Interview with Tanya Huff

18 Jan

A great bundle of science fiction books is currently being offered at, consisting of six titles from Bundoran Press and six by some great writers who have befriended the press over the years. As an added bonus, we will be running a series of interviews with the authors about their contribution to the Bundle.

Next up: Tanya Huff

When did you first know you wanted to be a science fiction writer and why? How long after than did you have your first fiction sale?

I was always a story teller.  Going through some of my father’s things, I found a letter my grandmother had sent him where she transcribed a long, complicated story I’d told her about a spider that lived in the garden. I was three. (I illustrated the story. I was never an illustrator.)

When I was ten, I sold two poems to the local paper and was astounded to discover that people would pay money for writing.

When I was thirteen, I discovered a friend was writing Zena Henderson pastiches. Up until then, although I read all the time, it hadn’t occurred to me that people wrote books. (Poetry and newspaper articles, yes. Books, no. Books were special.) I was people. Therefore, I could write books.

I wrote books (about 40K so essentially novellas) all through high school. Switched to scripts for a while after graduation, started Child of the Grove in university (In TV Tech because I honestly didn’t care.) while writing short stories in my spare time.

I wrote Science Fiction and Fantasy because that made up the higher percentage of what I read.

I sold my first two short stories in 1984 (maybe ‘83, it’s been a while) and Child of the Grove the year after.  It’s been pretty much a book a year since.

I still don’t do illustration.

What inspired you to write Valor’s Choice? How does this book fit into the rest of your writing career?

I come from a military family – both grandfathers, both parents, assorted cousins. I served in the Canadian Naval Reserve. At no point have we ever had a commissioned officer in the family.  Non-coms, yes, and this gives me a somewhat different view as to who actually gets the job done in most militaries.

Military science fiction, however, concentrates on officers.  So, Valor’s Choice was written for the rest of us.

As to how it fits into the rest of my writing career? I honestly have no idea. I suspect that’s something posterity will determine.

Who is your favorite secondary character in this book and why?

I’d have to say Haysole. Military characters have fairly well-defined parameters and he coloured outside the lines.

 What themes appear most strongly in your writing? What makes you particularly care about those ideas?

  1. Who do I chose to be. Blood and background only go so far, at some point you have to say this is who I am. I was the first person in my family to finish high-school and the only person to attend university. Fuck the world’s expectations. You decide.
  2. Competence. Because competence is sexy.

Do you have a special routine when you are writing? Time of day? Inspiring music or images? Particular clothing or food/drink?

I try to write every afternoon from one to six. In my office. Where it’s quiet. If I’m struggling, I indulge my oral fixation. Because I don’t want to weigh 400 lbs and fingernails have little food value, I eat a lot of carrot sticks. And drink a lot of black tea with milk. (Coffee’s for mornings, before I start writing.) (Unless we’re out of either tea or milk.)

Are you a plotter or a pantser or some combination of the two? Do prefer to writing or re-writing? Do you write every day or when the muse strikes you?


Do need privacy to do your writing or do you prefer the social ambience of a coffee shop or writing retreat? How do you balance your writing with the rest of your life?

Privacy. I’m not big on social ambiance while involved in social activities. The exception to this is trains. I love writing on trains. Don’t know why.

Because writing has been my full-time job since 1992, it’s the same old work/life balance everyone faces. Except that I’m doing research while listening to you complain about your relationships…

What aspects of writing do you find easiest (character, plot, setting) and which are your biggest struggle?

I find setting easiest because I find world building fun. Pick a geography, a climate, a tech level, build from there. Plot’s next easiest. Characters are complex and twisty and frequently illogical. They take your nice simple plot of a staff sergeant getting the job done and getting her people home alive and make it complex and twisty and frequently illogical.

But I struggle most with description. I personally don’t much care what people/things/places look like, I care what they do, what their relevance is to the story. However, as most people do care, I have to keep reminding myself to not only put it in, but make it interesting. I suspect this is partially because all my formal training was in script writing.

If you could give one piece of advice to a budding writer, what would it be?

Read. Read everything. Read for pleasure. Read for research. Read for inspiration. Read to learn your craft.


To learn more about this great bundle of books, visit

To connect with Bundoran Press, visit our web-site, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @BundoranPress

To learn more about Tanya and her writing, visit:


2 Responses to “Interview with Tanya Huff”

  1. moustress January 20, 2019 at 1:50 am #

    Your writing improved greatly after the first book. I know you as a really skillful artist; it’s interesting to see the progress you made between the first and the second of the Child of the Grove. Please don’t take this as a criticism of your gift. I mean it in the warmest sense.

    BTW, moustress is my screen name for my mousing and some of my writing.


  1. Advice to Writers (from the Bundle) | bundoransf - January 21, 2019

    […] Read. Read everything. Read for pleasure. Read for research. Read for inspiration. Read to learn your craft. (Tanya Huff) […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: