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Esther Friesner
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Esther Friesner   Esther Friesner is an award-winning and best-selling author with over 30 books to her name, including Men In Black 2, E.Godz with Robert Asprin, Nobody's Princess, Sphinx's Princess, and two Star Trek novels. She's also the editor of the Chicks in Chainmail anthologies. Esther Friesner has won two Nebula awards, the Romantic Times award for Best New Fantasy Writer and the Skylark Award.

Buy Esther Friesner's Books at the following locations: (downloadable audio books) (independent bookstores)
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This episode originally aired on 11/26/2009 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Esther Friesner

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Matthew Peterson: Welcome back to The Author Hour: Your Guide to Fantastic Fiction. I hope you enjoyed listening to all of the great bonus questions from previous episodes. You can listen to more of them at As promised, hereís a new interview from two-time Nebula winner and best-selling author and editor, Esther Friesner. I actually recorded this interview back at the first ever North American Discworld Convention with Terry Pratchett, so here it is. Enjoy. I have to say that Iíve seen some of your book covers and I thought, ďThat is really cleverĒ, with the Chicks in Chainmail and the Turn the Other Chick. [laughs]

Esther Friesner: Oh, yes. There are five in that series.

Matthew Peterson: Your work in that was. . . you helped to edit it?

Esther Friesner: Well, actually for the Chicks in Chainmail, I had the idea, the concept, for the anthology and I wrote one story and of course, since itís an anthology, I had other contributors. The funny thing was I donít feel comfortable with the fact of buying my own work for an anthology. So I always will ask the in-house editor, the publisher editor. And with the Chicks books I figured, well, Iím not going to write a story and buy it from myself. I just felt a little bit off about it. Then at a convention, my editor, Tony Weisskopf, from Baen Books handed me the cover flat for the first Chicks book. And Iím reading the back copy, and itís a beautiful cover, and I see, ďand stories by so-and-so, so-and-so, and Friesner herself.Ē And I said, ďOh Tony, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is there is no story by me because . . .Ē and I explained my feelings, ď. . . but the good news is, apparently you want one, so I will write one.Ē And ever after that, for Did You Say Chicks, which was the second one, Chicks ĎN Chained Males, which was the third, etc., etc., etc. I always asked first. I said, ďDo you want a story by me in this?Ē And they said, ďYes.Ē And even though it seemed that they would inevitably be saying, ďYes, yes, we want one,Ē I feel better asking.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. If someone were to pick one of those books up, what they would expect would be, probably some humor, a little bit of humor. . .

Esther Friesner: Oh, I would hope so!

Matthew Peterson: . . . and the female characters are probably the main characters, right?

Esther Friesner: Well, the whole premise of the Chicks in Chainmail series . . . Iím a feminist, and what drives me crazy is the presumption that no feminists have senses of humor. I really, really beg to differ. And when I was doing the first Chicks book, I ran into some very interesting attitudes. Most of the stories were by women. What I wanted were stories that involved women, armor of some sort, and humor. Other than that they could be contemporary, they could be a fantasy, they could be historical, but they had to have women, some kind of armor and humor. In the first book we had Hillary Clinton; that was a story by Susan Schwartz. She winds up organizing the Valkeries, and it was a lot of fun.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] Funny you would say, Hillary Clinton.

Esther Friesner: [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: Thereís like a graphic novel out now, or a comic book, and itís of Obama and he looks like a barbarian. Heís got his shirt off . . .

Esther Friesner: Oh dear!

Matthew Peterson: . . . and thereís a woman just swooning over him like itís some chick, you know, from . . .

Esther Friesner: Oh yes, yes.

Matthew Peterson: . . . a heís like a barbarian, and I havenít read it yet, but I just laughed when I saw the cover. [laughs]

Esther Friesner: Well, I have to tell you, I was in Alaska this summer. And I saw a comic book with Sarah Palin. It was like her life, but it was done as . . . actually Iím not exactly sure if it was done as a super hero comic, or what, but I did not buy it, no. I do own a copy of the Spiderman where President Obama is a character in one of the stories. That thing sold out . . .

Matthew Peterson: Oh, I bet.

Esther Friesner: . . . the first day, and theyíve been re-issuing. But the cover that has his picture on it, that went. They had an alternate cover.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, okay. I didnít know that.

Esther Friesner: Oh yeah.

Matthew Peterson: I wanted to talk a little bit about your writing with Robert Aspirin.

Esther Friesner: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: I thought that was interesting Ďcause I am interviewing Jody Nye after this. And sheís worked with the Another Fine Myth. . . the Myth Adventures. And you mentioned a little bit about working with him. What was your experience working with him?

Esther Friesner: Well, it was very hands off because the collaboration arrangement was that he wrote the outline, the chapter plan, for E.Godz, and it said what was to happen in each chapter. Other than that, as long as I got from point A to point B, I did the writing of the book and he had done the plot. So, that was it. We never met; we never spoke. I met him sometime later. I had never met him before, and he was a very nice man and everything, but that was it.

Matthew Peterson: So youíve done a lot of writing.

Esther Friesner: Ooo, yes.

Matthew Peterson: Youíve got a lot of books. Youíve also done a lot of editing. Which one do you like better, though?

Esther Friesner: I like writing better.

Matthew Peterson: You like writing.

Esther Friesner: I really do because Iíve been writing, well, I havenít been writing, writing, since I was three, but Iíve been telling stories and my mother would write them down for me. Or Iíd draw a picture and say, ďNow I have to tell you the story of this picture.Ē I wrote little cartoons on index cards, and they had a story behind each cartoon as the characters evolved. I had little plastic animals, you know, dinosaur models, and the dinosaurs would build whole civilizations, and the mammals would be whole civilizations. I made an index card pyramid for my mammals. They were having their own civilizations and I inscribed the generations of their kings on this pyramid.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Esther Friesner: Then I had the dinosaurs invade the mammals. And I got out the red nail polish.

Matthew Peterson: Oh no! [laughs]

Esther Friesner: For realityís sake. And it just got really ugly at that point. But Iíve always liked to tell stories because Iíve always liked to read and hear stories.

Matthew Peterson: Now you have a new book. The name of the book is Sphinx's Princess.

Esther Friesner: Yes! And actually, well, thereís always going to be some humor, but itís not primarily a humor book; itís about young Nefertiti. And Iím working as we speak; I am working on the sequel to it which is Sphinxís Queen. And itís about her adventures growing up. Historically, we donít know a lot about Nefertiti, especially about her childhood. Everyone knows about her after she became the queen. And she really was that beautiful because at the time that she was living, the Amarna Period, they were encouraging more naturalistic art, because her husband must have encouraged it. He wasnít very conventionally good looking and yet he encouraged these sculptors to carve him as he was. So probably she was that beautiful . . .

Matthew Peterson: . . . really was beautiful.

Esther Friesner: . . . because it was a realistic art time. And there will be funny things happening, because funny things happen in life, but itís more adventure.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Esther Friesner: You know, she has to deal with some interesting times as they say. Same thing happened with the Helen of Troy books, Nobodyís Princess, Nobodyís Prize. She goes on adventures, but there are some funny things that happen along the way. Well, okay, Helen of Troyís not historical, but I treat her as history, using the whole era. So as if she had been a real person living at that time. And Nefertiti is a historical character. So theyíre not humor books, but thereíll be some funny things in it.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Yeah, I can imagine. Well, that sounds really interesting.

Iíve been speaking with Esther Friesner. I really enjoyed speaking with you and your aspects on humor.

Esther Friesner: Thank you!

Matthew Peterson: Thank you so much.

Esther Friesner: Well, keep laughing. Itís the only thing that drives them nuts. Thank you so much!

Matthew Peterson: I really appreciate you being on the show. Well, thatís it for today. Please go to to check out the bonus questions. Iíve got an Urban Fantasy and Supernatural episode lined up for next week with Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kelley Armstrong, Charles de Lint, and Patricia Briggs. If you love werewolves, witches, faeries, vampires or other supernatural creatures, you'll love this episode. See you then.

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