Ken Lizzi is an attorney and the author of Reunion (Twilight Times Books, 2014), Under Strange Suns (Twilight Times Books, 2015), and as an assortment of short stories. When not traveling – and he’d rather be traveling – he lives in Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife Isa (who he somehow enticed away from Mexico) and their daughter Victoria Valentina. He enjoys reading, homebrewing, and visiting new places. He loathes writing about himself in the third person.
Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about Under Strange Suns, and what compelled you to write it.
Ken Lizzi: You can blame this one on Edgar Rice Burroughs and his A Princess of Mars, the first of the John Carter stories. But while ERB’s readers in 1912 could accept a character falling asleep in Arizona and waking up on Mars, that wouldn’t pass muster with today’s readers. So when I decided to dip my toe into the Sword-and-Planet genre, I knew that getting my characters to another world would require a bit more heavy lifting on my part. The resulting novel, Under Strange Suns, works the mechanism of space travel into the narrative itself, driving the plot (in addition to driving the characters to their destination.)
M.C.: What is your book about?
K.L.: “Under Strange Suns” is the story of a burned-out, former Special Forces soldier hired to search for the lost inventor of the Faster-than-Light spaceship drive. Along the way he searches for a renewed sense of purpose.
M.C.: What themes do you explore in Under Strange Suns?
K.L.: The individual matched against the group, totalitarianism versus freedom, fanatacism versus doubt.
M.C.: Why do you write?
K.L.: I enjoy piecing together stories. It’s like both creating and solving a puzzle. Each aspect is satisfying.
M.C.: When do you feel the most creative?
K.L.: Whenever I sit down and focus. I can’t afford to wait for inspiration to strike.
M.C.: How picky are you with language?
K.L.: Writing with a sense of style and creating a voice requires a writer to occasionally eschew received grammatical wisdom. To answer the question: I believe I’m at least moderately picky, but my editors would espouse a different opinion.
M.C.: What is your worst time as a writer?
K.L.: Waiting for a response from a publisher to a submission.
M.C.: Your best?
K.L.: Seeing something of mine on the shelf in a bookstore.
M.C.: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
K.L.: Look, I write fantasy and science fiction. I can imagine all sorts of scenarios that would permanently cap my career. But I’ve no intention of giving up.
M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
K.L.: My wife and daughter attending my first book signing.
M.C.: Is writing an obsession to you?
K.L.: I maintain a pretty even keel. I enjoy a number of things, but I try to avoid obsession. It’s unbalancing.
M.C.: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
K.L.: I’m sure there is a small piece of me in even my most off-the-wall story. But I seldom consciously write autobiographically.
M.C.: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
K.L.: Mr. Bradbury was a wise man. And reality can be a mean S.O.B. Also, well, there’s the “drunk” aspect. So, I’ll take his suggestion under advisement.