John Ringo led off Friday night’s panel in the Sci-fi & Fantasy Literature track with the assertion that “I’m going to be moderating this panel because I’m a d—k.” But Ringo proved to be quite the opposite as he lauded his fellow panelists, authors Julie Cochrane and Tom Kratman and their contributions to work jointly authored with Ringo and published by Baen.
Canadian author Suzanne Church contributed her experience with author mentoring to the panel. Church noted that mentoring can give a good angle on the business of writing not seen by the junior author who does not have access to editors. But, she cautioned, the less experienced author must be prepared to accept both good and bad aspects of the mentoring relationship. The writer being assisted has to decide what advice to use from the mentor. Church also warned that you cannot let the other writer dwarf your ability to write.
Ringo noted that there are as many ways to collaborate as there are collaborating authors. He pointed out that writing can be approached as art for its own sake, but that collaborators may work together to share market impact, to have someone introduce you to the weird aspects of the market, and to learn the craft of writing. On the mentoring side, Ringo said that he himself learns from mentoring, especially from dealing with rocket scientist Dr. Travis Taylor with whom he wrote Von Neumann’s War. Sometimes, Ringo asks “Doc” for “techno-babble here,” he said.
Julie Cochrane noted that when she gets stuck on a joint book, she frequently calls Ringo and made an appointment with him after the panel to discuss a current project. Ringo discussed their collaboration on Sister Time: Cochrane gave Ringo an idea and he wrote a chapter with “thousands of elephants.” Tom Kratman has also authored several books, some featuring more and some less of Ringo’s work. His latest book, A Desert Called Peace, is a solo venture, also published by Baen.