Your Questions for the Author Answered

October Question

In seeing that Solar Express is about to be published, I realized that I only see SF books by you every few years. Why don’t you write more science fiction?

Unfortunately, the answer is simple and boils down to two words — time and money. A good science fiction novel takes me more time and pays me considerably less than a good fantasy novel. Now, some people have said that, well, if I wrote more S.F., more people would buy it. What they have forgotten or never knew is that for the first twenty years of my publishing career, I wrote ONLY science fiction. I couldn’t afford to become a full-time writer until I started writing and publishing fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, I still love science fiction, which is why I continue to write it, but I can’t afford to write much more than I do, because I don’t want to take a drastic cut in income, especially not with the way the U.S. economy is teetering today.

May Question

Where do you get all your ideas?

Pretty much from everywhere, but a high percentage of ideas are derived from what I read. My wife jokes that the postman heaves a sigh of relief after leaving our house, because we subscribe to so many periodicals. And yes, I read hard copy because I’d rather not waste computer time on reading, when there are times I can read when I’m not near the computer, and I hate reading anything off a cell-phone screen. Often, I’ll get a delayed reaction, as for example, I had read about the fascinating behavior of active galactic nuclei in an astronomy publication… and that fit right in with something in my forthcoming SF novel — Solar Express, except I didn’t realize it immediately, but later when I was taking my early morning walk with the energetic Aussie-Saluki.

April Question

I’ve had trouble reading some of the sections on your website with my smartphone. Have you thought about making the site more mobile friendly?

This is actually one of several questions I’ve had along this line, and I’m happy to announce, thanks to my webmaster/designer and general trouble-shooter, Eric James Stone, who is also a noted F&SF short story writer when he’s not at his day job, the site is now much more mobile friendly.

March Question

In your fantasy series, you always write about people who have magical talents. Have you ever thought about writing a book in any of those worlds with a protagonist who has no magical abilities?

That is something I’ve considered, and I certainly haven’t ruled it out, and in saying that, I’m not just paying lip-service to the idea. I have several ideas along those lines, but they’re not yet developed enough for me to say any more… or, frankly, even to determine whether they would be workable. But it is something I’m been mulling over for several years.

February Question

Will you be touring or doing any signings on the east coast any time soon?

At present, outside of appearances at LTUE, Worldcon in Spokane, and World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., I have no tours or signings set up for the year. Part of this is a reflection on the state of the publishing world, where revenues and profits took a severe hit at most publishers, since most of my tours have been paid for or at least partly supported by my publisher. Another reason is that I’m frankly still trying to catch up from the delays created by a conglomeration of events in my life [none of them relating to my health or ability to write] which greatly reduced the time available for me to write during 2014. In another six months, well, then we’ll see.

January Question

When will we see another Recluce book? Will you consider writing one about druids of Naclos?

At present, I’m working on another Imager Portfolio book, and since I’m only about halfway through it, I frankly haven’t given much thought to what I’m going to write next. At least some readers will be pleased to know that my esteemed editor would very much like me to continue writing Recluce books… and, if possible, I try to avoid displeasing my editor too often, but exactly what any forthcoming Recluce book might be remains to be seen. At least for now.

October Question

Tantor Media has only announced the publication of the first two books of the Corean Chronicles in audiobook format. When are the others scheduled for release?

As a matter of fact, Tantor has only bought the rights to those two. Whether the remaining six books of the Corean Chronicles appear in audiobook format depends on how well the firast two books — Legacies and Darknesses — sell in audiobook format. So if you want all the Corean Chronicles in audio format, go out and buy the first two.

September Question

Do you ever draw characters from real life and just give them different names?

There’s only one character — and a very minor one at that — that was taken pretty much whole from “real life” (and no, I’m not about to say which character). I do take patterns of behavior, mannerisms, speech patterns, and physical features from individuals, but they’re recombined in different ways. And I’m more than certain that I’ve borrowed and/or stolen more than I realize from life and people I’ve met without even consciously being aware of doing so.

August Question

Why isn’t Scion of Cyador available in ebook form in Great Britain?

Scion of Cyador isn’t available there because of the complexity of subsidiary/foreign book rights. Orbit, a division of Little Brown, purchased the British print rights to the book more than a decade ago,but did not purchase electronic rights. Although the book does not appear to be in active print in Britain, as I understand it, the print rights preclude “other editions” being published. Because Scion of Cyador is not in active print, Tor/Macmillan is in the process of reverting the rights, at which time an ebook edition will be available in Britain.

July Question

Do you have any idea how long you will continue writing books in the Recluce Saga?

The short answer is, “No, I don’t.”  The longer and likely more accurate answer is that I’ll continue writing so long as I have stories to tell that I feel also add something new and different to the world of Recluce and/or to readers’ perceptions of that world.  “New  and different” has a range of meaning to readers, since some feel that every book should have a radically different plot, while I prefer to write stories about the struggle to succeed and to achieve meaning in life, and for the protagonist to achieve that meaning and success in a way that is realistic within the structure of the world I’ve created.  There are always high costs and obstacles to such success, but the degree of those costs and the difficulty of surmounting those obstacles isn’t always apparent to all readers, although I do try to give hints along those lines.

June Question

Do you think you will ever write a Recluce book that takes place after The Death of Chaos?

As I’ve said before, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever write a Recluce book that takes place after The Death of Chaos, but I am working on a story collection entitled Recluce Tales, and there are two stories which take place several years after The Death of Chaos. It will likely be at least a year or two before this is finished, since, outside of the three stories already published [which will be included], all the other stories are original and unpublished.

May Question

Is Recluce your favorite “universe”?  If not, which one is?

Although I’ve obviously written more books about characters in the world of Recluce than in any other setting, I honestly can’t say that any one setting is my favorite.  In a very real sense, my “favorite” universe is the one in which I’m writing, and at present, that’s our universe a hundred years from now. 

April Question

Do you see any other books following in the Haze or  Archform:Beauty story-lines?

Flash is effectively set in the same “future” as Archform:Beauty, but not with the same characters.  At present, I don’t have any plans to re-visit the time/locale of either Haze or Archform:Beauty, but, as I say so often that it must frustrate some readers, I do reserve the right to do so, if I get an idea/plot that fits that I’m personally excited about. 


March Question

How long will you continue to write books in the Recluce Saga?  Will you ever write a book about the arrival of colonists from the Rational Stars?

Obviously, with two Recluce books forthcoming, I haven’t yet decided against writing more Recluce books.  I have at least one more in mind, but that’s a longer term project, for reasons I won’t get into yet.  The rest of the answer is simply that so long as I can come up with good stories and so long as readers buy them and Tor is willing to publish them I’ll likely write Recluce books, but there are likely to be intervals between them because I’ll also be writing other books.

February Question

Although I’ve felt like the Assassin’s Apologist in most of your books, I’d like to know when you will write a political novel/autobiography in Exton Land concepts and based on your experience — despite your disclaimer of “boring jobs” involving tedious details.

Unless I change my mind, which I reserve the right to do, the political events/issues in my fiction are likely to be the closest published documents to any sort of political autobiography. It’s also just as unlikely that I’ll write an actual novel around Exton Land, who much prefers to remain a quoted background source, rather than a beleaguered protagonist/antagonist. As I discovered with The Green Progression, fiction that’s truly close to reality doesn’t sell that well, at least for me, and most “political” fiction that sells well these days usually bears little resemblance to what has happened or is likely to — and that’s even more so now than a generation ago.

January Question

“Why don’t you have more signings on the East Coast?” That’s a question I’m asked often, and the answer is:

First, it’s very expensive for a publisher to send authors from the west to the east coast, and, second, for some reason, most bookstores and chains in large eastern cities aren’t terribly interested in having signings unless they can sell hundreds, if not thousands of copies. HOWEVER, Tor has arranged a signing at Singularity & Co in Brooklyn next week [January 10th at 7:00 P.M.], because I’ll be accompanying my wife to a National Opera Association convention. But that’s the only appearance, and the details are in the news section of the website.

December Question

Is there going to be a Modesitt Cookbook? There are so many interesting meals mentioned in so many novels, it would be fascinating to try out some of the recipes.

At this point, I have no plans for a “Modesitt Cookbook,” not with the effort it’s taking to keep up with my fiction commitments. I wish I did have more time, but… there are only so many hours.

November Question

Given the story about Quaeryt in the earlier years of Lydar and then about the Collegium in the first three books of The Imager Portfolio,  it seems that some of the imaging techniques developed by Quaeryt were lost, despite the establishment of the Collegium Imagio.  How did this happen, and will you be writing another book that explains this?

I am indeed writing another Imager Portfolio book set roughly midway between the close of Rex Regis and the beginning of Imager.  In addition to telling another story about a different character, the book will also shed some light on the questions you raise.  Beyond that, I’m not about to say more, since I have a great deal more work to do on the book.

September Question

Is there a recipe for burhka, for those of us who like really spicy food?

There isn’t a recipe for burhka, per se.  My personal sense of the dish is beef or lamb, in a brownish red sauce with the consistency and underlying taste of a thick curry, heated by the hottest jalapeno  peppers available along with a healthy dose of paprika, with slices of whatever root vegetables are available, served over noodles or rice.


August Question

Will any more of your science fiction books be published as audiobooks?

Right now, the only SF book of mine that appears in audiobook format is Haze, but Tantor will be releasing the forthcomng SF novel — The One-Eyed Man — as audiobook at roughly the same time as the hardcover appears in September.  If it sells well, there is always the possibility that they will consider publishing other SF books in addition to the fantasy titles.