This month we are very pleased to have an interview double header. not only do we have Nina Kiriki Hoffman in our writer's room but we also have an interview with Dean Wesley Smith. Both writers have a long history together, and between them have a vast amount of experience as writers in science fiction and fantasy. Dean writes across the genres and also, with his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, owns and manages WMG Publishing
Many people view you as a distinctly 'genre' writer. But you have also said you like Richard Brautigan, particularly, Dreaming of Babylon, and you also used to write poetry. So, what does genre really mean to you, and how do you reconcile it with the word, literature?

Literature is just another genre. Genre is a way for readers to find certain types of stories in bookstores and online. Nothing more.

Do I like science fiction, mystery, romance more than literature to write? Not a clue, honestly. I write across all genres, whatever strikes me. I did a lot of media that was sf, and I have a thriller series and a mystery series under a hidden pen name, but I like it all. I even write a form of romance at time.

But yes, Dreaming of Babylon, which is a mystery fantasy by Richard Brautigan is one of my favorite books.
Dean Wesley Smith
Legend has it that you and Nina Kiriki Hoffman had a pact to help you both with your writing in your early days. Could you tell us a bit about that, and how valuable it was in you getting ahead as a writer?

Oh, the challenge with Nina was everything early on. We challenged each other to write and mail a story every week and we kept it up. At times we added in other challenges like “Add five senses every 500 words.” Without Nina and those early challenges, I’m not sure I would have gotten started the way I did.

Back in those distant days (1982-1984) I owned a bookstore and Nina lived above my bookstore. It was a house full of books, that’s for sure. Nina and I and a couple of other friends also started a local bootstrap workshop with a bunch of beginning writers and that workshop really helped for a few years as well.

How did you enjoy working in the Star Trek universe? How does writing in an established world differ from writing in your own, satisfaction wise?
Both are great fun, but writing my own stuff is a lot more fun. Writing in an established universe such as Star Trek or Men in Black or Spider-Man, you have to follow the rules of those universes. In my own stuff I get to make it all up.

Everyone thinks writing media is easier. It’s not. It’s a ton harder. And a lot more people are looking over your shoulder. I would much rather write my own books and stories, even though most of them have been under pen names in the last few years.

However, I am finally getting a couple of original novels under my own name out this next year. One is titled Dead Money, a thriller set in the poker universe. The other is an urban fantasy novel around a fun character I invented called Poker Boy. I’ve done about twenty or so Poker Boy stories so far, so the novel was great fun. Both will be out under Dean Wesley Smith name.
You run many workshops, both online and real world, with your wife, writer Kristine Kathryn Rusch. What do you find that you learn, or take away from the experience?

Wow, teaching can really, really sharpen your own tools. Especially with the workshops here at the coast where we only invite the newer professional level writers who are past the early stuff.

Doing graduate level teaching on different topics is amazingly hard and challenging and I learn with every workshop. Many of the online workshops are the graduate level workshops we used to do here and we converted them to online video classes. There isn’t a week that goes by with those that I don’t learn new stuff. The moment I stop learning from them we’ll shut them down, but no signs of that slowing at the moment and I’m still having a blast doing it.

What writers or books have you read recently that have got you particularly excited in the SF/fantasy genres?
Honestly, the last books inside of sf I read were Kris’s two new novels. One in her Diving Universe series that will be out next fall and another in her Retrieval Artist series called Blowback that just came out this winter. I read issues of Asimov’s magazine and Analog regularly, but not many novels inside the field. However, I have been reading a ton outside the field, mostly thriller writers, like Dean Koontz.

What are you currently working on? What can we expect to see from DWS this year?

You will see a ton more short fiction from me, not counting the new story in every issue of Fiction River. I will have the new thriller Dead Money out next fall, the new Poker Boy urban fantasy novel called The Slots of Saturn out next fall as well. I just finished a novel that I can’t talk about that I ghosted for another publisher, more than likely the last of those kind of projects I will do.

I am working on yet another novel between short stories that might see print this winter. And I have an sf/romance that I want to get finished and out as well. So more than likely about 50-100 short stories and eight or so novels in the next full year. But all under my own name from now on out. The world has changed and I like the change.
Bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith has published traditionally more than one hundred popular novels and well over two hundred short stories. His novels include the science fiction novel Laying the Music to Rest and the thriller The Hunted as D.W. Smith. With Kristine Kathryn Rusch, he co-wrote The Tenth Planet trilogy and The 10th Kingdom. He writes under many pen names and ghosts for a number of top bestselling writers.

His lively blog can be accessed here