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Peter Morwood
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Peter Morwood   Peter Morwood is a New York Times bestselling author and screenwriter who often collaborates with his wife, Diane Duane. His best-known works include the Horse Lords series and the Tales of Old Russia series, though he has also written some Star Trek novels. He lives in Ireland with his wife.

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This episode originally aired on 12/17/2009 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Peter Morwood

 
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This interview is with Peter Morwood and his wife, Diane Duane

Matthew Peterson: Hey guys, youíre listening to The Author Hour: Your Guide to Fantastic Fiction, which can be found at www.TheAuthorHour.com. Iím your host Matthew Peterson, author of Paraworld Zero. This next interview was done a little while ago at the North American Discworld Convention with Diane Duane and her husband Peter Morwood. These two New York Times bestselling authors have written over 50 books, including ones in the Star Trek, Tom Clancy's Net Force, Spider-Man, and X-Men universes. Diane is most famous for her Young Wizards series, which includes So You Want to Be a Wizard. Sheís been nominated twice for the World Science Fiction Society's John W. Campbell Award, and sheís received numerous awards from the American Library Association and the New York Public Library. Peterís most famous for his Horse Lords series and the Tales of Old Russia series. Theyíve both collaborated on screenplays and various books. So letís just jump right into the interview.

And you have The Horse Lord books. Both of you have done some Star Trek.

Peter Morwood: Yeah, yeah, we wrote one Star Trek book together on our Honeymoon. Not because we couldnít think of anything better to do, but because at the time Diane was also working on an animated series where the financing had come through late, but the production company still wanted the same number of episodes in half the time. So she ended up having to split her time between writing the Star Trek book and doing the work for the animation company. See, we had given each other literary agencies as wedding presents.

Matthew Peterson: As wedding . . . ?

Peter Morwood: My London agency needed a new U.S. contact, and Dianeís New York agency wanted a U.K. contact. So boom!

Matthew Peterson: There you go.

Peter Morwood: So I get a phone call from my new New York agent, saying essentially, if youíre not doing anything vital, rent a computer and help your new wife for heaven sakes.

Diane Duane: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Peter Morwood: So we ended up writing the Romulan Way chapter in about in 16 days.

Diane Duane: Yeah.

Peter Morwood: I donít recommend that to anyone. But since it then went on to the New York Times bestseller list, we were plainly doing something right!

Diane Duane: Itís not like there werenít other things we could be doing. Yeah. [remember they were on their honeymoon]

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Peter Morwood: The interesting part was in the early day in particular, it turns out that I was able to ace her style, which was slightly embarrassing for her. Itís changed since.

Diane Duane: Well, no, in Star Trek itís easy for you to do that.

Peter Morwood: Yeah, I suppose.

Diane Duane: In other prose, not so much. And youíve got your own style to worry about.

Peter Morwood: Oh, yeah, yeah, and you canít ace mine.

Diane Duane: No, thatís true, I donít have . . . .

Peter Morwood: Even though she has been in a trained nurse and has seen probably more mess than I have ever written about.

Diane Duane: Oh, no question.

Peter Morwood: But . . .

Diane Duane: But . . . you know.

Matthew Peterson: I want to make sure I get your name pronounced correctly too, itís Diane Duane?

Diane Duane: Duane, yeah.

Peter Morwood: Yeah, but back home in Ireland the pronunciation is ďDwahnĒ.

Diane Duane: It would be ďDwahnĒ, but we have been mispronouncing it for a long time.

Matthew Peterson: ďDwahnĒ okay. I was thinking, is it ďDwahnĒ or Duane? Okay.

Diane Duane: Yeah, yeah.

Peter Morwood: And the funny part is it turned out we were at a science fiction convention, sorry, a Star Trek convention in Florida about nine years ago, and it turns out that Diane could even be distantly related to James Doohan who played Scottie.

Matthew Peterson: Scottie. [laughs]

Peter Morwood: Yeah, because his family moved to Canada from Ireland and you can hear, you know, Doohan, Dwahn, Duane. The pronunciation is more or less similar and when you reduce it to the Irish spelling, which I do not speak Irish, so donít ask, but when you reduce it donít to the Irish spelling of all the extra letters, there is a serious similarity. So who knows!

Diane Duane: Yeah. Theyíre very close.

Matthew Peterson: Do you make it to the United States very often or do you spend . . .?

Diane Duane: Couple times a year as a rule for business of one kind or another.

Matthew Peterson: Okay.

Diane Duane: We like to get in to see our literary agent when we can and coming to see our screen agent in L.A. when we can. The last couple years have been a little busier than usual, so we havenít been able to make it back as often as we like, but this year, a bit more often.

Matthew Peterson: Now, I know both of you have worked with film and with books as well. Which one do you like working better with? [laughs]

Peter Morwood: Hmm. Well, film pays better, but books annoy you less, because youíre not involved with the producer, executive producer, and assistant producer... a director, oooh, worst of all.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Diane Duane: Yeah.

Peter Morwood: And all the other people who have to chip in to prove that theyíve done their work for the day.

Diane Duane: Yeah.

Peter Morwood: Although, increasingly itís becoming the case that the book end is also interfered with more than it used to.

Diane Duane: Youíre part of a committee, whether youíre writing a book or a film, youíre still part of a committee. What changes somewhat is the size of the committee and you have a little bit more autonomy at the book end. But as Peter says, the flip side of it is that a film, for the work you put in on it, will bring you a great deal more money, as a rule, than the equivalent amount of time spent on a book would do.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Diane Duane: So it balances out. Usually which ever one Iím doing at the moment, I want to be doing the other one.

Peter Morwood: [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah, ďIím tired of this.Ē

Peter Morwood: Also the funny part is that writing a book, you donít have to have one eye on the budget.

Diane Duane: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: Mmm.

Peter Morwood: I can describe stuff in a science fiction novel that would eat the entire budget of any movie you care to name and then you have to factor in the cost of the stars.

Matthew Peterson: I heard thatís one reason why the Dresden Files, they stopped it, because it was just so expensive.

Peter Morwood: Mm hmm.

Diane Duane: It wouldnít surprise me.

Peter Morwood: Yeah. The same thingís probably happening with that HBO historical series, Rome.

Matthew Peterson: Oh.

Peter Morwood: It was starting to become very expensive for the returns they were getting. So they stopped.

Matthew Peterson: Now, Diane, would you like to see your wizard series as a film?

Diane Duane: Oh, yeah. Itís gonna happen.

Matthew Peterson: It is going to happen? Okay.

Diane Duane: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: Any time frames?

Diane Duane: Uh . . . .I canít discuss it.

Matthew Peterson: Nothing you can discuss.

Diane Duane: We havenít nailed it down as yet. Weíre in the very early stages of discussing it with quite a large production entity in Hollywood.

Matthew Peterson: Well, Iím a big audio book fan. So I listen to audio books and I listened to your [books]. The first few in the series, and I really enjoyed them.

Diane Duane: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: What was the first year of the first one: So You Want to Be a Wizard?

Diane Duane: So You Want to Be a Wizard came out in 1983, I think it was?

Peter Morwood: I think it was Ď83.

Diane Duane: J.K. Rowling was just going to college.

Matthew Peterson: Itís about time.

Diane Duane: Yes.

Peter Morwood: [laughs]

Diane Duane: Well, these things will keep. The good ones will keep. If there was some big fad thing going on and the books had suddenly become huge, then you start to worry, when they try to rush you into production.

Peter Morwood: Yeah. Theyíre up to something. Theyíre trying to milk some cash cow.

Diane Duane: Well, in particular, they want to milk it before it goes away. In the case of these books, theyíve been around for a good while. And . . .

Matthew Peterson: And many of them have been on the New York Times best-selling list.

Diane Duane: Uh, well no, not the fantasies. The Star Trek, yes.

Matthew Peterson: Not those ones, but the Star Trek ones, yeah.

Diane Duane: Trek has been there.

Peter Morwood: Yeah. Thereís a great satisfaction in knowing that both of us have been on the NYT list with a Star Trek book before it started to happen automatically because of those two words at the top of the title page.

Matthew Peterson: Star Trek. Yeah.

Peter Morwood: Yeah. Itís going to be nice to get there on my own recognizance, and Diane thinks the same, Iím sure.

Diane Duane: Oh yeah.

Peter Morwood: But, you know, that hasnít happened yet, but it will.

Matthew Peterson: Now, Peter, do you have anything in the works?

Peter Morwood: Oh, boy, do I.

Matthew Peterson: Book wise. Iím sorry, book wise.

Peter Morwood: Book wise, yes I do. Right at the minute Iím working hardest on a historical based fantasy called Bloodís Ruby--at least thatís the working title. Basically itís set in the historical Europe and Caribbean of the 1670's. But one over, where magic works. But Iím trying to maintain all the other historical research that Iíve done because the restoration period is just so filled with weird and wonderful characters that if they didnít exist I would have had to make them up anyway. Everyone thinks of Charles II as the merry monarch, with a string of mistresses and debts as long as his arm. He was also a very crafty politician, considerably skilled actor because he had to keep his head on his shoulders during the time the entire Parliamentary Army was hunting after him. Disguised himself as a servant and ended up hearing his own description recited to the man he was pretending to be a servant of in the presence the round head soldiers and it was accurate to the height, almost, but the soldiers said, ďThe king is very like your servant here, but he is two inches taller.Ē I could just visualize Charles leaving the room, walking slightly hunched.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Diane Duane: Yes. Really.

Peter Morwood: [laughs] But the Blood of title is not Captain Blood. Thatís the fictional character played by Eril Flynn from the Aphrodite book. This is Colonel Blood, the real historical character who is the only person to have ever stolen the crown jewels.

Matthew Peterson: And youíre in the process of writing this right now?

Peter Morwood: I am, yes.

Matthew Peterson: Okay.

Peter Morwood: And doing the research, or more correctly, doing research and then Diane hits me with a hammer to make me stop do research and get on with writing the book.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] Start writing.

Diane Duane: Google is his friend, but you know, you can be too friendly.

Matthew Peterson: Oh. Google, yes I know.

Peter Morwood: Google, Wikipedia. Our local library.

Diane Duane: Oh, yeah.

Matthew Peterson: And Diane, you have a book thatís coming out: A Wizard of Mars.

Diane Duane: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: Is there anything you can tell us about that book?

Diane Duane: Itís our usual group of characters, from the last few books, but they discover a strange connection between one of the major characters and Mars. The wizards have been trying to find out whether Mars ever had life on it and if it did, what happened to it? Because the wizardís manuals, which can be very forthcoming about secret information arenít saying much of anything about this. So our kids get caught up in the attempt to find out what happened to the original Martian species, which wakes up and starts getting exciting.

Matthew Peterson: Now, I saw the title, Wizard of Mars, and I was like, ďHuh? Mars? Okay. How do you get the....[kids onto Mars?]Ē [laughs]

Diane Duane: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: So that should be very interesting to see how that works.

Diane Duane: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: For the listeners who have never read the wizard series, can you tell us just briefly a little bit about what theyíre about.

Diane Duane: The general sense is that at any given time, a small percentage of the human population are wizards. Wizards are given their power by the so-called ďpowers that be.Ē If you think . . . you would not be far off in thinking of them as archangels or higher powers working with or under the Deity. And the idea is that wizardís purpose is to fight evil and to slow down the heat death of the universe. The general sense of wizardry is more scientific than otherwise. Itís magic, but itís magic very much science flavored. For example, thereís a joke ad thatís been making the rounds for wiz-pod, which is the way a wizard can store their wizardís manual for which they get all their important information like spells and so forth, in an ipod.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Diane Duane: And the ad for it says, ďWizardry 3.0" . . . What was the line . . . ďWands, yes. Quill pens, no.Ē

Matthew Peterson: No. [laughs]

Peter Morwood: [laughs]

Diane Duane: Yeah. And shows a wiz-pod running a spell. The preferred hardware of the young wizards universe is Apple stuff. You can tell a wizardry advanced computer because the apple has no bite out of it.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, no! [laughs]

Diane Duane: And, you know, the kids are involved in this at a young age because the basic sense is that young wizards are the most powerful, mostly because, like children, they donít know whatís impossible, so they just go on and do it. As you get older your power decreases, but you also begin to specialize. Itís like the difference between using a fire house and using a riffle to knock something down. Young wizards are mentored by the older ones, but itís not an adversary relationship at all. You go to older wizards when you need help, and mostly you just get on with your job and you somehow have to fit it in around school and play and all the other normal things that kids do.

Matthew Peterson: Thatís good. Oh yeah, thank you so much.

Diane Duane: Thank you very much.

Peter Morwood: Thank you.

Matthew Peterson: Alright, go to www.TheAuthorHour.com to listen to the bonus questions. Stick around, Iíve still got Tony Abbott, coming up next.



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