Kevin J. Anderson has more than 140 published 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 steampunk fantasy novels Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives, written with legendary rock drummer Neil Peart, based on the concept album by the band Rush. His 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 penned the lyrics to two rock CDs. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta are the publishers of WordFire Press.
i write. i make up stuff. i adventure hard, so you don’t have to.
This interview appeared in the special edition of Classic Rock Presents: RUSH magazine. Reprinted with permission.
The sci-fi author on the album that helped inspire his debut novel Resurrection, Inc., and changed his entire life.
Grace Under Pressure changed my lfie. I’d wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I’d discovered Rush early on, thanks to the obvious science fiction connections, and their music had always given me ideas, inspiring scenes in things I was writing.
In 1984, when Grace Under Pressure came out, I was in college dabbling at writing novels, toying with an idea called Resurrection, Inc., where dead people were being brought back to act as servants. The main character had been murdered, but couldn’t remember who murdered him.
As I listened to Grace Under Pressure, it seemed it was the soundtrack to the book. The lyrics had so much relevance to this thing that was only in my imagination. “Someone to talk to and someone to sweep the floors” from Distant Early Warningseemed to chime with this stratified society with zombie robot servants who weren’t supposed to be anything but tools.
Afterimage is this defiant song which seemed to go with the idea of this guy getting his memories back, and Red Sector A fitted with the Servants starting to remember who they were. “Are we the last ones left alive?” It turns out the main character wasn’t a good person, which is why he got murdered—that’s The Enemy Within. And The Body Electric, “android on the run.” When I listen to Beneath the Wheels, the movie of the book’s grand finale plays in my head, because it’s so intertwined with the song and the album.
Grace Under Pressure gave me a focus for the story, so I wrote it and it became my first published novel. I thanked the band inside, and I signed copies of the book and mailed them to Mercury Records, assuming they’d vanish into this vast warehouse. A year later, I received a seven-page letter from Neil Peart. That started a close friendship that’s lasted more than twenty years.
I played Grace Under Pressure just the other day, and it’s as good as I remember. It’s like looking through the eyepiece of a telescope and seeing all kinds of different things, but if you turn the knob just right, everything comes into focus. It hit me at the right moment, and it helped me launch my career. It truly changed my life.
NOTE: you can get autographed copies, as well as an autographed bundle with CLOCKWORK ANGELS, from AnderZoneShop.