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Kickstarting Zombie Sci-Fi


Kevin J. Anderson

On this weeks futurist we have the return of New York Times Bestselling Author, Kevin J Anderson. In this week’s episode Kevin takes on a journey as to how technology has dramatically changed his connection with his readers for the publication of new books, including multiple very successful Kickstarter campaigns. We talk writing for the Dune and Start Wars Universes, and dive into Dan Shambles, the detective every zombie needs.

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this week on the futurists Kevin J Anderson I'm a fanboy at heart and I
enjoyed it and it was like the coolest thing in the world that I got asked to write Star Wars books and my favorite
science fiction book of all time was Dune and the fact that I'm working with Frank Herbert's son and using Frank
Herbert's original notes is like I I can't describe how amazing that is to
me welcome back to the futurists I am your
host breett King and in the hosting chair with me today is Brian siss uh live from um where are you you're in
Florida aren't you Brian I'm in I'm in Irvine uh oh you're an Irvine coming
straight to you from the back seat of a car there you go and uh we are very fortunate to have the inaugural guest
for the futurists um you know the the very first guest we had and uh um you
know a a I guess a regular on our podcasts over the years now um and a man
that I'm um fortunate to call not just an acquaintance but a friend Kevin J Anderson the man the myth the
legend well greetings Brian and Brad I'm glad to be back here and I had forgotten
I was your first guest I'm yeah for the futurist you were yeah well you're sting your bar low from the very beginning
there aren't you but well it it seems to work here we are um you know we just had our 12th anniversary uh show um 12th
anniversary Oney year anniversary 12 month anniversary yes I I made that same
mistake on the recording last time but anyway and um that was uh attended by um
your good friend David Brin yes um so it's and he was like the second or third
guest we had on the show along with another um friend and colleague of yours
uh Dr Harry CLA was was one of the the early um uh plays on the show um who I
met through our joint friend of course John Bess so um but you just know everybody Brett that's just it you just
know every well you know what though um I I am you know the the futurist have
been such a um a great gateway to really talented people because you know we
started off with strong guests like yourself and and David and others and so
that enabled us to go and ask for for you know really you know good guests as
well and it's been fantastic this season we've we've booked Peter D amandes and and Dr Robert zuin uh coming up um we
just asked David for an introduction to to uh Kim Stanley Robinson so fingers crossed because we'd
like to have him on the show and maybe we we'll get um you know um maybe some
other sci-fi authors I'd like to have Hugh Hoy on to talk about his new uh um
TV show Silo that that he was involved in um and of course um you know you've
got uh you've got a couple of new projects you're working on we have just seen released today uh you know and and
we're recording this obviously before the show ISS but I just saw the uh princess of Dune um artwork which looks
fantastic it's gorgeous and um of course you've been working on the the uh the
Dune movies as a as a consultant um which it it I Denny v he's just done such an amazing
job of that uh of the property and and just um you can tell that he was
obsessive about it in in in terms of the the outcome but I'm really looking forward to the second um second part of
the movie or the second uh uh is there
anything I won't ask you to give us any spoilers um you know but I I will ask
you how have you felt about the process seeing it come alive with all of these new technologies and and so forth uh you
know being the fact that you've written um was it 14 books in the dun oh we we
are now if you put them all together I in fact I had to discount them uh we're at 21 the princess 21 total and Princess
adun is our the new one with Brian Herbert it comes out in October so just before the movie and that's kind of a
standalone it's the story of princess zon and Chie the two very important
women in's life and their backstory has never been told before so we kind of use
that as as the focus so um I'm I'm going to dodge you a little bit because we're
out of respect for legendary they out of their own messaging and I mean I'll be
honest I say I love the movie I mean it was it was it was a well you can talk about the first movie because it's in
the public domain obviously but um I think that they did great speaking of
the technology though um one of one of the things that remember I'm like deep
into the bowels of the fandom that everybody nitpicks things and stuff and one of the the constant criticisms that
we hear about the old David Lynch movie was that they didn't get the ornithopters right that the little
flying the flying dragon in fact in that movie they're they're just like random spaceships they just F around because
special effects Tech was just you couldn't do articulated wings and stuff and when I first saw the the legendary
movie Denny villanes when we first saw those ornithopters and they spread their wings we all yes that's perfect and and
and I got to say my experience on that um we saw the debut um I was with the
big writers group we were down in in Hollywood at the time for another writers conference and they had said up
so that we were able to screen the film on opening day at The Roosevelt Hotel on
Hollywood Boulevard amazing and you just can't get better than that it was just
so so awesome experience in a room full of other science fiction writers and we
had some other filmmakers there and we even had a very good friend of mine who's the drummer for Jethro tall so we
just had a fantastic audience on that and and as you said the the cover art
for princess of Dune just was uh released today that we were going to like send out a newsletter and kind of
have a a big Grand uh introduction of it but they posted on Amazon and of course
some fan found it in 93 seconds and posted it everywhere so so now we we've
shared it and it's all there and I'm very happy and it's and in fact not half
an hour before uh I came on your show here I finished proofreading all of the 400 pages of Princess adun so that we
got it back and marking the last round of typos the last round of commas and and you know I know fans are waiting to
read this book but I've read it about 11 times yeah gets like that doesn't it and
um this was interesting because you and I were chatting about this uh a few weeks ago that the fact that you proof
read on printouts um because I've done most of my proof reading in in the uh a Word
document um sent you know sent back and forth between me and my editor but but
the fact that you print it out you you say that you pick up a lot more that way right well for the very the very final
final time when it's all types set and it looks the way a book is supposed to look I like to hold it and read it in
paper and and and frankly for all the great stuff that technology does there
is still really no better way to mark up a typo than to use your pen and like cross out a word that if you're having
in like a a PDF reader and you have to insert a comment and do that stuff it's
it's just a lot more tedious than for me to just like Scribble out a word better yeah yeah yeah and and also I just think
that there there's so much distraction on a screen and I like to just take the
paper with me and and maybe relax in my my nice highback
Lea or maybe in a nice warm tub in the evening or something that's just kind of
it it's more of a and I swear to you that's the last time I'm going to read that book because it's been through 11 times already and I
want to do it kind of the right way when I when I proofread it and I even have I
I read it with like a ruler on it so that I can keep my eyeballs on the right line and and just make sure because this
isn't this isn't reading it like a reader to enjoy the story this is like
um this is like being a proctologist digging into the very deepest of everything academic studying it and and
x-raying it and and making sure that no typos get through and of course the moment it's published actually on the
bookshelves we'll find a b bunch more typos that we all miss yeah I no I did
have one very kind commenter who uh came back uh after I published one of my
books with all of the edits where I had spell things with British spelling instead of American spelling which
wasn't was was helpful um I I'm couple of things first of all um
please extend uh to to Brian our congrats on his work and if you guys
would like to come on for for the launch of uh you know um uh Princess uh of June
um or something please Avail yourself of of uh of our support however you can um
but the other one question I had was um and I do want to get onto the kickstarter stuff because that was what we were going to talk about how you're
using that as at all um but I am interested even though you know you've done these you know 21 books in the in
the June Universe do you ever find yourself needing to go back over older
books and read them to just you know make sure you've got the cannon right the uh you know specific details about
the the characters oh absolutely we we had done so many so many books when we
started I think our first one was published in 1998 or I should have looked it up
before he started but but when we first started that we were writing a Dune book pretty much every year that was kind of
our our thing that we worked on it and we did a the house of traes Trilogy which is the prequel um you know it's
the story of Duke Leo and Lady Jessica and then sort of the generation before Dune and then we did a Trilogy that's
10,000 years before Dune it's the butlerian Jihad is the war against the thinking machines and and establishes
everything and we did that and then we did some other stuff and we kept working
our way through and then after we we finished a Trilogy with um uh Sisterhood
of Dune and mentats of Dune and Navigators of Dune we just went okay we just really need to take a break and
just take a few years off and and boy did that screw up our momentum because then when we came back to do to do
another book like five years later it was all like oh when we used it all the time we remembered everything so then I
had to go back and reread at the time I think it was like 15 books I reread them all just kind of load it all back up
into my my head and and and so then we we
did a Trilogy called the the kaladan trilogy which is like the year before Dune and now we're doing this Standalone
called Princess of Dune so um it's you know they're all like tied very closely
to the to the movies uh the time period of the movies but but it's it's so
intricate and what Frank Herbert created was was such a massive and complex universe that um one one thing we didn't
also mention is that Brian and I adapted Frank Herbert's original novel Dune into
a three volume graphic novel for a yes and that that won all kinds of awards
was New York Times bestseller I I have a copy of it back herewhere it was recently put on the um what was it like
like the the top one 100 best graphic novels of all time or something like that congratulations but one of the
really amazing now I've read Dune probably 25 times I mean I've read it over and over and over again but doing
this graphic novel which is a it's not our we didn't feel arrogant enough that
we wanted to adapt Frank Herbert's stuff and make it better we did a scene by scene adaptation of Frank Herbert's
novel and that made me kind of use a scanning electron microscope on Dune like paragraph by paragraph and how
everything is set up and it's just astonishing about how complicated it is
and I still found things that I had never noticed before even after I've read it that many times so so in summary
I think dun is pretty cool yeah how long did it take him to write that novel do you
know I knew at one time if it's a matter of record but uh well Brian wrote a very
detailed biography his father called dreamer of Dune where he goes through the whole process and there were many
different drafts and iterations of it and and nobody would publish it I got like 26 rejection slips before um
somebody finally took it and and that's a whole story in in itself it was published by Chilton books which only
published auto repair manuals but they but the editor was bored with auto repair manuals and he liked science
fiction so we took a chance on this unpublishable book and and the rest is history wow well that's very interesting
so um one of the things that we've talked about recently is the fact that you've got a new Dan uh Dan shambles um
the zombie detective um which I don't know how that works because I haven't read I haven't read any of the Dan shamble books which I'm I'm going to go
and do after this but um um as part of this you've been more recently uh
adopting um the use of Kickstarter um to help you with some of your projects and
um I know um the June graphic novel has been part of the kickstarter
um Universe was it or was it just a giveaway on on Kickstarter as part of a
I I think there was a different graphic novel just the movie adaptation graphic novel that the film company did um Brian
and I weren't really involved in that one but they go through Kickstarter on that um but let let me give some
background so the the Dan series is we're talking about these big epic Dune
science fiction things and I've written my own huge space operas I I know you've read my Saga of seven sons books and and
I'm kind of I'm kind of known for for killing enormous numbers of trees by making paper for for massive books like
that and and giant epic science fiction and I've Done big serious Epic Fantasy
like Game of Thrones only I finished mine but that's a different conversation entirely um and after doing a lot of
these giant things I I sometimes felt that I just kind of wanted to do
something that was more Whimsical and humorous and so I developed this whole
series that it's kind of like the Naked Gun meets The Adams Family it it's like
it's really silly it's full of stupid puns it's ridiculous it's in a world where um all of the the monsters have
come back the vampires and mummies and ghouls and werewolves and everything and zombies and this this guy his name is
Dan Shambo and he's just a private investigator because even monsters a
human private investigator but even monsters they still get divorced and they still have estate issues and they
still have problems that they need a pi for and and he's got a a bleeding heart
human lawyer as his partner and they're they're like working with all these unnaturals and doing like the a mummy
comes into the office one day and and he's suing the the museum because he wants to be emancipated that he's a
person not property damn it and and uh there's a vampire who needs protection because he sees wooden Stakes everywhere
and like fence posting think somebody's trying to kill him and and it's just it it's really silly it's really funny and
and I just I'm I like being funny I like doing stupid stuff and they're just a
joy to write and and so I wrote the first one and we sold the series to a
traditional publishing house and they eventually published the first four and
and they they did some things that um I I didn't think was the right way to be
marketing them you know I've done tons of marketing on my own I'm kind of a a
publicity Powerhouse I got my own fan base I've got all kinds of things publishing house I've got my own
publishing house that I've had since like 2009 and these are these are really fun
books they're short they're fast they're funny and they're the kind of things that when you read one you want to pick
up the next one pretty soon and the other publisher wanted to bring them out
like every 18 months and I said well that's not a way to build an audience in
it and anyway long story short that they they published four of them and with my
own Publishing House I did the first short Story collection and eventually they decided that they didn't want to
continue it and I decided that I did want to continue it so I I wrote the
next book and published it in my own publishing house it's called taste like chicken and it it came out and then I
did Another Story collection and um and then but it I mean I've got all my Dune
books that I'm doing and I've got um I had Star Wars work and I've got big epic
fantasies that I was doing yeah that's right and frankly these were kind of smaller they were just from my publishing house and I really wanted to
continue it but it was hard to justify until kind of the light bulb went on and and Kickstarter changed
everything so I I I knew a lot of authors who had been successful for it in doing
crowdfunding and I decided to take a chance it was almost exactly a year ago
when I ran my first one for a brand new Dan chamble novel because I wanted to continue the series and I thought well
the fans seem to want it so let's see if they'll actually support it
let's um and so I I put up this campaign that I wanted to get new covers because
I didn't really like the old covers and I had some artists who were doing things and I I just said well I put up this
campaign and let's see where it goes and the sucker funded at 23 times what my
goal was and I just went wow and it was
doing my math here it was something like three or four times the the most that the traditional publisher had ever paid
me for one of these books so i s I went this is a whole different ball game now
because I am used to working with my fans I interact with them all the time I
know you're on a bunch of my Facebook uh see my Facebook post a newsletter I'm on Twitter go to conventions all the time I
meet the fans I sign autographs I give talks I give writing workshops I'm
pretty well attuned to my own fan base right and so instead of in the old days
of traditional publishing well current what they would do is they'd publish a book and they would just sort of throw
it out there and hope that they would find the right readers well when I'm doing it myself I
know my right readers right connected with all of them I interact with all of them and when I say hey guys you want a
new Dan shamell book or because I haven't written one in a few years and do you want one or not and boy did they
ever the way that came out it was just so gratifying for me because I love this series and this was the first Dan
shamble book and in like four it allows you to do something that you can't normally do right well and so the way
that it's a game changer and and here's and so I did another one this past uh
February I had another comedy one called the dragon business it was sort of like um
The Princess Bride meets Dirty Rotten Scoundrels it's a it's a gang of medieval conmen and they sell their
services as Dragon Slayers but there's no dragon they just put fake giant footprints around and they burn a few
peasant hubs down and then they tell the king for a 100 pieces of gold they'll go kill that Dragon for him and and it's
all a setup it is a con and it's really funny and of course there is a dragon and then so I had written that one back
in like 2010 and I've always wanted to go back but again it was published and they
didn't want another one and I got the rights back so I reprinted it at my own wordfire press and I thought let's see
if the fans want a sequel to The Dragon business and again bam it funded in 33
minutes and we ended up with 23 times what we asked for and it was like way more than the other publisher ever paid
me and I went this is kind of a cool way to do things and the so let me actually
step back and and because not everybody knows how publishing works or how writing works like in in the old
traditional days which you know it's how I broke into the business how I how I made it the way it worked was a
publisher say bantom books or Harper Collins or whatever that if I they
wanted me to write a book I would sell them here's my proposal they would buy the book they would pay me a chunk of
money which was my advantage and that was the money with which I paid my bills and lived on during the year or
whatever it took me to write the book and then once the book got published I started earning um royalties on it and
eventually might earn its Advan back but that all changed when when the Indie publishing movement came that people
could publish their own books that they could do their own covers and do their own type setting and they would hire
editors and do it all and then sell the books on Amazon or wherever ever well the problem with that is they
don't get any money up front and you have to pay for everything up front and you don't get any money until you've got
it published in for sale and then the royalties start trickling in yeah you can use uh Kindle Direct publishing but
that's you know it's it's limited to that platform and um you know and and
you can do that or you can go to Barnes & Noble there's all of different platforms and that's not hard but the
problem is you have to do all your work you have to write the whole book before I would get paid up front this way you
have to write it all and get it all completely done and then put it up but Kickstarter is like I said to you in in
one of our messages this is like venture capital for the common man or woman that
that I can go to my fans and say look I want to do another Dan chamble book and
if you'll like front me some of the money we can pay for the artwork and we been can pay for the editing and we can
pay for if they want to print book I can I can run off hard cover copies or trade paperback copies and whatever and so I
I've just have launched while while we're recording this it's been up for about a week I've launched for a new Dan
shamell novel called bats in the belfrey and it's been out um it's been a year
since I did a Dan chamble book so it's time for the next one and well obviously
it's a sales pitch but I also would love people to just look and see what we did you go to kickstarter.com and put my
name in you'll see the previous ones that are all over but you can still look at them um but I I very cleverly put
Kevin J anderson.com and that will Point directly to the kickstarter campaign so
great that's easy look at Kevin J anderson.com you can see what bats in the belfrey is um and it's it's just a
lot of fun and I can watch what you can see what the backers want do they want
so they can they can back at at like seven bucks for the ebook or 20 bucks
well you can even maybe write them in for the top donations well there's there's we got a and this
this often fills up um I put in for 300 bucks I will write you in as a character
so you get get your name so you might be a zombie that gets his head cut off awesome a victim that the werewolf I got
to do that well that I mean there are like three left I think on this one but but
it is funny and the fans just love it in fact I've got I've got one who backed last year's Kickstarter for Dan shamell
who had his name in and he just loved it so much he he backed it again and paid for that and said could you bring my
character back as a and so he's kind of a main part of this new novel bats in the belfrey and
um but but I I when you look at this campaign because every one of your
follow your listeners is going to go and look at the campaign but when you look at the campaign it's really pretty slick
I mean all of my artwork is done and I've got videos on there and I've got um box sets that I'm showing off and
everything and that does kind of show you how the entire Kickstarter Universe
has changed a little bit because now it's really sort of in the big leagues
that it was originally set it's I mean it's all it's it's um I want to get into
some of the mechanics of like how you figured this out and and so forth but uh before that yeah I think that's a good
that's a good pause for break and we'll pick this up in just a moment thank you
for listening to the futurists with Kevin J Anderson we're going to take a quick break and we'll be right
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show thank you for listening to the futurists welcome back to our conversation with the one and only Kevin
J Anderson but before we get back into conversation especially around Kickstarter because we have so many
questions I'm gonna turn it over to Brett to lead our quick fire round absolutely so um Kevin this is something
we like to do to to help um our listeners get to know you a little better um and uh I I I hope you'll enjoy
it so here's here's a few quick questions this is the lightning round all
right what was the first science fiction you
remember being exposed to it was the War of the Worlds the movie The War of the Worlds when I was a little kid I was 5
years old and my parents foolishly let me watch it and I just sat wide-eyed all the time and and that was it that was it
absolutely um what technology do you think has most changed
Humanity wow and it's just all been in my lifetime it's so much I I I'm looking
now at how much AI is changing Us in the last like month I mean that that's gonna
a huge thing but I'm thinking um gosh Humanity you you'd be going back to like
electricity in the wheel and stuff like that but but I think right now the fact
of our smartphones that are basically the Star Trek tricorder that we can alls
and pocket that that that is changing everything that we do from GPS
s to databases to um taking photos and I I sometimes forget that you can actually
still make phone calls with them too you know um I often quote that today's um
you know basic smartphones are more powerful than the cray 2 super computer which was $30 million you know back when
it was launched so we're carrying these $30 million supercomputers around in their pocket what do we do we take
selfies and play Angry Birds right so and Tik Tok bro and Tik Tok don't forget Tik Tok all right um uh name a futurist
or an author or an entrepreneur that has influenced you and why well that's got
to go right back to Frank Herbert he was one of the original people that I that I thought of as a futurist rather than a
science fiction writer because this guy had just so many visions of the future
and remember Dune was written in 1963 I think that I mean nobody thought
about ecology then nobody thought about um um water
despotism and and limited resources it was all ray guns and rocket ships and and bug eyed monsters but but Dune just
Frank's mind just made me think about politics and religion and economics
which were not things I had really thought about before when I was reading so gota be interesting yeah here's a
good one what's the best prediction a futurist or science fiction author
writer creator has has made in your in your
estimation well I can I can think of one that I always point to in the opposite
sense in that one of the biggest things Isaac azimov got wrong is he thought computers were going to get bigger and
bigger and bigger as they got more powerful remember that he had computers the most powerful ones were the size of
planets and um smaller and smaller and smaller um you know I'm
I'm I don't really read science fiction for what somebody's predicting but I'm
lightening around and I'm giving you long answers but this is kind of kind of interesting because you mentioned David Brinn before and David and I a few years
ago were at the US Air Force Academy because they had sort of a they brought in some science fiction writers as uh
basic Visionaries to just think of stuff and it was you sitting around just doing
kind of working groups and making up things and this was at the time I
believe of the first Iraq war um and there was so much trouble with all these
these American troops going over there and they didn't speak the language and they didn't understand the culture and there was all kinds of unnecessary
clashes and I made the comment on one of our groups I I said you know what would
really help is if we had like a Star Trek Universal translator so that if our
soldiers went in somewhere that they could actually talk into something and the locals would understand us you know
you know I have my million3 million supercomputer telephone right now cuz I went we went to the Czech Republic a
year ago and I do not speak check but I could speak into the um yes which I have
several different translator apps and I could set it for check and I could say what I wanted and it would say what I
wanted to the to the doorman at our hotel who didn't speak any English and I
I am still just totally Blown Away by that because it removes the language barrier it's amazing
you know before you go your next question you know there's a a startup founded by two apple Geniuses uh that
just debuted an aib based translator one of the things that they're going to be
introducing uh that they demoed at this year's Ted uh and essentially it learns
from you you speak in real time and it is translating in real time wow in in
your voice it learns how to in an alternate language yeah yeah that's insane well
called Humane I was guest speaker at the in Beijing at the China National Science
Fiction convention a few years ago and I was giving this this talk and I went well how are they going to know what I'm
saying because the audience is literally fullon Chinese and very few of them English and they had up on the big alori
they had an AI translating just real time what I was saying and and I kind of
glanced over and I went I mean there were a few glitches but yeah certainly of it yeah no i' I've done I've done the
same you know B and tensent both have that Tech in in China it's pretty cool to watch all right last one for the
lightning round what science fiction story is most representative of the
future that you hope for oh well it wouldn't so much be a
story but I think the Star Trek future is the one that I would like the best um
the the Federation and the exploration ships and all these races mostly living in harmony and people um exploring
things and helping each other out and their e economics are kind of um I mean I I never quite understood the economics
of Star Trek because you have a replicator to make everything then what do you do to make money or get paid but
but I like the optimistic uh technophilic future right
remember I've written tons and tons of Star Wars and I love Star Wars but that's kind of a technophobic culture
that nothing really works and you got to bang on them Millennium Falcon to get it to start and and you turn off the
computer so that you can use it's definitely not a techno Utopia yeah um
so I I would like to live on the on the Enterprise C
awesome um well there is one thing you can't replicate um which is Gold Plus
lat latinum which is why they use it as currency for the fing that was that was one of the things I couldn't quite
figure out I know that they had it and I went well okay but but we don't analyze
it too much I'm you know I can I can I I have a I have a um I have a keynote I
give on what science fiction tells us about the future of money economics and and Banking and finances so I should
send you a link to that because I think you'd enjoy it well most science fiction writers don't have two pennies to rub
together so I'm not sure hey Brett you know I was just thinking too about an interesting uh
going back to um Kevin J Anderson's point about uh War of the world's
inspiring him and thinking about how if if HG Wells was a futurist the
interesting way that he he ends the book around martians and dying from everyday
diseases and certainly uh certainly a precursor to what I think we started to
get back in touch with in our own uh mortality uh and as well you thinking
about the premise of The Last of Us uh and certainly how that series opens up
felt a little uh little close to home well and Wells was really a Visionary in
that he well the Martians it you don't really think about this too much because it it's overwhelmed by other things but
but the Martian race evolved so that they're basically a bunch of large brains with with very feeble tentacles
so they had to build external machines to do the things that they wanted they're basically the Martians are
riding in their tripods and their their little cars and then Wells also like
explored Evolution and genetics in the island of Dr Maro and and another thing
people don't give him credit for with the time machine which still traveling in time is a bit is a bit strange but he
knew in the time machine he doesn't go back in time and try to see the Renaissance or whatever because he
didn't want to mess with paradoxes so he right time machine only goes into the future
and I mean it's well we're getting off although the 2002 adaptation did have
him trying to um the the movie had him trying to go back in the past to um
rescue his wife but a really elegant explanation given by the the chief Morlock or whatever because I just
watched this movie the other day was that um just but he only created the time machine because his wife had died
so that was the Paradox and that's why he couldn't the past which I thought was a very elegant explanation actually of
that uh you know why you couldn't change the past but anyway that's um if I could
if I could interject there actually uh if we can go back in time one of the things I would love to talk about is
[Laughter] Kickstarter we yes we didn't get to
finish that conversation so go ahead Brian Master of the segue well I you were you were speaking about uh just
your experience expences in Kickstarter and super humbled to hear how you've connected your fan base to your projects
Brett and I are I mean I I wouldn't say we're traditional authors but we're certainly beholden to traditional
Publishers uh and I'd love to hear more about the story and certainly love to
hear about your friend who just uh just made the record books as well oh i' I'd
love to so there well let me let me go back a little bit because the the the
fundamental reason for Kickstarter was that you're going to have like these these ambitious and and Visionary
creatives who basically needed some some um startup Capital that they needed some
money in hand so that they could live while they're writing their book or and it's not all about books there's games
and there's artwork and comics and all kinds of things that that are sort of out of the reach out of the
financial let me say this better the production of what they had in their imagination was out of the reach of
their basic finances it's say say you've got a brilliant artist who wants to do a
a gorgeous graphic novel well that's a significant investment to get all the
art done and the printing and everything and so Kickstarter was basically started as
um here I'm a creative here's my vision I want this I want to produce this book
this artwork this whatever so will you please help support me and people would
not donate they're investing in in it's the Futures Market of this Creator and so they would they would give the the
Creator money and then at some point the project would be done and they'd all get their copy it's like they get a sneak
preview on it well kind of one of the the ways that backfired was a lot of
people never actually finished what they promised to do get what they thought of and so it's
now become more and more imperative that if if you're going to do this you got to be serious about it you've got to show
your your stuff up front if again if if you go to the campaign I've got running
right now the Kevin J anderson.com if you go there right now that's not me
just starting this book all of the cover art is done I've
just today this morning I finished writing the draft of this novel um I've
got another um the whole set done I've got everything pretty much ready to go
before I even ask the backers to support it because they're naturally skeptical
of a lot of these projects that well is he ever going to really finish it well I can tell them from the getg go that it's
already done you can see the Arts already there it's it's a big dog and
pony show production to get it going and I do want to mention about a year ago um
my my friend big fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson um he launched a Kickstarter
and he had done several before so he knew what he was doing and he built up he had a couple that had gone over a
million dollars for his uh books that he was doing well a year ago he broke every Kickstarter record in existence and his
Kickstarter campaign for I think it was five books that he had written during
the co lockdown he made 42 Mill million dollars for his Kickstarter campaign so
that's that's just that's like that's like startup territory that's a lot of money well that's and but he's a full-on
big business however I'm a pretty big deal too I'm a pretty big business too
and what I would put a challenge though Brett to to all of your your listeners I
think that we can break Brandon sanderson's record if each one of your listeners just puts in $100,000 to my
campaign and we go over I think or it could be like
whatever if you just you heard that if you've got to SP half a million got Kevin jon.com
that was kind of the the Brandon was kind of the outlier that everybody just went holy cow this is this is big
business that it isn't just a bunch of desperate authors looking for a handout
this is this is a genuine viable game-changing way for creatives to do
their book their comic their their artwork and uh as I was telling you my
story about the dragon business and about the Dan chamble um
series Kickstarter brought them back to life if it wasn't for Kickstarter I wouldn't be writing these books and
Kickstarter allow by the fans supporting what I want to do gives me the ability
to write the book that I really want to write right instead of what can I sell
to the big publisher that their marketing people think is the best thing yeah you know what else I like about that story is that it connects you to
your community in a way that isn't just transactional uh in a way that isn't just uh say
disconnected uh but more connected in in the sense that it is it's a funding
project for sure but it's also an investment in you and also the investment in a relationship so
collaborative could we drill down on a bit Kevin um you know I mean you do a
lot of stuff in the community you're you um you you you're you're involved with the Hollywood writers um you know you're
heading out to the West Coast often you you uh work in um you know writing
programs at universities and so forth but what and you attend all of these
Dragon cons and comiccons and so forth absolutely um you a lot of people when
they look at what you've done on Kickstarter they they say well I you know I could never do that I I've not
got the fan base but you work at it you know you you do a ton of work to keep
that that your fans engaged and so forth could you just talk about that a bit because I I'm um you know in as we get
closer to the end of the the show I I you know I mean I must say your work ethic here is very clear you churn out
um how many books a year do you write on on average well I'm slowing way down
it's more like four book a year or something like that but I'm also writing monthly comics and I'm teaching the
graduate program and Publishing running writing seminars you say slowing down as
relative right there was a time there was a time in like the mid 90s
especially when I was writing for for Star Wars I I think I had 12 books in one year but great to see Timothy Zan
just got a um that his Trilogy would have Rel or lit for production right so
well and they're they're inserting his characters into some of the other Star Wars stories and stuff so it so so my
first Star Wars was in 1993 I think was my very first one and it just it Thrills
me to pick up a copy right now to see it and it says like 49th printing on inside
in fact the first book of yours I read was a Star Wars a Star Wars adaptation so there you go well to get to get to
what you were saying though is that this you see my kickstar like I said that we funded in 9 minutes and all that kind of
stuff and and I worked really hard in building the campaign but but this is
something it's a result that I've been priming my audience for for 25 years I
mean just by by paying attention to my fans by um sending them newsletters and
answering all the email and in fact that in a Kickstarter campaign you to keep the momentum going you put stretch goals
and when you get close to a certain dollar amount you say hey if we pass this then I'll give you another free
ebook or another you know some perk and our next stretch goal that we've got on this one is an exclusive private Zoom
hangout call with me so pass a certain funding level then I'll I'll schedule
like an hour on a Saturday morning and only the backers of the kickstarter program get the the zoom link wow I sit
there and I and they just I interact with them they ask questions and we chat and we talk about it and and they love
that because it's their their um access and in fact one of the ways that that I
love to show kickstarters that this is not um I'm a desperate writer I need some money but it's more like a an
exclusive backstage Club it's it's VIP all access pass that if you back the
kickstarter then you get to well and also they get to read the book three or four months before I release it to the
general public ah that is a big they get it out first and then they could they can get their name as a character in it
and they it it's sort of a real intimate personal relationship with the fans
rather than um like if if you Bantam Books published my Star Wars books so
they printed those books and they all got sent out to a million bookstores all over the place and fans would go in and
buy them but there's no direct connection between me and them at that point they they'll come
and see me at a convention or something but this the the kickstarter because I messaged them directly and they they
write me and they feel like they're vested because they're well they're they're my pool of investors on getting
the new Dan shamell book out that they're they're part of the team and they feel that yeah yeah they're part of
the team that's that's definitely a great way to to put it together but um I
my my point of you know my point was that you know if people look at you and think that um that this is luck that
you've built this platform as as an author the reality is you do a ton of
work all the time and you've been very consistent over decades and that's a
large part of your you know quote unquote uh overnight success right yeah
well my one of my things on I think it's the motto on my my website is the harder I work the luckier I get right exactly
I've had people oh I could be that successful if I was as lucky as you and I'm like yeah try try being lucky for 20
years and and you know that it but I I don't want to like beg for sympathy that
I I work so hard I love doing you you clearly enjoy it you clearly enjoy it
which imagine I go to I go to Dragon Con and it's the time of my life that this isn't
I have to go and meet the fans I I just I'm a fanboy at heart and I enjoyed it
and it was like the coolest thing in the world that I got asked to write Star Wars books and my favorite science
fiction book of all time was Dune and the fact that I'm working with Frank Herbert's son and using Frank Herbert's
original notes is like I I can't describe how amazing that is to me and
and now that I'm uh the kickstarter is letting me do the books that I want to do and and it's amazing it's just I'm
I'm loving this and and you know it's well congratulations it's
quite a run um well we're running out of time but I I'll just get your comments quickly before we we finish off any
thoughts about what's happening with the writer strike in Hollywood right now and just generally um you know the role of
AI moving forward you know you talk about cover artwork and things like that you know there are tools that are
clearly coming to maturation very quickly that could be used um I think
you know as a as a writer myself there's some elements of like research um and
synthesis particularly from on the non-fiction side from a data perspective that where I may use AI but I still want
my voice in the writing so I'm not going to delegate that to an AI but um are you
starting to experiment with any of these tools yourself or how do you think it might might change the landscape I'm I'm
keeping my eyes on it and I'm I'm curious and and frankly I'm too busy to
spend too much time dabling with it but but I I I mean it's there are people who are
terrified of it there are artists and writers who are just absolutely terrified but it's kind of like we've
seen how technology evolves and and fills whatever niches it can so I don't
think it's realistic to just say AI is bad let's just not use it anymore because that's not going to happen um I
I I feel that all the people all the the horse buggy whip manufacturers were made
obsolete because of autocars or or even a more uh a more recent example if
you'll uh remember there used to be a a video store on every block the Blockbuster video or whatever so go and
get your VHS tapes and that just like within a year they just disappeared um
and so I feel for those people but I don't know what you can do about it what what I'm
really look there will always be like a a the genius peer prize winning person
that's got the the the only person who could ever write that poem or that lyrical novel or something is that
person that there there are some writers that that are just Geniuses um I think I
tell a pretty good story with good characters I wouldn't put myself in in genius territory but but let's go a
little bit a step further down there are writers who spend a lot of their career writing
what and I mean no disrespect but kind of like Cookie Cutter um identical
novels there are the the obvious one is kind of like the the monthly Harley Quinn romance novels or um science
fiction Adventure military science fiction that that they just the readers want a new one every other every other
day or they want one every week and and they're kind of formulaic but there are lots of people who write those books and
a living at it I think those kind of books an AI could probably do quite
adequately yeah certainly in a year or two that do especially if you train a um
a language model based on your previous books there's more than enough there to get your style and so forth that you can
use or even just just feed in and again I'm not picking on Harlequin romanes because that they're just kind of the
one that we can all grasp if you feed an AI of 500 Harley Quinn romance
paperbacks you don't think it can generate ones that most the readers won't notice the difference yeah yeah
true and I I I feel sorry for the the writers who make their living doing that
because now they're suddenly out of the job but I I don't know what else I I I
don't think it's realistic to just say this is bad we have to um stop it because it's going to be there I think
we need to learn how to um use it adapt
augment right I mean BR that's your book you know augmented I think about you real quick there's the one thing that's
very clear in listening to you or Brad just you know our friendship going back years uh there's an electricity to you
that it's it generative AI is never going to be able to pick up even if I asked it to write in your voice with a
small language model based on all of your bodies of work might be able to get to the style but it's your electricity
it's your unique you that you bring to the table and that I think is our our
our greatest defense but also our great greatest asset in augmenting with AI and that I I I know I know many writers who
are out there on the picket lines and they have some of the most some of the
cleverest signs I've ever read too because you demonstrating their unique
their unique talent and perspective of the world and and all of the emotions and life experiences good and bad that
have made them who they are to give them their that unique voice I I I I'm a hopeless Optimist as you
know Brett and I I do but I do see challenges and I do see lazy uh decision
makers out there who are going to try to to to profit on some of this stuff so we do we do I mean look you know you can
get plenty of stuff that's written today that's just chairing the handle stuff so it's not you know I mean I don't think that that's you know going to be you
know it might be better quality actually with AI but um as you say Kevin you know you've got a fan base and they come
because of of your universes you've created for them and um I think that
that's still important well and I kind of to tie back to the kickstarter what might happened is I I have to go to my
fan base and run kickstarters so that I can keep writing artisanal Kevin written
exactly that it'll be a specialty handmade thing rather than the written by a human but you know this
I even though I'm I'm 61 now but I'm still writing as fast as I can and I'm
still um doing kinds of other things um but I think that we still need to learn
and adapt and and and and I guess I'd be I know we're trying to wrap up I'd be
remiss if I didn't mention another project with with your friend Brett uh John best course we're also working on a
saga of seven suns board game ah wow and uh we've got is this an
exclusive we have not announced it anywhere before but but it's here in
that um we've already got our plan set up that we will be doing some uh sneak
previews and demos but we will be funding the board game through a Ki Kickstarter campaign because fantastic
we can get the funds we need because manufact long as I get to play as an idrian well you you might be able to or
we we'll find we'll find something for you to do but but anyway it just goes back there there are games there are
Comics there are books there are everything that that this Kickstarter has been a game Cher for how I am now
approaching my future projects and awesome hope you look at the well we we do appreciate certainly the you know the
fact you've given us your time and given us some insight into this um you know uh
I if you want to see if you want to master class on how to um you know as an author how to um you know be a working
author then there's no better ex example in my my view than than Kevin so um and
uh great work uh Kevin how do how do people follow the kickstarter stuff you mentioned kevj anderson.com but how else
can they follow your musings yeah well Kevin J anderson.com will just point to the kickstarter for the next like it
it's over on June 7th or 8th so you don't wait too long um but I've got
wordfire name of my company wordfire uh.com that that'll take you to kind of my basic stuff and I'm on Facebook just
look for official Kevin J Anderson and you'll find it and I'm on Twitter with
with the handle the wordthe and then my initials the KJ so um and of course you
we can also find not only your your books but Rebecca moa's books on.com my
wife we've written we've written 38 books together and we've been married 31
years and we're still married collabor and um anyway oh oh I guess so I I have
wordfire shop.com that's our online store if anybody wants autograph books and stuff fantastic well that's a great
way to finish and thank you very much for your time it's always a pleasure um go to the kj.com or wordfire
docomo campaign on Kevin J anderson.com for bats of the Belfy bats
in the belf fry the cases of Dan shamble zombie Pi um and uh
um that's the new that's the new project so Kevin J Anderson thank you for joining us once again on the futurist I
appreciate it great to see you we'll have to do it again in a year or absolutely yeah well let's uh let's see
if you and Brian want to come on you know for the launch of the princess of Dune because that'll be um you know I know you'll be doing a lot of press
around that time of course but if you want to get some uh coverage of that we'd be happy to host you that's it for
the futurist this week um make sure you uh you let us know what you think of of
the show if you've got other guests that you'd like us to uh invite or other topics you'd like us to cover please uh
um you know jump in and let us know through social media um and of course
you know leave us a review on iTunes or podcast or Stitcher or Google play or Spotify or whatever wherever it is that
you listen to the show um and that all helps people find the content now thanks
go my thanks go out to to Brian so Solis for joining today and of course our
guest Kevin um and to the team at provoke including Kevin hon our audio
engineer um Lisbeth Severance uh Carlo
Sylvie and the entire team at provoke that's it for the futurist this week but we will see
you in the future well that's it for the futurists
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