I could introduce this interview with the usual journalistic chatter: “Kevin J. Anderson is the internationally bestselling author of numerous novels in the Star Wars and Dune settings, as well as his own Saga of Seven Suns—”
But you already know that, and if you didn’t you could learn it through Google. What’s more important from my perspective is that Kevin is friendliest author I’ve ever had the opportunity to converse with.
I’ve been lucky enough to converse with Kevin pretty regularly, because he has acted as my mentor in writing since the time I was twelve years old. At the risk of sounding trite and sycophantic, it was Kevin who taught me, either verbally or by his example as an author, most of what I know about writing: how to introduce exposition organically, how to give description the stab of the physical, how to stage fight scenes and chase scenes…
Most of these truisms come with anecdotes. Once, as we talked over Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, Kevin waxed eloquent about his philosophy of background detail: “So you have the entire history of the Black Dragon Inn worked out, and how the generals took it over as their headquarters during the ancient war against the powers of darkness and how a demon came down the chimney to assassinate them. It’s enough to have your character walk into the inn and see the claw marks on the hearth and have a member of the wait staff say, ‘Whatever you do, don’t ask the innkeeper about the time the demon came down the chimney during the war—once he gets going on that story he’ll never shut up!’ That’s enough for the reader. Or if you’re describing an alleyway, name the brands of the fast-food wrappers, or say there’s a single empty bottle of wine leaning against one wall, and people will start to invent their own stories about how it got there.”
It’s delightful how readily Kevin constructs these examples. In that sense, he is a born storyteller. But the most important thing he ever taught me is that no matter how long your bibliography is (and Kevin’s comprises well over a hundred books if I count both hardcover and paperback releases), what matters most is how you connect with people—in person or through the stories you tell.
So here is Kevin J. Anderson on life, music, and storytelling.