Jody Lynn Nye was born in Chicago, and except for brief forays to summer camp and college has always lived in the area. She was graduated from Maine Township High School East and Loyola University of Chicago, where she majored in Communications and English, and was an active member of the theater groups, the student radio stations, and the speech team (original comedy and oratorical declamation).
Before breaking away to write full time, Jody worked as a file clerk, book-keeper at a small publishing house, freelance journalist and photographer, accounting assistant and costume maker.
For four years, she was on the technical operations staff of a local Chicago television station, WFBN (WGBO), serving the last year as Technical Operations Manager. During her time at WFBN, she was part of the engineering team that built the station, acted as Technical Director during live sports broadcasts, and worked to produce in-house spots and public service announcements.
Since 1985 she has published over 40 books and 100 short stories. She has written epic fantasy (The Dreamlands series), contemporary humorous fantasy, medical science fiction, military science fiction, and nonfiction (The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern). In addition to collaborating with Robert Asprin, Jody has collaborated with such acclaimed SF/F writes as the late Anne McCaffrey (The Death of Sleep, Crisis On Doona, Treaty At Doona and The Ship Who Won) and Piers Anthony (Visual Guide to Xanth). You can browse through select titles and series at: http://www.sff.net/people/jodynye/books.htm.
Over the last twenty years, Jody has taught in numerous writing workshops and participated on hundreds of panels covering the subjects of writing and being published at science-fiction conventions. She has also spoken in schools and libraries around the north and northwest suburbs. Recently, she consulted on an animated feature script for D7 Productions.
Jody lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, with her husband Bill Fawcett, a writer, game designer and book packager, and two cats, Jeremy and Miles.
Jody was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few of my questions about her newest book, Myth-Quoted!
Kristin Centorcelli: Thanks so much for joining us! Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Jody Lynn Nye: Thanks for having me! I’m very pleased to join you. I’m the eldest of four children. I’ve always been a keen reader, my nose in a book at mealtimes and under the covers at night. I read to my brothers, as well. I was also a storyteller from way back. When I went away to summer camp, I’d tell stories in our cabin after lights out. My friends remind me that my room and my Volkswagen beetle were full of manuscript pages of stories I was writing. (Sometimes they would have to shove them over to get into the back seat.) With the movie of The Hobbit just coming out, I might also mention that though I read lots of mysteries, history, fantasy and science fiction growing up, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings cemented my interests firmly in the literature of the fantastic. I was lucky enough to find a husband who is as fanatic a reader as I am. When we got together, we merged our libraries, and found a surprising number of volumes that overlapped (and a delightful quantity of ones that didn’t – more to explore and enjoy!) Our house is furnished in Early Book. There’s something good to read in every room, including the bathrooms. I started writing full time in 1985, and my first book hit the streets in 1987 the same month that Bill and I were married.
JLN: Actually, I started working with Bob well before 2000. We co-wrote a novel for Baen Books called License Invoked. It’s a fantasy that combines magic, spies and rock ‘n roll. With our diverse schedules, it didn’t hit the streets until 2001. I had known Bob for a few years before that. He was one of my husband’s best friends. I discovered the Myth-Adventures while I was still in college. If you had told me then that I would be working with him, I’d have fainted dead away. I am aware of how much the series is loved by its readers, and I respect the characters and conventions that Bob created.
Myth-Quoted brings M.Y.T.H., Inc., in to try and organize a fair election day for a campaign that has dragged on in its dimension, Tipicanoo, for five long years. The candidates want it rigged so each of them is the winner, naturally, but there are forces that prevent them from ever getting to the polls. It’s up to Skeeve to try and figure out a way to complete the mission. In the end, he has help from a fairly unexpected and, I think, suitably Myth-ic quarter. The readers ought to find it satisfying.
KC: What have you enjoyed the most about writing for the series?
JLN: I love the sly humor. I adore the characters. One thing that Bob always said was that none of the Myth-ers would ever let another one down. Their friendship is one of the absolutes of their universe. I love that. In a world where so many things are heartless and cynical, it’s nice to be able to pick up a book in which the characters can count on each other, no matter what.
KC: When you write, is there anything in particular that you need to get in the zone?
JLN: I often read a few pages from one of the previous ones, but most of the time all I have to do is start writing, and the mindset reasserts itself. I can hear the characters in my head.
KC: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
JLN: Pantser. Definitely pantser. I admire the people who can put together a complex and detailed outline, but by the time I do all that work, I want to be finished with the book. I have pretty good instincts for what makes a good story, and I know by my sense of timing where there are gaps that I need to fill in. I do write down every single thing I can think of about the project, whether it be short story or novel, including snippets of scenes, character descriptions, bits of history, and all the elements of the plot that come to me at first. You would be surprised how complete a first inspiration can be. The key is to get it all down on paper (or an electronic file) as soon as you can. Don’t stop until you absolutely run out of ideas. Then I organize that file, and begin to write from it. I usually know the first scene, the title, and how I want the story to end.
KC: What are some of your favorite fantasy authors or novels?
JLN: Terry Pratchett. I wish I had the wisdom that man shows in his writing, and I love the marvelous twists he throws into his stories. He made me cry in Reaper Man with just one word. Diane Duane. I love her Young Wizard books. I wish they had been around when I was ten, but I’ll just have to enjoy them now. JRR Tolkien. I’m rereading The Hobbit, and I am delighted how clean his prose is, and how well he describes his world without bogging down the narrative. Madeleine L’Engle. Her books are just beautiful. I often quote Mrs. Whatsit from A Wrinkle in Time, “Wild nights are my glory.” That sentence gives me a visceral thrill. I also read a lot of mysteries. Rex Stout is one of my favorites. He creates really great, believable characters, and he can be funny without losing the seriousness of the case. The Doorbell Rang and The Black Mountain are probably my favorites. Dorothy L. Sayers and the Lord Peter Wimsey books are some of my go-tos when I have a rainy afternoon and don’t want to start anything new. Two of my castaway-island books would have to be Murder Must Advertise and Gaudy Night. Mark Twain set me on the path to writing both humor and fantasy, with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and The Mysterious Stranger. I have a long list of other books and writers I love, too, but those come first to mind.
KC: What are you reading now?
JLN: Most of what’s on my nightstand is a pile of research books for my next novel after the one I’m writing. I’m also reading Back to the Moon by Travis S. Taylor and Les Johnson.
KC: What’s next for you?
JLN: I am working on the next Myth-Adventures novel. I’ve also started the next in my Lord Thomas Kinago books (View From the Imperium was the first). I am co-editing an anthology of science fiction stories with Dr. Mike Brotherton. I’ve got some other irons in the fire – so many that it’s a wonder I can see the fire sometimes. But I love it. I’m very happy writing. I once had a panel at a convention in which we two guests of honor interviewed one another. My fellow GOH asked me, “Is writing for you a walk in the park or a visit to the dentist?” I said, “a walk in the park.” He said, “I hate you.” While writing is the ultimate self-starter task, it works for me.
Thanks again for letting me participate! I really appreciate it.