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Walter Jon Williams

answers the Usual Questions

I'm Walter Jon Williams, and I'm the author of thirty volumes of fiction, in addition to works in film, television, comics, and the gaming field. I've won awards, I've appeared on the bestseller lists of the Times and the New York Times, and I'm a world traveler, scuba diver, and a black belt in Kenpo Karate. (author's web site)

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

I've always been concerned with what my fans think of my work, because after all I'm writing it for them.

photo, Walter Jon Williams, courtesy of the author; 220x238

Walter Jon Williams

What I find particularly exciting are the occasions when readers tell me how my work has touched their lives, whether it's inspired them to become writers themselves, or (in one case) inspired them to tattoo a quote from my work on their body.

All that said, the fans can't affect my work directly, because by the time they see it, I've finished and the work is in print, and I've moved on to other things.

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


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

There are so many! I've had a lifetime of reading. Among those writers who have inspired me over the years are Zelazny, Nabokov, Heinlein, Calvino, Conrad, Delany, Twain, Leguin, Poe, Tolkien, Eddison, Russ . . . and now I'm sure I've left out some names, and I feel as if I should apologize.

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

On the one hand, I want to be practical, and say that I'd like to be trapped with someone who can either fix elevators or fly spaceships.

If my eventual rescue is assured, I think I'd like to hang with Isabella del' Este, because she knew everybody in what was a fascinating period. Or Servilia, for the same reason.

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

From a long list of fanatics and bores I'd choose James McNeill Whistler, because he wouldn't stop talking about himself.

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

This would depend strongly on how long I'm going to be in space. I'd certainly bring an iPad packed with books, films, and music. Ultimately, I'd like to bring my cat.

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

Immortality! What else do authors want?

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

Completion. Once I've actually finished something I have a wonderful, glowing sense of achievement. Plus, completion means I can get on to the next project that I've been thinking about for all the month I've been working on something else.

submitted by Walter Jon Williams

6 September 2014

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: I was born in Minnesota, which is beautiful and friendly and very, very cold in the winter. When I visit, I always come in the summertime.
Resides: New Mexico, a little piece of the Third World stuck in the southwestern U.S.
I've written a book called Days of Atonement set in New Mexico, and it's lucky I'm a science fiction writer, because I had to treat New Mexico as I would an alien planet.
See the author's web site

Web site:
I'm also seen on Facebook now and again.


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