We would like to thank Mr. Modesitt for taking the time to respond to our questions. Some of the items below are used by permission from the extensive question and answer section of Mr. Modesitt's web site.
L.E. MODESITT, JR. is the bestselling author of over forty novels encompassing two science fiction series and three fantasy series, as well as several other novels in the science fiction genre.
Mr. Modesitt has been a delivery boy; a lifeguard; an unpaid radio disc jockey; a U.S. Navy pilot; a market research analyst; a real estate agent; a director of research for a political campaign; legislative assistant and staff director for a U.S. Congressman; Director of Legislation and Congressional Relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; a consultant on environmental, regulatory, and communications issues; and a college lecturer and writer in residence. In addition to his novels, Mr. Modesitt has published technical studies and articles, columns, poetry, and a number of science fiction stories. His first story was published in 1973. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.
First off, if you don’t mind sharing, what does L. E. stand for?
And, how do you pronounce your last name?
It’s pronounced MODD-ess-it, where “Modd” rhymes with “odd.” The pronunciation breaks a number of rules, but it wasn’t my decision, obviously.
When did you realize you wanted to write?
In high school, when I discovered the joy of words in, among other things, translating the poetry of Francois Villon. I wrote poetry for more than ten years, some of it published in very small literary magazines, before I ever wrote or sold a story.
If you didn't become an author, what would you be doing now?
I can’t imagine… although I did get accepted to law school and worked in politics/government/consulting for some twenty years. So I suppose I’d still be doing it, assuming I’d remained sane after another twenty years of doing it [which is doubtful].
You’ve written both Science Fiction and Fantasy. How are these different for you to create?
For me, at least, the process isn’t all that different. The two things that are different are the “ground rules,” so to speak, of the worlds about which I write and the complexity. My SF tends to be more complex, sometimes greatly so, than my fantasy, but neither is as “simple” as it looks, a fact overlooked by too many readers.
What will be your next book out and what can you tell us about it?
The next two books out will be Imager’s Intrigue in late July and Empress of Eternity in October. Imager’s Intrigue is the third book in the Imager Portfolio, a series set in an alternate world where “imaging” magic exists and where technology might best be described as early French steampunk. Rhennthyl, who is now district captain of a Civic Patrol district, finds himself tied up in Patrol politics, a burgeoning drug war/problem, national politics, and the target of enemies from his past, all of which present problems that his imaging abilities cannot deal with directly… or perhaps at all. Empress of Eternity, despite the title, is very hard SF and is set in the far future of Earth. Three civilizations, separated by hundreds of thousands of years, face a weapon that could destroy them… and the universe. Their only hope is to solve the mystery of an indestructible canal that spans the mid-continent and that is impervious to any form of energy ever developed by these, or any other civilization.
Do you ever go back and read your own books?
Very seldom, except when proofing galleys of subsequent editions, just because they’re still a part of me.
Would you ever consider turning one of your books or series into a video game, specifically Imager or Recluce?
I’d be more than happy to have someone make a decent video game out of any of my books, but, alas, it’s not so easy as it looks. Over the past ten years, I’ve had three game developers take an option to develop a Recluce game and attempt to create one. Two were small; one was an established mid-sized gaming company. All gave up, for reasons never made clear to me and never got as far as running a prototype by me. I’ve even talked to several larger gaming companies, and no one seemed interested.
What about the character of Magister Cassius? Is there more you can tell us about him besides that he was pulled through a chaos-order rift?
Actually, Cassius’s tale is told as a story in my collection — Viewpoints Critical — which is available in hardcover or trade paperback. The story is called “Black Ordermage.”
Will the books from the Saga of Recluce ever be produced in an audio book format?
At present, the only works of mine available in audio books are the first two books of The Imager portfolio — Imager and Imager’s Challenge — although the third book [Imager's Intrigue] will be will also appear in audio format once the hardcover is released, and one single SF novel — Haze. If the Imager books are successful in audio format, Tantor may consider an audio version of the Recluce Saga, but at this point, none of the audio book producers have shown any interest.
Whose work do you most enjoy reading?
In the genre of fantasy and science fiction, I don’t have a favorite author. I do have a few shelves of favorite books, but I’m not about to list thirty-some books… or conversely to list a few authors and leave out the others. My tastes do run from the late 1950s to the present, however. Outside of F&SF, my favorite has to be William Butler Yeats, whose poetry I often re-read.
What most frightens you most about the future?
What concerns me most about the future is the arrogance of both present-day leaders and, frankly, all too many young people, both of whom seem to embody the feeling and believe that, somehow, they are both special and different... and that they have little to learn from others, their elders, or history. This kind of arrogance ignores both common humanity and the lessons of history, even as the most recent crises again point out that human beings have a tendency to repeat patterns of behavior time and time again. It’s not the same mistakes, but the same human tendencies that lead to similar mistakes… and to fail to recognize that, in general, neither people not populations learn that much makes the opportunity for future catastrophes all that much greater because technology magnifies both accomplishments and disasters.