Kevin J. Anderson is a #1 internationally bestselling author with over 120 books to his credit. A multi-award-winning writer, he has been called upon to write spin-off stories for Star Wars, Dune, The X-Files, Batman and Superman, Titan A.E., and StarCraft. Comic book fans may be familiar with Anderson’s Star Wars, Predator, Justice Society, and Star Trek comics.
None of those works would have happened if Anderson didn’t possess genuine, true talent and blazed his own unique and enduring path into readers’ hearts. “Resurrection, Inc.”, Anderson’s first disturbingly entertaining walking-dead novel, arrived in readers’ hands in 1988. The author’s masterful prose, captivating characters, and skillful plotting threw open a storytelling door that readers have been returning to ever since.
Though Anderson has co-authored several books with varying authors such as “Frankenstein: Prodigal Son” with Dean Koontz, “Clockwork Angels: The Novel” with Neil Peart from legendary rock group Rush, and the new “Dune” novels with Brian Herbert, Rebecca Moesta can lay claim to the greatest collaboration with Anderson as she not only has co-authored nine novels and/or series with him, but agreed to marry him. They just celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary.
Prolific by every definition of the word, this year Anderson has produced the steampunk historical “The Martian War,” a sci-fi audiobook “Tau Ceti,” in which Anderson himself performs, “Sisterhood of Dune” with Brian Herbert, and other stories. But 2012 has also seen the author’s return to a genre that first garnered readers’ attention—paranormal, with a trademark Kevin J. Anderson comedic twist.
“Death Warmed Over” is the first in a new series introducing private eye/murdered zombie Dan Chambeaux, “Dan Shamble” to his paranormal clientele. Dan takes nearly every case that enters his ‘Unnatural Quarter’ office. From witches suing their publisher for a misprinted spell that went horribly wrong, to a mummy wanting the museum to release him, to a werewolf ensnared in divorce proceedings, Dan tries to help his clients, all while trying to solve his own murder. The story is witty, original, and presents readers with an unbelievably believable world as only Kevin J. Anderson can.
Watch for the original novelette “Stakeout at the Vampire Circus” in November, and the next Dan Shamble novel “Unnatural Acts” this January.
Q) In 1988 when “Resurrection, Inc.” was published, you had little knowledge of what becoming famous would be like. Today, you readily attend conferences to meet established and potential fans. Thank you for that. What has been the greatest joy of becoming a famous author, and the greatest detriment?
A) Authors are the “invisible” sort of famous. I do know many truly famous people, from rock stars, movie and TV stars, producers and directors—but nobody recognizes me on the street. That’s fine with me. Part of the job is to interact with fans directly, whether by Twitter (@TheKJA) or Facebook (The Official Kevin J. Anderson Page), or at numerous conventions, book signings, library talks, etc. I grew up as a fan and attended many such conventions as a fan, and I still feel at home there.
Q) Your wife Rebecca enjoys mysteries. Did she influence “Death Warmed Over”?
A) Rebecca influences everything I write; I talk with her about my projects as I’m thinking about them in the planning stages, she brainstorms with me as I develop the story and characters, and she critiques the draft manuscripts as she reads them. We watch many mystery TV shows, and know the expectations of the convoluted cases as well as the interesting characters. And what can be more interesting (or funny!) than a zombie private detective?
Q) Readers frequently mention your superb and nearly phenomenal ability to create very real detailed worlds in their minds. Where did that skill come from, and how did you hone it to the level of mastery that you possess?
A) It comes from asking questions. If you take the general idea—what if something called the “Big Uneasy” brought back all the usual monsters, vampires, werewolves, mummies, witches, zombies—and you have to ask *then* what? Think about Step Two. Some people would write a story about the monsters coming back. I’m not interested in that. What happens next? So if all the monsters are back, they would have to figure out how to live in society, congregate in the “Unnatural Quarter” where they can seem normal…and they would have a lot of the same problems normal humans have, such as divorces, property disputes, legal difficulties. So, my private detective and his bleeding-heart human lawyer partner have the usual cases with the added complication of fangs, claws, curses, spells, and more.
Q) Obviously, you savor the genres you write in. Still, writers frequently have a genre they would love to explore that their established fans might not be so keen about. What’s yours?
A) I’m well known for my big complex science fiction and fantasy epics, such as the Saga of Seven Suns, my Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy, the Dune and Hellhole books with Brian Herbert. Those are like “War and Peace” with gigantic stories and casts of characters…and I love sinking my creative teeth into them. BUT, in books like that I never get a chance to have fun or just be silly. I do have a good sense of humor (well, at least I think so), and the Dan Shamble series, as well as my BLOOD LITE anthology series of humorous horror, gives me a chance just to be funny, and it’s so liberating. And ridiculous…but in a serious way.
Q) During your early struggles to be published, you once received a trophy as “The Writer with No Future.” Do you still have it?
A) Definitely. It’s right in my office. (Actually, it’s on the toilet tank in the bathroom of my office.) I received it when I was able to produce more rejection slips, by weight, than any other writer at a large conference. I keep it to remind me of the value of awards—what matters most is what the fans and readers think.
Q) Your epic world-building enthralls readers. Yet, in an interview, you alluded to your preference to smaller scale and personal stories involving time travel – the ‘what ifs.’ Will we see more of those types of explorative tales from you?
A) I don’t think it’s an either/or proposition. I love to create a large canvas and a well thought-out original world, where all the details fit together and all the questions are asked. But a giant world in itself isn’t interesting; you have to put interesting people [sic] with interesting problems into the story. I like looking at the whole thing from both the big picture and the small picture. Some of Dan Shamble’s cases involve the possible extinction of monsters everywhere, but he still has to worry about spending enough time with his girlfriend (even if she is a ghost) and pretending to laugh at the really bad jokes his BHF (Best Human Friend) Officer McGoohan tells him. It’s a good balance.
Q) Any parting comments for your readers and those who haven’t yet read your work?
A) I have a lot of different stories, from big space operas to sprawling fantasy epics, to these very funny and light zombie PI novels. I write very quickly, and I keep myself interested by switching gears and writing different things. Try my steampunk “Clockwork Angels,” or my epic “Saga of Seven Suns”…or, for a good time, try “Death Warmed Over.” I’m amusing myself, and I hope to amuse readers as well.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist www.kevad.net