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David Drake
conducted by Toni Weisskopf
October 2003

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

DD: My 11th grade English teacher wrote professionally under the name Brad Steiger (he's since taken that as his legal name). He was a wonderful and charismatic teacher. While he didn't urge us to write, his example proved it was possible.

TW: What are some of the best perks of being a science fiction writer?

DD: Honestly, the best thing about being an SF writer is the people--some of the people--who've been attracted to me by my writing and whom I wouldn't have otherwise met.

TW: Do you have any favorites among your characters?

DD: Hmm. This is going to sound weird, but I have great respect and affection for Dog Squat, the commander of War Balloon Prima in my Magic: The Gathering farce "Airborne All the Way. She's in over her head and doing the best she can with her own very modest resources. A slightly different question would be which of my characters do I most identify with? To which I'd say probably Adele Mundy in the RCN (Lieutenant Leary) series and Ilna in my Isles fantasies (Lord of the Isles). I find it interesting that all the characters I've mentioned are female. Darned if I know what it means, but it's interesting.

TW: What was the first sf story you ever read?

DD: The first real SF I read was a YA novel (at age 10), The Angry Planet by British author John Kier Cross. If you mean literally "story, I think it might be HP Lovecraft's The Colour Out of Space, which is SF even though I read it in a collection of scary stories (which it certainly is also).

TW: Who are some of your favorite non-sf authors?

DD: My favorite non-SF authors would include Rudyard Kipling, Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso), and Dashiell Hammett. If I were to pick a favorite novel, it would as likely as not be Hammett's The Glass Key.

TW: Who would you like to see play your series hero (if app.) in a movie?

DD: As for an actor to play Daniel Leary today... you know, Johnny Depp would have to play younger, but I think he could do it. Orlando Bloom would be an obvious choice, though he doesn't have quite the flamboyance, the pure boyishness I see in Daniel. It's a pity that Tom Cruise is too old for the character I've written.

TW: What invention or scientific leap in understanding would you most like to see made in your lifetime?

DD: I would like to have practical FTL transport. I want people to be able to get off this Earth and go somewhere that humans can live. Heck, if I've been declared God, I want matter transmission.

TW: If you could go back to one incident in all of history to watch as a spectator what would it be?

DD: If I had one incident in history to watch, I guess I'd pick the Battle of Marathon. It was a compressed enough event that somebody could watch the whole thing with a pair of binoculars from the high ground behind the cove. You can make an argument for Western history as we know it beginning there, and the Athenian victory wasn't the smart money bet that day. For more information, I'm at david-drake.com, with lots more comments and opinions (and a form to ask me questions.)