by Jon Gibbs
Jon: How important is research for a novel, as opposed to non-fiction?
Jonathan: Research is key to fiction. All novels have a nonfiction backstory. Everything from JURASSIC PARK (dinosaurs, genetics, the operation of zoological gardens, paleontology) to TWILIGHT (vampire and werewolf folklore; blood typing, the geography of Washington State). Obviously some books need more than others. I build a lot of science into my novels. In THE DRAGON FACTORY (St. Martin’s Griffin), I did a ton of research on a wide range of topics: transgenics, gene therapy, eugenics, diseases of poverty, diseases of ethnicity, water purification for bottled water, weapons, military tactics, the death camps, the Holocaust, cloning, and more.
If you had to sum up the key to good research in one sentence, what would it be?
Research broadens and deepens fiction and grounds it in reality, which makes the fantastical elements easier to accept.
What's the best thing about collaborating on projects like Wanted Undead or Alive and They Bite?
If two of you are researching something like vampire beliefs, werewolf trials, or ghost hunting, it’s all a lot less weird. And a lot more fun. Also, working with Janice Gable Bashman was terrific. She’s a superb researcher and writer, and a good friend.
What's the worst?
Haven’t hit that point yet.
What do you remember about the first writing conference you ever attended?
It was the 2000 Philadelphia Writers Conference. I’d been doing magazine work for over twenty years and I’d become bored. I really didn’t know many other writers. Then I went to that writer’s conference and for days I was surrounded by nothing BUT writers. It was like a starving vampire diving into a lake of blood. Okay, weird image, but there it is. I now know that a writer needs to be around other writers, and to be part of a writing community. Not only did attending that event supercharge me, it gave me the focus and excitement to build my career in a whole new direction. By 2005 I was writing fiction, I got an agent, and since then my career has gone vertical. I credit the writers conference experience with a lot of that.
Which stage of the writing process do you enjoy the most, and why?
The actual writing. I love it. I get to play in my own imagination all day long…and then get paid for it. How cool is that? The other part I love is interacting with readers. I like to keep the lines of communication open between me and the folks who read my stories. On Facebook, Twitter, at signings and cons, via message boards, and every other way that comes up. I’ve even started ‘meeting’ with book groups around the country via Skype. To me…they’re the other kids in the playground.
What changes, if any, do you expect to see in the publishing industry over the next few years?
We’re definitely going more in the direction of e-publishing. We’ll be seeing a boom in e-stories, and probably some e-only books by first time authors, or authors in smaller genres (like cozies, westerns, etc.). I also think magazines are going to virtually vanish in print in favor of magazines on iPads, e-readers, etc.
Congratulations on your recent nominations for this year's Bram Stoker Award (Best novel: Rot and Ruin and Best
non-fiction: Wanted Undead or Alive). You've already won twice before. How much impact do awards like these have on a writer's career?
The most important thing is how validating it is to a writer to win an award such as ‘Best First Novel’. As far as the impact…it’s definitely there. It’s there starting with a nomination and it carries through. Publishers put it on book jackets, and that sells books. Awards are not always an accurate meter of ‘best’, of course. But they encourage writers to bring their A-game every time they turn out a piece of writing. They’re also good for the industry. They build fun, positive buzz.
Jonathan Maberry is the NY Times bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner, and Marvel Comics writer. His recent works include The King of Plagues, Rot & Ruin, and Wanted Undead or Alive. Since 1978 he has sold more than 1200 feature articles, thousands of columns, two plays, greeting cards, technical manuals, how-to books, short stories, and more. His Joe Ledger thrillers have been optioned by Sony Entertainment and are in development for TV. Jonathan is the founder of the Writers Coffeehouse and co-founder of The Liars Club . He is a frequent keynote speaker and guest of honor at writers conferences including BackSpace, PennWriters, The Write Stuff, Central Coast Writers, Liberty States, and many others. Visit him online at www.jonathanmaberry.com, www.twitter.com/jonathanmaberry and www.facebook.com/