superhero what would your super power be?
Stith: I might be Candor Man. It would be cool to always know what other people really mean and what they actually want. I bet you thought it was going to be X-Ray vision. ☺
Meli: Who is your favorite musician?
Stith: Obviously it’s hard to name just one, but Harry Chapin is right up there. Not the world’s finest voice, but he could sure tell stories.
Meli: How do you really feel about book reviews, and do you read reviews of your books?
Stith: I do read reviews some of the time. Writers write to be read, and audience feedback can be helpful and gratifying. The Internet has spawned a new anonymous viciousness that I hope we will grow out of. Reviews that downrate books for the price the publisher sets or because of technical issues on ebook delivery are completely unhelpful, but we still have many people who love to read and to share what they’ve recently discovered, and I value the word-of-mouth recommendations from friends with similar tastes.
Meli: Do you read reviews of books you’ve not written? Does the review influence whether or not you read the book?
Stith: Definitely. I generally pay more attention to reviewers I have reason to think are unbiased. Most book blurbs can make a novel sound appealing, but I like being able to avoid books that end in cliffhangers or cheat the reader with the ending. It’s not too difficult to engage the reader at first by building suspense and curiosity. Writing an ending that is cathartic, satisfying, and illuminating is much more difficult.
Meli: If you could pick one of your books to be reviewed which one would it be?
Stith: MANHATTAN TRANSFER.
Meli: If you could pick any book in the world to be reviewed which one would it be?
Stith: THE THIRD DAY by Joseph Hayes got good attention when it was published (and a so-so movie was made from it) but in my view it’s a terrific book that’s worth even more attention.
Meli: Would you rather go shark diving, bungee jumping or skydiving?
Stith: Maybe bungee diving. Or almost anything in VR.
Meli: Sweet or salty?
Meli: Do you have an odd hidden talent?
Stith: The skill has atrophied, but I used to be able to identify almost any pop song from the first second or two. And I’m not unique in this either, but I can often identify the person speaking (phone, movie) after just s few words.
Meli: You have a very impressive biography. I have to admit I was seriously geeking out as I read about your accomplishments. A degree in Physics, worked at NORAD and Goddard Space Flight Center, have an impressive list of books, some that were optioned for movies, and the list goes on and on! This is the stuff that dreams are made of!
So that being said, looking back at your entire life and your accomplishments, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear your own name?
Stith: Lucky. I was lucky enough to be born in a terrific country that values freedom. Lucky to be born to parents who taught me the love of reading and love of people. Lucky to have found love after loss. Lucky to have been able to spend a good portion of my life doing what I love.
Meli: How did you manage to balance your work, your family, and still find time to write even though you had so many other things going on?
Stith: That’s been the biggest challenge. I had a fallow decade because life intervened in ways I just couldn’t keep writing through it all, but fortunately I’m back at work and enjoying it immensely.
Meli: Do you have any advice for others in a similar situation as yourself back in the day?
Stith: The biggest change I made was to institute a short daily schedule. I went from wanting to be a writer to actually writing a bit every day, and that time grew easily.
Meli: And finally, finally….what is the strangest question you have ever been asked during an interview?
Stith: I’d say it was probably, “Who shot first, Han or Greedo?”
Meli: Thank you so much for your time. Keep writing!
Stith: Thank you!
There you have it, he’s funny, smart, talented and willing to put up with us here at Groovey.tv!
I’m going to officially add Manhattan Transfer to my list of books to review! In fact, it would be an honor to reivew it. I will also be checking out The Third Day by Joseph Hayes. I have a lot of reading to catch up on!
The amazing works of John E. Stith are availble in normal book form or E-book. You can check out his web site here. Go read his stuff people it’s amazing! You don’t get awards for sitting around doing nothing!!!