Today Toad welcomes author Hank Quense who, according to a family legend, was born around the middle of the last century, but he says no one in the family believes the legend. He lives in New Jersey, about fifteen miles outside of Manhattan, the entertainment center of the galaxy (if you listen to the people who live in Manhattan).
He has three books in print and ebook versions: Tunnel Vision, Fool's Gold and Tales From Gundarland. A fourth, Zaftan Entrepreneurs, will become available at the end of this month. He also has an ebook on fiction writing: Build a Better Story.
Which are the three most important SF works you'd recommend to someone who's never read the genre before? And why?
You asked about SF, so I'll restrict my answer to SF and exclude fantasy. Douglas Adams is number one. After that, Azimov and Heinlein―Adams because he's so off the wall and enjoyable, and because he changed the expectations of scifi; Azimov because he exerted so much influence; and Heinlein because his books, especially the latter ones were such great fun to read.
Do you listen to music while writing and, if so, who are your favourite composers/artists, and why?
I always listen to music while I write. Beethoven and Verdi are my favorite composers. Artists? Kiri Te Kanawa, Sarah Brightman, Dave Brubeck, George Lewis are on the top of my list.
Tell us a bit about your latest release and who it would appeal to.
Tales from Gundarland, published last spring, is a collection of six humorous short stories and two novellas. The common thread is that they all take place in Gundarland, a country located in a parallel universe close to ours. Gundarland is populated by humans, dwarfs elves and other races.
Zaftan Entrepreneurs is book one of the Zaftan Trilogy. The trilogy combines Scifi and fantasy. The zaftans are a nasty alien race who are merely hostile when in a good mood. A zaftan mining ship discovers Gundarland and sets out to plunder its mineral wealth. A dwarf miner, upset by robots trespassing on his land, declares war on them. The novel is part adventure and part corporate and political satire.
I think anyone who enjoys reading Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Chris Moore or Tom Holt will like these stories
Does your environment influence what you write?
I don't think my environment does, but my experiences do. All of my characters (whether deliberate or not) display tunnel vision to an alarming degree. Watching folks interpret events through their own set of tunnel vision filters is one of my favorite pastimes. Just listen to a politician rewrite history (i.e. using tunnel vision) so it satisfies and/or justifies his current position is often amusing and more frequently alarming.
Do you think science fiction will regain some of the old popularity it enjoyed during the 1950s and 1960s?
I'm not sure. Ereaders like Kindle and iPad have the capability to greatly change the way people read as well as what they read. So perhaps the electronic readers will lead to a resurgence of scifi. Possibly because it will be so easy to obtain and carry around ebooks. A further consideration is that the online book stores like Amazon and iStore have a wealth of books that are not available in traditional book stores. For instance, I love to read Tom Holt's novels, but as a British author, his books aren't readily available in book stores over here or in the public libraries. But they are available online and can be instantly downloaded. I find that I buy a lot more books since I got an iPad.
Is there a little bit about your current work in progress you feel comfortable sharing?
I love rewriting Shakespeare's stories; they have such great plots. I also love redoing myths of Merrie Olde England. Camelot, Robin Hood and Isolde are some of the ones I've worked on recently. My current project is a masterpiece. In one short novel, I'm playing havoc with Shakespeare's Hamlet and Othello plays while using another of his characters, Falstaff, as the link between the other two. This could cause a resurgence in interest in the Bard's work.
Or maybe not.
Are there any SF authors you'd recommend readers keep an eye on?
Not necessarily SF, but certainly genre authors: Peadar O'Guilin (an Irish author) and Eugie Foster (an American).
What are your top five tips to aspiring writers?
a) Don't stop. b) Write your stuff, not some other author's stuff. c) Don't get discouraged by lack of acceptance by publishers and agents. What do they know? d) See a), b) and c). E) See d)
Does reading your stories have any possible side-effects?
I'm glad you asked that because there are precautions that should be taken by readers. First, check with your doctor to determine if you are healthy enough to take part in spontaneous laughter. Second, if you are suffering from a contagious disease such as the flu or a cold, wear a mask to limit the spread of airborne germs when you laugh out loud. Finally, no one should read my stories while driving a car or operating heavy machinery.
You want links? Here you go:
You can keep up with my writing adventures at: http://hankquense.com. You can find links on my books on that site.
My blog is at: http://hankquense.com/blog
My Facebook fan page is: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hank-Quenses-Fiction-Writing-Page/102293491907?v=wall
You can follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/hanque99
On Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/hankquense