"....bits and pieces in about the 8th grade -- things like 40 pages of imitation Heinlein adventure...Having read Tolkien and The Faerie Queen both that year [10th grade], I think I wrote about 30 or 40 pages of Tolkienesque saga, starting out in Spenserian verse, and then ran out of rhymes...[In 11th grade, Lillian Stewart Carl] and I did a Star Trek fanzine. But it's interesting that our writing styles are apparent in the stuff that we were doing at 18. Stylistically, what I wrote then and what I'm writing now are not that far apart -- except now I finish things, and they're more coherent in terms of their underlying structure. We watched Star Trek, and we did the thing where you make up stories and then you start changing the names to give yourselves more elbow room. By the time we were done, we had sort of gone off into a universe of our own that might have had its roots in Star Trek, but it was so long ago that nobody remembered by the time we were 14 generations down the line and had 160 named characters and their family trees...Of our high school days, [Lillian and I] could remember maybe 4 or 5 people, but we could remember far more of the characters we made up then.
...[At Ohio State University] I was briefly an English major...I wrote a science fiction story for the creative writing course and got an A, but it didn't go anywhere. I did hook up with Lloyd Kropp, who was teaching at OSU, through the Central Ohio Science Fiction Society, and from this a good deal of the rest of my life has flowed. Lloyd took a splinter group from COSFS, including Lillian and me, and we'd meet at his house for a kind of writer's workshop. He'd try things out on us he was going to try on his writing students. Lloyd had us writing things and would give us critiques...at Marcon in 1969 I met John, and we got married in 1971... [This interview was given in November 1988, btw.]
In 1976, sort of out of nowhere, I wrote a 60 page Sherlock Holmes pastiche, which I finished. It had a beginning, middle and end and finally got all typed up.
..While I was working [as a pharmacy technician at University Hospitals from 1972-78] I got a staff card to the OSU stacks...and all of a sudden, my reading started exploding in every direction...I'd walk through, and if it looked strange and the title was at eye level, it fell to my hand.
..About this time, Battlestar Galactica came on, and the early episodes were so bad. Lillian, who was in Texas now, started doing fan stories and had a couple of them published. Finally she made her 1st short story sale, and she was off and running. I was stuck up here in Marion with my second kid just turning 1 year old. I was unemployed and John was going in & out of being employed because the company he worked at had gone under. I started writing to save my sanity and because Lillian had done it and sold some books and because any kind of job I could get in Marion wouldn't pay for the babysitting.
..The story that became Shards of Honor started out as a Star Trek - related story. The initial Aral Vorkosigan was a Klingon...I had a scenario, just the story you make up to tell yourself while you're driving to work...I had one that I'd worked on for some time involving 2 people from opposite sides and have to cooperate to get from here to there...So I followed these 2 characters out and eventually got them together, and I knew that they had a son who was militarily inclined but also physically crippled. OK. Insert a 6-year hiatus, right? Lillian's written a story. I want to write a story. What am I going to write? And this old thing pops into my mind....
[Later] I had finished Warrior's Apprentice and was scratching around for an idea for a new book. I had sold "Barter" to The Twilight Zone....
Well, I better stop typing this; she's going into the career we know. But the bib for short stories: "Barter", The Twilight Zone Magazine (Mar\Apr 1985); "Aftermaths" (the bit at the end of Shards) Far Frontiers [the Baen paperback\quarterly] (Volume V, Spring 1987) [1986 really]; "The Hole Truth", The Twilight Zone Magazine (Dec 1986); and "Garage Sale", American Fantasy (Spring 1987). I haven't read any of em except Barter and Aftermaths, and I think you might have a time finding them.
I guess I'll have to do the "Barter" analysis tomorrow. But wouldn't you like to read Lois' fanzine stuff? There's something that we won't see unless she gets really tired of keeping things in the house and gives it all to OSU....
© 1988 by Bill Unger, Precis © 1994 Maureen O'Brien
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