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K A T I E   W A I T M A N : Outsider's World
(excerpted from Locus Magazine, October 1999)

Katie Waitman
    Photo by Beth Gwinn

Katie Waitman was born October 24, 1956 in Palo Alto, California. (‘‘My full name is Katharine Lura Waitman, but I use Katie all the time. It has a sort of zip to it. ‘Kate the Shrew,’ ‘Good Mistress Kate,’ that sort of thing.’’) When she was a child, the family moved to the Los Angeles area, where her father was an aerospace engineer and her mother taught preschool. After attending schools in Glendale, she went to UCLA, and she graduated in 1974 with a degree in English. She has worked at the University of Southern California, first in the Medical School, then in the law department as a legal department secretary. Her first novel, , appeared in 1997, and her second, The Divided, in 1999.



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''With science fiction, it’s very much the possible alternatives to things we know - things that could indeed be so and may prove to be so - and the stories are based on the speculations of how things could indeed be. Whereas with fantasy, the world, although it may have its own integrity, has things that will defy the laws of physics, or perhaps things that just seem to be possible. Where I think there’s overlap is that in neither case, not even in a science fiction one, are you really sure. There’s the mystery. You could be totally wrong. There could be things that ‘can’t be dreamt of in our philosophy,’ as it were.

‘‘I would say The Divided is a science fiction/fantasy blend, because it partakes of elements of both. I have a kind of character called the jo, sort of like imps or genies or fairies. I think of them as a form of parasite, feeding off the energy of other people’s memories, so I came up with a somewhat rational description of them. They are the native intelligence on this world, but have an impish quality that resembles characters you’re more likely to see in fantasy. I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem. These things can coexist.

‘‘My focus has always been more on the cultural aspects of these different beings interacting with each other. That was true of The Merro Tree too. But in The Merro Tree, the main character was a performer, rather than a scientist or an explorer or someone who just suddenly finds himself thrust into an unusual situation. He was part of an interworld society, one of the people living in a particular future, driving the car rather than being the mechanic. What I’m most interested in are the cultural ramifications of the different species, different worlds running into each other, and I find them allegorically referring to things that we do here.

‘‘I will admit to being a romantic, indulging in a bit of wish fulfillment, but The Divided is definitely a darker vision than The Merro Tree. Things do not always turn out well, and the choice is very much a devil’s choice. The main character, Sekme, has been fighting in a war that’s been going on for 5,000 years. It is the basis of their culture. Their economic basis is the exploitation of this other group that they don’t consider fully human. They have to keep them in check by periodically beating them back.

‘‘I have completed a sequel to my first book, tentatively called The Roots of Forgiveness. Now I’m trying to decide between writing the third in that series - I conceived it from the beginning as being three books about Nick the performance master - or writing a sequel to The Divided. The problem in coming up with a sequel to The Divided is I have so many choices as to where to go! I would like to have a good strong idea of where my plot will be. That’s still somewhat up in the air, so I may finish my trilogy dealing with Nick before I come back and see what happened to our woman warrior who is no longer fighting any war.

‘‘I’m very much a beginning writer, and still quite new to science fiction. I’m still trying to get caught up on the seminal works, the prime stuff. I only just recently read Ender’s Game. When I ask my friends about their favorites, the tastes and the variety are so wide! There’s no way I could read all of it. But I figure I’m still exploring things. What is this thing science fiction? What is this thing fantasy?

© 1999 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.