I’ve mentioned a few times that my big brother is the reason I got into genre. He is also the entire reason I write this column.
My brother Rob is disabled in numerous ways. Reading, for him, has always been a way to relate to the world, feel like he’s less alone, and help me understand his perspective. Rob is a hell of a guy, but due to severe seizures a few years ago, he can’t read anymore, which breaks my heart. He was the one who collected books and showed me what a wealth of information and experiences are in books. Books have helped me understand him more than I ever imagined I could.
I had a conversation on the phone with Rob to talk to him about what the genre means to him, and why he thinks that disabilities are important in speculative fiction. It was really enlightening to talk openly about disabilities in the genre with the person who got me into the genre in the first place. It was also really neat to see how disabilities are represented in the genre from a disabled person’s point of view.
Thanks to Rob for taking the time to do this interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Del Rey unveiled the cover and synopsis of the final entry in Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant Chronicles. Here’s the synopsis of The Last Dark, arriving October 15, 2013:
Here’s the synopsis:
Born in 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio, Stephen R. Donaldson lived in India(where his father was a medical missionary) until 1963. He graduated from the College of Wooster (Ohio) in 1968, served two years as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, doing hospital work in Akron, then attended Kent State University, where he received his M.A. in English in 1971.After dropping out of his Ph.D. program and moving to New Jersey in order to write fiction, Donaldson made his publishing debut with the first Thomas Covenant trilogy in 1977. That enabled him to move to a healthier climate in New Mexico. He has since authored two more Covenant series, one a trilogy and the other a tetralogy. In addition, he’s authored five novels in his science fiction Gap series, the Mordant’s Need series, three books under the pseudonym Reed Stephens, and numerous short stories. Although his novels have received many awards, he is most proud of two unlikely achievements. In 1993 he received a Doctor of Literature degree from the College of Wooster, and in 1994 he gained a black belt in Shotokan karate from Sensei Mike Heister and Anshin Personal Defense. A frequent attendee of World Fantasy Conventions, he can be found online at his website http://stephenrdonaldson.com.
SFFWRTCHT: Let’s start with the basics: Where did your interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy come from?
Stephen R. Donaldson:That’s hard to say. Before and after I realized that I wanted to be a writer of fiction, I enjoyed reading SF/F. But I also enjoyed reading other things; and as an English major in college and grad school, I spent the vast majority of my time reading mainstream literature. In fact, I aspired to write fiction in the tradition of Joseph Conrad (and, to a lesser extent, Henry James). However, we all have to discover what our abilities and interests are good for; and after quite a bit of experimentation, I discovered that fantasy was my natural vein.
Strangely, I didn’t become able to write effectively in other veins (mystery novels, science fiction) until after I committed myself to fantasy.