Elizabeth Hand

Elizabeth Hand is a woman of many talents. She writes for The Washington Post, Village Voice and several other publications, has been commissioned to write adaptations for The X-Files, 12 Monkeys, and several Star Wars books around bounty hunter, Boba Fett. In the 1990s she co-wrote a DC Comics series with Paul Witcover called Anima. Oh and for her fiction work, she has won Nebula, International Horror Guild, and World Fantasy awards.

Ms. Hand's newest novel, Generation Loss, is a gritty thriller involving a burnt out relic of a photographer from the 1970s punk scene, Cass Neary, who is given a mercy assignment to interview a reclusive photographer in Maine. On arrival she finds herself in an old mystery that is still claiming lives.

AbeBooks wanted to get to know Elizabeth a little better, and here is the result.

Which authors have most inspired you to write?
Shakespeare, Lawrence Durrell, Tom Stoppard, John Crowley, J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthur Rimbaud, M. John Harrison, Robert Stone, Angela Carter, Kem Nunn.

Was it hard to switch from mostly writing in a fantasy world to writing Generation Loss?
Yes, it was difficult, although most of my writing in the last 10 years has been centered pretty solidly in our world -- the fantasy element is fairly subtle, a minor intrusion rather than a whole-body immersion in the fantastic. So in that sense it was easy — I was already writing and describing characters and places that were grounded in the way we live now.

But I did learn that I missed the fantastic element — I missed writing with special effects, as it were, that sense of mystery and immanence that flickers around and within my work. But I found I could get that same frisson by writing about art — photography, in Generation Loss — which for me has always seemed a window into the transcendent. And that search for the transcendent is pretty much what informs all of my fiction, so this was just a different angle on it.

Do you see more general fiction (or 'real world') books in your future?
A definite maybe. I honestly don't think about genre when I write – Generation Loss began as a fantasy novel and ended up as a psychological thriller. I'm far more interested in blurring boundaries, or tearing them down.

How did you get into writing the Boba Fett series for the Star Wars Expanded Universe?
An editor at Scholastic contacted my agent. My son and stepson were big Boba Fett fans -- we had (still have) a Boba Fett helmet -- and I loved the Star Wars movies, especially the classic ones from the 70s/80s (and especially The Empire Strikes Back), So I jumped at the chance. It was a huge amount of fun, and I get lots of fan mail from young readers, mostly boys, who are discovering the books for the first time.

...and is it just me or does Boba Fett have a really large 'fan club'?
No, it's not you! Like I said, my son and stepson LOVED Boba Fett -- he was, and I guess is, a real cult figure for boys into the movies. My initial knowledge of Boba came second-hand, through them. I then discovered there was this whole Bobaverse out there.

What are you currently reading?
Peter Ackroyd's biography of Shakespeare, The Adventures of Amir Hamza (English translation of a Persian epic), and a bunch of books on Rimbaud for my current novel, Wonderwall.

Who was your favorite photographer from the 70s/80s east coast punk scene?
Roberta Bayley took great photos. So did Robert Mapplethorpe, though he didn't cover the punk scene, really. I really loved Christopher Makos's White Trash, and, of course, Nan Goldin's The Ballad of Sexual Dependency.

Best SF&F author of all time?
The UK writer M. John Harrison.

Does the adaptation work turn people onto your original material?
I doubt it, but you never know...