Interview with Ross B. Lampert

What's the story behind your latest book?
In 2035, Dr. Janet Hogan makes a stunning discovery: infected by five species of naturally-mutated viruses, every one of earth’s nine billion inhabitants has become immortal.

Or have they? By the time Janet learns that this immortality is an illusion, it’s too late to change people’s beliefs. Some love her for creating this miracle and the coming paradise they long for. Others hate her for what they see ahead: immoral behavior without consequence, overpopulation, famine, and worse. Zealots demand that she save people’s souls, humanity, the earth… or the viruses. Or else.

Janet realizes this awful truth: no matter what she does, no matter what anyone else wants, sooner or later, billions will die and she’ll be blamed. Will she live long enough to figure a way out of this trap?

Meanwhile, the viruses are still mutating.

That's the teaser. The idea for the story literally woke me up late one night in October 2003 and wouldn't let me get back to sleep until I got up and wrote it down. The idea became the thesis for my master's degree in creative writing but even though my thesis committee loved it, I knew it wasn't ready to be published. (And I don't think Smashwords existed then!) Seven years and three drafts later, it was... and is.
What are you working on next?
Chrysalis, the sequel to my first book, The Eternity Plague.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Not the first story, but the first story that got me reading science fiction and fantasy: Andre Norton's Moon of Three Rings. I discovered it in my junior high school's library. I was intrigued by the title and the cover, then by Norton's style (she was British), and the story must have captured me too because I'm still reading and writing SF and fantasy.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yup: "The Voyage of Freeman 7," a one-act play about a trip into space like the Project Mercury flights that were flying then.
Who are your favorite authors?
Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. LeGuin, Anne McCaffrey, Frank Herbert, J. R. R. Tolkien, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Aliette de Bodard, Allen M. Steele, Albert E. Cowdrey... and who could forget: William Shakespeare.
What do you read for pleasure?
Primarily SF and fantasy but I've got nearly a hundred books on my shelves that I haven't read yet, ranging from classical fiction to poetry to history to art to management. Pretty eclectic!
What is your writing process?
1. Butt in chair. 2. Fingers on keyboard. 3. Write.

OK, it's more complex than that. My writing time is in the afternoons, 2-5 PM, Monday through Friday if at all possible. If I miss a day during the week, sometimes I'll write on the weekend. If I know I'm going to be tied up in the afternoon, I can write in the morning, if necessary. I usually spend part of the morning reading blogs, sharing the best of them with my writer friends and Tweeting about them.

When I'm working on a new piece, if it's long enough to have needed an outline, I write one outline scene a day. Sometimes that scene is short and I'm done quickly. Sometimes it expands into multiple scenes, so be it, but I write until that scene from the outline is done.
How do you approach cover design?
After a long and careful search, I picked South African Damon Za to do my cover. I've been reading Joel Friedlander's The Book Designer blog for a couple years; Damon has won many monthly awards from Joel for his excellent designs and Joel's critiques of the designs he reviews have been very informative. For The Eternity Plague, I wanted something that was simple, fairly stark, put people in the mind of contagion, and could thematically carry through to the rest of the series. Damon did that and I'm excited about the result.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
On Tennyson Street in Denver, Colorado--but I don't think that had any effect on my writing. (Sorry, Lord Tennyson.)
Describe your desk
One word: chaos. Two words: organized chaos. I know where things are; if I need them, I can find them. I used to have a sign for my Air Force office desks that read, "A clean, uncluttered desk is the sign of a sick mind." Some of my bosses didn't see the humor in that. Oh, well.
Published 2013-11-25.
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