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C. J. Cherryh

Visit C. J. Cherryh's website by clicking here

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If you didnt become an author, what would you probably be doing?  

I was a high school teacher, of Latin and Ancient History. I would probably be still trying to sell a book, but if I had not gone that path at all, I would probably be on a dig somewhere in Greece or Italy.

When did you fist know that you wanted to be an author?

When I was 10, and they canceled my favorite TV show. I wrote my own, and liked doing it.

What was your fist book sold and how did it feel to get the acceptance letter?

1975. Lonely. Everybody who would be interested was out of town on a camping holiday and Id stayed home because I had a sore throat.

You've won numerous awards, have later awards been as exciting after the first?

They always are, but its good for a nervous stomach and very little enjoyment of the banquet, win or lose.

How has the craft of writing changed over the years?

Big time. The industry right now is insane. You start a series and then the suits change their minds about whats selling right now, so thats out, and they want you to do something else. Look at all the orphaned series out there. Im beginning to do a lot online, and have, with two other writers, founded an ebook company. Were not quite in operation, but were real close: Closed Circle is the name of it, its a .net, not a .com, and well be selling our own backlist.

Will you be publishing POD or only ebooks?

A POD company will print a single copy for personal use. We only do e-books.

Also on Closed Circle, will you be accepting submission from aspiring authors or is it strictly for "out of print" books?

Were not open to submissions. But well be happy to tell any group of authors how wee have done it, and wish them luck. Were not snobby, weve just got more work on our hands on our own stuff than we can possibly handle.

You mentioned that the "suits" would change their mind on what sells.  Does this come from the editors or further up the corporate latter?

Further up. The editors, even the publishers, are immensely frustrated.

Do you notice a difference between what is being published now in novels as compared to what was out there when you started?

Huge. I started when the average sf book was 80,000 words. Now its 120,000 words. And the trucking industry decides what actually goes into the pockets on little accounts, and a buyer from Amazon who doesnt like a cover can get a cover changed or a book canceled just before it goes to press. Go figure.

A single buyer from Amazon has the power to kill a book?  Have you seen this happen?

I have personally seen them order a new (and not as good) cover before they would shelve the book, and this resulted in a lower print run and lower sales, which hurt the author considerably.

That's amazing, no only do aspiring authors need to get their book read and approved through the publishing house, but now through disinterested third parties.  How did this come to be?  What did we do wrong?

We went wrong when the publishing houses got bought up as a tax break for mega-corps, and when the IRS decided to tax books in warehouse, so all stock has to be continually in UPS trucks, or be annually taxed.

What are you working on now?

A Foreigner book, for DAW, and my e-book operation.

You've written a number of series, why?

See above: the industry is crazy. They always want one, but may cancel interest in it after one book.

Do series put constraints on you as a writer or are the fertile grounds for more imaginings?

Theyre a way to get character development on a large scale.

Do you have any movie deals progressing?

Theres usually one, but dont hold your breath. 99% of them never pan out.

What scares you most about the future?

Nothing. I like the future. Look at where weve come since the Dark Ages. Were doing fine, by comparison to where weve been.

To most of us, authors are strange, supernatural beings, with talents and abilities far beyond those of the mere mortal.  How do you view yourself?

Im good at what I do, and like that. But socially---Im the same as anybody. I like parties, I like talking to people. I like traveling and seeing new things.

Are you going to cons?  If so, which ones?  And do you have any signing in the near future?  Basically, where and when can fans meet you in person?

Ill be at Radcon, Condor, maybe Midsouthcon, and definitely Miscon. Jane Fancher and I usually travel together and we travel with 2 cats in a Subaru Forester.

2 cats travel with you.  What are their names and do they rule the car like they do the house?


Their names are Her Furry Grace, Ysabel, and the Black Prince, Efanor. Ysabel is a Traditional Cat Association registered lynx-point Siamese, and Efanor is a 20 pound black Siamese-calico domestic cross, who likes to play. Her Grace prefers to nap. When were driving, Ysabel prefers Efanor be in his cage (we travel with food, water, litter box, and keep the cage doors open) and prefers to ride shotgun on the lap of whichever of us is sitting in that seat. She particularly likes it if you turn on the seat-warmer and allow her bottom to reach the seat. Efanor comes out now and again, accepts a chin-scratch, and goes back to his nap, so he can have plenty of energy for the night.


Feel free to answer the question you most like to answer but nobody ever asks.

Everybody always asks everything. But Ill talk forever. If you want to meet me, a good start is my interactive blog: theres a link on the splash page of my website, at cherryh.com. Its Wave Without A Shore. Which is a pretty autobiographical title.

Visit C. J. Cherryh's website by clicking here

Order Regenesis by clicking here

2009-10-12 19:38:58
If I'm reading her comments correctly, if Amazon declines a book the publisher won't print it. So any other outlet cannot choose to shelve it or not. It's scary that one buyer can dictate what's available to all book stores in the world. Moral of the story, if you want your work published, don't tick off Amazon.

2009-10-02 10:48:58
It's true of almost every area of retail: the corporate buyers decide not just what the store will sell, but what actually gets manufactured, how it will be packaged, etc. Which would not be so bad if the buyers were actually knowledgeable about the products or the markets. jmr

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