Today, Reader’s Entertainment looks Behind the Words with award winning science fiction author Edward M. Lerner. Welcome, Edward we’re excited to have you on Reader’s Entertainment.
Let’s begin with telling our readers a bit about yourself. Where you’re from, where you live? Is writing your full-time job?
I’m originally from Chicago and studied physics and computer engineering at the University of Illinois. After several first-career-driven relocations, I landed in Virginia. Over the years, I worked in telecomm, aerospace, and the occasional niche industry. For much of that time, writing was my hobby. In 2004, after selling my second novel – meaning the first wasn’t a fluke – I began writing full-time.
Given my first career in high tech, of course I gravitated toward writing science fiction. Less often, I write popular science.
How long have you been writing?
Short answer: ages. As a hobby (collecting some fiction sales as encouragement) from 1985 to mid-2004. Full-time since.
So what does your typical writing day look like?
My days are typically … atypical. Most are mixtures of two or more of: research, plot brainstorming, outlining, actual knocking out of text, editing … and promotional activities like this interview. But I do try to put in at least five hours a day, seven days a week – and it’s usually more.
Time to tell our readers about your latest release!
Twist my arm, why don’t you. (We did! And Edward gave in!! LOL)
My latest? It’s a near-future adventure set mainly on the Moon. Our intrepid explorers find artifacts left behind by ancient alien visitors – and you just know nothing good can come of poking around. Even if the novel’s title weren’t Déjà Doomed.
Okay, that sound bite might suggest Déjà Doomed is a horror novel. It’s not, although there’s the almost certain likelihood of a horrible outcome. It’s most definitely science fiction. The space-based parts of the novel draw extensively on the Apollo experience, NASA plans for a return to the Moon, and capabilities of such private aerospace companies as SpaceX. As for any clarification of the doom aspects, readers will thank me for not being too specific today.
What inspired this book?
First Contact is not only among the most popular SF themes, but it’s also one of my favorites. I wanted to do something new with it. Most First Contact stories involve either face-to-whatever encounters or some type of signal detection. An archeological discovery of alien visitors was different – but not, if you’ll pardon the expression, yet as novel as I’d like. So, rather than hide the traces of long-ago visitors on Earth, I chose the Moon. Beyond that hopefully fresh approach, setting my book on the Moon allowed the alien relics to be far older, and far better preserved, than if they’d been left on Earth. Which then led to other opportunities that are best left for readers to discover.
Could you share one detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book? Perhaps a juicy bit of back-story, or something only you know about a character?
I don’t know how juicy this is, but this particular story idea lurked in the back of my mind for years before I converged on the full plot, and before I decided how long-hidden secrets would gradually reveal themselves.
What would you say has been your hardest scene to write?
It’s hard to pick specifically one scene, but I can certainly identify a scene type. Writing SF as I do, I often work with an alien perspective. Preserving the alien aspect and remaining comprehensible to human readers? That’s a challenge. Ditto writing from the perspective of an artificial intelligence. (There’s a lot of that in my first AI novel, Fools’ Experiments.) Writing from the perspective of an alien AI? That’s really tough. But fun.
Who has been the most difficult character for you to write? Why?
A damaged alien AI suffering from a memory loss. It gave me all the difficulties to which I’ve already alluded, plus the complications of “brain” damage and confusion.
If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?
None! In the stories I write, the characters face daunting challenges. If someone is going to take up space in my head for, on average, a year or so, I make them earn their keep.
Are there authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
Among SF authors, many of the usual suspects. Robert Heinlein. Larry Niven. Keith Laumer. Jack McDevitt. David Brin. Harry Turtledove. Among younger authors, Robert J. Sawyer, Ted Chiang, and Andy Weir. Outside the genre, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dashiell Hammett, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Harris. Lots of popular-science and popular-history authors. And my apologies to everyone slipping my mind at the moment.
Among those folks, Larry Niven gets a special call-out. He’s more than a writer whose works I’ve enjoyed. We’ve collaborated on five novels: the space-opera epic Fleet of Worlds series.
Your favorite go-to drink or food when the world goes crazy!
Ice cream, definitely.
What is the one question you never get asked at interviews, but wish you did?
Q: What’s the most fun part of writing?
A: For me, it’s the start. Trying out ideas – often, crazy ideas — on myself. Keeping some, tossing more, turning many inside out … on and on it goes till things click. A new plot coming together is a joyous thing! And, techie that I am, I generally have folded into that idea mill an engineering or scientific topic or three that I’d like to learn more about. The research that follows is a delight, too.
Thank you so much Edward for talking with us today.
Where can Reader’s Entertainment visitors learn more about you and your writing?
If I’ve sufficiently piqued anyone’s interest about my latest book, here are shortcuts to Déjà Doomed for the Kindle (it’s also available, of course, in other popular ebook formats) and Déjà Doomed in print.
More generally, of course, I have an authorial website. That’s www.edwardmlerner.com. I post progress reports and new releases on my blog, “SF and Nonsense” (blog.edwardmlerner.com) and FaceBook page (www.facebook.com/EdwardMLerner/). And hardly a surprise, Amazon has an overall Edward M. Lerner page (www.amazon.com/Edward-M.-Lerner/e/B001IGSZLQ).
Edward latest release is Déjà Doomed — here’s a quick look —
“Solid sci-fi outing from Lerner”—Publishers Weekly
“Here’s an author you definitely need to check out.”—Asimov’s Science Fiction
On the Moon’s far side, shielded from Earth’s radio cacophony, Americans are building a radio-astronomy observatory. Russians sift the dust of a lunar “sea” for helium-3 to run future fusion reactors. Commercial robots, remotely operated from Earth, roam the Moon’s near side in a hunt for mineral wealth. Why chase distant asteroids for precious metals? Onetime asteroids must lie close beneath the much-bombarded lunar surface.
Then a prospecting robot encounters a desiccated, spacesuited figure. An alien figure ….
Americans from the lunar observatory investigate. Near the original find, underground, they discover an alien installation. Lunar Russians, realizing that the Americans are up to something clandestine, send their own small team. Each group distrusts the other … even before the fatal “accidents” begin. By the time anyone suspects what ancient evil they have awakened, it may be too late—
For everyone on Earth, too.