Q: Fleet Elements is the second in your Praxis series, following The Accidental War. Did you plan on writing Fleet Elements before you started The Accidental War?
A: I planned the series arc nearly 20 years ago. Fleet Elements takes place halfway along the arc, so there will be another half-dozen or so books to go.
Q: How did you create the world you describe in Fleet Elements?
A: I wanted a huge, complicated world that could support a long series. I also wanted the decisions made by people to be very important (and please understand that “people” in this case also includes aliens).
Anything that might detract from or diminish the agency of the cast are forbidden in this particular future, so there is no artificial intelligence, no nanotechnology, no genetic engineering.
Any evolution is done the old-fashioned way, through natural selection, and space travel is also done the old-fashioned way, with rocket ships, and no magic tech like warp drives or interdimensional travel or whatever.
Q: Do you usually know how your novels end before you start writing them, or do you make many changes along the way?
A: I always plot out my novels very thoroughly, though I allow myself the liberty to change things should new inspiration strike. For the first trilogy of the Praxis series, I knew the last line of the last book before I wrote the first line of the first volume.
Q: Who are your favorite science fiction writers?
A: Now of course I will offend someone by inadvertently leaving him out. I’ll just list some of the authors I’ve read recently: Charles Stross, Tim Powers, Carrie Vaughn, Jo Walton, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne Valente, Aliette de Bodard, Min Jin Lee, Becky Chambers, Max Gladstone.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m working on The Restoration, the follow-up to Fleet Elements.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I’ve been writing for some decades now, and all my novels (and some short fiction) are available for download. Check out www.walterjonwilliams.net.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb