I have just finished the first book in Carolyn Neeper’s series The Archives of Varok, The View Beyond Earth, and am halfway through the second book, The Webs of Varok. I can’t wait to post my review on these two books, but in the meantime, here is my interview with the author.
What inspired you the most while writing this book?
The works of Herman Daly and others contributing to the steadystate (Full Earth economics) blog at http://steadystate.org. Their concise suggestions for saving resources and dealing with Earth’s dilemma made it possible to portray them in the model culture of Varok. Then there were the suggestions, the pointers, and the edits I received from my editor at Penscript. They were very instructive, and right on target as the story developed.
Which character in your book do you relate to the most? Why?
I relate to Tandra Grey, the microbiologist and animal/alien lover. She loves the variety of forms life takes and respects their thinking and their needs, while being a bit critical about the human being.
What is the most important thing that you hope readers take away from your book?
I hope the reader will come to understand that the no-growth economy is possible and not threatening, that it is based on localization with the global government reduced to bean-counting and arbitration, along with its comfortable, supportive aspects like sharing work hours to allow time for creative projects.
Which other authors have inspired or influenced you the most?
I love good English, a meaningful and beautiful use of words found in books like The Hobbit and Life of Pi. I am also a fan of Alice In Wonderland with its goofy use of words and playful interactions between animals and humans.
Can you share a little bit about your writing process?
All the books in The Archives of Varok were originally written by hand, with ball pen and paper, early in the morning. They were then edited with red pen and carefully typed. When Charles Scribner’s Sons published the first book (A Place Beyond Man, now updated as The View Beyond Earth) I had to re-type any page that had more than two errors. Submission was by boxed paper ms via snailmail. Every ten years I would re-read the sequels, fall in love with the characters again, edit, and re-type them–at last! into the computer. When my editor at Penscript offered to publish them, I couldn’t resist. After I re-wrote the mss, including her suggestions, she and I had a lot of fun reading them out loud and doing a bit of word-smithing while proofreading.
Tell us about your next book.
The fourth book in The Archives of Varok will be called Shawne:An Alien’s Quest. We might add Hope and Reconciliation to the title, for the book is the story of the baby in book one, now a young adult mourning for Earth and her personal losses. She goes on a search for Meaning, finds hope in human potential, and finds unexpected answers.
What is the best piece of writing advice that you have ever received?
Read. Read everything you can find that’s related to your story’s theme and setting. Write. Read some more. Let some time pass, then read what you have written, editing and adding thoughts for development as you read.