A Conversation With Orson Scott Card
By Claire E. White (Writers Write - September 1999)
Nobody had ever won the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel two years in a
row, until Orson Scott Card received them for Ender's Game and its sequel,
Speaker for the Dead, in 1986 and 1987. Ender's Game tells the story of Ender
Wiggins, a brilliant child who is recruited into Battle School, where child geniuses
are trained through game playing for their future role in the upcoming battles
between Earth and the aliens who have almost destroyed humanity. Ender's Game
was groundbreaking in its premise, and in its compelling portrayal of the brilliant
children who were forced into moral decisions that even experienced adults would
have found difficult. The third novel in the series, Xenocide, was published in
1991, and the fourth and seemingly final volume, Children of the Mind, was
published in August 1996. Now a new novel in the Ender's series, titled Ender's
Shadow, has just been released from Tor, but it's not a sequel. Instead, it returns
to the events of Ender's Game and views them from the point of view of another
character, a street urchin named Bean. Ender's Shadow is already garnering rave
reviews from both readers and critics alike. But Orson Scott Card's experience is
not limited to one genre or form of storytelling. His contemporary novels Lost
Boys, Treasure Box, and Homebody brought a powerful emphasis on character
and moral dilemmas to the old-fashioned ghost story. And his newest
contemporary novel, Enchantment (Del Ray, 1999), is a romantic fantasy that has
Sleeping Beauty being awakened by an American graduate student in Ukraine in
1991. The characters pass back and forth between Sleeping Beauty's world of
ninth-century Russia and today's America, with the famous anti-hero of Russian
folklore, the witch Baba Yaga, following close behind.
Card's work is quite diverse. The Homecoming Saga (the novels The Memory of
Earth, The Call of Earth, The Ships of Earth, Earthfall, and Earthborn) was a
retelling of ancient scripture as science fiction. Pastwatch: The Redemption of
Christopher Columbus is an alternate history novel, in which time travelers return
to keep Columbus from discovering America -- or at least from returning to
Europe after having discovered it. Perhaps Card's most innovative work is his
American fantasy series The Tales of Alvin Maker, whose first five volumes,
Seventh Son, Red Prophet, Prentice Alvin, Alvin Journeyman, and Heartfire are
set in a magical version of the American frontier.
A dozen of Card's plays have been produced in regional theatre, including the
musical Barefoot to Zion (written in collaboration with his composer brother,
Arlen L. Card), which played to sold-out houses in Utah as part of the Mormon
Church's celebration of the sesquicentennial of the entry of the pioneers into Salt
Lake Valley. His historical novel, Saints, has been an underground hit for several
years, and Card has written hundreds of audio plays and a dozen scripts for
animated video plays for the family market. And his TV series concept, The Gate,
was purchased by the WB network for development. Meanwhile, Ender's Game is
being developed for film by Robert Chartoff, co-producer of The Right Stuff,
Raging Bull, and the Rocky series, with Card writing the screenplay.
Card has written two books on writing: Character and Viewpoint and How to
Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, the latter of which won a Hugo award in 1991.
He has taught writing courses at several universities, including most recently a
novel-writing course at Pepperdine, and has also taught at such workshops as
Antioch, Clarion, Clarion West, and the Cape Cod Writers Workshop.
Born in Richland, Washington, Card grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah.
He lived in Brazil for two years as an unpaid missionary for the Mormon Church.
He received degrees from Brigham Young University (1975) and the University of
Utah (1981). He currently lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. He and his wife,
Kristine, are the parents of five children: Geoffrey, Emily, Charles, Zina Margaret,
and Erin Louisa (named for Chaucer, Bronte and Dickinson, Dickens, Mitchell,
and Alcott, respectively). A devout Mormon, he believes that all fiction has a
strong moral message. He believes that the message should be positive;
nevertheless, his choice of subject matter and the amount of violence in his books
have led to some raised eyebrows in the Mormon church. Card's characters are
usually put in a position of having to make difficult and interesting moral choices.
Card believes that it is the character's interaction with other people which makes
him interesting. Family is also a central theme in his work.
His fans are devout, and growing in number. His website is a popular stop where
fans and students can read about his work, and even get their writing questions
answered from Uncle Orson. He practices what he preaches -- a devoted husband
and father, he makes family time a priority in his life and is known for his
willingness to help writers who are willing to work hard. Orson talks with us
about his work and his life, and shares some terrific advice for beginning writers.
I'd like to talk first about your recent fantasy book, Enchantment. How
did this story come into being? What attracted you to the story of Sleeping
My film company had acquired the rights to an idea: Sleeping Beauty wakes up in
Russia today. As with many such high-concept ideas, there really wasn't much
more to it than that. For me, the fascination was not so much with Sleeping
Beauty waking up today or even with the fish-out-of-water scenario of a medieval
woman in modern times. I was interested in the call to heroism -- the guy who
wakes her thinks he's kissing a princess, but instead he's taking on a full-time --
and lifelong -- job.
What was the most challenging aspect of creating this character of Ivan,
the hero of Enchantment?
The story required certain things: A reason for him to start a Russian but end up
an American; the ability to speak the language of the princess; enough athletic
ability to get across the chasm to the princess; a reason to go back to Russia; some
ability or abilities that would be useful in fighting the wicked witch. These
requirements forced me to move him through an unusual life pattern. To get him
from Russia to America, I made him part of the Jewish emigration in the 1970s.
To give him Old Slavonic, I made his father a professor of ancient languages who
talked shop at home. To get him back to Russia, I made him a grad student -- and
to prepare him to understand what was going on, I made him a student of ancient
Slavic folklore. And I also made him a lifelong athlete. All these were required
by the story, but in the process of making these things fit together into a coherent
life with a believable family, I ended up falling in love with Ivan and both his
parents -- especially his mother. Ivan's frustration was being misjudged by
everyone; but what I admired about him was that no matter what he might wish, he
kept coming down on the side of Doing the Right Thing. Not the dramatic battle
between Good and Evil, but the quotidian battle between unwillingness and
Let's talk about Sleeping Beauty herself -- Princess Katerina. How did
you approach the creation of Katerina? Were there any character traits you
were specifically trying to avoid?
I wanted to avoid the obvious: Making her anachronistically feminist or modern in
some other way. The story only worked if she was a woman of her time. Nor did
I want her to be passive, waiting to be rescued. Her people depended on her, and
she took her duties seriously in an age when monarchs were not just political but
also religious leaders. She had to be in every way the opposite of Baba Yaga --
without being Susan Silverman from the Spenser novels.
Ivan's relationship with his parents is a complex one and, although most
people's mothers aren't talented good witches, the exchanges between son and
parents ring very true. How much of your family life do you find creeping
into your work?
Ivan's parents were very different from mine, and largely unplanned. What
mattered to me was simply that they be good parents, in this era when people only
seem to write about dysfunctional families -- or erase the family entirely, treating
their heroes as if they sprang like Minerva from the head of Jove. So Ivan's
parents had to be involved in his life without consuming him with their own
ambitions; worried about him but willing to let him make his own choices ... to a
point. How do you keep "good parents" from being boring? Well, in truth, the
real problem is, how do you keep bad parents from being boring! I've seen the
same bad parents in so many books and movies that I'm tired of them. In creating
Ivan's family, the "forced conversion" to Judaism was the biggest problem,
because it was such a morally complicated thing to do and the level of sincerity in
the conversion had to be believable and not utterly cynical. In solving that first
dilemma I found the seeds of both parents' relationships with Ivan. In truth, the
secret to all characterization for me is expressible in two maxims: Every character
is the hero of his own story, and You don't write characters, you write
relationships. In practice the first maxim means that you must let characters have
their own purposes and agendas, not just do what the plot requires, and the second
maxim means that nobody is the same person to everyone -- who they are
depends in large part on whom they're with.
How did you approach the research needed for this book? Do you use the
Internet for research?
I tried the Internet for research and found it nearly useless. A more experienced
friend, D'Ann Stoddard, did manage to find useful information on the manufacture
of gunpowder from natural materials. But for myself, I found nothing useful
directly. But in an indirect way, the best "find" was through the Internet -- when
I got an email from a grad student in Russian studies who was inquiring about my
use of Russian words and names in my Homecoming series. I mentioned to her
the book I was working on and hired her to read my manuscript and make
suggestions. The result was every speck of authenticity on Russian culture and
language in the book.
Otherwise, my research was really in the folklore: A collection of Russian folk
tales and a collection of Jewish folk tales. These gave me the shape of the story,
for Russian folk tales make western European tales look cheery indeed. They
have a way of going way beyond the "happily ever after." In one extravagantly
vile tale (which I loved) the hero wins the girl's hand in marriage -- but then she
tries to kill him! Naturally, I had to use a variation of that one, along with some
fun Baba Yaga stuff. And the Jewish folk tales had the recurring theme of a
marriage covenant broken -- a betrothal denied, and the punishment that comes
until the original betrothal is honored. So that, too, became a complicating
element in Enchantment.
Then I also read extensively in early Russian and pre-Russian Slavic history. Not
that there's all that much to read! I cite my sources thoroughly in the
acknowledgments, which I treat as a bibliography whenever research is important
to a book.
Please tell us about your upcoming release, Ender's Shadow. I understand
it's not a sequel to Ender's Game?
Ender's Game is about a kid fighting a war in space. The sequels -- Speaker for
the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind -- take place three thousand years
later! The sequels thus make a trilogy of their own, but Ender's Game has no true
sequels in the sense of providing a dose of the same milieu or the same kind of
story. That had never bothered me, since I try never to write the same book twice
anyway, but as years passed I realized that there were a lot of possibilities in the
other kids in Battle School. I had finished with Ender -- he dies well before the
end of Children of the Mind -- but I wanted to look at these other children formed
and deformed by war. At first I wanted these to be sequels to Ender's Game, but it
just didn't work. What finally made it come together was writing the story of
Bean (one of Ender's companions) as he experienced the same events that are
depicted in Ender's Game. So instead of being a sequel, it's a parallel novel. The
challenge then was not to make it Ender Light, but a novel in its own right --
without diminishing the character Ender or the novel Ender's Game in any way. I
also wanted to make sure someone who had never read Ender's Game could pick
up Ender's Shadow and read it without barriers. We'll see whether I succeeded
when the book comes out on August 31st.
Recently there seems to be a trend towards creating and understanding
complex evil characters. In some books, the villains seem to be more
entertaining than the heroes, in fact! But in your books, the "good"
characters are always more interesting. Is that intentional? As a writer, do
you find it more challenging to write an interesting "good" person than to
write an interesting villain?
To paraphrase Tolstoy: Good people are endlessly fascinating, but wicked people
are all weak, cowardly, or evil in the same old ways. I don't find evil fascinating.
I find "There is a myth that 'expressing' or 'fulfilling' an emotion makes it go
away, as if humans were balloons that need to vent these gases or explode ...
Repression caused us no discernable harm beyond temporary frustration -- and as
any good lover knows, temporary frustration is the essence of the art of
satisfaction. But massive 'expression' of the 'truth' of violence and sex has
caused us great harm." it predictably self-serving. But good people are the ones
who struggle to balance their own needs with the needs of loved ones and the
communities to which they have given allegiance.
The result of this attitude of mine is that, with rare exceptions, I don't create
"pure" villains. Even with Baba Yaga, who is as close to pure evil as I've written,
I lay down hints about how she became the woman she is and show how her utter
uncompassion allows her to live with herself. Achilles in Ender's Shadow is the
"villain," but one gets a clear idea (I hope) that he, like Bean, is a product of
survival hunger of the streets. My villains, in short, are heroes of their own
But they're not the heroes of my story. Because my heroes are the ones who keep
society running, who hold things together. The Lone Ranger is boring to me, the
adolescent who is uninvolved. Indeed, the reason I wrote nothing much about
Ender's wandering years (those three thousand years between Ender's Game and
Speaker for the Dead) is because he was that boring Lone Ranger character during
that period -- dropping into a community, studying it, intervening, and going
away. My heroes are the people who stay and face the consequences of their
choices. They're the parents who try to be good to their kids and place them
before career or entertainment; they're the spouses who stay together even when
adultery calls. Especially in an era when we choose to keep as our president a
faithless man who has never met a promise that he even pretends to keep, I feel
that the most important thing I can do is show my readers at least one view of
what being a grownup is all about.
Your books always seem to deal with the interrelationships between the
main characters and family, friends, foes and others, as opposed to the
modern trend in many literary novels of exploring the inner life of one lead
character. How is this a reflection of your personal philosophy of life?
There is no inner life of a person in isolation. There is only the life of the
individual in relation to others. Inner life is a myth, and a harmful one at that.
Studying yourself teaches you nothing about yourself, just as trying to build your
self-esteem does nothing for your self-esteem. Only turning outward -- and I
mean only turning outward -- gives you a life worth living and a reason for
self-esteem and an understanding of what and who you are. I say this as a
confirmed introvert (grins). So when I see other writers exploring a person's
"feelings," I get impatient. Feelings can be chemically induced; they come and
go; they're not any kind of guide to who a person is. Only what a person chooses
to do can tell an observer or himself who he is. And since we become different
people in every relationship we have, the only way to get any kind of
understanding of my main character is by showing him in juxtaposition with many
other fully-realized characters. In fiction as in life, we are what we do to others.
Jesus was not playing paradoxes when he said that to find your life, you must lose
it in the service of others. Nothing is more empty than a person who lives only for
himself and seeks to find himself through examination of that empty room.
What has the reaction in the Mormon church been to your work, overall?
There are Mormons who love my work and absolutely get what I'm doing. There
are Mormons who think I'm the devil. Oddly enough, "It is impossible to write
fiction of any kind that does not make powerful moral statements. But in science
fiction, you can transform the 'reality' of the story so as to clarify the issues,
allowing the moral dilemma to be brought into sharper relief." the latter category
is equally divided between leftwing Mormons who think I'm the devil because
I'm so rigidly orthodox, and rightwing Mormons who think I'm the devil because
I'm so obviously heretical. As long as the hatred is evenly balanced on both sides,
I'm probably OK. As for the official Church, the reaction is that despite the
distaste some Church leaders have had for some of my works, they have found me
loyal enough and orthodox enough in my life and actions to engage me to write
major projects for the Church: The Hill Cumorah Pageant presented every year
near Palmyra, NY, and the musical play "Barefoot to Zion" (with my brother
Arlen as composer) honoring the Mormon pioneers on the 150th anniversary of
their entry into the Salt Lake Valley. Oddly, even those Mormons who love my
work often assume that in order to be a successful writer, I must somehow be "not
a good Mormon." I get letters telling me how much the person loved my novel
Saints or some other work with a Mormon bent, and then asking at the end, "When
did you leave the Church?" or "Have you ever been a Mormon?" It seems to be a
stereotype today that all writers must be iconoclastic and cynical. And yet there is
no activity more dependent on a sense of allegiance to a community than the act of
writing fiction. In truth, I am iconoclastic and skeptical (not cynical) -- but
skepticism, if it's honest, also doubts its own doubts; too many would-be skeptics
in fact embrace their questions as if they were answers. I continue to know that
my questions are questions, and even my answers are only approximations to
truth; I remain perpetually ready to adapt to genuine evidence when it presents
itself. In the meantime, though, I find that my Mormon faith coincides with reality
far more accurately than any other belief system I have found, and the Mormon
community is the one to which I have the most allegiance and whose purposes I
am most committed to advancing. The more deeply I explore Mormon thought
and Mormon life, the more truth and virtue I find within both.
You are so prolific. Have you ever faced the curse of writer's block? If
so, how did you deal with it?
I don't feel prolific. I'm keenly aware that if I could ever find the discipline to
work steadily, I could write six books a year. My total of less than two a year tells
you exactly how unsteadily I work (sighs). As for writer's block, I regard it as my
unconscious mind telling me that I'm making a gross mistake in the project I'm
working on. It's not a problem, it's a blessing, and the mystery is to find out the
mistake, toss out the ineffective section, and write a new version that works. This
sometimes means throwing away as much as a hundred pages -- sometimes more
-- but I have never found "writer's block" to be wrong. Whenever I'm stopped on
a project, it's because I was doing something false or weak, and when I get it right,
it becomes more powerful and true.
What did you enjoy most about writing the musical, "Barefoot to Zion"?
Working with my brilliantly talented brother, Arlen, who wrote Broadway-worthy
music that made my lyrics sound better than they are.
How important is music to you in your life?
I listen to music constantly, of many kinds, by many artists. I sing whenever
people will listen, I conduct a choir from time to time, I love directing amateur
musicals because I can help people learn how to sing for performance. I wish we
still had the tradition in American culture that my parents had when they were
growing up -- of singing as a part of regular social life. Of parties that include
singing around the piano. Of piano lessons as necessary to become presentable in
society. Today, the proliferation of recorded music has largely killed social music
because nobody can compete with a CD with full production values. For most
Americans, there's professional music or nothing. Too bad.
What do you love most about teaching writing?
Watching student writers "get it" and seeing the change in their work as they
acquire the tools that let them tell their own stories far more effectively -- or to
find truer, more important stories to tell.
What are the most common mistakes that beginning writers make?
First person, because it feels easier and they're too inexperienced to realize that
first person imposes far more limitations and weaknesses to overcome.
Idea-story structure where it isn't appropriate, so that the revelation of the idea is
always set up as the climax of the book, instead of the first sentence.
Trying for style when they should try for clarity and let style come naturally and
Trying for drama or comedy when they should try for truth first, pain second, and
let the drama and comedy emerge from the responses of the characters to truth and
Imitating writers they admire or trying to duplicate stories they've loved.
What is your advice to the aspiring SF or fantasy novelist?
Don't even think about writing sf or fantasy unless you've read every story in:
The Hugo Winners
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame
Dangerous Visions and Again Dangerous Visions.
These stories are the root of the field. If you don't know them, you will try to
reinvent the wheel; and since the readers do know them, it will kill your work.
Besides, you can't learn the tools of the trade without being familiar with how
they've been used and developed. Science fiction is more demanding than literary
fiction, and is harder to do well; the reward is that science fiction and fantasy
allow you to tell any story that can be told in li-fi, and far more that can't.
How has your background in the theatre affected your writing?
I already knew how to write a scene before I started. Good thing, because I had no
clue how to write a story or novel, and my scene-writing carried my work and
allowed me to get published and paid while learning how to do the rest of the job.
But the most important thing is the absolute impossibility of ignoring the audience
when you write for theatre. Writers who are victimized by li-fi writing teachers
often become downright hostile to the audience, making it needlessly difficult for
them to care about or understand what they're reading. But even the most
audience-unfriendly writers for theatre sink out of sight if they don't entertain the
audience. What people forget about Beckett and Ionesco and Pinter and others
who seemingly broke "all" the rules is that Waiting for Godot and Rhinoceros and
The Birthday Party (if I remember the titles right) are all marvelously entertaining
every moment. The writer was aware of the need to engage the audience and keep
them engaged, for if they don't, the play closes. Whereas far too many writers of
li-fi act as if the reader had a duty to finish the book regardless of how much
confusion and boredom and showing-off the writer forces upon them. Nobody
buys their books, either -- but they are able to tell each other, and mostly believe
it, that the people don't buy their books (or read their poems!) because the
audience is a bunch of uneducated idiots. In theatre, you know that it is never the
fault of the audience if they hate the show.
I know you are fond of playing Civilization II. What's the appeal of this
game to you?
It gives me the illusion of accomplishing something important, but by saving
constantly I can undo all my mistakes. This works much better than real life,
where most of what I do is not important at all, and my mistakes always bite me.
Do you believe that violence depicted in computer games, TV and films
have an effect on teen violence, such as that which occurred at Columbine
Serious studies have shown that for those who are violence prone, depictions of
violence can raise their level of likelihood to act violently. This is hardly a
surprise -- if our entertainment media did not cause us to be more likely to act in
imitation of or admiration for what we see, advertising would not work and so
those arts would not pay (grins). However, common sense also tells us that the
violence-prone managed to do plenty of mayhem before television or radio or
movies or computer games existed. That's because all these are is storytelling
media, and before these media existed, we still had stories. Check out Jack and
the Beanstalk and the grisly events in Homer. We have stories about hunger, love,
and death because that's what we care about in our lives.
So the problem isn't that we have these new media which give us stories we've
never had before. The problem is that the new media give them to us with a level
of realism that we've never had before, and the filmwrights and gamewrights are
so lacking in taste, proportion, and social conscience that they treat both violence
and sexuality with a prurient fascination that has long since passed the boundaries
of wackoland. Is there anyone in the audience who needs yet another graphic
depiction of sex or violence? Is there anyone who ever needed it? You can have
the threat of violence and the promise of sex without ever showing them -- and
they're almost always far more effective presented that way than they ever are
when graphically displayed. It's bad art, and it has a bad effect on those who are
most vulnerable to it. But unfortunately, most of these arts are practiced by people
who have not grown out of the adolescent stage of wanting to shock people in
order to seem cool -- even though, like adolescents, they can't think of a single
new way to shock anybody, so nobody is actually shocked at all, they're just
embarrassed or bored ... or, if they're marginal personalities, excited in a sick way.
There is a myth that "expressing" or "fulfilling" an emotion makes it go away, as
if humans were balloons that need to vent these gases or explode. But the
opposite is true, and we've known it all along, despite the bogus "experts" who
told us repression was bad for us. If you act out your anger, you get angrier. If
you act on your lusts, it takes even more to stimulate them next time. The more
violence and sex we get from our entertainment, the angrier and more violent and
more perverse and more sex-obsessed we become. Repression caused us no
discernable harm beyond temporary frustration -- and as any good lover knows,
temporary frustration is the essence of the art of satisfaction. But massive
"expression" of the "truth" of violence and sex has caused us great harm.
Of course, the boundaries of taste are drawn in different places for different
people. Things that offend me might not offend you, or vice versa. That's why
the idea of government meddling in censorship is so bad -- from the first moment,
the censors always go straight for things whose "evil" is visible only to them,
while ignoring the things that are truly awful. The trouble is that when there is no
self-restraint, governments eventually get involved. If smokers, for instance, had
merely been courteous and kind to others, there would be no anti-smoking laws. It
was the shameless rudeness of smokers that led to them being fenced around with
law, and I have no pity for them. Likewise, if we get government censorship it
will be wholly because of the irresponsibility of storytellers who cared not a whit
for the effect their work might have on the community they live in. They have
fouled the nest; if they don't clean it up themselves, they probably aren't going to
like it when somebody else cleans it up for them. I hate censorship; but I hate
having to raise my children in the culture these irresponsible people have created
and are creating for us. When the balance tips, it will tip hard and far, and I
personally resent the all-or-nothing crew who, by adamantly rejecting all
self-restraint and celebrating the most vile stuff as "edgy" and admirable, will
someday provoke the puritan backlash that will clean my slate along with theirs.
They'll whine about the censors, but I'll know that it was their own excesses that
led society to prefer the censors to them.
The only consolation is that the public can only stand censorship for a little while.
Within a generation, the theaters reopened in England; the people of Iran are
already wishing for more freedom. But wouldn't it be better to use good taste and
a sense of decency and public responsibility to keep the censorship from ever
I understand that Ender's Game is to be made into a feature film. Can
you share some details with us as to the status?
I just finished the draft of the screenplay that finally works. Previously we tried to
find strategies to childproof the script -- to deculkinize it, if I may coin a phrase.
But since then we've had contact with a young actor who can actually carry the
emotional weight of a film like this, and so I could write a script that put the
emotional center back on the character of Ender Wiggin where it belongs. Now
the script, even at 136 pages, stands up and sings. Besides, if Ender's Shadow is a
bestseller, Hollywood will take it seriously, since money is the trump card in
What were some of the challenges you faced turning Ender's Game into a
The same challenge you always face finding a movie in a book. Movies are 120
pages long, as a rule. Novels are many times that length. Some novels, like those
of Grisham, seem to lose little in the transition, but if you're already spare in your
writing, a 600-page novel will have no extraneous scenes or storylines that can be
cut. That's why Grisham's novels work abridged as books on tape, while mine
don't. I simply don't include things that can be cut in the first place. (This is not
a virtue, it's just a way of approaching the question of what to leave in and what to
leave out. And my way is damnably inconvenient when you must abridge.) So the
biggest challenge was simply finding the part of the story that expressed the
whole. I think I tried versions with every scene in and every scene out.
Characters added and characters combined and characters dropped. And for this
task, the novelist is the least-suited for the task, since he already decided that
everything in the book was worth including; if he thought it could be cut, it
wouldn't be in the book in the first place (grins). I can adapt someone else's work
far more easily than my own.
How do you handle the conflicting demands of your busy professional life
and your commitment to your family? Is it a difficult balancing act?
It's not a balancing act. It's a process of falling off the tightrope repeatedly, now
on one side, now on the other. I'm going to miss the whole month of September
with my family because I'll be touring for Ender's Shadow. That stinks. But then,
sometimes I hang around the house and do fun stuff so much that I don't get the
work done, and that doesn't have very happy results either. It's the dilemma that
every working parent faces: Do we need the money more than we need me to
spend time with the kids? By and large, writing as a career has allowed me far
more time with my family than I would ever have had with a nine-to-five job.
As a genre, do you think SF lends itself most easily to writing moral
fiction? Why or why not?
It is impossible to write fiction of any kind that does not make powerful moral
statements. But in science fiction, you can transform the "reality" of the story so
as to clarify the issues, allowing the moral dilemma to be brought into sharper
What projects are you working on now?
A novel about Sarah, the wife of Abraham, for the LDS audience; the screenplays
of Feed the Baby of Love and Dogwalker and Pastwatch; several TV series
projects, including Border Town, whose pilot we just filmed on spec in Mexico;
the next Alvin Maker book; selling the Ender's Game movie to a director and a
studio; a musical film version of my story Pageant Wagon. Lots of balls in the air.
Some of it's bound to get done, someday, though I've noticed that by and large
none of these things happen till I actually get to work on them.