Author Interview: AB Shepherd

It wasn’t until last year when i ran Sci Fi Week on my blog that I actually read my first Lifeboat CoverScience Fiction novel – i was never introduced to them as a young child, and so somehow they always slipped me by. But now, I can see why Science Fiction is still one of the most successful genres of fiction. AB Shepherd’s debut offering is very much an adult novel, one filled with loss and self-discovery, and it sounds brilliant. Lifeboat is already receiving some great reviews, boasting 4 five star reviews already on Amazon.

Here is the blurb:

Cass Carmichael has lost everything; her husband, her son, and her will to live.
When natural disasters destroy the earth she is rescued by extra-terrestrials and taken to a new world where the human race can rebuild. But something is wrong  here. Survivors are vanishing without a trace.
Can Cass unravel the riddle in time to save herself?
A.B. Shepherd authorI’ve managed to pull AB Shepherd down from the night’s sky and badger her with some questions. An American by birth, AB Shepherd now lives in Australia with her husband, and has two grown children. She openly admits that she loves to read a wide variety of books, and she is currently working on her second novel. I couldn’t resist but ask her about her love for Science Fiction and the truth behind those strange beings we call Aliens.
  • Tell us a bit about your wonderful debut Sci-Fi novel, Lifeboat. What is Cass’s story?
    Cass is a young widow who is struggling with grief even years after the losses of her husband and son. She’s searching for a reason to go on in a world where she feels very alone. She sees a UFO one night while she is out walking and becomes obsessed with UFOs in general and her UFO in particular. It gives her a focus she’s been lacking.
  • What was your inspiration behind the novel? How long did it take you to write?
    This isn’t the story I sat out to write. I was inspired to write an adventure novel about a woman UFO hunter loosely inspired by the TV series UFO Chasers. I sat down to write that story. I created Cass – or so I thought at the time. But once Cass was on my computer screen she took over and told her own story and it was far from the free-spirited, fun-loving adventure I sat down to write. I now feel I didn’t create Cass at all. I think she already existed and just used me as a medium for getting her story out there. I wrote the basic story in 30 days during NaNoWriMo, but it’s been revised and edited so many times since then that it has taken far longer to get into a readable form. I could conceivably rewrite it forever, but at some point you have to say, you know what?  This is a good story. Let it fly.
  • Cass sounds like she has gone through a lot of unfortunate moments in her life. Was it important for you to portray a strong female lead, one who is vulnerable, yet has the strength to carry on?
    You are right. Cass has endured a lot in her young life and she has survived it all, although it has left her damaged in some ways. I think in life so many of us are truly fragile creatures who just keep clinging to what little hope there is in life. This is how I see Cass. That UFO she saw gives her that sliver of hope, a reason to keep going knowing there is something more out there. Cass isn’t the ass-kicking heroine of some of my favourite novels. I think she is more realistic. She’s strong, but she can be broken, just like the rest of us. One of my favourite sci-fi heroines is Sarah Connor from the Terminator movies. She’s really tough and she’ll do whatever it takes to survive and protect her child, but she doesn’t come through completely unscathed. The trauma takes a toll. I find there is more of me in Cass than I expected.
  • Did you have to do much research for your novel? In the synopsis, it says that natural disasters destroy Earth! Did you look at natural disasters throughout history, or did you let your imagination go wild?
    I did a fair amount of research on UFOs, Ufologists and UFO communities, but I didn’t have to research much about the natural disasters. All I needed to do was watch the news, although to be fair I am intrigued by all of the apocalyptic prophesies that float around and I often watch documentaries about how the end of the world could happen. I suppose you could say that was my research.
  • Was Lifeboat always intended to be a Sci-Fi novel? Do you think that this particular genre suffers from misconceptions?
    As I said before, Lifeboat was intended to be a sci-fi/adventure story rather than a sci-fi/suspense story. Really it is the UFOs and aliens that make it sci-fi at all, at least in my opinion. I think the rest of it is mostly suspense now, but also with a bit of literary fiction thrown in. There is much more to this novel than aliens and UFOs.
  • Despite being a Sci-Fi novel, it seems to be that there is most certainly thriller moments too; Cass investigating the disappearing survivors. Mixing genres in this way, I think, is really interesting. Tells us a little bit about why you decided to do this, and your writing habits in general.
    I think a great number of novels fit easily into more than one genre of fiction. I didn’t really decide to do this. It just happened. I just wrote Cass’s story and when it was all done I had to try to figure out the genre, or genres, it might fall into. My writing habits in general are pretty boring actually. When the story is flowing I let it flow and if I need to do research on a bit I’ll just put a marker in and focus on capturing the flow. I can go back with the research. I tend to procrastinate however and I’d never get anything done if my darling husband didn’t continuously say, “Honey, should you be writing?”
  • Besides Cass, is there a particular character in your book that you had a lot of fun writing? Or maybe, there were characters you scrapped because you just didn’t like them at all?
    I felt the most connected to Cass, but I really enjoyed writing all of the characters. I don’t think I scrapped any characters, but I expanded some of them. There are certainly some of them that I didn’t really like, but isn’t that true in life? Yet, if we knew their back stories, we might even find them more sympathetic. My favourite scene is the epilogue where we learn a little bit more about a few of them. That was fun to write and I hope readers will get a kick out of it.
  • If a UFO were to come to you in the middle of the night, where would you expect to wake up? Do aliens have those stereotypical green heads?
    I guess I might wake up aboard a spacecraft, possibly being probed if I believe all the abduction stories out there. It’s easy for us to think aliens would look somewhat humanoid or even insect-like, because those are species we are familiar with and can easily identify. True aliens could look like anything you could possibly imagine, depending on the environmental conditions in which they would have evolved.
  • I’ve read that you have another book in the pipeline, The Beacon. How does this novel differ from Lifeboat?
    For one thing, the Beacon is not a science fiction story. It is a suspense for sure, and once completed it may also fall into another category, but that category will not be science fiction. It again, features a strong, but possibly damaged, female lead character, but that and the suspense are the only similarities between the two novels.
  • What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt since writing Lifeboat do you think?
    I think the most important thing is to let the story write itself. I know it is different for other authors, but I write better when I don’t sit down and try to formulate the entire plot line in my head before I begin writing. For me, the best way to write is to sit down and let the story flow out of my fingers without thinking about where it is coming from or trying to figure it out in advance.
  • Apart from yourself of course, are there any other fantastic Science Fiction writers out there people should read? Perhaps they influenced you, or do you prefer to read genres away from your own?
    My reading preferences are really varied, and I’ll read pretty much anything except romance. I’ve recently been reading some classic science fiction. I’d highly recommend the Wool series by Hugh Howey, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, The Hunger Games series, and oh there are so many more I could name. I’m sad to say, I haven’t read enough Indie science fiction to make recommendations there, but I plan to rectify that.
  • What I’m sure everyone wants to know however, do aliens exist?
    I will say that I am 99.9% sure aliens exist – in some form. The Universe is far too big and we are far too small to rule that out. Whether they exist in a form we would recognize, or whether they might have the technology to visit our world I can’t say. I am far too ignorant. We haven’t even explored 100% of the Earth yet. All the UFOs seen by Earthlings could actually be created by unknown Earthlings. How cool would that be? Feel free to steal that story idea. You are welcome. ❤

Duly noted, Miss Shepherd, duly noted! And what an insightful interview! It’s so great to see that you are influenced by a variety of authors and genres – i think the more we read, the more our minds can create. You can keep up to date with her writing news over on her website. She tweets as @ABHPShepherd and has her own Author Facebook too.

You can buy her debut Science Fiction novel Lifeboat as an eBook on Amazon UK and Amazon US/AUS. You can also show her some love by adding it to your ‘To Read’ shelf over on Goodreads.

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Blue Dust: Forbidden by Katy Krump and Author Interview!

I’m pleased to introduce this book review and Author Interview for Day Four of Sci Week. Blue Dust: Forbidden is the first in a new series of YA Sci Fi books by author Katy Krump, published by Ghostly Publishing and if the first book is anything to go by, then the series I’m certain will be a huge hit. It tells the story of Qea, who for reasons unknown at the beginning of the book, is hiding on Earth under the guise of Kerry Johnston; a teenage girl with a limp. After discovering all is not as it should at home, Kerry realises her cover has been blown and crosses the breadth of England to Devon to meet at the rendezvous spot. And so starts Qea’s journey that will take her across the galaxy to her home system; the Octad.

We discover that Qea was third born to a family; which goes against the rules. In a land where Warlords rule the desolate land, diamondine mines and have contacts in every liveable sector. Natural resources are sparse and a reproduction law deems only two children per family. Qea has only known solitude for her early life and when her parents are killed she is captured by an evil warlord who uses her for his own gain.

But after betraying this warlord, Qea meets Adam on Earth, who causes a bit of a dilemma. Qea is torn between her instincts for survival and her heart when she is thrust back into the ruthless land she grew up in and must find a way to survive against the mysterious Inquisitors; a unique alien police force who govern the laws.

I think Katy Krump is on to a winner here with Blue Dust; a YA Sci Fi novel is a unique proposition amongst a plethora of successful fantasy novel featuring vampires and witchcraft. It is indeed original and it sucks you in within the first chapter, where the action blasts off almost instantly. Who is this Kerry Johnston? And why is she taking refuge in our planet? Ms Krump doesn’t release all of the details all at once mind you, but slowly gives you tit bits of life on the Octad and the politics that govern the system.

In the first quarter of the book, what works extremely well is the flashbacks of Qea to when she was a young girl hiding away with her parents and her trying to understand the life she was unfairly thrust into. It’s a wonderful balance of innocence and curiosity and I thought that this was perhaps the most important part of the novel. What this does is allow us to feel for Qea’s predicament and will her on to become free. This young Qea is almost a complete contrast to the spunky, no nonsense teenage Qea who is always on the look out and suspects danger around every corner. With her back story we can see how her life must have been difficult; trying to stay hidden from a warlord must be daunting task.

Blue Dust: Forbidden is extremely well written; concise, descriptive and engaging. Ms Krump’s use of language is also interesting as it is quite educated compared to other YA novels. I however, loved the originality of the world she creates where water is treacle like and red.

The love interest between Qea and Adam is also extremely well crafted and never comes across as cheesy and obviously fabricated which could alienate some readers, especially male readers. However, the subtle references are believable and written in a more dependable way. The character’s of Qea and Adam make a great team and must get use to each other’s way of dealing with things to come out on top together. They are thrust with responsibility with the looking after of Forbidden Children quite early on and their disagreements give us an insight to the core of both characters. Soppy romantic writing doesn’t make an appearance and I think this book is very much multi sex. It has enough action and imagination to appeal to both male and female readers.

And what action there is! Fights with warlords, battles with Inquisitors and deadly escapes from prison camps; it is all in here. Ms Krump even goes as far to mix supernatural elements with appearances from spirits. Her reference to the Troiqa is a unique subtle reference to religion and it is these delicate mentions of our life that make this book very special indeed. This is exactly what YA novels need and Katy Krump almost does everything right.

Where Blue Dust: Forbidden falters ever so slightly though is perhaps the last

Previous Front Cover of Blue Dust: Forbidden

quarter of the book where it seems to run out of steam in parts. It doesn’t ruin the story, but the flow of the book seems to slow down and it isn’t until the very end where it picks up again. Another problem I had with the book was something quite silly, but still affected ones opinion and that was the front cover. It just didn’t fit and didn’t give a correct representation of what the book was about. Thankfully the cover has since changed and all is OK again.

If you are new to the Sci Fi genre, then Blue Dust: Forbidden is exactly the introduction you need and with it’s pacey, well structured story interwoven amongst a backdrop of callous warlords and crime, it is exciting to get stick in and follow Qea’s turmoil. Adam creates a wonderful balance and represents us humans into the story and he is so easy to get behind, with his gentle approach and caring nature. You can’t help but get pulled into the new world this book creates. It’s addictive, appealing and very accessible and a brilliant start to what is bound to be an action packed series. Give it a go; I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

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Author Interview with Katy Krump

Katy Krump is here to talk about her Science Fiction novel Blue Dust: Forbidden. I took my time when formulating some questions to ask her and I hope you find them interesting to read.

  • Blue Dust: Forbidden is the first chapter in your Blue Dust series. Tell us a little about what we can expect as we follow Qea on her journey across England and indeed the Octad.

Qea’s journey is fraught with danger. She’s constantly fleeing in fear of her life and is seldom given a moment to relax or feel safe. Her nature and past make it impossible for her to lower her guard and she struggles with this, especially when she meets Adam. At first Qea’s on the run from her enemies, who have tracked her to Earth, but once she’s taken back to the place of her nightmares, the Octad, she’s faced with a whole new set of problems as the beings and strange, alien planets attack her. It’s also a journey of self-discovery, not always easy for her as she’s confronted with her true self and has to decide who she’ll become to survive. She’s never entirely certain what her next move will be, and this ups the tensions for both her, Adam and the other Forbidden children. For the first time she realises that her decisions and choices affect others and she has to face her own mortality and decide whether or not her life matters more than those she’s responsible for now. She has the role of heroine thrust upon her and is never entirely comfortable with this part. You’re never sure if she’s simply going to run away and leave everyone else to their own devices or if she’s going to stay and embrace her destiny.

  • Qea is such a tough and gritty young woman. What was your inspiration behind her character?

I’d like to say ‘me’, but that’s not true. I wanted a strong female protagonist because I think that the girls are too often relegated to the role of side-kick or love interest. I drew on the character traits of a number of woman in history from Joan of Arc to Boudicca and Miss Marple – weird, I know. I also took the strong male protagonist traits we see so often and made them female, because girls are just as strong as boys, sometimes stronger, and I felt there’s a gap in the market for feisty teenage heroines. And of course, I’m a girl, and have very clear memories of the confusion that becoming a teenager can bring, so I wanted to reflect that too. Life isn’t always easy and it certainly isn’t a ‘chick flick’ where everyone lives happily ever after as soon as the handsome prince has galloped up on his trusty steed. There’s far too much in magazines, television and other media telling girls that all they need to succeed is good looks, big boobs and a strong man and that happiness only comes when you’re rich enough, skinny enough, have big enough eyelashes and hair or have caught a footballer. Girls are disempowered by vacuous celebrities who are famous for nothing more that the size of their chest. Qea becomes her own person through what she has experienced and it’s her experiences that make her who she is. She’s never entirely comfortable with herself and this brings added conflict to her story. I wanted to create a heroine that is untouched by the shallowness of some of the values on Earth. I hope that she’ll be a positive role model for girls, and that boys will see girls as more than simply accessories.

  • What I thought worked really well was the conflict of the young innocent Qea back when she was learning that she is in fact one of the Forbidden. Talk us through your approach to writing the two sides of Qea ~ the younger Qea and her older self.

As I said, being a teenager can be rough and Qea’s past has been traumatic, it’s made her what she is, so I wanted to show this. We’re all shaped by our history, but we don’t have to allow that to define us forever. Qea not knowing why she lived as she did adds a new dimension. Her early years were bizarre, she doesn’t understand why she’s been kept in seclusion, and the discovery that she’s Forbidden is devastating and informs how she reacts throughout her adventure. I thought back to my own childhood, that foggy feeling when things happened that I didn’t fully understand and the light bulb moment when suddenly everything became clear. I wanted the older Qea to remember her younger self and to become more tolerant of her own failings as she understands where she came from and why she was treated the way she was. In the sequel Destiny, even more of her early life is revealed. I felt it important that the readers understand why Qea is so hard and inflexible, why she’s had to become tough and I hope I’ve conveyed this effectively.

  • Sci-Fi is predominately the main genre of this book, yet throughout you manage to keep everything believable and somehow realistic. Were you always drawn to the Sci-Fi genre and how important was it for you to keep everything so believable?

The first time I saw an episode of Star Trek as a child, something clicked inside me. The thought that there might be other worlds out there was so amazing and it gave my imagination a huge shove, though I did struggle to put aside the part of me that wanted to know ‘but how is this possible?’.  I had to learn how to suspend belief and understand that I was watching a story. My dad took me to see 2001 A Space Odyssey when I was quite young, and it put me off Science Fiction for years, because it seemed so random and inexplicable and I couldn’t relate to any of the characters. But then we got television and I met Captain Kirk and Mr Spock and they were believable despite the setting, because they had personalities and characteristics I could identify with. Now with special effects and CGI, other worlds are so much more believable than the cardboard rocks in the early Star Trek episodes I saw. I still love Sci-Fi that makes sense, there must be strong characters, an amazing setting, constant danger and conflict. I wanted to keep Qea real, even though she’s an alien, my readers must be able to relate to her and see their own circumstances reflected in hers. It was important that I kept the characters and beings of the Octad possible, without falling back into a cliché. The readers need to see themselves in Qea’s struggles and I hope I’ve conveyed this.

  • I think Adam’s character is a nice balance to the over eager Qea. Even though Qea is very much the main protagonist within Blue Dust: Forbidden, it is still Adam’s story too. Did Adam start off in your mind like this or did his character just take over in your writing process?

Adam grew as I wrote him, it’s funny how characters do that. Suddenly they do something you never expected or planned and I’m constantly surprised as they take on a life of their own. Adam challenges Qea and brings his own Earthly constructs into her world, which is why they clash so often. I wanted to make him the alien in her world, but the way he reacted wasn’t planned, he did that all on his own. Being an ‘alien’ myself, I released a lot of my own frustrations into Adam, except I moved him from Earth to the Octad, whereas my own journey was only from South Africa to England. He certainly has aspects of my own feelings of disempowerment and alienation in him, and though I planned these for Qea initially, they unexpectedly manifested in Adam too.

  • Tell us about some of your writing heroes? With the cold winter fastly approaching, which book can you always rely on to hook you and let the time just slip away into the night?

My first heroine in fiction was Jo March in Little Woman. She moved away from home to become a writer and that resonated with me even back then. Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple as well as Tommy and Tuppence, influenced my love of crime and I spent many happy hours wandering around the neighbourhood looking for clues and writing down car number plates ‘just in case’. I love a good thriller on a cold night. A recent hero of mine is the much flawed Harry Hole in the Jo Nesbo books. I also admire Lizbet Salander (to a point) in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the sequels and I’ve recently discovered Lord PeterDeath BredonWimsey in the Dorothy L Sayers series. He’s a bit old fashioned, but I enjoy his eccentric Englishman sleuth. And of course Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games trilogy. I only found her when Blue Dust : Forbidden was already complete and it was great to find a strong female character for the YA market.

  • I think you have found a gap in the YA market with Blue Dust: Forbidden. Do you think Sci-Fi is a genre that is somewhat left in the shadows too often or do you think that it is a genre that can grow?

Sci Fi films and television shows have certainly helped the genre grow, and I’m hopeful they will continue to attract and steer new readers to the genre. It seems to me from reading various magazines that there is a bit of snobbishness out there, and often Sci-Fi isn’t taken all that seriously by those that consider themselves ‘proper’ writers. Nor is YA fiction for that matter. Of course any writer knows that writing for the YA market is just as much proper writing as anything else and there are loads of crossover books where adults also enjoy YA books. I’m finding many Sci-Fi and fantasy loving adults who are enjoying Blue Dust : Forbidden and that’s wonderful. I think the genre will continue to grow and will hopefully pull new younger readers in as it did to me. Yes, it has been left in the shadows, Sci-Fi followers seem to have a reputation as nerdy geeks, but intelligent readers know this is nonsense. You have to be particularly bright to understand Sci-Fi, I think.

  • But what about you Katy? Tell us about yourself and how you got into writing?

I was born and raised in South Africa and have always enjoyed writing and telling stories. I had an over-active imagination, something my teachers didn’t always appreciate and I often felt ‘squashed’. I was an English and music teacher before almost losing my sense of humour (and mind) and deciding I needed to devote myself to the thing I love most – writing. While teaching I published a number of children’s musicals and realised that I wanted to write full-time. I was lucky enough to become a television scriptwriter for children, entered a nationwide scriptwriting competition and was selected to be on the writing team of a popular South African soap. I also worked as an advertising copywriter, wrote radio ads and jingles, educational textbooks and readers…anything writing-related to keep the wolf from the door. Basically, I’m constantly writing; books and TV or film scripts and if not that then plotting, planning and scheming how to take over the world!

Like my creation Qea, the feisty heroine in Blue Dust: Forbidden, I understand something about being an alien after I embarked on a new journey, crossing the galaxy to settle on a new planet (England) many moons ago. Some like to call this process ‘immigration’. I am now the proud possessor of a maroon Intergalactic Wayfarer Permit and have come to love the aliens I mix with daily, even though they don’t always speak the same language.

  • And lastly, if you could describe Blue Dust: Forbidden in just five words, what would they be?

Exciting, frightening, sad, romantic, hopeful

Blue Dust : Forbidden (Blue Dust #1)

Thanks for those insightful answers Katy! We wish you luck with the book launch! Blue Dust: Forbidden is now available! You can purchase it from the following links. Amazon Paperback, Amazon eBook, Waterstones.

Stay Tuned to Sci Fi week because I am giving away a free copy of Blue Dust later this week, with the addition of a special gift from the Author!

Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti and Author Interview!

Day Two of Sci Fi Week – I’ve sat here for the past five minutes wondering whether or not to post the review of the book first or the Interview first and I just don’t know. Does it really matter? I think it makes more sense to read the review of Other Systems first and then find out a little more about the talented author next.

Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti was published by 48Fourteen Publishing earlier this year in April and follows the story of Abby, who surprisingly leaves all of her family and friends on Earth and is heading off to Kipos, a planet light years away to start a new life; one filled with education, heart warming stories about loving spouses and grand jobs. But things aren’t that simple however, and Abby is soon to discover that life upon this Utopian planet is actually more of a hellish nightmare. She is sold to a man as a slave and life is pretty drastic and dire. Will she escape or will she learn to ride the difficult culture and accept her new position in an unknown planet?

What I loved about Other Systems was the highly advanced world Elizabeth Guizzetti creates. It is one full of history and full of promise and the result of this is actually a fully rendered 3D world we can actually visualise and understand. Kipos is a planet on the decline; generations after generations are succumbing to a failed reproduction law and are desperate for solutions. You can get sucked in to the entire political situation of Guizzetti’s world and it almost serves as a dual storyline alongside Abby’s turmoil.

I feel it safe to say that Other Systems is indeed an adult novel and it features many unpleasant scenes and situations that are difficult to read, yet this is not a bad thing! It is the awful point where Abby is raped that you suddenly awaken to the addictiveness this sort of novel produces. You simply have to read more. You want Abby to be OK; you want her to live on and make something of herself; not letting those awful moments define her as a person.

For Abby is such a relatable character and a protagonist whom we learn to love and admire. I think Abby can come across incredibly naïve in the beginning, falling for the false promises offered to her, but why not? Despite her quite innocent approach at times, she is a highly modern woman; a woman with many ideals and emotions that can distance some readers. Should monogamy be the right path? For Abby, love is something she learns to accept on many levels and her approach is simply her choice. As a reader we can either accept this, or see it as one of her flaws. And it is these flaws that can also make Abby so readable. We aren’t perfect ourselves so why would we want to read ‘perfect’ characters?

Guizzetti’s book is quite technical at times and this is to be expected from a book of this genre. It never patronises you though and at times you come away feeling quite knowledgeable about the processes and technologies within the novel. Surely this is a sign of the author’s talent? It is obvious she has done her research with so much attentiveness and love.

Alongside Abby is a cast of interesting and fully rendered characters. Take Cole for instance who can almost come across as quite endearing at times. Cole can almost be seen as a love interest for Abby, but you realise much later on that their relationship is more of a father and daughter. With the inclusion of male characters we also come across Harden and Mark. With that also comes the subject of homosexuality.

I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil everything the book has to offer but we come to realise that Harden is bisexual, which is quite rare to see in books. I think it is wonderful that Guizzetti has dared to approach these subjects and decided to explore them.

There is simply just so many things going on within this novel and you can’t help but let of all these intertwining events and politics take over your own imagination. What if our world was like that? Where would we be as a civilisation? It most definitely gives you cause for concern as you come across the beginnings of these things in our own country.

Of course a review wouldn’t be fair without showing both sides of the coin. If subjects such as rape and character sexuality are something that you wish NOT to read then I’m afraid you won’t find this book very enjoyable. The sensitive subjects are never thrown at you with menace but I would assume that many people may find all of this uncomfortable in a shockingly unpleasant way.

I think it fair to say that at times, the flow of the book can slow and it is at these times where reading can become a little confusing especially if you aren’t fully aware of the subject matter. However, with a book of this nature and calibre it does deserve your entire attention.

I would highly recommend Elizabeth Guizzetti’s Other Systems as a book to reignite the Sci-Fi genre to you if you have ever left it if you are fan; definitely go and add it to your wish list. It has a nice balance of action and emotion and with very well written characters, there will be someone in here that you can find so attachable. It’s an intelligent novel that will send your mind wondering and I loved the fact that the book could become quite intense at times because ultimately this strengthened my connection with the characters. When you read this book, you will understand exactly what I mean.

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Author Interview with Elizabeth Guizzetti

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Elizabeth Guizzetti here for an interview. Hi Elizabeth! Her author profile tells us that she loves to create (which is extremely apparent within her book) and once she has an idea she runs off with the idea, not letting it go until she has given it her all. Over the past decade, she has created over 100 paintings, three graphic novels and a comic book series. Other Systems is her first published novel.

Elizabeth currently lives in Seattle with her husband and two dogs.

  • Other Systems is a wonderfully crafted and well structured Sci-Fi novel featuring Abby’s quest to start a new life. Tell us a little about what we can discover inside?

 

Other Systems is a story of determination and survival set against a background of scientific exploration. It explores the loss of identity, family, and friends due to time dilation.

Without an influx of human DNA, the planet Kipos has eleven generations before its human colony reaches failure. Gene splicing and cloning have failed. It will take over two centuries to get to Earth and back at near light speed. When the Kiposi transports arrive in our solar system, they are shocked to discover the outer colonies (Triton, Ganymede among others) are abandoned. The Home World is crumbling and filled with 17 billion wanton savages.

The novel follows Abby, an Earthling, who after medical, intelligence, and physiological testing is offered transportation along with her younger siblings, Jin and Orchid. They leave Earth with the expectation of good jobs, kindhearted spouses, and the opportunity for higher education. When Abby wakes up on Kipos, Jin cannot be found. Orchid is ripped from her arms as Abby is sold to a dull-eyed man with a sterilized wife. To survive, Abby must learn the differences in culture and language using the only thing that is truly hers on this new world: her observant and analytical mind. To escape her captors, she’ll join a planetary survey team.

While most of the novel is written from Abby’s perspective; the prologue, intermissions and conclusion focus on Cole Alekos and his family. These breaks in the narrative show the consequences of the Reproduction Laws, advances in technology, the variable nature of time, and the effect of Abby’s presence on his family after his adult daughter decides to take her in.

  • Other Systems is set so far in the future in 3062. How did you go about creating Earth so far ahead of our time? Was it all from your entire imagination or did you take elements from our own lives and evolve them further?

I know quite a bit about the construction of Seattle and was able to imagine what would happen if the seawall collapsed and if the infrastructure began to break down. Yes, I did take elements from current technology and evolved them to what might be if levels of tech continued to rise and fall as population continued to rise. If necessity is the mother of all invention, I just considered what would be necessary. Solar and methane collection would become crucial. I loved the idea that artificial intelligence decided to leave Earth and Kipos after they evolved past humans. They don’t have anything against humans, they just don’t want to hang out with us either.

  • I think Abby is such a relatable character. She has dreams to further herself and become somebody and although it is a bit of a risk to venture to Kipos, it is one many of us can understand. She has such a strong voice. What is it about Abby that you think is addictive yet relatable?

I am proud that I wrote a character that people seem to care about even when they get frustrated with her. One reason I think people care about her is that she has flaws, she makes mistakes. Yet she has strength of character. She is a survivor no matter what happens she keeps going.

  • Other Systems cover many sensitive issues; some political, others more ethical. It must have been hard to write about these with such detail? However it is done so professionally. I commend your daring about including these issues. What compelled you to include/write about these issues?

Let me first start by explaining how I wrote it. The concept for Other Systems really hit me when I was out walking the dogs: a young Earth woman goes to another planet and realizes she has become a slave. However, due to her intelligence, she will escape and become a ship’s captain while she rescues her siblings also somewhere lost on this planet. Obviously this original idea is not exactly the final concept. That very night, I saw an article about young, uneducated girls from India’s rural areas traveling into new cities and thinking that they are going to get factory jobs only to end up working as sex slaves. Suddenly, I knew the how Abby got caught up in all of this.

As for writing controversial issues (suicide, sex, swearing, politics, etc.) should be integral to the plot in some way. So first of all, I ask myself: Is this scene necessary? How much of the scene is necessary? Abby’s rape was integral to the plot and I had to force myself to not rush the scene though I didn’t want to write it at all.

For every negative scene, I tried to remember there would be a positive scene. The scene that was the hardest scene to write was the birth of Rachel Margret/Lei Lei. It took me a long time to write convincingly how much joy Abby had for the child’s life then her accompanying pain when the child is taken from her arms.

  • I love your approach regarding character’s sexual identity, in my opinion it sets it far ahead of other novels of similar theme. Were you ever worried about readers’ reactions or possible homophobia?

Not really. It is probably to my detriment, but I don’t worry about readers’ reactions to challenging subjects. My goal is to write a complex and interesting story and characters who readers sympathize with.

Besides, I figure people who are homophobic would have never got past the opening chapter. They wouldn’t agree with Lucy’s suicide as a protected right or Harden screaming obscenities at his father. If they happened to get to the second intermission, they learn Harden is bisexual like most people in the Fleet. He leans towards hetero, but he has had homosexual relationships. They probably would put the book down right then and there.

What surprised me is Abby’s sexuality has been more problematic for some reviewers than the homosexuality. Apparently, there is still an idea that a young girl should just want love from one special guy, but Abby thinks about love and sex with various men and boys.

  • What is it about the Sci-Fi genre that captures you? Did you just happen to fall into that genre or have you always had a healthy respect for it?

It is the story that captures my attention. Abby’s story happened to be science fiction. The day the inspiration struck I knew it would be. I have also written (in comics) fantasy, a dark comedy, and historical horror, each time I always knew what the story would turn out to be.

That being said, prior to writing my first novel, I loved science fiction as a genre and so does my husband. With this project, I hoped to create something my husband would love.

Since then I discovered I have a knack for mixing science with solid characters. Both of my published written works, Other Systems and the short story Unintentional Colonists are character driven sci-fi.

  • Despite all of the action and wonderful plot, it is the characters and their relationships that I loved the most. It was almost sad to reach the end. Does Abby, Harden or Mark feature in any of your future plans or has their full story been told?

The series will not have a traditional sequel, but it’s a big universe. There is so much more to explore including what happened on Earth after the Kiposi left the space elevators and what happened on Kipos. If it goes to plan…you will see all three characters again.

  • Other Systems was published in April of this year and has been released for some time. I’m intrigued to hear about your short story ‘Unintentional Colonists’. What’s that all about?

After 12 years of no gravity in space or low gravity on Europa, the crew of the one of the first long term space missions must decide if they want to go home and be crippled or stay on Europa and continue to do scientific research.

It was published by Perihelion SF on October 12 of this year. Everyone can read it for free at http://perihelionsf.com/fiction_4.htm

  • Sci-Fi has its own set of rules to follow and it must be difficult to avoid accidental ‘copying’ from well known Sci-Fi examples. Tell us your thoughts.

I don’t know if there are rules per say, but most science fiction has both scientific thought and the hypothesis of “what might be if…”

Sometimes I do worry about accidental ‘copying’ and think many authors probably do. After all, did I come up with the idea of artificial intelligence, nanotech, FtL messaging and travel? Nope. That technology is literally in hundreds if not thousands of books, movies, games, and television shows. Scientists right now are working to develop technologies that will push science even further.

When I needed technology or science for Other Systems, Unintentional Colonists or any story, I researched prevailing theories, chose one, then filled in the holes with fiction. Since that is what all authors do, it makes sense there is some crossover. Because every author is going to tell their stories their own way, the stories are going to be original. For example, there are other stories with Artificial Intelligence, some times they even become sentient, but I never read any story where the AI becomes sentient because someone was polite to it. That’s part of my story.

  • And lastly, what advice would you give to new Sci-Fi writers who are looking to get published?

This advice is really for any author. Since there are no guarantees, be passionate about the stories you write. Getting published is often an issue of reading submission guidelines, contacting the right market, determination, and not giving up.

Other Systems

What a great interesting interview! It’s really rewarding sometimes when you have loved a book to get to know the gritty information behind the novel and what went into it whilst it was still ‘under construction’. Thank you Elizabeth! I wish you all the best for the future and readers, if you loved what you have read get reading her free short story. You can purchase Other Systems though  using the link you are more familiar with. Amazon USAmazon UK , 48Fourteen,  Barnes & Noble.

Be sure to keep reading Sci Fi week on my blog for your chance to win a free copy of Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti and a surprise gift from Elizabeth herself!

What is Sci Fi?

Well it is the first day of Sci Fi week on my blog and I thought it appropriate to discuss what the Sci Fi genre actually is. What I have recently come to realise is that the Sci Fi genre actually means different things to different people.

If we look at the dictionary definition of the term ‘Sci Fi’ it actually gives quite a broad answer. A genre of fiction that deals with imaginary but plausible content such as futuristic science, technology, space travel, aliens, parallel universes and the paranormal (but not the supernatural). Hmmmm wow that can cover quite a lot can’t it?

Sometimes, I have to admit that it can sometimes become quite difficult to distinguish between what is fantasy and what is Sci Fi. Obviously if we take J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, we can pretty much come to the conclusion that that is fantasy and not Sci Fi. The same can go for H G Wells’ The War of the Worlds but just in reverse. But what about a medium that contains a mixture of both?

Take James Cameron’s Avatar for instance. Despite looking a lot like the 1992 film Fern Gully, it has a mixture of fantasy elements such as different races and their religious beliefs including flying creatures. But yes it does involve futuristic technology and other worlds despite our own.

 

But when did we first come across the Sci Fi Novel? Interestingly, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is considered to be one of the earliest examples of Sci Fi despite its gothic and romantic setting, and that was published in 1818. If you venture into one of the bigger book shops, you’ll find that Sci Fi can be split down further. Categories such as Hard Sci Fi, Military Sci Fi, Western Sci Fi, Biopunk and Apocalyptic are to name but a few.

And with the franchises of Star Wars and Star Trek, Sci Fi was transported to

Image taken from http://www.galaticwatercooler.com

the general public on a much more mass scale and it became popular. I do still think that Sci Fi can be quite ‘cult-y’ and is often associated with geeks and can actually be seen as derogatory and not real writing.

I have a few favourite TV shows that are Sci Fi which I will talk about in later posts this week, but if I am honest, I haven’t read too many novels in this broad genre. I grew up with Fantasy and Adventure and tended to stick to what I knew. However, with my two guest interviews this week, I have discovered a real interest in the subject and I hope I can keep it up and continue to venture further.

What does Sci Fi mean to you? And what are some of your favourite books in the genre? Please do comment and start talking, it will be interesting to see if any particular book / series seems to be more popular. Have you always been a fan of Sci Fi? Or are you not a fan and prepared to tell us why?

 

*COMING TOMORROW: Book review of Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti and an interview with the author herself!*