Here’s a few of the questions I’ve gotten from readers. Love it! Keep asking questions.
Q: Do you do book giveaways of your novels?
Why yes! Sometimes I do, particularly before the next new release. If you’re a romance reader, I do most of those giveaways on Austen Authors. If you go over there and search for giveaways, you should find the current selection. And as always, you can join one of my mailing lists and you’ll get the notice when the next book is ready or when I’m doing a giveaway. (The mailing list is ONLY for book purposes, no spam.)
Rise and Fall of Jane Questions (A Modern, Paranormal retelling of Jane Eyre)
Q: Where did the title come from?
A. I chose it partly for the epic sound of it, but mainly for this quote from Shakespeare: “Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.” By the world’s standards, Jane’s trajectory goes wildly up and then plunges down, but not for any wrong on her part. She falls, but guiltlessly, which is part of the heart-wrenching appeal of this story.
Q. Why rewrite Jane Eyre at all?
A. Some people love Jane Eyre and some hate it, but I was bummed when I realized my younger sister had never even read it! She’d never even seen the most recent movie or the BBC miniseries! How sad, right? I love the book, of course, but I recognize it’s not terribly accessible if you don’t love the style or genre. I wanted to write a modern version that would make my sister want to read the original! UPDATE: So far it hasn’t worked, but I can report that she has watched the most recent movie “with Magneto.” Sigh.
Q. The ‘magic’ of animals plays a role in this novel, particularly with the birds, how did that come about?
A. I’d been reading about magical realism, and it hit me that here was a way to tell a Gothic story in a contemporary setting. I wanted horror, and mystery, and unexpected dangers, but only as a way to tell about emotional growth. I don’t think I achieved magical realism, my paranormal tendencies kicked in, but it was fun to write.
Q. Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.
A. In this story, Jane has many self-imposed rules for her life, but even doing the best job she can, she ends up in a no-win situation. The woman standing on the tic-tac-toe board felt perfect. Her lines are chalk, but they’ve made a game she’s going to lose.
Science Fiction Book Questions
Q: Where did you get the idea for Manipulate?
I originally wanted to make a sci-fi retelling of the story of Daniel in the Bible.
(If you’re not familiar with the story: Daniel’s the one who got taken by the Babylonians after the fall of Judah and eventually became King Darius’s right hand man. The king’s advisers hated Daniel and tricked the king into making a law against praying to anyone but the king. Daniel continued to pray to his god, the God of Israel, and so he was thrown to the lions (as the law demanded), but God protected him. The king came to believe in Daniel’s god because of his survival. You should read it if you never have, fascinating story of cultural conflict.)
The main components I stole from the book of Daniel were: the invasion by an ‘alien’ people, Sam’s selection and training by the invaders (including a few references to how he ate differently than the other cadets), the lion’s den situation, and his rise to influence. Manipulate obviously became it’s own story as I continued, but that was my original idea.
Q: If this was based on the Bible, why didn’t you talk more about God?
I deviated so far from the source material, I didn’t want to make this seem like a weird reinterpretation of a sacred text. This is a sci-fi novel, completely imaginary, etc. etc. 🙂 What I did put in the story was meant to show the sovereignty of God’s control and people’s reaction to realization of a higher power.
Q: How do I finish my own novel? (from those of you who also write!)
I wrote my novels during NaNoWriMo, so this is usually phrased, “How did you finish X novel in a month?”
I have 2 pieces of advice.
1. Write as fast as you can.
2. DO NOT tell anybody the plot of your story until you are done!
You can tell your friends that you are writing a story, but don’t tell them anything else!! Talking about the end of your story gives you the same satisfaction as having someone read the end of your story. And then you have no motivation to finish! Your writerly soul is like a tea kettle on the stove – you’ve got to let the pressure and the heat build up until the whole story explodes out of you.
If you relieve the pressure by telling the whole story to your best friend, then your tea kettle will never boil that story out of you.
There have been studies on motivation and discipline that show if you tell people too much about your goal before you achieve it – you SERIOUSLY loose the motivation to finish. You get the emotional payoff without the work and it’s very hard to push yourself into finishing.
This may not work for everybody, but that’s my method! 🙂
Q: Are your other Alien Cadet novels based off Bible stories?
Yes! I was inspired by Joseph (sold into slavery, wandering, prison, etc.) for Claire’s story. I deviated pretty far from that one though. Eradicate is almost wholly based on Esther! And Sage’s conversion drew elements from Acts (Paul the apostle).
Q: Isn’t the story of Esther (in Eradicate) supposed to be more romantic?
I’d had the idea to use the Esther story since the middle of the second book, but I was thinking of Akemi as Esther. It wasn’t until the middle of this book that it suddenly hit me that she wasn’t Esther at all, it was the Diarena! I don’t often have ‘aha!’ moments when I’m writing, but that was a really satisfying one when I realized that it all fit.
The Pontifex and Diarena were also interesting to write… Yes, a lot of the Esther retellings have focused on the romance, but it doesn’t seem terribly romantic to me. Ahaseurus (possibly Xerxes) was at best an impulsive and self-indulgent ruler… at worst, well, he might have been pretty terrible. He did seem to have genuine affection for Esther. (I mean, he could have sex with anyone, so it couldn’t have been just that, right?) But, she was kinda stuck with him unless he decided to get rid of her, and that was probably a terrifying position even at the best of times.
Q: Should you have made the ‘evil’ race represent Esther’s people (the Jews)?
Maybe not. (Please keep in mind this is all fiction!) But I did think about it, and I do think it’s not a terrible analogy. A major theme in the Old Testament is that the Jews never deserved or earned their status as “God’s chosen people,” he just chose them. Theologians call this ‘election.’ I thought it was interesting to explore the idea in a totally different context, with a race that doesn’t ‘deserve’ anything, and yet might be singled out for God’s election.
Q: Will you write any more stories in the Spo-verse?
Well, I love Greg. He’s got some issues, but he’s arguably one of the best moral characters in the stories. His values are alien, but he’s absolutely true to what he believes, while also trying to accept human values. So, I wrote a prequel novella about Greg, called Evaluate (Feb. 2016).
I have a whole lot more ideas about what happens after – Sage becomes a type of prophet/apostle (a la the apostle Paul), a legacy and mythos grows around Juliet’s story, the Rik people have a sort of rebirth… but I don’t think I’m a good enough writer or theologian to tackle all that! It’s hard to leave all the research I did on the Japanese Meiji restoration on the table (that was going to be part of my model for the Rik change), as well as my plans for a new Abraham figure that would learn from but also challenge Sage… but it’s time for me to move on. This is the first series I’ve completed and I’ve learned a lot about writing that I didn’t know when I started. Time to apply that to a new project.
Let me know if you have any more questions about writing or about my stories that you’d like answered, and thanks for reading!