Friday, July 30, 2010

Getting to know Robert Collins

Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?

I write in mainly two. Locally I’m best known for writing nonfiction about Kansas history. My passion is writing science fiction and fantasy. I’ve sold over 80 short stories, and had three novels published.

What comes first for you when you sit down to write a book? Plot or Characters?

I’m a story person. Characters are fine, but I need some sort of plot to get going.

Do you "cast" your characters using pictures or actors to help inspire you when you're writing?

No, but I have a good aural memory. I can “give” my characters voices from where ever I want and “hear” them. In some ways these are first drafts that get written in my head before I type one word.

How long does it take you to finish a book from start to finish?

That really depends. It took me twenty years of off-and-on work to get my second novel, Lisa’s Way, into its final form. On the other hand, last year I wrote two sequels to Lisa’s Way; one became four short stories, the other is the “second book.”

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

My latest is Monitor, published by Whiskey Creek Press. It’s about a woman who decides to stop her fundamentalist society from coming about by going back in time and becoming a superhero. Also figuring in the story is a mutant teenager training to be a hero but conflicted about where she’s headed, and a mutant villain with big ambitions.
I’m not quite sure where the story came from. I’m sure reading a little of the Marvel Universe in the 1980s played a role. In the end, through, it became the story I wanted to tell.

How much does reader reaction mean to you as an author? Do you read your own reviews?

I like readers coming up to me and telling me if they like my books. As to reviews, I only care about those by people I respect. I saw an ugly review for one of my railroad books at Amazon. Exploring deeper, I was appalled at learning that some reviewers trash books because the author is a woman, or gay, or whose politics are different from them.  I don’t worry about reviews generally; after all, its sales and not reviews that bring in the money.

What are you working on now? Anything you want to tell us about?

I’m always working on something. I’d like to sell the sequel to Lisa’s Way. I’m thinking about putting out another collection of short stories.  And I’ve been researching some big nonfiction projects.

What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?

I think as it gets harder and harder to sell to the major publishers, the small press and self-publishing will have to be taken more seriously by everyone, from reviewers to writers’ groups. There have to be the same opportunities for the author whose book sells a few thousand copies as there are for best-selling authors.

As to e-books, I think the technology is making progress. The devices are getting better, and the idea of reading a book on a device is catching on. But the book is bulletproof technology: it doesn’t need special light; it doesn’t need a power source; and it doesn’t break if dropped. The e-book will have to be just like that to completely replace the print book.

Where can readers find you on the ‘net for more information on you, your books and other fun stuff?

First, there’s my website:

I also have a Face Book page, and I’m a member of Book Town.


Monitor excerpt: The computer on the only desk in the room beeped loudly.  The screen changed from its normal white color.  Blocky red letters appeared for an instant, followed by a blue symbol.  The view then changed to the Oval Office of the White House.  Filling much of the screen was solemn, middle-aged man with blonde hair, blue eyes, and an open, honest face.
“Fellow citizens, I come before you with news that is grave, yet should fill all of your souls with joy.  Five minutes ago, our foolish enemies launched a limited nuclear strike at our forces around the world, and at the capitol of this great Christian nation.”
It can’t be happening now, Broeder thought.  I’m not ready.  I haven’t thought out my plans.  I haven’t done the research.
She looked at the pod.
Do not panic,” the man continued.  “I will be taking refuge momentarily, and we will try to save everyone we can in the city.  Residents of Washington, I urge you to proceed at once to your shelters.
This may sound like dire news.  It will not be so dire.  I have authorized our forces to launch a full retaliatory strike against our foes.  With our might, God will strike down those who have rejected Him, and cast their wicked souls into the pit of Hell.  After four decades of Heavenly struggle, righteousness will finally crush sin and evil.
I will transmit another broadcast soon.  Until then, I ask all of your to pray for our victory.  God bless America, and every Christian in it.”
The blue symbol of the office of the President returned.  A male voice came over the intercom.  “All personnel are ordered to gather in the main dining hall for a prayer meeting.”
Corwin turned towards the door.  “Dr. Broeder!  Come on!”
You go,” she replied from inside the closet.  “I’ll be along later.”
Anger bubbled throughout her mind as she removed her clothes and put on the suit.  Don’t these fools understand what’s going to happen? she asked rhetorically.  The Europeans and their allies are going to notice our full strike within a few minutes, and they’ll launch everything they have.  Do these idiots actually believe that they wouldn’t?
Of course not.  We’ve long since stopped considering other points of view.  We have God on our side, so whatever we say is right.
A whole nation blindly following the prejudices and morals of the ignorant President, Joshua Clairborne.  A bigoted brat raised by his bigoted father.
Broeder took one more long look at the pod.
You won’t be able to deny me a Class-One pass because I’m a woman, she vowed silently.  You won’t be able to keep from living where I want to because I’m a scientist.  You can’t keep me from reading what I want to, or watching whatever I want to, or talking to anyone I want to.
You can’t keep strangling the truth.

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