I'm not sure I've ever heard of Stephen Goldin. What sorts of things do you write that I might be interested in reading?
I write almost entirely in the speculative fiction field. I had many short works and over 30 book titles published by traditional presses like Doubleday, Bantam, Harper & Row, Berkley, Fawcett and New American Library before I decided to go the independent route and publish them myself. The Parsina Saga is my major fantasy credential. In science fiction I've written several series, like the Rehumanization of Jade Darcy series, the Agents of ISIS series, and the Mindsaga series. I've also written stand-alone novels--some of the ones I'm proudest of are THE ETERNITY BRIGADE, A WORLD CALLED SOLITUDE, SCAVENGER HUNT and ASSAULT ON THE GODS. I also wrote a novel called POLLY! that doesn't easily fit into any category, but which a lot of people have found delightfully funny.
Why do you write speculative fiction?
I'm fascinated with telling stories in a wide range of realities. Stories set in known times and environments seem too limiting. I want to explore the universe of possibilities. I want my characters to explore unknown challenges and see how well they'll hold up. It's exciting to go "where no one has gone before." As long as the thrill remains, I'll continue traveling down the road never taken.
You had some success in the world of traditional publishing. What motivated you to become an indie author?
The world of traditional publishing. The process is glacially slow, you have to conform to other people's (often outmoded) standards, you're forced to jump through endless hoops, and you get lied to on a regular basis in royalty statements that bear little resemblance to reality. Then, on top of that, you have publishers and agents who insist on taking outrageous percentages of your money, often for doing little or nothing. Yes, a few lucky authors can make good money, but the majority struggle in the vineyards for next to nothing. If I'm going to struggle anyway, I might as well be in control of my own life.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is at the forefront of the indie revolution, making it possible for ordinary people to realize their dreams of writing. Of course, not everyone has the talent to succeed, and there are plenty of people who are wasting their time trying. But hey, it's THEIR time to waste, isn't it? SW founder Mark Coker is one of the most forthright people I've encountered in this business. He firmly believes in the idea that he can succeed by helping other people succeed as well.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes I do. Fortunztely it's buried deep in a storage unit where no one will ever discover it.
What do your fans mean to you?
A storyteller is only half the equation. There needs to be an audience as well. That's what communication is: someone talking and someone listening. I tell my stories because I have to, to feed an inner need--and because someone told stories to me, once upon a time. I enjoyed those stories I heard, and I want to pass that joy along to others. Ideally, the telling of stories is a win-win proposition. When it works right, everyone gains something of value.
What is your Parsina Saga about?
This is a 4-volume high fantasy epic with an Arabian Nights flavor, full of djinni and flying carpets and other exotic elements. It came about because I was tired of reading fantasies that were rehashes of medieval European cultures or Conan-esque barbarians; instead, I thought back to the exotic adventures I remember from my childhood, like Ray Harryhausen's "7th Voyage of Sinbad." Also, "Kismet" is one of my favorite Broadway musicals and I loved the exotic strains of Alexander Borodin's lush melodies.
In the Holy City of Ravan a sacred reliquary urn is stolen from the main temple, and blame mistakenly falls on an impoverished but quick-witted storyteller named Jafar al-Sharif and his lovely daughter Selima. They escape the city by his impersonating a mighty wizard--but fate forces him to maintain his impersonation and go on a long and perilous trek around the world, testing his wits to the limit. Along the way, Jafar and Selima join forces with an exiled prince, a young female djinn, the escaped slave-wife of a magical king, an enchanted monkey and a daring sea captain as they fight to save the entire world of Parsina from being engulfed by the power of evil. It's an exciting adventure laced with humor and filled with characters you will like and never forget.
What is the Rehumanization of Jade Darcy series?
These books are a collaboration between my wife (Mary Mason) and me. Jade Darcy is a female space mercenary on the run from Earth's military forces. She lives on a transfer world called Cablans, as far away from Earth as it's possible to get. When the first book (JADE DARCY AND THE AFFAIR OF HONOR) opens, she's been living completely among aliens for five years, with no human contacts. Between assignments, she works as a bouncer at an interspecies bar and grill, much like the Star Wars cantina without the musical ambiance. Throughout the course of her adventures, she has to relearn some hard lessons of what it means to be human.
The Jade Darcy books are one of the most popular projects I've ever worked on. Readers love Jade. Unfortunately, only the first two books have been published so far. More are definitely planned, and the rough draft of a prequel has been finished--but for now Mary is totally involved in a highly important non-writing project. This will involve nearly all her energy for the foreseeable future, so I'm afraid Jade will have to wait. We both regret this as much as Jade's other fans do
What is the Agents of ISIS series like?
Beginning with TSAR WARS and continuing through 10 books, this series is good old-fashioned space opera from beginning to end with no redeeming social importance. The future of an interstellar empire hangs in the balance as the old ruler dies, leaving the fate of the galaxy in the hands of a 14-year-old princess--and leaving HER fate in the hands of two untested but very talented secret service agents.
Plots weave and unweave, and more than once the fate of humanity in the galaxy is tested and the villains' plans are unveiled. I did my best in this series to keep the action coming, the pace fast, and even a sense of humor to keep it all from becoming too dark. This is a series of books for readers who like their adventure on an interstellar scale.
What's the story with Polly?
In addition to Jade Darcy, Polly is my most favorite character. She's a lady of boundless energy, playful, intelligent, kind and caring without being wimpy. She's a delight to spend time with and is always looking for new friends. One reviewer said he put off finishing the book because he didn't want his time with her to end. I know just how he feels. Polly has that effect on people.
She also challenges you to think. Some people have trouble with that, including a reviewer who called the book "blasphemous" and "highly offensive." I make no excuses for that. You have to take Polly as she is or leave her be.
Me, I'm proud to call her a friend.
What are you working on next?
My next book is called QUIET POST, set in the Quasiverse that's sort of a cross between Oz and Wonderland. A young woman volunteers for the diplomatic corps there, but her ultrarich father, concerned for her welfare, arranges for her to be assigned to an outpost called Burgundy. He knows she'll be safe there because the head of the diplomatic agency assures him this is a quiet place where nothing exciting or dangerous ever happens....
What do you read for pleasure?
Mostly I read speculative fiction and mysteries--books that give me an intellectual challenge, or that are just plain fun.
What are your interests?
Since my early teens I've been fascinated with Broadway shows and musical albums. I like the idea of telling stories with songs (even though I have no talent for it myself). My particular idol is Stephen Sondheim, who's written some of the cleverest lyrics on the planet. Other lyricists I particularly admire are Cole Porter, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and Lorenz Hart.
I'm also an admirer of surrealist art, created by people who go beyond our ordinary world and express something totally new. My favorites in this field are the two great Belgian surrealists, Paul Delveaux and Rene Magritte.
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