Writing with Roger: Jane Lindskold on Working with her Mentor

220px-RogerzelaznyRoger Zelazny was a giant in the world of sci-fi. Known for such works as Lord of Light, Creatures of Light and Darkness and one of the foundational works of my love of sci-fi and fantasy, The Chronicles of Amber.

In the late ’80s, the Santa Fe resident struck up a long-distance friendship with Jane Lindskold, then a young writer on the east coast. The friendship blossomed and Lindskold eventually moved to New Mexico to be with Zelazny during the last years of his life, eventually finishing his final novels Donnerjack and Lord Demon after he passed away in 1995.

Lindskold, who’s latest novel Artemis Invaded hit shelves in April, spoke about writing with this legend.

wanderingsPeople always assume Roger tutored me in writing or something like that.  The biggest gift he gave me was telling me that he felt I already had “it” and doing his best not to turn me into a cheap copy of himself.  That doesn’t mean we didn’t talk writing.  We did, a lot, and anyone who reads my book Wanderings on Writing will see plenty of his thoughts on specific elements of the craft mentioned.

forever afterWe didn’t write much together.  Both of us were soloists by nature.  However, I did work with him with various projects, especially the odd little novel Ever After (sic), which had parts written by me, Mike Stackpole, David Drake, and Bob Asprin

lord demonFinishing off Donnerjack and Lord Demon was both an honor and a challenge.  I mean, Roger was one of the greatest prose stylists the field had known to that point.  Finishing one of his books… 

No pressure, right?

DonnerjackI kept in mind something Roger said about what he did when writing his portions of Deus Irae, which he wrote with Philip K. Dick.  Roger said he didn’t try to write like Dick but to blend his own style with Dick’s to create a “meta” style.  That’s what I did.  I carefully re-read a lot of Roger’s novels and short stories, looking for typical stylistic tricks (like he used “essayed” rather than “attempted” or “tried,” or how he’d write long strings of dialogue without indicating who was saying what) and then I incorporated these.

changerI think I did a pretty good job because, although many people have guessed, no one has ever been right as to precisely where his parts ended and mine pick up.

Oh!  And doing Donnerjack forced me to learn how to write from a wide variety of points of view, something I’d done only a little with to that point.  I ended up doing this in my own Changer, which I think made it a much stronger book.

Lindskold will be joining Victor Milan and Melinda Snodgrass at the inaugural AZSF Reader’s Series on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at Sip Coffee and Beer House.

Jane April 2015

About Michael Senft

I am a freelance writer and critic from Phoenix Arizona. I spent 10 years covering music, the arts and pop culture for the “Arizona Republic” before life circumstances took me away from newspaper. But I never lost my joy at writing. Or reading.
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2 Responses to Writing with Roger: Jane Lindskold on Working with her Mentor

  1. I blush that I got the title of FOREVER AFTER wrong… This does give me an excuse to add a bit of trivia about the book. Roger’s original title was THERE AND BACK AGAIN, but there was some apprehension that the Tolkien estate would object. We then went through several possibilities and EVER AFTER was one!


  2. Pingback: AZSF Reading Authors Recommend Books | Relentless Reading

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