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Margaret Ball
conducted by Toni Weisskopf
 
September 2004

TW: How did you get started writing? Any specific influences?

MB: I've always loved reading stories and making up stories. Eventually, in the real world, I worked my way up in the conventional world to a dream job in a computer software research center where they basically paid me to think about interesting software problems, go to international conferences, and fly around the country giving talks about interesting software problems, and I found that I would still rather make up stories -- so I decided it was time to get serious about this.
TW: What are some of the best perks of being a science fiction writer?
MB: It's a License to be Weird. Once you tell normal people you're a science fiction writer, they stop worrying about why you dress funny, make beaded dolls that look like mermaids or people turning into trees, and have a cat named after a great flute player.
TW: Do you have any favorites among your characters?
MB: Tamai, the protagonist of Flameweaver and Changeweaver, is still my favorite character...always excepting the one in the book I'm working on right now.
TW: What was the first sf story you ever read?
MB: Oh, have a heart. I spent August of 1959 reading my way through a neighbor's kid's garage full of all the sf magazines published up to 1954. Who can remember? The first story I remember by name as making a lasting impression, though, was Arthur C. Clarke's "The Nine Billion Names of God."
TW: Who are some of your favorite non-sf authors?
MB: Diana Norman, Margaret Drabble, A.S. Byatt, Mary Renault, C.S. Forester, Elizabeth Peters, Nevil Shute.
TW: Are you a morning writer, an evening writer or a catch-as-catch-can writer?
MB: Morning if at all possible, afternoon in a time crunch, evenings only if I've been seriously lying about how close to finished the current manuscript is.
TW: Who would you like to see play your series hero (if app.) in a movie?
MB:Sorry--give me a pass on this one. I don't watch enough movies to come up with actors' names easily.
TW: What invention or scientific leap in understanding would you most like to see made in your lifetime?
MB: I'd like to get hold of a truly alien language to dissect so that we can figure out what, if any, are the true common factors of human language.
TW: If you could go back to one incident in all of history to watch as a spectator what would it be?
MB: Only one? Aieeee. Maybe the looting of Byzantium by the Fourth Crusade.

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