The second and final part of my interview with Jody Lynn Nye. If you have any questions for Jody, please come and ask her at LI-CON.
LI-CON: You have done a lot of collaborations, more than most writers who aren’t Larry Niven. Would you like to briefly comment on what that’s like? I assume working with Anne McCaffrey was not the same as working with Robert Asprin, and that both were different from writing gamebooks in Piers Anthony’s Xanth. (You should really collaborate with Larry Niven at some point to make “six degrees of any SFF writer” easier to play.)
JLN: You know, there is a site that does the ‘six degrees of separation,’ from Isaac Asimov, I believe. I’m in there somewhere.
Working with different authors is always different. To begin with, the collaborations with Anne were on a ‘master/apprentice’ level, while Bob and I went into our first book as equals. I have been fortunate that all of my collaborators have been generous, not only with their time, but in allowing me to suggest ideas or changes that they accepted as readily as I would have accepted theirs. It made each process enjoyable and much more relaxed than if any of them had challenged every bit of input. When I did the game books, there was little difference between those and fiction books. I was still working in someone else’s world, and had to acknowledge the history, the rules, and even their word choices. (I’d love to work on something with Larry Niven. We get along well.)
LI-CON: Was working on nonfiction books with Anthony and McCaffrey different from collaborating on fiction with them? You’ve written guides to both their universes (and in the same year!).
JLN: The “Guides to” books were very different in approach than novels. With a fiction book, the senior writer assumes that I am familiar with their world and characters. We hash out a plot that is acceptable to both of us. The storytelling begins. With a nonfiction gazetteer like the Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern, I had to interview Anne intensely — over a nine day period, in fact — about things that were mentioned in the book, but not fleshed out. Many items that got a thorough going over were items that I knew were of intense interest to her fans. Other articles were nuts-and-bolts basics that no real-world historical book would be without. A few things in both the Pern and Xanth books were ones that Anne or Piers wanted to include because they had never been able to work an explanation into their novels, as well as characters that were there all the time that the readers hadn’t met. It was fun, because sometimes I pressed for information that was not solidified in canon.
LI-CON: Your husband co-owns two game companies and you have written several game books. Why hasn’t there been a Mythology game or another adaptation of your work?
JLN: No idea. Perhaps the offers are in all those misspelled e-mails that I keep deleting unread.
LI-CON: You mentioned Tuckerizing people. For newer fans, Golden Age writer Wilson Tucker included so many people he knew in his stories that including a real person in a story as an in-joke became “Tuckerizing”. Do you do that a lot? As a joke, as a tribute? Anyone our readers might recognize? Anyone get angry?
JLN: Yes, I do Tuckerize frequently. Often, the Tuckerees have won or had won for them a Tuckerization at a convention charity auction. One reader bought an appearance for his wife. He had been the master villain in a previous book of mine. Sometimes I add friends or family (all three of my brothers are in Dragonfire, for example) if the situation is appropriate for someone who looks or acts like someone I know. You probably wouldn’t recognize most of them. I doubt they recognize themselves from the descriptions. No one has gotten angry to my knowledge. Most of the time they are pleased. Once I thought I might have ticked off a friend. It was the middle of the night when I realized I needed a name for a librarian. I have a friend who is a data librarian. I put her name in, finished the chapter and went to bed, meaning to send her a note in the morning to see if she minded. Forgot. Book came out. Data librarian friend got a phone call from another of her friends, asking, “Do you know Jody Lynn Nye?” Librarian friend called me, laughing. I was relieved and abashed, because I nearly always ask if I use a real name.
I’m starting to collect pictures of my Tuckerees just for fun. I have a terrific photo of a man who won an auction to be in one of the Myth books. He really enjoyed his namesake’s role.
LI-CON: You edited the anthology Don’t Forget Your Spacesuit, Dear. Was it very odd to be on the other side of the editorial table?
JLN: It was odd. I had to analyze carefully my reasoning when I asked for changes. A story I consider buying is not my story, so the author is not going to write a scene exactly as I would write it. I have found, with my second anthology under my belt (Launch Pad, Dark Star E-books, terrific collection, co-edited with Mike Brotherton), that I prefer not to mess with an author’s style. I edit for clarity and story flow. Having had editors who wanted to debate every punctuation point with me made me aware of what is important and what is not in presenting good stories. The most interesting thing about editing anthologies is deciding on the order the stories will fall in the book. It’s easy to put an upper story after a downer, but creating the flow of the book matters just as much. You set the tone with the first story, and you want a sense of closure with the last. Within those two borders, it’s important to create an arc of building energy, just like writing a novel.
LI-CON: I asked before about your TV experience. Did that help when you wrote your script for the animated series Dinosaucers? Any plans to return to the moving image?
JLN: I always have scriptwriting at the back of my mind. I was a film major in college, so I think cinematically. I learned how to format scripts there, and in my extracurricular experience in radio theater. Those, more than my job, lend vividness to my writing. My television experience was as a technical operator in Master Control of a small Chicago station, then as the Technical Operations Manager, so really little to do with production. I’ve got a few things that I think would make great movies or television. I hope one day some of them will be made.
LI-CON: Is there anything else you’d like to share with LI-CON fans? I mean, before you come talk to them in person.
JLN: Looking forward to meeting all of you. Come and talk with me!
Thanks for being so patient with my scads of questions, Jody.
Coming next: an interview with Paul Barnett, aka John Grant: Hugo-winning encyclopedist, novelist, science writer, editor, and more!