Genre Chick Interview: Gray Rinehart

Today the Month of Writers Blog Festival brings you an interview by my dear friend, fellow Codexian, Sf author, and Baen Slushmaster General (I gave him that title, btw!) — the dashing Gray Rinehart.


Mac or PC?
PC, because I’m neither artistic nor trendy enough to qualify as a Mac user…though if they came up with a multi-button mouse I might be tempted to try. (I use the right-click functionality and the scroll wheel a lot.)

Coffee or Tea?
Definitely tea, preferably iced and sweet. It’s a Southern thing.

Travel the World or Travel Outer Space?
What I’ve seen of the world has been pretty awesome (you don’t want a list, do you?), and I hope to see more, but I would not pass up a chance to trip the dark fantastic. If I could afford it, I would’ve already booked a flight with XCOR or Virgin Galactic.

Fantasy or Science Fiction?
Depends on my mood.  Most of what I read for pleasure these days is SF, but I’ve been listening to fantasy novels when I drive.  Since I grew up on Heinlein, Niven, et al, I trend more to tech than magic.

Music or Silence (while you write)?
I would love to listen to music when I write, except for two things:  1) I write in the early morning, and I don’t like wearing headphones, so music would disturb the sleepers, and 2) my stereo bit the dust and I haven’t gone either the route of replacing it or of playing music on the computer.  (For someone who claims to trend more to tech than magic, I’m a bit of a Luddite.)

What weird food do you like?
Peanut butter and bacon on toast, for breakfast.

What is one of your most irrational fears?
I will not tell.  As the song says, “The things that we fear / are a weapon to be held against us.” (Rush, “The Weapon”)

Will you be watching the Royal Wedding? Why or why not?
My procrastination prevented me from predicting the answer, so: I was aware of the wedding, and caught glimpses of various stages of pomp and pageantry on TV, but I did not watch the ceremony. I did, however, see the happy couple leave the church for their carriage ride.

How many novels/short stories/screenplays/poems/etc have you published?
No novels yet; I’ve written two, the second of which I’ve been rather haphazardly shopping around. (If you know any agents or editors who might be interested in what I call a “near-future technological drama,” let me know!) Only three short stories, one of them a “flash” piece, with a fourth story coming up in a few months in ANALOG. Two poems in my college literary journal, lo these many years ago. One nonfiction book and about two dozen essays, articles, etc. I’ve also written some songs … two of which are on YouTube:  “The Monster Hunter Ballad” and “The Economic Recovery Blues.”

How much do you write every day?
Maybe 50-250 words, more often on the low side, though recently I’ve been doing more revising than new writing (with the exception of my blog).

How much do you WISH you could write every day?
I’d love to be able to crank out at least 500-1000 words a day, but at this point producing over 100 consistently would please me.

What are you working on now?
I’m revising a nonfiction book called THE ELEMENTS OF WAR. It’s one of a pair of nonfiction books that I wrote while I was still on active duty and had set aside for a long while. Of the two, this one came closest to being published. One publishing house took it through their complete peer-review process before they passed on it, and in my revision I’m trying to address the reviewers’ comments.

If you could write like one author, who would it be?
I’m going to take a different tack with this question, with respect to the word “like.” Instead of “like” meaning “similar stories as” or “in a similar style as” — because I don’t think the world necessarily needs another Orson Scott Card, or another Lois McMaster Bujold, or another whatever-author-you-want-to-name — I’m considering your question in terms of “with a similar passion” or “in a similar manner.” From that perspective, I could say Dave Wolverton for the way he analyzes all the aspects of storytelling, or Kevin J. Anderson for his incredible work ethic, or David Weber for the way he juggles different series and mentors new authors…but in the end I’d like to write “like” Isaac Asimov, because he was able to write competently about an incredible array of subjects and maintained an amazing productivity rate.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
To master any skill within a few minutes of watching someone perform it, or within a few hours of trying it on my own, and to retain that mastery forever.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Probably working Space Shuttle landings at Edwards AFB as part of the Air Force Flight Test Center response team. The dry lakebed is a strange and wondrous place with an amazing history, and it was awe-inspiring to wait there for the arrival of something that had been traveling in space … and then to drive out to greet the machine, and park 1200 feet off its nose while the NASA crew did their safety checks and got the crew out … and then to babysit the vehicle and drive alongside as it was towed to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center … for me, that definitely takes a high place on the coolness chart.

What’s the coolest thing you’re about to do?
Get a story published in ANALOG.

Name three things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
That would require me making up such a list, which I currently do not have.


Gray Rinehart is the “Slushmaster General” for Baen Books and a writer/editor for the Industrial Extension Service at NC State University. His fiction has appeared in Redstone Science Fiction and Tales of the Talisman, and is forthcoming in Analog Science Fiction & Fact.

Gray retired from the United States Air Force in 2006, after a rather odd career in which he fought fires, refurbished space launch facilities, “flew” Milstar satellites, drove trucks, processed nuclear command & control orders, commanded the Air Force’s largest satellite tracking station, and wrote speeches for top Air Force leaders.

Gray’s alter ego is the Gray Man, one of several famed ghosts of South Carolina’s Grand Strand, and his web site is Gray styles himself as an “anti-candidate” for political office, running an ongoing “anti-campaign” — meanwhile, his “Ghost Writer” blog features occasional “space history” items that sometimes make use of his own real-life experiences.