Journalist, satirist, and novelist Bruce Golden, Evergreen, speaks with Write On! Golden’s short stories have been published more than 80 times across seven countries. Asimov’s Science Fiction said about his second novel, “If Mickey Spillane had collaborated with both Frederik Pohl and Philip K. Dick, he might have produced Bruce Golden’s Better Than Chocolate.” Golden’s latest book, Evergreen, ventures into the heart of an alien world where an ancient secret is about to be revealed.
When and why did you first start writing?
As a teenager I loved reading the stories of Heinlein, Poe, and Howard, and I decided at age 18 I wanted to be a writer. However, I no idea what a long and circuitous journey it would be.
How did you make the jump from journalist to fiction?
I started out wanting to write fiction (I had the same creative writing professor as Greg Bear), but the jobs that were paying the bills came to me through journalism—magazines, radio, television. I did hone my craft along the way, but eventually I’d done everything I wanted to do, and went back to my first love, writing speculative (science fiction and fantasy) fiction.
Why sci fi?
I have always loved to read it, and knew that’s what I always wanted to write.
What are the specific elements to the sci fi genre that are not used in other areas?
The beauty of speculative fiction is that you can create your own worlds, your own societies, and sometimes your own beings. You can explore humanity from a different perspective if you put the humans in a different society, a different time, or you view them through the eyes of an alien or an android. But I write “soft science fiction,” whereas my stories are more about my characters than technical gadgetry.
What was the process for getting your novels published?
Long, tedious, and unfulfilling. If being a writer wasn’t part of who I was for so long, I probably would have given up. I spent (wasted) years trying to get a big agent or major publisher before settling with a smaller publisher. If you don’t know anyone, or your book isn’t going to be major money-maker, there aren’t many cracks you can slip through. Most publishers/agents are only going to read the first three chapters (if you’re lucky) and maybe a synopsis. My first two books started with a bang, so they at least had a chance to grab someone’s attention. But there’s no way you can understand the characters and complexity of my book Evergreen by reading a chapter or two.
What was your favorite part of writing Evergreen? The greatest challenge?
It’s always fun when the characters begin to come to life and, at times, lead you in directions you hadn’t planned on. I loved the rich detail I was able to build into this book, taken from many subject areas, many parts of my life, and also slowly revealing the secrets of the mystery therein, gradually foreshadowing what was to come. The biggest challenge, aside from getting it out there where people could read it, was making sure I got all the science right. I went to a lot of experts to make sure.
How important is diversification for a writer?
I think it’s important, but that’s because I have a very diverse background. On the other hand, I often think it would have been better to specialize in one thing from the beginning. We live in a world of specialization. But, to paraphrase Robert Heinlein, I’ve always felt specialization was for insects.
Advice for writers?
If you love it, if you crave it, don’t let the roadblocks wear you down. Because there will be roadblocks. You just have to keep writing and making every piece the best it can be.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
That’s a long list. Mostly I wish I’d concentrated on fiction only, back when I first started. Maybe I would have broken down some of those publishing doors way back when they weren’t barricaded quite so much.