Our exclusive interview with author Frej Wasastjerna, author of 'Borkin the Archer"
- When did you complete your first piece of writing? What was it? How was that process?It was sometime between 1956 and 1963. I was in my teens at that time. The story was written in Swedish and its title was En rutinartad spaningsflygning, which translates into English as A Routine Reconnaissance Flight. This title was ironic, since the pilot of the flight in question wound up dead.The story was set in what I call IU1, for Imaginary Universe #1. I had started developing this universe when I was 7, and eventually it became so cluttered with impossibilities and absurdities that I dropped it (not entirely, I still may think about design details in it, but I don't write about it.)IU1 was followed by IU2, which I started developing sometime around 1960. It's the setting of my Iagyh War stories, the first of which, Till Death Do Us Part, I wrote in the late 1970s. A much improved version of this story, along with several other stories, is available at https://kotisivukone.fi/app/www/frejwasastjerna.kotisivukone.com/7Soon IU3 came along, and that's where I've put all my novels. IU3 isn't really a single universe, it's several universes, each with it's own laws of nature, so magic can work or not as I please. There is a cosmology tying them together (based on an idea I had about 1965), but I haven't really described this.
- What is your favourite genre to write? Why?Fantasy.Actually my first love was science fiction. I encountered it at the age of 7. It's also an important part of my output (see for instance the Iagyh War series mentioned above). But there are two problems with science fiction:1) I know too much about science, so I want to explain everything.2) Fantasy generally ages better than science fiction. SF often tries to keep some connection with reality, and as our knowledge about reality improves, SF is susceptible to becoming outdated. Fantasy, with no pretensions to realism, is immune to that problem.So what I write is mostly either fantasy or SF, but sometimes it may be hard to classify. For instance my recent novel Borkin the Archer doesn't look much like SF, since there's no technology in it more advanced than fore-and-aft rigged sailing ships and primitive gunpowder weapons. On the other hand, there's no magic at all. So I call it SF on the strength of the IU3 cosmology in the background providing the reason why there are people on the planet in question.I also sometimes write other stuff. For instance, one story of which I recently wrote a first draft, is almost pure historical fiction.
- Do you model characters after real people?Most often not. I may use myself as a starting point, at least so that I have the characters acting in ways that make sense to me, but I make whatever changes the story requires. For instance, while the unnamed protagonist in my story Leonids is otherwise rather like me, he's much less acrophobic. I lack the courage of the eponymous protagonist in my novel Tochwyatis. And I'm not a man-eating female troll like in Lead Me On...Occasionally I do model characters after real people. The most extreme example occurs in one of my Iagyh War stories, where there is one character whom I modeled as closely as I could on a real person I know. But the motives I attributed to her are nonetheless speculation.
- What does your editing process look like? Do you allow others to read your writing?I do most of my editing myself. Sometimes I do allow others to read my writing, for instance at the critique group Critters. But I do that less often than I should. See the next question.
- Do you take criticism hard or do you have a thick skin?I really ought to have a thicker skin. But I do sometimes submit my stories to critiques, and I have found that useful though unpleasant.
- Have you ever received criticisms that you felt were unjustified or too harsh?Sometimes, not all that often.So far I've seen 4 public critiques of my work: 3 of Tochwyatis, 1 of Mixed Nuggets. All 3 critiques of Tochwyatis make sense, both the two favorable ones and the rather unfavorable one. But the critique of Mixed Nuggets does not make sense in my view.
- Are you your worst critic?Not where writing is concerned, though I do admit that there are flaws in at least some of the stuff I've written. I just couldn't avoid them.