Episode 130 – Writing Through Change, Tragedy, & Trauma with Kevin J. Anderson

In this episode Mark interviews author Kevin J. Anderson about dictating his first drafts, about adapting to change in the publishing industry and about writing through personal tragedy, grief, and trauma.

Kevin & Mark at Superstars Writing Seminars 2020 – Photo: Katie Curtis

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a personal update and goes into detail about the challenges he has faced with not being able to focus or write in the past several weeks, falling behind in several writing deadlines.

But he talks about how he has continued to be creative, and that creators will always create. He shares a writing warm-up practice he has started again – writing parody lyrics to songs and poetry.

He then shares the experience of doing that recently and collaborating with Liz, the opening and closing voice of the podcast, and his fiance.

Still shots from the parody video

He shares the music video they created on Easter Sunday and how working on that project has reinvigorated his own creative spirit and energy; particularly as a reminder for the fact that the world needs writers, and the smiles this parody song and video have inspired is an example of why writers do what they do.

Mark then shares the audio for the song as well as the fact he will be teaching an online class on April 22nd about making money and engaging with readings via a series from Jane Friedman.

After the song, Mark shares listener comments from recent episodes and then offers a word from this episode’s sponsor, Findaway Voices and a recent Nook Audiobooks promotion that Mark got into through them.

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at

In their conversation, Mark and Kevin talk about:

  • Finally getting around to this interview, as it’s something they’ve been meaning to do for years, and are finally getting to
  • How Kevin has always been a dictator when it comes to his writing, dictating while taking long walks or hikes in the Colorado mountains
  • The fact that Kevin can still do his regular writing during these self-isolation times the same way he always has
  • The importance of trying dictation for more than just a short time, or once or twice, paralleling it to the way writers have learned typing and keyboarding skills
  • Tips for getting started in dictation, such as using dictation for a brainstorming session
  • Keeping so many different book projects that are in different stages (as a hybrid author with multiple traditional and indie-publishing projects on the go)
  • How Kevin’s first published novel has much of the RUSH album “Grade Under Pressure” woven into it, and how that book is what ultimately connected Kevin to RUSH drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart
  • The thirty-plus year relationship that Kevin had with Neil Peart and the co-authoring they have done together
  • How the recent Drumbeats project of Kevin and Neil’s first collaboration is being re-released in a special limited edition print run
  • Managing writing through times of loss, grief, stress and anxiety
  • How the new Dune film, and the paperback release of one of Kevin’s traditionally published books are being affected and delayed by Covid-19
  • The masters in publishing program that Kevin is teaching for Western Colorado University and the publishing projects that the students are working on for that
  • How Superstars Writing Seminars originated with Kevin, his wife Rebecca Moesta, Brandon Sanderson, David Farland, and Eric Flint getting together to figure out the changes in the publishing industry about twelve years ago
  • And more . . .

After the interview, Mark reflects on how he and Kevin had kept putting off doing this interview for years, and the parallel to how Kevin and Neil had always put the Drumbeats special edition project on the back burner.

He talks about other projects and things he’d continued to put off, and what thinking about that inspires.

Mark then shares an opportunity for listeners to win one of two copies of Kevin’s book.

A book for writers (On Being a Dictator) . . .

. . . and the special limited edition book (Drumbeats).

Commenters on this episode (as explained by Mark) and Patrons will be entered in a draw for the prizes which will be done after midnight Eastern time on Friday May 1, 2020.

Links of Interest:

Kevin J. Anderson has published more than 165 books, 56 of which have been national or international bestsellers.

He has written numerous novels in the Star Wars, X-Files, and Dune universes, as well as unique steampunk fantasy novels Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives, written with legendary rock drummer Neil Peart, based on the concept album by the band Rush.

Kevin’s original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series, the Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy, the Saga of Shadows trilogy, and his humorous horror series featuring Dan Shamble, Zombie PI. He has edited numerous anthologies, written comics and games, and the lyrics to two rock CDs. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta are the publishers of WordFire Press. His most recent novels are Stake, Kill Zone, and Spine of the Dragon.

The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

3 thoughts on “Episode 130 – Writing Through Change, Tragedy, & Trauma with Kevin J. Anderson”

  1. Great video with you and your wife Mark. I liked it a lot. Gave me a hint of Weird Al.

    Yet another great interview. Kevin is one of the super stars in the author business. You don’t hear his name with James Patterson level recognition but pretty much anyone who is a nerd and read star wars books or the expanded Dune books knows his name and likes his work.

    His proliforation is easily understandable from his dictating. He has done it so long that I am betting his first drafts are like my 15th drafts (If I ever get that far on my book.) I feel that given practice anything will get quicker when it comes to drafting. I also feel like you can still learn something from his path even though he is a “superstar”.

    Also best name for a book ever: “How to be a dictator” It is good that he put the recorder on the cover, otherwise the CIA would be talking to him….hmm…probably to get tips on how to be a dictator. 🙂

  2. Timely episode that covers the gamut from dealing with grief through humor (love the video!) to dealing with grief through art–thank you, Mark!

  3. As an addendum to my earlier comment, a goal that I had always thought would be years in the offing but that I’m seizing the opportunity to pursue now is narrating an audiobook! : )

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