The OLC just wrapped up an exclusive interview with John Scalzi where he talks about his books and the role of public libraries.
OLC: What piece of literature had the biggest impact on your life?
Scalzi: It’s hard to say because several of them made a difference at different points. The book I usually credit with really unlocking my brain is The People’s Almanac, the general, and popularly-intended, compendium of facts and information, which I read cover to cover when I was a child. I don’t know if it qualifies as “literature,” but it certainly was important to me.
OLC: Why did you write The Collapsing Empire? Who did you write it for?
Scalzi: I wrote it because I had a contract telling me I had to! That sounds flip, but it’s the first book of a 13-book contract with Tor, and with a contract that expansive, I wanted the first book of it to be something that was widely accessible and (hopefully) popular so we could hit the ground running, as it were. That being the case, I tried to write it for as many folks as possible. Science fiction isn’t just a niche enthusiasm anymore — look at film and TV and video games — so I’m writing toward a mass audience.
OLC: Did you visit the public library when you were growing up? What was your opinion of it? Is it the same today or has it changed?
Scalzi: I practically lived at the library when I was a kid and I loved it there. I still love visiting libraries and talking with librarians. I do think they are as important as ever and possibly more so.
OLC: How can public libraries better serve patrons in rural areas vs. big cities? Are there any programs that you think libraries could put in place to help bridge these “two worlds?”
Scalzi: While I think there’s often a big gulf in the lives of rural and urban areas, I think much of the mission of libraries is the same in both: To be the center of their community’s cultural and intellectual life, and to be a sort of “first responder” to community needs. Now, what those needs are will be different according to the community, but the role will of then be the same, regardless of location.
OLC: What book(s) would you recommend to someone visiting the library?
Scalzi: That would depend on who they are! And that’s one place (among many) where librarians are so important — matching patron to the books that will entertain them, inform them and possibly change their lives. And also why funding libraries is important: So that both the books and librarians will be there.
Don’t miss John Scalzi’s keynote address during the 2017 Convention and Expo at the Dayton Convention Center. He will speak at 1:00 p.m. on Fri., Oct. 6 in Theater 312. A book signing will immediately follow his presentation.
Online registration closed Sept. 24, but you can still register on site ($25 surcharge). Learn more on the OLC website.