In Their Words: Keith R. A. DeCandido

Keith DeCandido

My personal library includes classics, bestsellers, chick-lit, genre fiction, and movie/tv tie-ins sitting right next to each other on the shelves. One of my favorite authors of the latter is Keith R. A. DeCandido, who is funny, smart, friendly (he agreed to email answers to my questions, after all), and really just a nifty guy. His work in the Star Trek universe is not only some of my favorite in that universe, but also represents some of my favorite reading ever. Last month, he took some time from his busy writing schedule to do an emailed interview, when he could have been working on his martial arts, or spending time on an elliptical machine, or any number of other things. Here’s what he had to say:

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Your Name: Keith R.A. DeCandidoYour website, if you have one: and

Most recently published work (as of 10/06/2007): Star Trek: The Next Generation: Q&A [Bibliotica reviewed this here.]

A brief bio:
Rocketed to Earth as an infant to avoid the destruction of his home planet, Keith R.A. DeCandido was raised by a roving pack of wild librarians, who taught him in their vile and depraved bibliographic ways. A career in publishing was inevitable. He’s perpetrated more than 30 novels on an unsuspecting book-buying public, as well as many short stories, eBooks, nonfiction work, and comic books—most in the realm of media tie-ins, in particular Star Trek and Buffy. He’s also an editor and anthologist, writes articles and web content, and will generally write or edit anything for money—it doesn’t even have to be a lot of money. He’s also a percussionist, currently with the parody band the Boogie Knights.

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Go to Interview – Part One.
Go to Interview – Part Two.

In Their Words: Keith R. A. DeCandido (part 1)

Keith DeCandido
Last month, one of my favorite authors, Keith R. A. DeCandido, took some time away from writing books to answer some questions for me. Here’s part one of our emailed interview. (The intro is here. Part 2 is here.)
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What question are you never, or rarely, asked in interviews, that you really wish people would ask? How would you answer it?

“How do you make your hair look like that?” To which I’d answer: NOTHING! I just shampoo it once a day and brush it! It’s like this naturally! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Conversely, what question are you often asked, that you really don’t like to answer? What don’t you like about that question (no, you don’t have to answer it)?

“Why should I bother reading your books when they aren’t canon?” People who stress out over what’s “real” in a fictional construct need to be beaten over the head with croquet mallets.

Who in your life was/is the greatest influence – good or bad – on your writing?
God, I don’t think I could narrow it down to one. If I had to pick someone, I’d say P.G. Wodehouse, who wrote the best dialogue on the face of the planet, and I think my greatest strength as a writer is in dialogue, which I think I owe in part to early exposure to Wodehouse.

Do you write in longhand first, or do you compose at the keyboard? Tell us about your preferred pens, ink, paper, or platform and program.

The Laptop Is Life. I hatehatehatehatehatehatehatehate! writing by hand. I try to only write by hand when I sign things. (You can imagine what a nightmare it was when I arrived at JFK preparing to fly to San Diego for Comic-Con and discovered that I somehow forgot to pack my laptop—and I had a novel due the next week. I wrote three or four chapters by hand in a notebook, a nightmarish experience I hope never to repeat.) I use Microsoft Word on my Dell Inspiron E1705 laptop.

What do you consider a “full day’s work” of writing? Do you measure by number of hours, or number of words? Do you spend time doing mundane chores so that you don’t have to write?

I could actually afford to spend more time doing mundane chores, but what I consider a full day varies wildly from day to day, and depends on what stage I’m at for a particular project or set of projects, and what those deadlines are. I try to never miss a deadline, and I generally don’t miss them by much.

What are you reading these days? Or, what types of things do you like to read when you have time?

Most of my writing time gets sucked up by reading things I’m editing or things I have to read for research. When I can squeeze in pleasure reading, it’s often a variety of genre material (SF/F, mystery). I also like reading books about baseball. Lately, I’ve been on a George Pelecanos kick, and I’m also a huge Janet Evanovich fan…

Got tunes? What’s flowing from your headphones or speakers while you write?
In 2002, I discovered that I write best to Jethro Tull and Tom Waits. Dunno why, but there it is. I have a “writing” playlist on iTunes that runs when I write, which includes Tull, Waits, Ian Anderson solo material, plus a few other things that work well writing-wise (Robbie Robertson, The Band, Cat Stevens).

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Keith can be found on the net at his website, and his livejournal KRAD’s Inaccurate Guide to Life.
(The intro is here. Part 2 is here.)

In Their Words: Keith R. A. DeCandido (part 2)

Keith DeCandido
Last month, one of my favorite authors, Keith R. A. DeCandido, took some time away from writing books to answer some questions for me. Here’s part two of our emailed interview. (The intro is here. Part 1 is here.)

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How do you start a project? Do you begin with a random idea or an urge to cover a topic, or does research inform your choices? Once you’ve got an idea, do you outline, or just write what comes?

There’s no one answer to the first question. The answer to the second question is, “Yes, and many more besides.” As for the third question—I always outline first. For one thing, 99% of my work is media tie-in fiction, and an outline is required for that, because that outline has to be approved by more than one party before you can write a single word. Besides which, I work better if I know how it ends before I start.

Describe your ideal book signing. Is it in a large chain bookstore, or a smaller independent one? Is there a café? Do they have food and drinks that tie in with your book? What is the audience like?

I like signings where people show up. If it’s at a chain or an independent, that’s fine—I’ve done both and enjoyed both. I don’t think the refreshments need to tie into what I write—I’ll just settle for having refreshments. Café is always welcome, but not required. As for the audience, I just prefer that there be one…

Tell us a bit about your current project. What’s it about? When is it coming out? Is it drastically different from your last work, or continuing a similar theme? What do you want prospective readers to know?

Which one? Right now I’m working on the revision of a Star Trek short story, after which I will be writing the revision of a Star Trek novel outline, after which I’ll be writing the outline for another tie-in novel, after which I’ll be writing a Star Trek novella that will be published in eBook form, and somewhere in there I need to write the outline for a five-issue comic book miniseries, and also proofread the pages for another Star Trek novel. I also need to edit another eBook novella and a tie-in novel I’m freelance editing—all this stuff has to be done before mid-month. And I’ve got a novel due 15 December, another due 15 January, another due 15 February, and another due 15 March, with a comic book script due 1 March.

In my life, there is no singular current project…

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Keith can be found on the net at his website, and his livejournal KRAD’s Inaccurate Guide to Life.
(The intro is here. Part 1 is here.)

Coming Attractions: November

First, I won’t be reading or reviewing much this month, as I’m writing up a storm. I’d say that I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, but I’m not, exactly. I’m cheating. For details, please read this post at my regular blog. The post in question has a link to fragments and snippets and suchlike.

Second: Interviews with Keith R. A. DeCandido, and Julia Holden will be posted this month. Both of them. Really.

Third: I’ve finished Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason (who is turning out to be a great correspondent as well as a kickass novelist. Go buy her stuff and then read it), so a review will be posted soon-ish.

Fourth: I’m currently reading Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis and What They Don’t Teach You at Film School: 161 Strategies for Making Your Own Movies No Matter What by Camille Landau and Tiare White, which was recommended to me by The Fabulous Clay, and is, as well as being helpful to moviemakers with no money, one of the best writing books I’ve ever encountered.

And that’s all for now.
Any questions?