Rick Novy (website here) is a member of Codex, a group of neo-professional writers that includes yours truly. He also holds a membership to Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), a group of (paleo?)professional writers. His stories have appeared in various and sundry professional magazines. He also has some well-reviewed novels available on Amazon Kindle. I give him a hearty thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and stopping in on my little blog.
1) Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Southeastern Wisconsin and graduated from UW-Whitewater with a degree in physics and mathematics. I later moved to Silicon Valley and earned a Masters in Engineering from San Jose State. Finally, I moved to Arizona and have been living in Scottsdale for almost 14 years now.
2) Tell me a little bit about the characters and worlds you’ve created. Which book was the most fun to write? Which book was the most difficult?
Oh gosh, every piece is different, and I have over 40 short stories published, so let’s focus on novels. My first, Neanderthal Swan Song, features a Neanderthal clone, and we watch him growing up in modern times, trying to find his place in the world.In Rigel Kentaurus, I have a Y-shaped plot which features humans on one branch, and aliens on the second branch. The book really is the alien’s story more than the humans’. this book is set in the not-so-distant future and records mankind’s first journey to another star. Everything is sub-light, but the humans have a faster-than-light theory and everyone wants it.My forthcoming novel, Fishpunk, is set in the mid-1840s and is both a serious adventure story and at the same time, a tasteful parody of steampunk. The main character is a botanist from the Wisconsin territory. This novel has a colorful character named Robert Wenthworth, and Australian remittance man who has a riverboat on the Amazon.
I like all my characters in different ways. I love writing the alien point of view, and reviews of stories where I have done this have always been very good on this point.It’s probably one of my strengths, and writing alien POV is always fun. Wenthworth is also a riot to write because he is very impulsive, wants to have fun all the time, and has that stereotypical Australian hunger for adventure. Many of his adventures are self-inflicted. In fact, I enjoyed writing Wenthworth’s character so much I’ve decided to give him his own novel at some point.
3) What draws you to science fiction? Do you write in any other genres?
It has to do with the possibilities, as well as a fairly low threshold for suspension of disbelief. I do write occasional fantasy, and sometimes mainstream fiction, but it’s mainly the “cool idea” factor that draws me. Even a very dark, dark SF novel with a cool idea is fun, despite perhaps going into some grim territory.I also write some non-fiction. Recently work has been on aquarium fish.
4) What do you find most challenging about writing?
Distractions. This is one reason why I do better at novels. ONce I get momentum on a novel, which usually takes two or three days, it’s difficult to derail me. I have to be careful about stopping because a week off turns into three months pretty easily. The derailment often happens between projects, which is one reason I’ve been doing more long fiction.
5) What do you enjoy the most about writing?
I love the creation, the research, the soul-exploration, and, of course, seeing the finished project. The most enjoyable aspect, however, is when you make a reader happy. That’s the whole point.
6) Do you enjoy writing short stories or novels more? Which form do you think you are the most successful at?
I write both, but I think I’m a better novelist. They are very different animals requiring different skill sets. Short stories are more focused, need a lot of bang for the buck, and you don’t get a lot of space to set up the climax. IN novels, you can weave a more complicated story and the climax can be meaningful on several levels, and have different meaning for different characters. I like an ending that impacts everyone, not just the main characters, although sometimes that doesn’t work for a given story.
7) Who is your favorite author?
I don’t really have a favorite who rises above the crowd. I have a pool of writers that I enjoy reading and that pool grows all the time. People like Niven, Asimov, Pohl, Poul Anderson, the old school stuff, I still enjoy a lot of that and it’s reflected in my work (though I try to take the best aspects and leave the worst aspects behind–implicit racism or misogyny being prime examples here. These are fine for characters to exhibit, but the author must not exhibit them.
8) What’s next for you? Any new books or stories on the horizon?
Fishpunk is coming out later this year. I have a novel called A Darkling Nine about half finished. Actually, I have a list of novel titles/concepts taped to my computer desk that is about ten or twelve titles long, so I have no lack of projects. I also want to do a bit more short fiction next year than I allowed myself this year. On top of that, I have another anthology in the planning stage, but it has not yet been announced. My co-editor and I hope to be reading for that early next year.