Jul 17, 2011

I. Am. Published!

Sort of!

The editors over at the Dayton Daily News were nice enough, and interested enough, to take on an article I'd written on an interview I had with Ohio author, John Scalzi, back in May. While I'm pleased-as-punch (and *completely* geeking out), their final version of my article is a former shadow of itself for the sake of paper space, so it's not completely my article or writing anymore. This is fine and I completely understand. Besides, I did the interviewing, my name is credited to the story, and it's a great start!

You can read their version of the article in five seconds here.

I thought it would be nice to post the original version of the article online for anyone whose remotely interested in what Scalzi had to say about his latest book, "Fuzzy Nation".  I'm by no means a professional writer or journalist, so it's not the most fantasmagorical thing you'll ever read, but Scalzi had a lot of interesting things to say about the book and about the Dayton, Ohio area. For space sake, I've hidden it after the jump.

           Award winning Ohio author John Scalzi’s latest book, “Fuzzy Nation,” isn’t so much new as it is a new twist on an older Sci-Fi novel.
            In an interview before his book signing at Books & Co., Scalzi explained that his new book, “Fuzzy Nation,” is a re-telling of the older novel “Little Fuzzy” by Sci-Fi author H. Beam Piper, which is in the public domain. However “Fuzzy Nation” was not originally intended for public release and started off as a personal writing experiment. Scalzi said he wanted to take Piper’s book from “a very ‘50s sort of sensibility about it and give it a new sort of spin.”
The experiment started two years ago when Scalzi was experiencing some frustration and wanted to re-connect with the enjoyment of writing. “I did it not for greed, or for avarice, or to spit on another writer’s grave,” said Scalzi, “but from a place of enthusiasm.”
            Despite “Little Fuzzy” being in the public domain and there being no technical issues with publishing his project, Scalzi said he did think about whether or not it was still appropriate. Scalzi kept in mind the fans of the original work and the Piper estate when he and his publishing agent discussed selling “Fuzzy Nation”.
His agent visited the Piper estate, now owned by the Penguin Group publishing company and discussed the proposal.
Scalzi’s agent also offered Penguin a cut of the profits. Scalzi explained he and his agent did this as a sign of respect and also because Scalzi is a fan of Piper’s.
“I don’t want to be seen as the guy who stomps on Piper’s grave,” Scalzi said. “They read it, they liked it, they didn’t feel it was detrimental to the original material, and so they let us do it.”
Scalzi likened his re-telling of “Little Fuzzy” to popular re-imagining of stories like Jane Austen’s “Emma” into the movie “Clueless” and Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” into the movie “10 Things I Hate About You”. While audiences might be used to the re-telling of movies and television shows owned by corporations, books are not typically among re-makes.
            “Lots of stories get re-imagined in different sort of ways and it doesn’t diminish the earlier work it just brings attention to it again, it just proves that that story is durable,” Scalzi said.
Even though the two books share the same story, the details are different. “I wanted people who had read the earlier book to actually have a whole new experience and I wanted the people who had not read the earlier one, not to feel like they had to go back to it,” Scalzi said.
Scalzi added that not only did he think “Fuzzy Nation” would make a good story, but that it could also introduce Piper to a new generation of readers. “One of the nice things about this is that by raising the profile of this particular story, I’m also raising the profile of H. Beam Piper, saying ‘Here is somebody who was a pretty influential figure in science fiction in his time, why don’t you check out some of the other stuff that he did?’”
When asked about the process of re-telling Piper’s story, Scazli said “It was kind of fun to basically wander down the same paths he did.” He said the process “tells you a little bit about yourself as a writer and it tells you a little about that person as a writer. It tells you a little bit about your time as opposed to their time. It was a learning experience in a whole lot of ways I didn’t necessarily expect.” He noted that while it was a neat experience, he wasn’t sure if he would suggest that every author re-write another’s book.
There were a variety of reactions to the announcement to sell the re-telling of “Little Fuzzy,” according to Scalzi. Some were excited about his first book in three years, others reacted negatively, and still others were wary of the project. Some Piper fans completely rejected the idea of a re-telling “Little Fuzzy,” however, Scalzi said some have since read Scalzi’s version and responded very positively.
Scalzi attributes any success of “Fuzzy Nation” to Piper’s original story. “I can’t say I hit a home run. I was on second base and I was able to steal home, as it were.”

Fantastic thoughts on the book, amirite? Perhaps someday I'll post the audio of the interview. I also asked him about "Old Man's War" being turned into a movie. It's well on its way now! Also, the DDN asked that I swing the local author angle with Scalzi. So I posed a few more questions to him as suggested by the DDN. Here's what he had to say:

           Scalzi kicked off his tour for the new book in early May. The date corresponded with his birthday, which he said “made it extra nice.” Scalzi explained that he chose Books & Co. at The Greene in Dayton as the first stop for the tour because he felt it was his hometown crowd. He added, “Dayton and Ohio have been good to me, so we made sure the city and state were put at the head of the line when it came time to plan out the tour.”
            Scalzi said he was happy with the reception he got at the book signing in Dayton, and said it’s fun for him to make an appearance at the store. He acknowledged that Books & Co. has long supported him as a local author. He commented that some of his fellow author friends are surprised at the turnout for literature events in Dayton, but he doesn’t feel it’s surprising at all. “This is a city of readers, which is another reason why I'm glad to live in the area,” Scalzi said.
            Scalzi, originally from California, said he is quite at home in Ohio and doesn’t feel it’s held back his career in any way. “My wife has family here, we like our town and our neighbors, and Ohio allows us to have a good standard of living. There's no reason to move, and so we're in no rush to do so,” he said. He emphasized that he’s been able to accomplish a lot from his home in Bradford, Ohio as easily as he could from anywhere else. “I think there's a feeling you have to move to New York City or Los Angeles in order to get contacts in the publishing industry or some such, but in fact what really matters is if you have good and interesting stories to tell,” said Scalzi. “In science fiction and fantasy alone, Ohio has a substantial number of authors, all of whom have made good careers while staying put in the state. “

UPDATE: The physical print of the story was a little more fleshed out. And it looks great. Pic to come!

No comments:

Post a Comment