Gene Doucette doesn’t necessarily like to play in the genre sandbox to which sci-fi is typically confined. The Spaceship Next Door, for example, reads like the literary love child of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and The Gilmore Girls (or so I said in my Goodreads review). He creates distinctive voices and characters, which is a breath of fresh air, especially when you’re fighting aliens and whatnot.
When did you first realize you were a storyteller?
I’m pretty sure I never had such a moment, or if I did, it didn’t happen in the way the question implies.
I decided I was going to be a writer at roughly the same time I learned how to read. Probably, this involved Shel Silverstein, only because the earliest recorded piece of writing from my hand is a poem in big block letters, recounting how six-year-old me felt about snow. But I didn’t discover I had a gift for writing—or storytelling in general—and then decide to start doing this; I spent my life working out what kind of person I needed to be in order to become a writer.
What do you love about the writing process?
The surprises. It’s great getting into a rhythm in a story and then having it go somewhere unexpected. I know I’m writing the thing, but when the plot twist pops up, I’m as surprised as anybody.
What is the hardest part of being a writer?
This goes in hand with the best part about the writing process, above.
Here’s the thing: I don’t outline, and I barely plan ahead. I’m completely at the whims of my own unconscious mind, which apparently knows what it’s doing. That’s what’s really going on when I say a plot twist surprises me. I mean, it’s can’t really be that big of a surprise if I’m the one setting it up and revealing it. But I don’t always know I’m doing that until I get there.
The hardest part is trusting that there’s something going on in my head that knows what it’s doing. This is terrifying, because I will dive into a book with exactly no idea how it’s going to play out, until it does.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Not a clue. Some unholy mixture of non-fiction reading, fiction reading, and I-couldn’t-tell-you-because-I-don’t-know-either.
The non-fiction is to discover something new and neat. The fiction is generally for more technical reasons: figuring out how someone else solved the problem of storytelling.
The I-couldn’t-tell-you part is the catalyst, though. Sometimes all I start with is something I thought was neat, sometimes with a story structure I learned from another novelist. Sometimes it just struck me one day that such-and-such a thing would be fun to try and write. Basically, I have no idea.
What are you working on right now?
I’m in the middle of a new book for my Immortal novel series. I feel kind of bad about having put this off as long as I did, since I ended book four on something like a cliffhanger. Assuming I get this out on schedule, it will have been two years since Immortal and the Island of Impossible Things.
I get emails semi-regularly from fans who want to know what happens next, and I sympathize, since I don’t really know what happens next either. But I’m working on finding that out.
While he might know yet what’s coming up next, you probably should spend some time at his website to be among the first to find out.
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I've been writing stories and taking photos since I was old enough to hold a pencil and stand behind a tripod.