In the past few months, we’ve introduced you to Open Road Integrated Media, the digital content publisher traveling far and wide to bring you the best in ebooks and behind-the-scenes author content! In the first of our ongoing guest blog series, “On the Road with Open Road,” we traveled to Pat Conroy’s house. Soon after, we ventured on to the John Gardner Papers, the Boxcar Children’s Museum, and Dr. David Richo’s home in California.
In November, just as New York was on the brink of one of the harshest winters in recent memory, the Open Road team escaped to Prescott, Arizona, to meet science fiction legend Alan Dean Foster, the author of the Spellsinger series, among other well-known titles. Foster was nearing publication of his adventure memoir, Predators I Have Known, and the team paid him a visit to learn a bit more about the adventures that went into the writing. Without further ado, I’ll turn the blog over to Laura De Silva of Open Road:
“Did you see the tarantula?”
The traditional hello never came—it didn’t need to. Foster treated the team as though we were already fast friends, picking up as if in the middle of conversation each time we greeted one another. It quickly became clear that this writer is a lifelong learner who views every new acquaintance as an opportunity to learn—hence his penchant for traveling to foreign lands and meeting people of different cultures.
And speaking of foreign lands, we felt we had recently entered one. The region where Foster lives is covered in the saguaro cacti unique to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Looking around at the unfamiliar landscape, we felt as though we had stepped into a foreign country. (And we may as well have: Foster later mentioned that parts of Arizona feel a lot like Namibia, one of the many locales to which he has ventured during his travels.)
Gordon observes, “It’s fitting that Foster would live in such a unique part of the country. So many times writers are nothing like what they write; they don’t live in a place that complements their materials. Arizona feels like a different place.”
Foster’s study, where we spent much of our time interviewing the author and going through his personal footage from his adventures, is an incredible space. It is filled with tokens of all his voyages—from shark teeth brought back from diving with great whites, to statues from faraway lands, to a letter from Steven Spielberg. It is, as our producer Gordon puts it, “like an Alan Dean Foster museum.” It certainly boded well for rich interview material.
“He had a story about everything,” recalls Gordon. “For somebody who has been to a hundred different countries, to remember everything so vividly at the drop of a hat was pretty telling of his passion for the subject.”
It was inspiring to witness the amazing life Foster has lived; it affords him a distinct perspective on our world, and surely informs his writing a great deal. The line that made the biggest impression on our team was the epitaph Foster intends to have etched onto his tombstone: “Earth: been there, done that.” Very true.
“I take the same approach to everything I write. The people and the creatures and the settings in my science fiction books are just as real to me as the ones in Predators,” explains Foster.
Reading Predators, like spending time with its author, is absolutely invigorating.
“You’ve been wasting your life sitting on your couch watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel,” says Gordon, when you could be out diving and retrieving the tooth of a great white shark while in a viewing cage. (Foster particularly loves diving, since it feels like being on another planet in zero gravity, using oxygen from a tank to survive.)
“How many people can say they collected their own shark tooth?” asks Gordon.
We haven’t met too many.
Packed with pulse-pounding adventure and spiked with rapier wit, Predators I Have Known is a thrilling look at life and death in the wild.
Don’t miss these other Alan Dean Foster titles new to NOOKbooks: Chorus Skating, The Day of the Dissonance, The Hour of the Gate, The Moment of the Magician, The Paths of the Perambulator, Son of Spellsinger, Spellsinger, and The Time of the Transference.