Answer: Hollywood is good at adapting a novel that, at its heart, has a short story that's been expanded upon. They sheer away all but the essential core of the story, and it still has narrative cohesion in that pared-down version. Most of my books don't dissect that easily, which frustrates them. The genre-bridging nature of the stories also baffles some people. I've often heard: "This is a suspense/love story/science fiction/comic novel. How in the hell are we supposed to market that?!?" I've tried writing the script only to see a director turn it on its head. When I got to choose the writer and approve the director, as in the case of Intensity, the result was better than usual. But no approach has been terribly successful, so recently I've told my agents only to bring a deal to me if it involves filmmakers whose work I respect and who have proven that they have taste. This reduces the opportunities drastically — but maybe it raises the possibility of success.
Question: I am a big fan of your literature. What inspired you to write about the ocean, sunsets, the West Coast, the California seashores, etc.? Did you live in the Northwest at one time? Margaret, Lynnwood, Wash.
Answer: I've always loved writing that conveys a strong sense of place, which requires capturing nature on the page. Because I live in southern California and am familiar with the Southwest, I tend to set my books there. I do so much research for other aspects of each story that I take some pressure off myself by setting them in places that I know well.
Question: How early in your life did you know you wanted to become a writer and who were your heroes as a child or young adult? Nancy, Price, Texas
Answer: I was writing stories when I was eight years old, but I didn't realize that I might be able to have a career as a writer until I was a senior in college. When I was a kid, my heroes were writers whose work took me out of the poverty and violence in which I lived and transported me to other places: Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, all the great science fiction writers who virtually invented the genre in the 1930s and 1940s.
Question: Do you enjoy your craft as much now as in the beginning? Patricia, Austin, Texas
Answer: I enjoy it more now than ever before. The older I get, the higher I set the bar with each book, trying to do things I've never done previously and that I might not be able to pull off. The risk keeps me interested. And my love of the language only grows year by year. As far as my writing goes, this is the happiest time of my life.
Question: I have completely enjoyed your books, the diverse subjects you have touched on. Considering the intensity, the intricate details of the complex subjects — how much rewriting do you do before finally getting to the finished product? Annette
Answer: I write one page at a time, revising and polishing it until I can't make it better. That can mean 20, 30, or even more drafts. Then I move on to the next page. Slowly, I work my way through the book. At the end of each chapter, I do a printout, which I pencil because I see possibilities for improvements on the printed page that I am not able to see on the screen. After three or four pencilings, I move on to the next chapter. When I reach the end of the novel, it is done-except for whatever editorial notes inspire me to make changes. Those usually take a couple of days.