20 Minutes with Lou Anders

Lou Anders
Lou Anders

Lou Anders – editorial director at Pyr, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Prometheus Books Publishing – has led a hero’s journey through speculative fiction, from practically living on the sets of Star Trek and Babylon 5 to swinging Stormbringer in a parking lot with Michael Moorcock. We’re delighted to share this 20(ish) minutes we had with Lou, discussing the reasons behind genre mashups, the nature of character in relation to plot, and more! So much writerly goodness awaits you behind that PLAY button… (and be sure to mark your calendars for Lou’s Workshop Episode!)

PROMO: The Starship Sofa Podcast

Showcase Episode: 20 Minutes with Lou Anders

[caution: mature language – listener discretion is advised]

Check out this and all our episodes on iTunes and on Stitcher Radio!

Episode Breakdown

00:40 – Lou’s awesome intro


06:20 – What was one of your best experiences with the authors you’ve worked with during your tenure at Pyre

  • 06:55 – A lot of my authors are also my good friends
  • 07:10 – I grew up reading Michael Moorcock
  • 07:20 – I was eating dinner with him and he took me into the parking lot and hands me a perfect replica of Stormbringer
  • 08:20 – I ran around the parking lot swing the sword around and around
  • 09:15 – Once I got in this field, I realized the people I’m friends with now have been in my life all along
  • 09:30 – I’m talking comics with J. Michael Strazinski and telling him about the best Two-Face story ever and he says, “Yeah, I wrote that”
  • 10:05 – I got along with celebrities because I pretty much ignored them
  • 10:25 – I was talking with Walter Koenig and I blew his mind by referencing his episode with Enik the gold sleestack


11:35 – How important is it for the lines to be clearly drawn for an audience between antagonist and protagonist

  • 12:50 – Very important
  • 12:55 – Stuart Copland of the Police went to Africa to study drumming from them. When asked how many people are gonna get that, he said, “None of them, but they’ll like the music better even if they don’t know why”
  • 13:20 – It’s not important for the reader to understand the mechanics of storytelling, but it’s important the writer be aware of them
  • 13:40 – I was taught screenwriting by Dan Decker who worked out a character-based approach to screenwriting
  • 14:00 – There are three characters in any story: the protagonist, the antagonist, and the relationship character
  • 14:10 – The relationship character is the one who holds the wisdom that the main character resists
  • 16:20 – Dan would get flown out to LA by the major studios to teach their development executives what to look for
  • 16:40 – In Dark Knight, Dent is the antagonist and The Joker is the relationship character


19:20 – PROMO: Starship Sofa Podcast


20:30 – Do you find yourself in a mentor position with your writers?

  • 20:40 – With some of them… it’s book by book and case by case
  • 21:25 – I don’t impose… it’s their book. It’s better for them to do it their way and be happy with it


21:40 – Have you ever had anything weird come across your desk from a writer who’s trying to get your attention?

  • 22:05 – In film you’ll get that, but I really haven’t
  • 22:35 – For the most part it’s an enormous number of “okay” efforts and you’re looking for one or two gems in that
  • 23:40 – People who are not versed in scifi write stories with the President, aliens, and a stripper
  • 24:30 – Either that or its Celestine Prophecy stuff… ancient Mayan civilizations
  • 24:45 – In YA, the issue is not letting the teen characters drive the story
  • 25:40 – That and forgetting just how nasty children are


26:10 – With so many genre mash-ups, it seems like genre boundaries have become very fuzzy or even erased completely. Have you noticed that?

  • 27:15 – We have a series of books called the Vampire Empire series and it’s steampunk, vampire, alt history, epic fantasy, pulp fiction romance… with cats
  • 27:45 – I think ordinarily you get into trouble with more than two hyphens… it’s like juggling. Work up to it
  • 28:40 – It’s generational to a large degree, I think
  • 29:55 – I feel like we’re really open to whatever is out there
  • 30:10 – If you’re going to be writing in a genre, then you need to read that genre (from today’s writers)
  • 31:00 – What you surround yourself with is what comes out
  • 33:05 – We have one of the smartest viewing audiences ever with 100 years to draw on


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Comments (12)

Lou is awesome! I already knew that from his appearances on I Should Be Writing and Writing Excuses, but wow! You guys really nailed this one too. Interviewers asking the really good questions is sweet sweet joy for me. I can’t wait for the workshop episode–Should be epic.

Thanks so much, Tim! We try to offer some new directions for our Guest Hosts to apply their experience and insight. In the case of Lou, however, it was mostly back to the old axiom of “Shut up and let the man talk”. 😉

Agree with the previous poster! I’ve heard him in person, and he is fantastic. And the two of you are pretty cool too. This is my first time listening to The Roundtable Podcast, and I very much enjoyed it. Looking forward to listening to some more insightful programming.

Wow… thank you, Alisa! We’re always aspiring to the goal of “insightful programming” but it’s a moving target, y’know? All I can pretty much guarantee is we all have a good time getting where we’re going, even if it’s the literary equivalent of a Denny’s. 😉

Glad to know you’re out there, listening, ma’am! 😀

Well, it always been my personal mantra that you can learn something, no matter how it’s packaged, if you keep your mind open to it so, Denny’s works for me. 😉

I don’t know how I missed the Writing Excuses episode Mr. Anders was on, but I’ll have to seek it out now. The stuff about three characters may have been the best bit of craft-study RTP has had so far. Looking back I’ve heard/read others talk of this idea but never in a way that clicked for me like it did with this show.

Vylar Kaftan had a post (found at: http://www.vylarkaftan.net/2012/05/22/the-super-cool-magic-short-story-formula/) talking about a “magic” short story formula that plays off a similarly stated idea and three act structure that she has used for many of her stories that I think I get so much more now.

I need to sit down and start putting together some short story ideas with this protag-antag-relationship character idea in mind ASAP.

That’s awesome Peter… thanks, man.

That’s the amazing thing about these Showcase episodes… they’re always eye-opening but sometimes you get your mind-blown. I’m right there with you, Jeff… the idea of the “relationship character” has really thrown my awareness of character dynamics and by-play into a (very cool) tail-spin.

Let us know what you discover about the process as you work through it! Maybe we’ll revisit this in a “Mind-Blowing Showcase Concepts” episode!

Just when I think I know some stuff, Lou comes along and humbles me. 🙂

Also guest starring Lou Anders:


And of course there’s the “Hollywood Formula” episode that’s already been mentioned and linked in the comments.

Wow! Came late to the party on this one, but this episode was -awesome-. I was just sad that I listened to it in the car, where I couldn’t jot down notes…
…Oh wait! I’m home! I can jot them down now!

Awesome, awesome show, guys!

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