A look inside the release of a major science fiction novel, courtesy of Kevin J. Anderson
Kevin Anderson has lost track of the number of books he's written. He knows it's over a hundred, and when it gets to that point it's not a matter of not remembering. There are other factors -- this one didn't make it to print, that one was reissued, and it becomes hard to come up with one total that makes sense. His books have all been science fiction of fantasy, many as parts of larger franchises (Star Wars, for example) and many have been stand alones. His newest, Hellhole, is that way. He wrote it with Brian Herbert, with whom he also collaborated on a series of Dune books.
Anderson works his way through a Barnes & Noble's collection of his novels.
Anderson is currently in the midst of a whirlwind twelve day tour that has taken him from Colorado, where he lives, to California, to Oregon, back to California and on from there. He'll be back in Denver next week for a signing of Hellhole at the Highlands Ranch Tattered Cover.
This sort of thing is, as you can imagine, nothing new for Anderson. The day before he left for the tour, he did a stock signing of every copy of the new book in over a dozen stores in the area, starting that day at Park Meadows Mall and winding up all the way in Boulder. He brings an extra copy to give to whichever store manager likes Science Fiction the most. This, I'm told, is a somewhat uncommon practice.
Anderson writes books at a clip of approximately one every other month. He says it doesn't feel overwhelming. "I'm basically just working a full-time job," he says. He points out that, to write one novel a year (considered a good pace for many authors), one would have to average something like a page a day. And when you think about it like that, it sort of makes sense to demand more. Still, the thought of waking up every day and writing for nine hours is enough to make me feel a little weak.
As a predominantly sci-fi writer, Anderson enjoys the support of one of the most tight-knit readerships in all of literature. They gather at conventions and on message boards, following the arcs of distant galaxies and fantastic creatures. "You can see a group of science fiction fans," says Anderson.
He's always counted himself among the fans of the genre, even when he was a kid. Back then, he says, science fiction was much more ghettoized than it is today. "You only read science fiction if you couldn't get a date," he says. Today, the genre has been elevated. Anderson points out that sci-fi movies are among Hollywood's mainstays, and the internet has allowed fans' enthusiasm to build off the easy access to other fans.