Folks, please give a warm welcome to Piers Anthony, author of the famed Xanth series and his latest book Hair Power. I grew up reading Mr. Anthony’s works and I was pleasantly surprised to see him working with a small publisher on yet another novel – such a productive man! I am sure you will be as amused and entertained by his interview as I am. The publisher, Dreaming Big Publications, has provided this prepared interview with Mr. Anthony.
Tell us about your latest book.
Hair Power is a novella about a girl with terminal brain cancer who helps an alien hairball, who rewards her with hair that not only replaces her own lost hair, but cures her cancer and makes her something of a super woman. In time that hair is six feet long and she wears it like a cloak. That’s only the beginning.
Tell us a little about some of the others who contributed to your book, such as cover designer or editor.
I have to default on that, as I don’t know them.
Who are your favorite authors?
If I lost my memory and had my choice of reading matter, I hope my favorite would be Piers Anthony. I try to write what I would like to read. As for other authors, I have admired many in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fields, from Robert A. Heinlein on down. I am also an admirer of the plays of George Bernard Shaw, and not just because he was a vegetarian.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Publishing is changing so much now that much of what I might say would become dated about ten minutes after I wrote it. So I’ll just say read and study the genre you are in, keep writing and improving, and may the world go well with thee.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
For me the best thing is getting to exercise my imagination and being independent. I can’t be fired for someone else’s mistakes.
What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?
It used to be dealing with publishers, who were like insensitive robots interested only in money, regardless what they claimed. But the old order is passing and the new publishers I am dealing with are generally more compatible. Some of them even like good fiction. So now the hardest thing is facing the prospect of my declining ability with advancing age. I’m not capable of simply letting it go and retiring. So when I no longer write well, I hope I am the first, not the last to know it.
My web site is www.hipiers.com where I have a monthly column, commenting on whatever is on my mind, and background information on my titles. I have also written two autobiographical books: Bio of an Ogre and How Precious Was That While.
How long did it take you to write your book?
Three Weeks for this 35,000 word novella. It moved well, and I am an efficient writer.
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
I don’t think so. I had worked it out pretty well before I started writing. I’ve always loved long hair on a woman, so this was easy imagination.
Where can a reader purchase your book?
From wherever the publisher puts it.
What are you doing to market the book?
Precious little. I’m a writer, not a marketer.
Who inspires you?
The world inspires me.
How do you research your books?
There wasn’t any real research for Hair Power. I generally try to stay within the boundaries of what I know. When I do need to research, I buy books on the subject.
Do you have another work in progress? Tell us about it.
I am working on the sequel, Hair Suite, wherein there is competition with Cyborg aliens in very attractive human form. Until the two cultures have to unite against a third.
Have you written other books? Where can readers purchase them?
I have written about 175 other books. Readers can find many of them listed on Amazon. Many readers like my Xanth fantasy series, which now number 42 novels, not all in print yet.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
I approve of self publishing. In the old days only about one aspiring writer in a hundred could ever get anything published. That led to bigger sales for the one percent, and tough luck for the 99%. I prefer that every writer have a chance. That’s why I have worked to make self publishing possible for anyone, notably by my early investment in Xlibris – I am no longer connected – and my ongoing survey of electronic publishers. The playing field will probably never be level, but it’s better than it was. Traditional publishers had dictatorial power for over a century. Now it’s the writers’ turn.
I needed to decide on my college major. I pondered a day and a night, and it came to me: I wanted to be a writer. It was like a light turning on and it has guided me ever since.
Does your family support you in your writing career? How?
My wife supported me. She went to work so I could stay home and try to be a writer. That was when I broke through with my first story sale – for $20.00. But it led to greater things, in time.
What are you currently reading?
I am usually reading something, often a novel for review or blurbing. At the moment I’m between books.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Writing is my passion and my life. All else feels like dross. But I do make the meals and wash the dishes, as my wife is infirm. I also like to play cards on the computer, mainly Free Cell, which I believe is the best card game ever.
What is your favorite line from a movie?
Great lines in movies are myriad, but it’s the quiet personal ones that get to me the most that others may not even notice. There was one whose title I don’t remember, where a man, a widower, got a girlfriend he was considering marrying. His early teen daughter lived with him. When the woman made them a meal, the man told the teen to do the dishes. The girlfriend intervened. “No, she doesn’t have to do that. I’ll do it.” Why? “She’s your daughter and I want her to like me.” That disarming candor surely ensured that the girl would like the woman.
What do you like to snack on while you write?
I maintain my college weight, and I exercise seriously. I don’t eat between meals. I’m pretty fit for my age, pushing 82, and mean to stay that way.
When you walk into a book store, where is the first place you go?
The last local book store closed down.
At the moment I’m not thinking of anything funny in an interview. But I was amused by a sentence in my fan mail: “Ha! Caught you reading fan mail!”
Sometimes I do learn things from my fan mail .
I had a suicidally depressive girl in one of my novels (Virtual Mode, if you must know) who regularly cut her wrists so that they bled. So she wore red bands on her wrists to conceal the blood. A reader wrote that I had it wrong: blood dries black, so she needed black wristlets. I suspect she spoke from experience.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest peeve is critics who come across like the Republicans with respect to President Obama: Anything he does is wrong. It seems similar for critics with me. I have a mock review of a trilogy such a critic would do with me. The first novel is inferior. The second novel is not up to the standard of the first. And readers of the first two novels will be sadly disappointed by the third.
Places to Find Piers Anthony
Instead, she encounters a telepathic ball of hair that insists it is an alien seeking to facilitate diplomatic communication on Earth.
Quiti assumes it is all a hallucination conjured up by her brain tumor.
Because of this assumption, when she saves the alien’s life and it insists on doing Quiti a favor in return, she only asks for her hair back. She soon discovers, however, that the creature’s gift extends much further than her new locks that can change color with a thought. As her powers grow and her deadly illness goes into remission, Quiti quickly realizes that there are those that would want to use her for her abilities and is forced to leave behind everything that she knew.
Will this blessing curse her to a life on the run, or does the mysterious hairball have more in store for her?
Piers Anthony, critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestselling Xanth series, brings together humor and adventure in this original story of loyalty, friendship, extraordinary powers, and hair.