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Tim Powers

answers the Usual Questions

In an interview, Tim Powers said of wanting to be an author, "I guess just 'cause I got such a kick out of reading books, I thought the greatest thing a person could be was one of the people who makes this thing."

At thirteen he got his first rejection slip, he say, "I was very pleased to have a real rejection slip. I thought look at that! Just like Hemingway! I'm one of the boys! I think I've still got that rejection slip." (from his web site)

photograph, Tim Powers, courtesy of the author

Tim Powers

Author Michael Pryor credits three people with the invention of contemporary steampunk: K. W. Jeter, Tim Powers, and James P. Blaylock.

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

I don't think so, really. On the other hand, my reading certainly has affected it, and lots of times I get great book recommendations from fans -- so -- maybe so! And it now occurs to me that my readers sometimes send me weirdly interesting articles, and I've often used those. So -- interaction with fans, yes, but not necessarily at conventions!

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

It's not exactly what you mean, but I was at a panel at a convention once when Gene Wolfe was asked what a writer should do when meeting a deadline will mean rushing the ending of the book -- Wolfe said, To hell with the deadline, take the time to write the book properly and don't turn it in until it's as good as you can make it. I made a strong mental note of that!

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

Oh yeah, heaps of them! In fact I probably re-read favorite books, and re-watch favorite movies, more often than I catch ones I haven't read or seen before. I constantly re-read Fritz Leiber and John D. MacDonald and Lovecraft and Raymond Chandler and Kingsley Amis (and Dick Francis and Heinlein and Philip K. Dick), and it often happens when I'm writing that I'll think, "You're doing Lovecraft here, Powers," or Leiber or etc. With movies I think mainly of Fellini's Satyricon and Lester's two Three Musketeers movies -- both (or all three) of those impressed the daylights out of me when I first saw them -- it was like, "I didn't know you could get those effects in a story!" -- and I've watched them lots of times.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

H. P. Lovecraft. He knew everything, from physics to poetry to history to architecture, so he'd be fascinating to listen to, and he had a good sense of humor, and it'd be fun to try to logically argue him out of his atheism.

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

Jack Kerouac. He'd be drunk all the time and trying to start fights.

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

I guess it'd be cheating to bring a Kindle loaded with books -- so I guess I'd bring Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, because it's infinitely long, and every page has statements that are nonsense but entirely convincing until you turn the page.

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

I'd like my books to stay in print until my wife and I are safely dead.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

It's great to know that people I'll never meet, in states and countries I'll never visit, have vicariously experienced events I made up. And it's nice, too, that in a book you write you can appear to be much smarter than you actually are.

submitted by Tim Powers

20 July 2014

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Just the facts:
Born: Buffalo, New York, on Leap Year Day of 1952
Resides: San Benardino, California
Thirteen novels (the fourteenth just now finished) and two collections of short stories -- which altogether have got three World Fantasy Awards, two Philip K. Dick Awards, and three Locus Awards.

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