Writing an award-winning book is not an easy feat. It takes consistency, skill, and talent. This week, we are happy to release our interview with Blain C. Readler, the winner of the 2020
San Diego Book Award for Magical Fiction.
Blaine C. Readler shared his insights and experience writing award-winning magical fiction with the San Diego Book Awards Association.
Inspired by Unusual Perspectives
SDBAA: What inspired you to write this award-winning magical fiction book?
Readler: I believe that one great advantage that science fiction has over other genres is the
opportunity to view the world from unusual perspectives, be it in time (e.g., the future), location (the moon, the Mariana Trench seven miles under the Pacific), or social situation (a world ruled by religious oligarchs, a world ruled by anti-religious rational secularists). I thought about unexpected perspectives and came up with a ferret.
Start with an Unexpected Situation
SDBAA: For the aspiring author yearning to write excellent magical fiction or science fiction,
can you share your writing process?
Readler: I used to lay out an entire plot, and never once have I ever finished a book according
to that plot.
So now I start with a situation—a colony stranded on the moon, an alien who takes over the body of a brain-dead cousin, a paleolithic youth kidnapped by enigmatic aliens—I pull a variety of nearly random characters out of a hat, drop them into the situation, and let them go at it.
That said, I do plot ahead as I go along. Every time I sit down at the keyboard, I know where the story is going, at least through the current chapter.
Build a Taboo
SDBAA: What was the hardest part of writing Earth Log, and how did you overcome it?
Readler: For Earth Log, the difficulty was keeping the balance of presenting a ferret that has
human-like intelligence but still looks like a relatively normal animal to other (human)
characters. I addressed this by building in a hard-wired taboo about allowing his intelligence to
be seen by others. As it happened, that taboo then evolved into the foundation for the climactic
ending—another example of how the plot developed as the novel was written, just as the plots of our lives develop as we live.
Get Your Writing Juice Flowing
SDBAA: One of the biggest challenges for aspiring authors is to finish writing their first draft.
What do you do to stay productive and focused?
Readler: The first thing I do when I sit down is re-read what I wrote in the previous session.
This gives me the chance to correct things, condense things (more important than anything), and make it flow better. By the time I’ve caught up, the writing juice is flowing, and the sentences follow nearly effortlessly.
Hemmingway once said that he always ends a writing session leaving the last sentence in his
head. That way, he starts the next session with a first sentence.
Write an Original Story
SDBAA: What is the best advice you can give fellow current and aspiring authors about writing an excellent science fiction or magical fiction book?
Readler: First, write your own story, not variations of other books that are popular. I actually
hesitate to give that advice, since that approach might actually get you published…the first
Second, and probably more important, hire a professional editor, one who will show you why the corrections are made. Watch closely what the editor does.
Blain C. Readler is a prolific and recognized author of novels and short stories. We hope his
insights have sparked some ideas on how you can unleash your writing excellence.
About Blaine C. Readler
Blaine C. Readler is an electronics engineer, inventor (FakeTV), and, of course, a writer.
Blaine is the author of fifteen novels and a collection of short stories. His tales straddle the intersection between thriller and science fiction in the mode of the late Michael Crichton (but with humor). He has a degree in engineering and applies his knowledge of science and mathematics to lend a credible foundation to his stories.
His books have won numerous book awards, including four San Diego Book Awards. He lives in San Diego, the lower-left corner of the country, so to speak.
About Earth Log
One morning a pet ferret awakens as a self-aware sentient being. He has no memory of what came before, and quickly bumps up against built-in restraints, such as an inability to harm people, or to sleep during the day as other ferrets would do, and, most peculiarly, he is compelled each evening to review the day’s events. Perhaps the strongest inherent taboo, however, is to do anything that would reveal his abnormal intelligence, and against this he struggles as he finds trouble, and trouble finds him and his faithful owner, Joanne.
About the San Diego Book Awards Association
The San Diego Book Awards Association supports and recognizes published and unpublished authors with our annual competition.
Join the 2021 San Diego Book Awards!
The submissions window for the 2021 San Diego Book Awards competition is from 10/1/20 to 12/31/20. For more information, please visit our submissions page.
If you are interested in participating as a judge, please visit our judging page.