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WesternSFA
A Chat with Jody Lynn Nye
June 2016, Phoenix Comicon
by Catherine Book
I was so happy to see Jody Lynn Nye on the list of participants at this year’s Phoenix Comicon and even more thrilled that she agreed to an interview.

So, how has her Comicon experience been?  Pretty intense, pretty big; although she’s accustomed to the big DragonCon.  She’s been to cons with a lot of signings and celebrities but little in the way of programming panels.  This one, she enthused, has a lot of everything. They make very good use of all of their guests and are very obliging and nice.  Jody was generous with her praise; she was especially pleased to see the number of families at-con and was impressed overall.

I asked her when she started writing.  As a very young child, she replied.  She wrote fan fiction before she knew it was called that – for TV shows and books she liked.   She describes herself not only as a writer but also a publisher as she made her own books with paper and her father’s stapler.  Her first paid writing gigs were writing technical articles for Video Action magazine while she was working for a television station.  “Dragonharper,” a Crossroads gamebook was her first fiction publication, in 1987.  Her first published novel was “Mythology 101”.  She’s been working and making a living writing since 1985 which is pretty amazing.  She relates that she was very fortunate in that her fiancé at the time (now her husband) believed in her when she decided to quit her day job, back in 1985.  Two years later, he asked for the same leap of faith from her, and both have been very successful since.  (Her husband is Bill Fawcett, an editor, game designer, author and more.)  She laughed when she said that since they’ve not killed each other – they work in the same house with very, very different working styles – they are obviously very compatible. 

Jody needs a very quiet place to work with bursts of productivity interspersed with being distracted by the cat.  Bill writes intensely but with lots of outside noise that would drive her crazy.  I asked her if she imposes a quota on herself.  No, no quota…she starts work early in the morning – after she’s fed the cat.  When she’s early in a project, she doesn’t always get a lot of work done; but, when she’s coming near the end and really feeling the momentum, she’ll write for 20 hours (until her hands are hot), sleep long enough to burn off the toxins and go again until she’s done.  She says it feels a lot like dropping a gigantic egg with a huge sense of accomplishment.  She once wrote a book in 38 days and yet another took her two years, but most of her work is done in three to six months.

What’s most important to her: setting, plot, characters?  She mused for a moment and then said it’s always in service to the story.  Plot is important, which can drive the characters and how they act – that’s primary.  Setting can certainly change when necessary to the story.  Where does she find the most humor?  The situation, definitely.  The characters can certainly feel serious about their story but the story may be quite ridiculous.  I asked her if her humor is consistent throughout her work.  She felt her humor is fairly gentle, she doesn’t go to vicious humor.  She felt she’s been pretty consistent.  Her influences included Mark Twain who could make you both laugh and think.

Of what is she most proud?  She made me laugh when she replied: longevity.  She related that people still read and like her work.  While at the convention, she sold “Myth-Fits” to a gentleman who came back the following day saying that he had only intended to start the book but stayed up until the wee hours to finish it.  And then he stood in front of her booth shilling her books to anyone who would listen.  She’s had folk tell her that they read her older works to their children now.  All of this makes her very proud.  She does make sure her fantasy works are all suitable for children; her SF stories may have more adult themes or situations.  When she writes in Robert Asprin’s world (the MYTH stories) she has to write as he would have; fortunately she’s a pretty good mimic.

How did her collaboration with Anne MacCaffrey work out?  They worked both side-by-side and also separately.  As the senior author, Anne got the last look at the book.  Jody loved working with the icon who, she relates, was a very generous partner.  Anne would, from time to time, use Jody’s ideas when she liked them.  Jody tries to ‘pay it forward’ with the junior writers with whom she works now.  How different was that experience from working with Robert Asprin?  Always side-by-side as equals but it didn’t start out that way.  He gave her the “I have a reputation to protect” speech which caused her to bristle a bit.  She described their beginnings as two cats circling each other, the lights go out, and when they come back up, Fluffy is licking Butch’s ear – but we never hear which of them is which.

How does Jody feel about social media?  At first, she didn’t like Facebook as it felt very intrusive.  Now it feels more like hanging over the back fence to chat with friends in the morning.  It’s rather nice in that it gives a solitary writer a chance to hear the latest news (gossip) about friends rather than world news.  She has a very attractive website and a charming ‘bookshelf’ of her books that one should see.

What’s she working on now?  Just last week she finished a YA book with Travis Taylor, a real rocket scientist and fellow Baen author, titled “Moon Beam”. It is the first of a SF trilogy.  She was very pleased with the result.  Not sure when it will publish, possibly as early as Christmas this year.  They’ll be starting the second book soon.  Jody is also working on a new SF series that she doesn’t really want to talk about yet as she’s trying something new.  She’s hedging a bit until she sees how it comes out; then she’ll hand it off to her agent to sell.  I, for one, will be very interested in anything Jody Lynn Nye thinks is interesting.

A delightful interview with a charming author; my thanks again.

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