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What's New?
Interview with Sonja
2004


Question
What is your average day like?

OSC Answers
I get up. I think about exercising. I put it off. But because I'm going to exercise, I don't work. I read the paper. Play videogames. Watch something on AMC or TCM. Then I exercise. By then most of the day is shot. I play more videogames. I shower. I have dinner. No point in starting writing anything. I go to a movie or hang out with my family or play more videogames or watch more TV. I go to bed and lie awake reading or doing cryptic crosswords until two or three or four. Or five or six. Then I sleep.

That's my AVERAGE day. On rare days, I write. Then when the book is done, I go back to average days.


Question
Do you have any other careers?

OSC Answers
No.


Question
Do you work at home?

OSC Answers
Yes.


Question
How did you become interested in writing?

OSC Answers
I started as a playwright in college, but after a few dozen plays I realized I couldn't support myself doing that. I had read quite a bit of science fiction - though it was never more than about a quarter of my reading -- and I knew it was the most open of the genres, so if I wanted to turn my writing into a career, it seemed worth a shot. I had tried a few sf stories in college, but now I wrote with a serious intent to write something of professional quality. The result was the novelet "Ender's Game."


Question
What is your favorite book?

OSC Answers
Lots of favorites. Depending on category and purpose. The Book of Mormon. Lord of the Rings. Screwtape Letters. Guns, Germs, and Steel. Foundation. Bruce Catton's Army of the Potomac. Bradbury's I Sing the Body Electric. Pinker's The Language Instinct. Pride and Prejudice. The Prince and the Pauper. Tunnel in the Sky. Galactic Derelict.


Question
Do you have a favorite book that you have written?

OSC Answers
All my books were the best I could do with a story I believed in and cared about at the time I was writing it. At the time of writing, each one was my favorite story -- and also the worst thing anyone had ever written. Now, in retrospect, each one means different things and arises from different places in my memory. Lost Boys is the most emotionally resonant because it is based on my family. Saints is about my people, my ancestors. Homecoming is my spin on the most important book in my life. Alvin Maker is the most fun to write. Pastwatch is probably my best sci-fi novel. Enchantment may be my best novel, period. Hart's Hope might be my best prose writing. And I'd be an idiot not to feel a great deal of affection for Ender.


Question
What/who inspired the Ender's series?

OSC Answers
The basic idea of the battle room came to me when I was sixteen. My future sister-in-law, Laura Dene Low (she soon married my older brother, Bill), had urged me to read Asimov's Foundation trilogy, which blew me away. I found myself wanting to come up with a futuristic story myself, and my rudimentary understanding of science fiction at the time led me to assume that sf stories began by the author thinking of a futuristic idea (and it certainly is one way to come up with a story).

Since I had been a Civil War buff for years, and because my brother Bill was in the army at the time (and the Vietnam War was at its peak), I speculated on how military training would be different in the future -- especially war in space, when there were three dimensions to think about. It wouldn't be like flying airplanes, because in flying there's always a "down" to orient yourself with. It would take drastic rethinking of the organization of objects in space and time . . . and so I came up with the battleroom as a means of training soldiers for 3D combat.

Years later, when I wanted to write a story that was completely and obviously science fiction, I came back to that idea and realized that if the soldiers being trained were all little kids, the story would be much more powerful. But this, too, came out of the obvious truth that most of the time our soldiers are children, or we make them into children through training -- we want them utterly dependent on their commanders for their understanding of reality, the way children are utterly dependent on their parents.


Question
Are any of your books' main characters based off of people in your life? Examples....?

OSC Answers
Only in Lost Boys is anyone based on real people. The family is based on me, my wife, and our eldest son (who is still very much alive, thanks). The other characters are disguised enough that they could not be identified by strangers. In my other books and stories, I don't base characters on people I know personally.


Question
Once you knew you wished to be an author, how did you pursue this?

OSC Answers
I was a theatre student when I found out I got the best response from my rewrites and fixes and adaptations of other people's stories and plays. From there, it was an obvious step to write my own plays. And after losing money even with hit plays, I realized that fiction would be a much more financially rewarding field of writing than plays. I pursued this decision by writing stories designed to fit within an existing publishing genre -- in this case, science fiction -- and, when my stories started selling, writing more of them. Meanwhile, though, I also made money from script writing -- half-hour audioplays for Living Scriptures of Ogden, Utah.


Question
What was high school like for you? Did you enjoy it/hate it? Good grades? Did you fit in? Hobbies?

OSC Answers
I was a straight A student (except for a jerk band teacher who punished me for moving away from Arizona so I didn't play at graduation, and my D for my last quarter of geometry). I fit in fine at Mesa High School, but I finished high school at a private school in Utah whose students had all been together for many years, so obviously I did not fit in at all. (I'm the most findable of all the graduates, but I am never invited to reunions. <grin>) I played in the band in Mesa -- French horn, sousaphone. I also was involved in drama, which was my real love. I did the speech/debate thing, too. Hated P.E. and got out of it as much as possible. Finished high school Spanish and took college Spanish during my last year of high school; studied Portuguese that year because my high school teacher minored in it. Had fun even when I didn't fit in.


Question
How was your childhood? Loving? Good parents?

OSC Answers
I had a Dandelion Wine childhood. My parents were loving, supportive, attentive, hard-working, and had high expectations of their children. They gave us a home filled with music, books, photography, and the belief that we could do anything we were interested in doing.


Question
Do you have any siblings?

OSC Answers
Two sisters, three brothers.


Question
How many children do you have?

OSC Answers
Five children, three still living.


Question
Have you pursued any other careers in your life?

OSC Answers
I was a copy editor, book editor, and magazine editor before going into writing on a fulltime basis. During 1983, when the recession made it seem desirable to take a regular job again, I worked once more as a book editor. Other than that, I have had no other sustained employment.


Question
Did you go to college? Where?

OSC Answers
I received a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University (1975) and a master's from the University of Utah (1981).


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