SpecFic Spotlight: A. J. Ponder

SpecFic Spotlight: A. J. Ponder

I knew I wanted to write from a very early age, and when you’re small, everything is speculative fiction. Spaceships belong on the front lawn, monsters hide beneath the bed and lurk under the water, and most adults have magic powers and should be viewed with caution. Even now, when I read stories without an element of speculative fiction, it’s as if something is missing. Some extra spark that pulls a nice story into a must read.

My most recent book, Miss Lionheart and the Laboratory of Death, follows Lilly, a super-bright biology student. She’s bundled into a super-secret underground bunker and forced to create awesomely dangerous creatures for a nefarious organisation. I started writing it just for fun. Diving straight in without planning so much as a word – not at all sure where it would go. I had my unreliable narrator (it was originally in first person) and she took me on a wild ride through treachery and out the other side.

It was so much fun to write. I spent late nights on the computer. All the better to turn off the inner editor that’d been nagging me since completing Wizard’s Guide to Wellington. Of course inner editors are great in the right time and place. But early on in the writing process, hanging and quartering is too good for them as they trip over every mistype and spelling error. I find another good way to turn off the inner editor is to use pen and paper, distracting my internal editor with doodles. Others write in cafes and on the bus, and while I’ve done both on occasion, they ruin my routine. But I guess, it all comes down to what works for you.cover-L-Thrice-Shy

I blame my fixation on writing on all the amazing books my parents read me, and all the awesome authors whose books I devoured (as soon as I got the hang of the whole reading thing). Early on, my favourite authors were AA Milne (mostly for the poetry) and E.B White of Charlotte’s Web and Trumpet of the Swan. Later Tolkien reigned supreme, closely followed by Andre Norton and Ursula Le Guin. I loved the epic scope of their worlds, and I still do. But now Frances Hardinge and Ursula K. Le Guin are favourites, because their use and control of language is astounding. As this is the SpecFicNZ I should mention there are many great New Zealand SpecFic authors; Juliet Marillier, Glynne Maclean, Lyn McConchie, Peter Friend, Helen Lowe, Tim Jones…to name a few. Most recently I read fellow Sir Julius Vogel Award winner, Paul Mannering whose quirky and original Engines of Empathy was top notch.

And finally, my number one writing tip is – write for fun. You’ll almost certainly never be famous, or make lots of money, but if you write something you enjoy, then it’s time well spent. Even better, it’s more likely to be something others want to read.

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