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Interview With Author Dave Creek From Yard Dog Press

Yard Dog Press author Dave CreekTell us about what you have written.

I’ve been selling regularly to ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION for about the past decade, mostly stories that take place against a common background.

What inspired you to write those things?

I’ve always enjoyed SF series, from the original Star Trek to Asimov’s Foundation stories, to Poul Anderson’s Polesotechnic series.  My goal has been to write stories ranging from space adventure to character studies within that series.  I also write about a number of recurring characters, particularly Mike Christopher and Chanda Kasmira, both featured in my Yard Dog collection, A GLIMPSE OF SPLENDOR AND OTHER STORIES.

Do you have a favorite thing that you’ve ever written?

“Zheng He and the Dragon,” published in the January/February 2009 issue of ANALOG.  It was a challenge because I was dealing with a historical personage, the great Chinese explorer Zheng He, who made seven voyages throughout the South Pacific, Indian Ocean, and even Africa in the early 1400s.  I had him encounter an alien whose spaceship crashed near his fleet and examined the relationship that developed between these very different characters.  I placed the events of the story between and among real events in Zheng He’s life.

Do you have a favorite character that you write about? If so, who is it, what makes it your favorite and tell us about the character.

The artificial Human Mike Christopher must be my favorite character to write about, because I’ve written about him the most — seven stories over the course of the past decade or so.   He was the first series character I created, and is probably the most like me — if I were younger, smarter, and more athletic.  His status as an artificial Human — created in a lab, not “of women born,” reflects my unusual childhood.  I never knew my parents and was raised by my grandparents, and having a different family situation from most people has given me an “outsider’s” look at life in many ways, an outlook Mike shares.

Who drives the story, you or your characters?

I  come up with the ideas for plots or situations, but who my characters are drive the events of the story — that is, how they react to the setup I’ve created.

Who proofreads and critiques your work?

I do.  I have no first readers.  Fortunately, my work as a TV news producer has trained me to be able to sit and craft “finished” copy pretty quickly and easily.  I consider that I’m writing directly to final draft, with only minor copy-editing afterwards.  It helps that I outline extensively and do little bios of all my characters, planets, alien races, etc. ahead of time.  Once I get going, I hate stopping to figure out a character’s attributes or what a planet should be named.  Of course, if my editor has some valid suggestions for changes, that’s when massive rewrites can happen.

Where do you get your ideas?

Sometimes from reading about real-life science, such as the discoveries being made about “exoplanets” — worlds beyond our solar system.  I want to do a story set in a star system that has several “hot Jupiters,” for instance.  Those are gas giant planets that orbit very close to their stars, something not thought possible until recently.  But I’m looking for a human story to tell in such an environment, and so far that’s escaped me.

Other times I just try to put my characters in situations that challenge them.  Lois McMaster Bujold suggests figuring out the worst thing that can happen to a character and writing about that.

Where do you write?

At a desk in the basement of my home, surrounded by many, many books.  Some are science books that let me check facts, some are SF and astronomical art that may spark an idea, and the vast majority of them are the countless SF novels I’ve read over the years.  Sometimes they come in handy, too, because they can provide lessons in writing technique — how did Arthur Clarke evoke the mystery of space so effectively, how did Poul Anderson make his scenes so vivid, how does Lois McMaster Bujold handle emotion so well?

When do you write – set times or as the mood moves you?

Again, the journalism training, along with the detailed outlining beforehand means I pretty much sit down and write.  I have an hour between the time my wife leaves for work in the morning and when I leave for my job, so that works well.  Then I usually try to find an hour or so in the evening.

If you could invite any other writer to dinner who would ask and why?

Robert A. Heinlein, because of his importance to the field and because he seldom revealed anything about his personal life.  I’d want to try to figure out what elements in his fiction were sincere political and social beliefs and which ones were him playing devil’s advocate.  Unfortunately, he’s no longer available.

Do you use the Internet to check facts, or the library?

The Internet, purely for speed.  Before then, I would sometimes have to use precious writing time to make a trip to the library for basic research or just to track down an obscure detail.  Now, as long as you can discern which sites are trustworthy and which are full of bull, you can find most information you need in a few minutes.

Who’s your favorite author (other than yourself)? Why?

My favorite author, after all these years, is still Arthur C. Clarke.  I’ve always admired how he was able to be a hard-SF writer, yet still evoke a mystery and even spirituality in his descriptions of the physical world.

Some writers say that they have to write a certain amount of words every day. Do you do this? Why or why not?

I try for 500 words a day, which is puny compared to some people.  Harry Turtledove, for instance, tells me he writes about 2500 words a day.  But then, he does this full-time.  I wouldn’t have the time to type 2500 words a day, let along have to make them up, too.

My goal is pretty arbitrary — it’s one I can manage most days, so I don’t have the frustration of failing to meet it.  At the same time, on days when I’ve managed only 350 to 400 words, it pushes me to work a few more minutes and accomplish more than I would have otherwise.

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Posted by on Feb 15 2011. Filed under Authors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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