• Mark Iles

Why We Write What We Do, with J.D. Sanderson.

One thing I never tire of listening to, is why writers focus on certain genres. Of course most of us write what we read but it’s the angles of those genres, and the way we address them, that truly defines us as writers.

Hi J.D., thanks for joining us on The Scribe. I note that, like me, you’re an avid

science fiction fan. What is it about scifi that really appeals to you? The speculation and the microscope. Science fiction is a fantastic way to look at all of the issues surrounding humanity. For as long as it's been a genre, writers and creators have been using scifi to turn a lens onto our problems and issues. Framing them against some kind of speculative future is a terrific way to shine a light on those issues without coming across as preachy. I was interested in doing this with my first book, A Footstep Echo, but I decided to flip the premise on its head at the last minute. Rather than write a book about people dealing with problems, I wanted to write one about people dealing with progress.

Tell us about your favourite Scifi movie and book, and what it is about them that you love. Right now I'd have to say my favourite sci-fi movie is Arrival. It's an amazing masterwork of visual science fiction storytelling with a fantastic director and stellar cast. Not only that, but it doesn't fall for any of the usual tropes. It's so nice to see a story that isn't in the dystopian, YA, or military sci-fi sub-genres. My favourite sci-fi book is, and always has been, The Ganymede Club by Charles Sheffield. I still think he's incredibly underrated as an author, and his real-life knowledge of physics was integrated into his plots flawlessly.

Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? Be original. This is important to keep in mind because it's so easy to accidentally emulate what you love. I tried to finish a sci-fi novel for nearly 20 years. I finally finished one at 35 because I kept the phrase ‘What haven't I seen before?’ in my mind. Once I made a concentrated effort to not write something that reminded me of something else, the words just poured out of me.

Our veterans and serving personal would like to know that of all the promotional platforms out there which would you consider the best, and why?

Twitter, it's a lot easier to reach people on than Facebook. It's also a lot more fun!

Why do you think it is that more inventions come from scifi than any other genre? Science fiction is the engine of the imagination. I don't mean to sound like a snob - I know fantasy, mystery, and romance require an imagination as well, but science fiction authors have a habit of imagining the world around them. Fantasy authors imagine worlds of magic and dragons that don't exist. How many NASA scientists and engineers found their passion because Star Trek inspired them?

Tell us about your favourite writer moment When my wife read through the draft of my first book and said, "That's really cool," to a few parts. She's a die-hard fan of scifi and is wicked smart. If she likes it, I know I did my job well.

Do you find that writing interferes in relationships and if so how you advise tackling it? Writing, especially a novel, is a huge commitment. The best thing to do is not obsess too much. It's good to come up for air. Not only will it give you a chance to marinate your story, but it will also let those around you know you still care enough to talk to them.

Some people drink wine or coffee when writing, for myself it’s jasmine tea. Do you have a beverage that helps you focus on your work? It’s a soda or Earl Grey tea for me.

If you were to meet an author which would it be, and why It would be Richard Adams, author of Watership Down and The Plague Dogs. He turned animals into characters you could love and root for without anthropromorphising them. His stories were modern and timeless. He was one of the best writers of all time, in my humble opinion.

A Footstep Echo


Who is the Mystery Girl? Bernard Abbey’s life was routine, stagnant, and lonely. That all

changed the day she entered his life. To save him from being killed, a mysterious young woman transports Bernard to another point in time. As he comes to grips with what has happened, Bernard realizes his new friend is unable to speak. She cannot tell him who she is, where she came from, or how she can travel through time. Even worse, she’s unable to tell him what is chasing her.

As she takes him back and forth in time, they cross paths with strangers who claim to know his new friend, each with a different story of her origin. The only thing he knows for certain is that the fate of humanity’s idyllic future is somehow connected with his new companion.

“Sanderson blew my temporally-frazzled mind multiple times as the battle ranged from past to present ... and even in-between.” - William F. Aicher - Author of 'The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks'

Media Links:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/ascifiwriter

FB: www.facebook.com/authorjdsanderson

Buy link: https://amzn.to/2HMnQyk

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