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TD: Is this diversification a deliberate part of your business model?

SK: Yes. As an aspiring writer, I saw that unless you're an overnight success and sustain that success, the single-genre approach doesn't work. With publisher advances and title slots dwindling, competition always increasing, and chain booksellers ordering to the net, a novelist now almost has to diversify to have a viable shot at a writing career.

TD: Another SF author I was reminded of while reading Bio Rescue (last comparison, I promise, and I'm not even going to mention James White's Sector General stories) is C.J. Cherryh, a favorite author of mine. Like Cherryh, you create believable and logically consistent alien phenotypes and cultures, and the cooperation among and conflict between these cultures fuels much of the plot. Even more interesting is the "nature vs. nurture' dynamic you introduce as individual characters run counter to their species stereotype. How important is the message that the individual has the potential to develop outside the boundaries imposed by the expectations of others in your writing and in your life?

SK: It's everything. In my life, it dates back to racial desegregation in South Florida, which started when I was twelve. I was on the front lines, and like my classmates, got caught between the white and black adults as they battled over us. No one thinks of the children at a time like that; they're too caught up in their own hatred and bigotry. It was a horrible time, and both sides did things that were unforgivable, but I think in the end it freed me and most of my generation from carrying on the burden of their hatred. It certainly had a profound affect on me as an individual and a writer.

Pushing and going beyond genre boundaries is very natural for me. I'm a self-taught novelist, and I never met another writer until after I was published. Back then I didn't know about all the genre rules and restrictions which most writers adhere to, and they still don't make much sense to me.

TD: 2005 will see the introduction of the Darkyn series, published through Signet NAL. Darkyn is conceived as a dark fantasy series built upon the premise that humans are the monsters and vampires the victims. In support of this, you recently launched the Darkyn Website which includes plot summaries of three novels to be published between March 2005 and August 2006. Do you typically plan out stories this far in advance?

SK: I usually plan out my writing schedule about two years in advance. I like mapping things out and being well-prepared.

TD: Will the Darkyn novels be tangentially related novels set in a common world, or will the relationship be more direct?

SK: The Darkyn novels will be more of a chronicle series, with the same world and ongoing conflict, but featuring new protagonists in each novel. The storyline is also very expansive and flexible, so I can develop it into standalones, spin-offs and crossover novels as well.

TD: Your hope is that the Darkyn series will "rescue vampires from the boudoir of immortality and let them have a life." Could you elaborate on this?

SK: These days the vampire fiction being published is mostly erotica or romance. I have nothing against it; I write romance myself. Yet somewhere along the way I feel that we've lost the mystery and eeriness of vampires and turned them into immortal boy-toys. When you consider how diverse and interesting vampire mythology is and what a novelist could potentially do with it, that's pretty sad.

TD: What can your SF readers expect in the StarDoc universe?

SK: Afterburn, the sequel to Bio Rescue, is presently in production and will be released in September '05. After that, StarDoc book six, Rebel Ice, and book seven, ClanSon, will be published. My patient readers have been waiting three years for the series to continue, so I know this will make them happy. All five of the original StarDoc novels are still in print, too, so I hope it will help some new readers discover the series.

TD: You have stated that you don't sign your books. Do you have a philosophical or moral objection to signing, or is there some more prosaic reason behind this?

SK: I wish I had a better excuse, but signing books makes me feel utterly ridiculous.

TD: Your hometown of Orlando was hit hard by three hurricanes this past summer. How much of an impact did this have on you? Any plans to incorporate this experience into a future novel?

SK: We had just moved into our new home one month before the first storm hit. The house sustained a considerable amount of damage, and water leaks destroyed two of my computers. That combined with the power outages forced me to write most of Afterburn on a battery-operated PDA. I will definitely be using the experience for a mystery series I'm developing and setting here in Central Florida.

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Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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