Wednesday, July 2, 2008


The thing about doing a spate of interviews in a row, as I have for DOGS, is that the same questions turn up so often. This presents a problem. One doesn't want to sound too "canned," and yet there really is only one truthful answer to some questions ("When and why did you start writing?") So I vary the presentation a little, search my memory for new details, try not to be too boring.

John Scalzi's website, however, avoids all these problems by having a sort of interview theme. Called "The Big Idea," he asks authors with books coming out, or recently out, to say whatever they like about the ideas behind those books. He has Cory Doctorow, Lewis Shiner, and a host of others. My idea-behind-the-book is currently up for DOGS, at It's especially interesting that, as with this blog, people can leave comments.

And while I'm talking about my own interviews (WARNING: Shameless self-promotion ahead), the new SFWA Nebula Awards site has one at

On a less self-involved topic: I'd like to recommend the new book THE INTROVERT ADVANTAGE, by Marti Olsen Laney. Despite an overly chirpy style (the curse of pop psych books), it has interesting information on how the brain scans and neurotransmitter use of introverted people differ from those of extroverts. Good stuff.


Joe Iriarte said...

Does it say anything about the brain scans and neurotransmitter use of people who fall exactly in the center of the I/E scale on the Myers Briggs?

bluesman miike Lindner said...

"I started writing for a bet! Problem with that, man?"

bluesman miike Lindner said...

Lewis Shiner's GLIMPSES was the best rock/sf novel ever written.

Yeah, counting George Martin's ARMAGEDDON RAG too!

Wait...lemme think about that...

g d townshende said...

THE INTROVERT ADVANTAGE is an incredibly fascinating read! I bought it and read it about three years ago, as I recall.

:: goes off to browse book for an answer to Joe's question ::

I'm back. After a quick scan of the index, and looking at most of the references to "neurotransmitter," it doesn't seem to speak specifically to that question. It focuses more on the differences between the neurotransmitter pathways in an introvert versus an extrovert.

I bought the book because I've known for decades that I'm introverted (although I first thought of introversion in the way that most people do, and not in the way meant by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), and I was curious what this book had to say on the subject. Once I took a version of the test in a book I purchased, I learned that I'm an INTJ. (I come very close to falling dead-center on the T/F scale of the MBTI.)

g d townshende said...

On a tangential subject: I've always found it interesting (and annoying!) that psychology has a penchant for defining as "abnormal" traits that are not "in the majority," which is why for many years — and even today, in fact — introversion has often been seen as "abnormal."

Joe Iriarte said...

Wow! I can't believe you actually tried to look that up! Thanks for going through the effort!

Part of what prompted the question (besides the simple fact that I did fall on the cusp when I took the test in college) is that I've always been somewhat irritated with our tendency to see everything in dualities. I tend to believe that most of the things we see as dualities are more of a spectrum--be it introversion/extroversion, liberal/conservative, gay/straight, artistic/logical--and so I quibble at things that seem to look for defining characteristics of people who fall on one side or another of an arbitrary line.

I'll admit a big part of my objection is that I tend to be a misfit. ;)

Nancy Kress said...

The book defines introvert not as someone who dislikes people or can't socialize effectively. Rather, an introvert enjoys being with people but find it drains him/her, so that after a social occasion he/she "recharges" with some necessary alone time. An extrovert is recharged by being with people, and finds solitary time tends to drain him/her of energy. I enjoy social occasions, but am definitely an introvert. After five hours at a fun wedding a few weeks ago, I wanted to go home and read for a bit. At cons, I need to spend a few hours each afternoon alone in my room, to "recharge" for the next round of panels, parties, etc. My sister, on the other hand, a full-blown extrovert, can go directly from one social occasion to another for days on end.

g d townshende said...

The most common conception of introvert is someone who isn't very talkative, while an extrovert is. It's not at all accurate. Get an introvert on a subject they love to talk about, and they'll go on and on about it for hours. The difference is exactly as you described, Nancy. Introverts feel drained after being with people, while extroverts feel drained after being alone. The difference is in how they go about recharging.

With the Myers-Briggs, I've read that there's only one aspect in which there's a definite preference between the sexes, and that has to do with being a thinker (T) or a feeler (F). Most men are thinkers, while most women are feelers. Me? As I indicated previously, this was the only aspect in which I practically scored borderline. I'm a thinker, but it's just a slight deviation to that side.

Joe, looking things up like that doesn't bother me at all. You should see how I get when the subject of writing comes up. While I can't quote for you word-for-word passages that I've read in how-to books on the subject, if you ask me about some aspect of writing, what tends to happen is my mind will immediately jump to something I've read in a book in my library, even if it's something I've read years and years ago, even if it's something I've read only once. More often than not, I'll be able to find the book and the passage without having to consult the index. It's very close to being a photographic memory sort of thing, but it seems to work best with how-to books on writing, or on things in which I have a huge interest. I've known people in the field in which I work, telecom, who can do the same with telecom books. They read them once, and things just stick. I read how-to books on writing, and things just stick.

One of the best books I've ever read on writing is also one of the shortest books I've read on writing, WRITING TO THE POINT, by Algis Budrys. One story I wrote was written with exactly what Budrys said in mind. The result? Not a publication. No. It was a rejection. However, it was a handwritten rejection by George Scithers (I'd sent the story to WEIRD STORIES). He said, and I quote, "Good. Just not irresistible." I've actually received two or three handwritten rejections from him, as well as handwritten rejections from a couple of other editors. I figure that sooner or later someone's gonna buy what I'm writing.

And to think that all that Budrys did in that little book was to reiterate what Aristotle said thousands of years ago, in POETICS (which I've also read).

g d townshende said...

The above comment is a perfect example of how my tangentially-wired mind works. :P LOL