Deborah M. Pratt is a science-fiction writer, having been the co-creator, executive producer, and head writer on the iconic series Quantum Leap. She’s a five-time Emmy nominee, six-time Black Emmy Nominee, and recipient of The Lillian Gish Award from Women in Film. As a novelist she has written The Vision Quest, a four-part, sci-fi series.
1. How did you discover your love of science fiction?
I started reading science fiction at 16. My first encounter was Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. I was fascinated. The possibilities of the future opened a doorway of my imagination. From there, I found Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, Mary Shelley, Rod Serling, Gene Roddenberry, and a long list of great imaginative writers and world builders. I haven’t looked back since.
2. Why do you think there’s such a lack of women in the sci-fi genre?
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein leads them all – both men and women – she definitely doesn’t get enough credit. Octavia E. Butler, Anne McCaffrey and Madeleine L’Engle were early women writers who still inspire to this day. But science fiction has been attributed to and controlled by men. Women sci-fi writers exist in a world that still puts the male voice first. I’m extremely grateful for the uptick in STEM programs that showcase how the feminine mind is perfect for these fields of study. I believe it will take the female imagination to save this planet.
3. What or who inspires your stories?
Life events, history, day-to-day reality. There are things that happen in our world that awe, inspire, frighten, and set my curiosity on fire (especially nowadays). If one of those realities triggers my imagination, I start to write. I’ve always had vivid dreams so sometimes my ideas come from those. I am driven to unify the planet. Hell of a mission, I know. But that belief drives me to use my gift of language to find a way to bring even a portion of that goal to reality. So I really write to quell the beast.
4. How do you make time to write? Do you work on a schedule?
Deadlines are always the best driving force. Both those imposed by others and those imposed by me. I try to write first thing in the morning but have found it’s better to first spend one hour doing the tasks that nag me, getting those out of the way. Then I can sit and write. I don’t answer the phone—or even look at it! Pre-visualizing scenes before I fall asleep pushes me into active dream work, giving me plenty of ideas once I wake up and write down my visions.
5. What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
The art of writing and the ability to focus is like exercising your muscles. Start small, five minutes a day even, and build from there. You will hunger to get back to the page, the same way your body hungers for exercise when you put yourself on a routine. Writing is an insatiable beast that—when fed—can open you up into a meditative state of creative bliss. There is no greater feeling than completing a script, story or book. If you feel like you have a story longing to get out of you, there is no better time to write than now.
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