Question 1. You are a very busy writer and able to produce what to me seems like a massive amount of material in a short period of time. What is your secret?
I love to write. I also write by dictating into a recorder, rather than sitting trapped in a chair with my fingers on the keyboard, so I also enjoy hiking and writing at the same time. But the main thing is that I have so many stories in my head, interesting characters and scenes, and I have to write so quickly in order to make room for all the new ideas that keep coming.
Question 2. My favorite book of yours which you wrote with Doug Beason is “Ill Wind”. I have long regarded it as one of my personal favorite tales of apocalypse. I know the book was written years ago but what are your thoughts on the book?
In ILL WIND, a gigantic oil spill is cleaned up by an experimental bacteria…which mutates and then begins dissolving all petroleum products; as a result, a lot of modern civilization falls apart. It’s an apocalypse story unlike the usual plague or nuclear war scenario (or zombie apocalypse!) when we wrote it, the science was cutting edge; both Doug Beason and I were heavily involved in the research, with the assistance of many experts in their own fields. It was very popular and has been in print for 16 years or so. I love the epic fall of civilization, and also the hopeful ingenuity we used to rebuild civilization.
Question 3. You have worked on many of the Star Wars books what are your thoughts on the purchase of Star Wars by Disney?
I think it seems a natural fit, and there has been close relationship with Disney and Lucasfilm for a long time (I love the Star Tours ride and Indiana Jones ride)—but note that Disney didn’t just buy Star Wars, but all of Lucasfilm, including other characters such as Indiana Jones, and the THX sound systems, Industrial Light and Magic, and everything else. It will have impact throughout the entertainment industry.
Question 4. Dune. To be honest I have not read any of the books in the Dune series not written by Frank Herbert. Can you sell the newer books to me? I have been looking for a science fiction series to read why would I choose Dune?
DUNE is the greatest SF novel ever written, in my opinion, and Frank Herbert created more than 15,000 years of history…In his own novels, he also left out huge chunks of the story. Brian Herbert and I are telling some of those stories, from the centuries-long epic war against the thinking machines and the foundations of the Dune universe (The Butlerian Jihad trilogy), or the prequels to Dune, the love story of Duke Leto and Lady Jessica, their initial battles with the Baron Harkonnen, and a lot of Imperial politics (the House Atreides, House Harkonnen, House Corrino trilogy); either of those would be the best place to start. (Or just reread DUNE—you can’t go wrong with that, either.)
Question 5. We always ask a political question here at the Freehold. One of the reason we do that is to gauge just what people in speculative fiction are thinking about society. So what are your political beliefs and is there anything you want to get across to our readers who are mostly libertarianish?
I used to love sitting around having political discussions, exchanging ideas. I am an independent, generally socially liberal but more conservative financially. I believe in science not dogma. I believe in personal responsibility. I despise hypocrisy. Unfortunately, political discussion has become pure poison—I watch the vitriol and ranting on Facebook, the vicious attacks (not discussions and an exchange of ideas, but marching-moron attacks without any interest in the opposing point of view). So, I close the door and keep my politics to myself.
Thank you for the Interview and I look forward to looking into one of your Dune novels.