AN INTERVIEW WITH JACQUELINE LICHTENBERG
Originally appeared in Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt. Sign-up page is:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/margaretlcartersnewsfromthecrypt and is used with permission.
Margaret's newest e-books (novelette
length), both of them erotic paranormal romances published this past May: "Tentacles of Love" from Ellora's Cave
(www.ellorascave.com) and "Aquatic Ardor" from the Amber Heat line of
Amber Quill Press (http:/wwwwww.amberquill.com).
Here's an interview with Jacqueline Lichtenberg, author of HOUSE OF ZEOR and many other books in her groundbreaking Sime~Gen series. Visit www.simegen.com to learn all about her universe and explore the many resources offered on that webring:
> 1. What inspired you to begin writing?
READING! I grew up reading Andre Norton, Hal Clement, Isaac Asimov, etc. etc. (there's a list of influences on my writing posted at
http://www.simegen.com/sgfandom/welcommittee/influenc.html (we didn't get a TV until I was 12 years old).
Well, all the stuff I grew up reading, while wonderful and inspiring, just left something OUT. I knew what that something was - I could taste it -- I knew I could write those stories the way they should have been written. What was there was fine. It's just that something very important was missing.
So when I was a sophomore in High School I decided, between one step and the next, to become a professional writer. I stepped across a crack in the pavement, and BECAME a professional by that decision.
I went to the library and systematically read through every book they had on writing, screen writing, fiction writing, the history of storytelling in every culture, on anthropology and UFOs, Necronomicons and everything they'd let a kid get at (they had locked cases!) -- everything about writing and lorecraft that they had. Well, and everything, generally including the encyclopedia (yeah, random article reading just for fun! I even read dictionaries -- words are like chocolate to me.
I took out all the back copies of The Writer Magazine they would allow to circulate (stacks and stacks) and read and applied the advice. My Aunt gave me a subscription to The Writer's current copies for a year. I studied and studied. And wrote and wrote. Meanwhile, I got my degree in Chemistry and took off on "life."
In the 1980's, Star Trek fanzines finally made it clear to me how to articulate what was missing that I added to my published novels -- I call it Intimate Adventure, The Hidden Genre -- but it's more than that. It's not actually a Genre. Jean Lorrah's professor credentials allowed her to finally (after years of wrestling with it because she could see it, too) discovered the real nature of Intimate Adventure. It is in fact a plot archetype. We need to write a book about that.
For an index page to various articles on Intimate Adventure -- including a comment by Star Trek's own Ronald D. Moore, see
> 2. What genres do you write in?
Well, see that's the problem. I used to think I wrote science fiction and fantasy -- cross genre.
But actually, no -- what I have been doing just doesn't fit, exactly, into any existing category. Today they've invented new sub-genres of Romance, and I actually fit more into SF or Paranormal Romance than any other. Some people think I pioneered that field.
If I were 9 years old today, the writer I'd turn into at age 16 would be Paranormal Romance genre writer. But that's not exactly correct either.
What I write is Intimate Adventure -- but as Jean has discovered, that's not a genre.
> 3. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?
I wish someone would finally TELL me -- I have contracts in process in several places. To be among the first to know what's actually going to be next, subscribe to my newsletter that I share with Jean Lorrah (comes out only as needed) -- lifeforce-l -- subscribe at http://www.simegen.com/archives/
> 4. What are you working on now?
Right now, I've just finished a feature film screenplay script which is almost ready to start the marketing process (contemporary America setting) -- and I've just started with Jean Lorrah a Sime~Gen feature film script.
There is one really fine S~G feature film script in existence, but it hasn't sold, so Jean came up with a much simpler venue we could write in and created a Situation and some basic characters, dumbing down the S~G premise so it might grab a producer better. The minute she explained the idea to me, I could "see" the whole film and I just took off.
This story will fill a niche in S~G history for the aficionado, but leave out all that for the film-goer. You'll have to discover what is really happening by going to the website. It tells the story of the founding of one of the first Freeband Raider gangs that actually was coherent enough to last generations -- and grow -- and prosper -- and eventually become the Raider gang that settles down and founds Nivet Territory. It also explains the connection between Zeor, Farrises, Nivet and the School of Rathor. And none of that is apparent in the actual film so mundane audiences won't be confused. I love this story -- now all I have to do is write it in script format. No small task.
> 5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
a) master English grammar, spelling, punctuation -- nitty-gritty details -- and READ-READ-READ fiction, analyze what you read by writing reviews online, Amazon is a good place to start. Read books about writing, and especially about how to write for TV and film. Watch TV and movies with pen and paper in hand, and reduce what you see to an OUTLINE. (reverse engineer everything you read or watch). And browse Amazon and read the descriptions of books on the covers, in the Amazon reviews, find a book-jacket description you like and WRITE THAT BOOK before reading it.
b) master keyboarding -- learn to touch-type, drill until you get speed
c) copy-type 3 whole novels that you love so much you've re-read them a zillion times -- novels of the kind you want to write. Just copy them with your own fingers. Now you can't DO anything with that text, so delete it. It doesn't belong to you. But you do this exercise to teach yourself pacing, language usage, craft-tricks of dialogue, exposition, description, and narrative. There is no faster way to learn this.
d) keep a database of your story ideas -- (Writers Magazine article told me to use 3 X 5 cards -- today it's databases) -- ideas in one file, characters in another, situations in another, settings in another, strange words in another, character NAMES in another. When you're writing a story, you will find your subconscious long ago and in another context tossed up the answers to the unanswerable questions that will stop most new writers in their tracks in the middle of a page -- if you saved that info as it occurred to you at random, you will discover it by browsing your own files at random.
e) your subconscious does most of the work of writing. You do most of your real work while asleep. Make friends with your subconscious -- learn to know and like yourself. Get your subconscious to talk to you and take notes, keep files, take those strange ideas seriously and subconscious will present more of them. Some will be salable. Save them all.
> 6. What's your website URL?
I blog with 6 Romance Writers, including our own Margaret L. Carter at
And you will find my SF/F Monthly Review Column, Recommended Books at
http://www.simegen.com/reviews/rereadablebooks/ -- articles posted since 1993. The first 2 articles detail my quest to define Intimate Adventure. Years are indexed through 2007.