52.) To what extent do the places you live/have lived find their way into your fictional universes? Do some places have a stronger influence than others? If you're writing a real-world or real-world equivalent location, how much research/visiting do you tend to do?
That's three for the price of one, really. Um. Fictional places are, really, fictional. I make them up out of whole cloth, generally speaking. (I don't do the "fictional version of Venice" thing--except in very specific cases such as contrafactual history, as in New Amsterdam or "Seven Dragons Mountains," where I am writing an imaginary-world version of a real city, such as New York or Hong Kong, respectively.)
However, when I write a real place in any depth, I try very hard to get it right--visit it if I can, and if I can't, I research it extensively, including reading books, looking for webcams, and talking to people who have lived or visited there. In a lot of ways, I am a New England writer: I like setting things here, and I love this landscape. I can bring a lot of nuance to it. But my only book that's about a place is One-Eyed Jack & the Suicide King, which is *about* Las Vegas. Where I lived for seven years, but did not grow up.
In some ways, I think one is more likely to write a book about a place (rather than set there) if one is a transplant to that location, because one has to learn it. If you have always lived somewhere, you take it for granted.
53.) I realize, of course, that the "F" in "FBI" stands for "domestic agency," but... would "Shadow Unit" ever follow the time-honored TV trope of sending the protagonists on an overseas field trip? Is there any sense of "well, we assume that the Anomaly is worldwide, but that's outside the scope of the show," or is the Anomalous geography actually limited?
There's been a fair amount of discussion in the character livejournals of the potential for worldwide anomalies, so I think it's safe to assume that the characters think it's not just America. But yeah, the FBI is a domestic agency, so if they went elsewhere they would have to be invited. And since they are currently (unhappily for them) a secret organization--
54.) Do you see yourself writing space opera sometime?
I have done--the Jacob's Ladder books are about as space opera-y as you can get, although admittedly they lack in blasters and massive space battles.
55.) How did you get into climbing? What draws you to it?
Hmm. It was research for a character, actually--in Shadow Unit. I enjoy it a lot: it's challenging physically and intellectually. Alas, I kind of suck.
56.) What would you tell someone (a beginner) who you know wants to write, but they keep putting it off? As in procrastinating it to end for various silly reasons.
It's really their lookout, isn't it? Nobody else is going to do it for you, and there's really no reason to do it, other than to get the voices in your head to stop yammering at you. I mean, writing isn't going to make anybody a better person. It's not something anybody should do, or has an obligation to do. If you do it, do it because you want to, because it gives meaning or pleasure to your existence. If it's a chore, and you're not being paid for it, and you aren't driven to it, then why not do something fun or useful instead?
Otherwise, it's schoolwork.
57.) I know you like Criminal Minds, but what other TV shows do you watch?
The shows that I will actually go out of my way to watch are Life, Hustle, and Mythbusters. This season, I caught a few episodes of Lie to Me and Leverage, because the casts and premises appealed to me, but the writing didn't hold my interest. I generally really like anything Alton Brown does. I've been known to watch House for the snark, but I'm not emotionally engaged with it at all--I wouldn't call myself a fan. Likewise, post-Ecclestone Doctor Who and Torchwood. I've seen most of it, but I haven't been able to force myself to pay attention.
58.) What are your favourite books? Which ones do you keep reading over and over, and which ones have you read only once and can't pick up again?
My favorite books are The Last Unicorn and Watership Down. I'm not a big rereader--I used to be, but these days I am always short for reading time and attention span.
59.) If you were to pick a fictional universe in which to live, which one would it be?
Jeff Smith's Bone universe. Totally. ("I'm Ted. I'm a bug.")
60.) I was curious if the Shadow Unit work is going to come out in a book form or maybe a boxed combo dvd set.
If we got a decent offer on it, I suspect we wouldn't say no. *g*
61.) You said Blood & Iron and Dust were the 2 books you hated writing the most. Why?
Well, currently, it's B&I and Chill. Because they were hard and the work sucked like a sucking thing. *g*
62.) I haven't read A Companion to Wolves (I tried, but it was too dense for me), but from what comments and reviews I've read on it and the books I *have* read, I get the feeling that 'companion animal' books mostly fall into one of the following categories:
1) The majority 'teen angst/suffering justification' companion you described in your April 22 post, basically where Character X gets new best friend with a thin paint of 'animal'. (Dragonriders of Pern and Valdemar books would both be in this category.)
2) Something closer to a meeting of equals, as in Tara K. Harper's Cat Scratch Fever and Wolfwalker(? I'm not sure of the actual series name, as I've only read the former) novels. Those actually deal with *gasp* animal instinct and having to deal with them on the animals' terms instead of just having that thin veneer of 'animal' on a human in animal form, and communication is more empathic/image-based instead of telepathic.
3) A Companion to Wolves
4) Something sort of between 2 and 3, where the animal is the dominant partner, but instead of the animal instinct traumatizing the human partner, the human takes on the animal's instinct/behavior to the point where s/he is uncomfortable/has trouble dealing with other humans.
I've never actually read - or heard of - a #4, but I've played with it in fanfiction form; I was a member of several Pern writing clubs, and in one of them I had a character with trackcat felines and she was this category in spades.
I'd be very interested on your thoughts as to this kind of classification, and if you'd ever thought about pursuing a #4-type character/storyline.
I'm pretty sure there's something like that in something I've read, where people get more or less lost in their animal companions. Maybe it's in Jennifer Roberson's Chronicles of the Cheysuli books? There's also bits of something like it in A Companion to Wolves, actually, with the wildling pair.
It's not a classification I've thought overmuch about, but I'm a lumper rather than a splitter, as we say in paleoanthropology. I tend to see things as spectrums rather than categories, and don't usually spend a lot of time sorting them out into piles.
63.) If you had to choose one book as your "card," so to speak--the one that best sums up who you are as a writer, or where you're going--which would it be? (It doesn't have to be the best one, but the one you'd want to be known by, given a choice.)
I kind of hope I haven't written my signature work yet. It's still kind of early in the career! I'd hate to have to live with an iconic novel for the next fifty years and have everything I write be measured against it and found lacking.
However, if I got hit by a truck tomorrow, it'd probably (I hope) be The Stratford Man.