Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Interview With Diann T. Read

I was going to put this interview in with the Sergeys post but it's too long so...new post! Comments from me are in red ink.

1- Diann T. Read, when did you start writing Sci Fi?

Actually, the very first story I ever wrote, all four sentences of it, with a fat pencil on wide-lined paper at the age of five, might have qualified as Sci-Fi because it involved a little green man from outer space. But I didn't seriously get interested in science fiction until my sophomore year in college. I'd been working on a novel based on the Arthurian legends and was more interested in knights, horses, and swords. I even took fencing in college, though that's nothing like handling a broadsword! Then some of my high school friends, who were major Star Trek fans, "kidnapped" me to go see this new little movie called Star Wars. My initial reaction? "That's Le Morte D'Arthur in space!" All the same archetypal characters. But it got me into the library looking for science fiction.

I can't wait to read Gareth's story!

2- I know much of the jargon comes straight from your 23-year stint in the USAF. How much of the material about Lujan's recovery have you personally experienced, or is it simply fantastic research?

That was all intense research--and I wrote "Dominion" before you could just Google questions about central nervous system injuries. I picked the brains of a couple nurse friends, hung out in the ER with one of them one night, went through the yellow pages to find audiologists and physical therapists and drove to their offices to interview them, and scoured the medical section of the local university library. Then I ran the manuscript past medical people to make sure I'd gotten it right. It was like doing a Master's program in nine months--because that was the deadline set by my publisher. (The Sergey books were originally published by Tor in the late 90s.)

You can really tell you've been meticulous with your research. It brings your characters to life in a way you can't if you simply pull stuff out of thin air.

3- Who have been your hero(ine)s in the Sci Fi writing world?

Authors? Or their characters? My favorite female writers of military SF are C.J. Cherryh, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Elizabeth Moon. C.J. encouraged me--and connected me with my agent--when I was first starting out. Later, Elizabeth Moon went wa-a-a-a-a-ay beyond all expectations to mentor me. We did panels on military SF together at conventions, and when I deployed to Bosnia, I kept in touch with her almost as much as my family.
Elizabeth's character, Esmay Suiza, from a series that began with "Once a Hero," is one of my favorites. While I was in Bosnia and emailing my adventures to Elizabeth, she emailed back, "Esmay is looking more like you all the time!"--which I took as a compliment. And, of course, Lois's Cordelia, mother of Miles Vorkosigan, who takes matters into her own hands more than once.

Holy Astrochick Batman, we have the SAME HEROINES! I love those books! I've also read a ton of guy SF writers (My husband is beginning to wonder if there'll be room for him in our bedroom soon. I might lend out a book or two so he'll fit...;o). Bujold is one of my all-time favorites. I'm always glad to see a woman SF writer.
3- Will you be doing another Sergey book?

Not immediately, though it's not out of the question. It'll more likely be novelettes or novellas. A couple of reader friends about my age have said they'd like to see more about Lujan and Darcie and what they do after "Dominion." I hadn't realized there was a market for middle-aged space heroes!  ;-)

The young studs get all the fun heroes. I think people our age want to see that they aren't obsolete and can still do amazing things. Especially since they are doing more and more in the medical field to keep the body viable for longer. Bring it on, baby. Darcie needs her day.

4- I'd love to hear more about Darcie. She's such a strong woman that I don't want her to get lost in the shuffle. I think she has a whole book's worth of story waiting.

I had a book about Darcie semi-planned, about her bringing up Tristan on Ganwold, but Tor didn't go for it. Here's a young woman from a high-tech civilization abruptly thrust into a primitive hunter-gatherer culture. How does she learn to survive? Can she even trust the native population, who are obviously carnivores? What does she teach her child about his origins? I thought it'd be fun to show Tris as a small child, too, assimilating himself into the gan culture, as children so readily do.

I feel like there's a whole story about her after the trilogy. You could tie up the problem of Remarq in there too. Maybe SHE could even do it...;o)

5- I'd like to watch Lujan finally make it to health. I'm so impressed with what a strong MAN he is. I love that he prays and works for freedom and for his family

Lujan will never quite be 100% physically after all that damage but, as you saw in "Dominion," he learns to compensate. I think that makes him a lot more interesting. In a later book I started brainstorming but never fully developed, he regained enough capability to have another child with Darcie--much to Tristan's surprise! 

I didn't think he'd be 100% but playing with the alternate "gifts" could be really fun. And another child, especially a brilliant girl, would be fantastic.  

6- I'd really like to see Tristan fly again and maybe deal further with his demons.

If Tris had been brought up by his father, he'd be as enthusiastic a pilot as Lujan. However, growing up on the ground with the ganan--and having been subjected to pilot training under duress--he's much more comfortable with ground operations. He can fly, but it's not his forte. I had tentatively planned books showing him progressing into the Spherzah while evading attempts on his life. (After what he and Lujan did in the current trilogy, they're both targeted men.) I also had marriage and kids in mind for Tris; I introduced his future wife, in fact, in "Echoes."

I'm definitely looking forward to that. He needs to really climb out of his shell and shine.

7- I know you're writing another series. What's this one about?

The Seventh Shaman series is similar to the Sergey books, except aimed at the YA audience. My protagonist, Akuleh (the name means "Looks Up," which he has to learn to do on a few levels, but he goes by Ku), would be American Indian if the books were set on Earth. Having a non-Anglo protagonist was a very deliberate choice; I see far too few non-Anglo, especially American Indian, kids in YA fiction.
Ku is an orphan being brought up by an abusive stepmother. He knows a prophecy was made about him at his birth but he doesn't know what it said, so when his stepmother starts calling him Death Bringer he believes the worst. Time to leave before anyone else he cares about is killed. So he runs away from home, lies about his age, and joins the military. Ku also has a snarky streak, which is a lot of fun to write! 
Like Lujan, Ku is a natural combat pilot, but that's as much curse as blessing during pilot training. He also has to deal with cultural issues--his latent shaman capabilities, which adds a fantasy element, clan traditions, and that prophecy--on top of prejudice, some bullying, and the usual teen challenges of boy-girl relationships and heartbreak. In the end Ku will hear the contents of the prophecy and learn that his life does have worth and purpose--a great purpose. And that's the message I want to get across to kids, especially at-risk kids.

Wow! I can't wait to read this series! I love the idea of helping non-mainstream kids come out into the light. This is going to be fun.

8- Are there plans for future series?

Some day I really need to go back and finish that Arthurian book I began in high school. It's actually about Sir Gareth, one of Arthur's nephews and Sir Gawain's youngest brother. All the Round Table knights went on the quest for the Holy Grail but not all of their stories are told in the old literature. So I decided to tell Sir Gareth's tale.

I can almost see the movie now...;o) Picturing Gareth. Mmmm!

9- Are you going to be doing any book tours down here in sunny Arizona? I can't wait to meet you!

I would LOVE to do a book tour in Arizona! But that works best when you have print books. Right now--except for "Echoes," which I had to get printed for some contests, and which is now available in print from CreateSpace--the Sergey books are available only as ebooks for Kindle. They will be available on Nook in early March. If there's sufficient demand, I'll do print runs of "Ganwold" and "Dominion" as well.

I agree with the ebook thing. Right now I'm mostly selling on Kindle. Hopefully there will be print books coming in the near future.

10- What advice would you give aspiring Sci Fi writers?

Trust yourself and the stories banging on the inside of your skull to get out! Do your homework on your topics. To me, the education I get from the research is half the fun. Keep some means of jotting notes with you at all times; you never know when you're going to get a great idea. Write something every day, even if it's only a page or a paragraph. Learning to write well is like learning to play a musical instrument or a sport; it takes coaching, studying, and practice, practice, practice! Attend writing classes or workshops when you can; learn from the pros. And never let anyone steal your dream!

Great advice. Thank you for the interview. Looking forward to meeting you someday soon. Now get back to work so I can read your new material...;o)

Diann's contact information:
Website: www.diannthornleyread.com
Blog: Hero Journeys, at: www.diannread.wordpress.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Diann-T-Read/291193624316145?ref=hl
Twitter: @DiannTRead

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