Interview with William Eckman (Planetary Defense Command)

Today I’m talking with William Eckman, who blogs about science fiction at Planetary Defense Command.

SCy-Fy: William, you have sometimes posted about your real life difficulties. What has kept you going?

WE: Primarily my wife, even though she has no interest in science fiction. I’ve gone through some career setbacks in the past few years, but she’s stuck with me and even encouraged me to continue blogging. I also have a core group of readers who respond to my posts with likes and comments – I think anyone would be tempted to give up blogging without interactive readers.

SCy-Fy: Take me through a typical blogging day.


1) Realize I haven’t blogged in more than 7 days.

2) Shuffle through a pile of idea/review notes until I feel inspired to write.

3) Type an excessively long post and save it for the next day.

4) Make sure I didn’t write something stupid the day before, decide the entire post is too important to cut any of it, then hit publish.

SCy-Fy: What are your future initiatives?

WE: I probably have too many different categories of posts on my blog already, but I won’t let that stop me from adding more as I come up with them. I’ve just started writing my own science fiction, so I may add some microfiction, short stories, or posts about my writing experience.

SCy-Fy: What do you think will be the major future challenges for SFF blogging?

WE: My first guess is that written reviews of books will be replaced by photos of thumbs up or down in front of book covers. I’m not in touch with either cultural trends or the latest gadgets/apps, so if something does come along to destroy blogging, I probably won’t see it coming.

SCy-Fy: Tips for bloggers? For reviewers? Writers?

WE: Bloggers/reviewers should be specific. Don’t tell me the book is boring, tell me the author spent three pages describing a pair of socks. Don’t tell me the story doesn’t make sense, tell me a character watched his family get eaten by aliens and then went out dancing. Give me as much info as possible, and let me decide if I like or dislike the same things you do.

Indie authors should find critical beta-readers. They can spot obvious problems, and identify the entertaining/unique aspects that should be the focus of a story.

Traditionally-published authors should resist the temptation to pad their stories with filler, especially if they’re obviously splitting a single story into two or more books. I guess the industry has decided longer books justify higher prices, but when I read, I’m giving up money and time, and take both into account.

SCy-Fy: Do you have a list of useful resources?

WE: My reviews are simply my opinions and my other articles are personal ideas about writing, so I don’t use any outside resources when blogging. However, once I’ve posted, I’d say my readers who comment are a great resource. I often get references to books I’ve never heard of (or have forgotten about), or perspectives that I wouldn’t have considered on my own.

SCy-Fy: Traps in SFF blogging?

WE: I hope the answer isn’t “doing interviews at SCy-Fy”.

SCy-Fy: Too late now, my friend! Which posts of yours have had the most impact or created the most controversy?

WE: I haven’t done anything controversial yet. Surprisingly, my highest-impact posts may have been off-topic ones about my career and personal life.

SCy-Fy: What have been the best books you have read recently?

WE: In science fiction, I’ve been reading David Drake’s RCN series. I enjoy its worldbuilding, and also that it was inspired by the Master and Commander historical fiction series. In fantasy, I’ve just finished Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series, which I enjoyed due to its fast-paced action and suspense. In non-fiction, I’m reading a series of histories of Roman legions by Stephen Dando-Collins.

SCy-Fy: Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?

WE: In non-fiction, I’m looking forward to Roger Crowley’s next book – Conquerors: How Portugal Seized the Indian Ocean and Forged the First Global Empire. In science fiction, I have such a backlog that I could easily go a year without anything new. I’ve been a fan of Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, which has a new release coming out soon, but I felt that the last novel suffered from one of the padding issues I mentioned earlier.

SCy-Fy: Thank you, William, and best of luck with everything.

WE: Thank you for interviewing such a comprehensive group of science fiction fans, and for including me.

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