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Interview with Alan Dean Foster
FF - In your recent novel, 'Interlopers', your descriptions of an archaeological dig site and the various personnel were very convincing. What research did you do for the book?
Alan Dean Foster - The site of the Chachapoyan archeological dig described in the book is very similar to the fortress of Kuelap in Northern Peru, which I visited in 1999. A truly spectacular place. The lack of detailed knowledge about the Chachapoyans as well as the area in general is what first sparked the idea for INTERLOPERS. On the same trip, I had the privilege of visiting a number of northern Peruvian archeological sites (Moche, Chimu, Lambayeque) in the company of the esteemed Peruvian archeologist Daniel Fernandez-Avila, including several sites closed to the general public. The polychrome bas-reliefs of fantastic creatures under restoration at the site of El Brujo (The Sorcerer, no less) were a particularly sharp jolt to the imagination.
FF - What inspired the idea of Interlopers wreaking havoc on the human race?
ADF - The book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People"...which I have not read, but whose memorable title is inescapable. I've always been at once disgusted and fascinated by the continual parade on the news of ordinary people who do terrible things. From that came the notion that not merely serial killings and wars are the fault of otherworldly influences, but possibly everything that goes bad. The idea, in other words, that we can be afflicted by very tiny demons as well as huge and powerful ones. Most animistic religions believe that many, if not all, inanimate natural objects possess spirits of their own.
FF - Do you use an outline when you're writing?
ADF - I'll start by making notes of ideas, characters, places, situations, etc., until I have about two pages worth. Then I'll begin working these into a rough sort of outline. Sometimes the outline will get as elaborate as nine or ten pages. Sometimes it will remain as brief as three or four. I never know in advance.
FF - The ending of Interlopers is left open. Do you plan to write other stories about them?
ADF - Nothing is planned, but you never know. I've written a number of "unplanned" sequels.
FF - Does having a website help or hinder you? In what way?
ADF - Besides being fun, it definitely helps. I get far more feedback from fans than I ever did before websites existed. From the reader standpoint, it's much easier for them to get in touch with, and ask questions of, their favorite writers.
FF - Would e-publishing be something you would consider in the future?
A number of my books are already available in e-published format. Try Warner Books' iPublish site, for example.
FF - Some writers are offering their older works as free downloads, do you foresee this being something you or your publisher might do? (Depending on who holds the rights to the work.)
ADF - No. My works continually go in and out of print. I know of no craftsman who makes a living by giving away the sweat of his brow. There is enough pirated material out on the web now anyway to satisfy the most avaricious ethically-challenged reader.
FF - What piece of advice would you pass on to aspiring writers?
ADF - Read everything you want to write...then write. Don't talk about writing. Don't discuss writing. Don't attend classes on writing. Write...it's the only way.
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