Steven Gould: What Will Be
Steven Charles Gould was born February 7, 1955 in Arizona. His father was an Army officer, and Gould spent much of his childhood traveling the world. He studied physics at Texas A&M University, but left before finishing a degree, and worked various jobs in the oil industry and later in computer consulting. He married fellow writer Laura J. Mixon in 1989.
First story ‘‘The Touch of Their Eyes’’ appeared in Analog (1980). Notable short works include Hugo finalist ‘‘Rory’’ (1984) and Hugo and Nebula Award nominee ‘‘Peaches for Mad Molly’’ (1988). Debut novel Jumper, about a troubled young man who develops the power to teleport, appeared in 1992, and was adapted as a feature film in 2008. Gould returned to the world of Jumper with sequel Reflex (2004), and again with his newest novel Impulse (2013). Another sequel, XO, is forthcoming. He also wrote Jumper: Griffin’s Story (2007), about a character from the film version of Jumper. Other novels include Wildside (1996), Greenwar (1997, with Laura J. Mixon), Helm (1998), Blind Waves (2000), and 7th Sigma (2011). He recently signed on to write four novels set in the world of SF film Avatar. Many of his books walk the line between YA and adult fiction.
Gould frequently teaches at the Viable Paradise writing workshop. He was the South/Central regional director of SFWA from 1986-89, and is currently SFWA President. He lives in Albuquerque NM with his wife and their two daughters.
Excerpts from the interview:
‘‘My feeling about film adaptations in general is that we, as writers, have to win the lottery. It’s totally a lottery, but you need a ticket to win, and that ticket is getting something published. The next step is getting optioned – many books are optioned, and few are called. Jumper was optioned four different times by different people.
‘‘The experience was interesting. I try hard in general, at every level of publishing, to think, ‘What will be, will be.’ For the last 18 years, I’ve been doing aikido. I park a lot of my self esteem in my martial arts, instead of in my writing, because I can control how well I do in aikido, and I can’t control writing as much – there are so many external factors. Obviously, I can write more, and I should, because in the past I’ve gone three or four years between novels. Even when I was a short story writer, I published maybe once a year.
‘‘As for my feelings about the movie, I think they could have told their story a little better. I knew it would be their story, and not mine, because I read all five scripts. If you get the DVD and watch the few deleted scenes on there, they’re all character development. They were going for a 25-year-old male demographic and so they wanted action, action, action, and if they can get more showings in by getting the running time down…. There’s another thing I read about recently, about how filmmakers are looking more at international markets. Films that require very precise translation don’t always work, but action works internationally. By having explosions and action, the audience knows what they’re watching.”
‘‘I don’t really think of the second Jumper book, Reflex, as YA. There are no kids involved, it’s Davy and his wife Millie ten years after the beginning of their relationship, and it involves torture and other fairly dark stuff. But what I like to read and what I like to write is that Heinlein sort of book – something that’s thoroughly enjoyable for adults, but is also perfect for bright 12-year-olds, or 14, or 16. I’m trying to return to that kind of writing. The newest one, Impulse, is about Davy and Millie’s teenage daughter, Cent.”
“7th Sigma is, among other things, my retelling of Kim by Rudyard Kipling. The interesting thing is I’d already started it when Gaiman’s Graveyard Book came out, and he does the same sort of thing. I don’t know if it gave me confidence, but I thought, ‘If Neil Gaiman did it with ghosts, I can do it in my own way.’ On the other hand, I’m not Neil Gaiman. He did it so well, and I was intimately familiar with all the stuff he was doing. I don’t draw the parallels as clearly and explicitly as he does. 7th Sigma is about the American southwest, 20 years after these strange bugs start coming out of central New Mexico and eating all the metal. They’ve got some sort of nano stuff that helps them disassemble metal, and it’s very bad for people with metal prostheses, because the bugs are attracted to both metal and electromagnetic radiation. If you break one of the bugs, they send out this distress signal, and bugs come from all around toward that point, which means if you’re trying to fight them, you actually cause more to attack. Your best bet is actually to avoid them.”
‘‘A couple of things have changed in my writing in recent years. I’ve always been a pantser rather than a plotter – I write by the seat of my pants. I’ve always written for the same reason I read: to see what happens. I still work that way, but I’m much more aware of issues of ‘the other’ than I was before. I’ve always included at least class differences in my work. I think I’m probably a better writer than I used to be. I’m not nearly as productive as I should be, though. I’m currently working on ADD medication. One of my daughters is profoundly ADD, and very successfully medicated – we resisted medication for years, and it turned out to be just the thing that we needed. She was so profoundly ADD that in first grade she was diagnosed as on the autistic spectrum, but it was mostly just the ADD interfering so much. She’s been a straight A and B student ever since she got medication, and she’s graduating from high school right now. I’m in the early stages of finding the right medication for myself, and it’s made a huge difference.”