Susan Thompson’s Fractured Futures was one of the first lesbian science fiction books that I read. Susan addresses all of the dark, post apocalyptic themes that stir my sci-fi soul: a futuristic landscape reminiscent replete with provocative social themes, perhaps akin to Orson Scott Card, incredibly sensual imagery, and strong, determined female characters. Fractured Futures so entranced me, that I decided to read Susan’s newest book, Destination Alara. Again, Susan’s writing proved stellar (no pun intended.) As I enjoy her work so much, I reached out to Susan for a bit of insight into writing science fiction. She agreed, and the interview is below:
QR: Assume that the readers don’t know much about you and your works. What would you like to tell them? As a reader/writer, I prefer the non-publisher version of background information. The non-publisher or promotional packet information seems intrepid, approachable. So, if you were to introduce yourself to someone at a party, how would that differ to your professional introduction?
ST: I’m pretty shy when it comes to talking about myself. I do so with my website and publisher because it’s required. If asked, I’d say that I’m former military and law enforcement. I’m retired (early) and just like to spend time at home with my animals. I’d focus in the fact that I love animals, most any kind, and that I’ve rescued and re-homed so many cats I’ve lost count. I’d say that I love to write because it allows me to explore possibilities I’d never be able to experience in person. I dream in color and many of my stories are inspired by them. Last of all, I’d have to admit to being a bit of a hermit. It’s hard for me to come out of my shell.
QR: Every writer has to be asked this question: who were your biggest literary influences?
ST: Dean Koontz, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Piers Anthony.
QR: Did you read science fiction or fantasy as a kid? If so, who were your favorite authors? If not, when did you start reading this genre?
ST: Yes, I did. I read all of Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. G. Wells and Isaac Asimov when I was a kid.
QR: What led you to science fiction? Was it real world events, like space travel, or something else?
ST: I love science fiction because it allows me to create my own realities. The possibilities are limited only by the imagination. Space travel is a fascinating subject for me. I still watch all television shows related to the cosmos, space travel and futuristic inventions. I think shows I watched as a kid like “Lost in Space” and “Star Trek” captured my interest the most and led me down this path.
QR: Science fiction, as a genre, is fraught with important, real world issues, like big government, war and imperialism, oppression (gender, class, race), exploration of sexuality, and possible futures, including that based on technology. Your books explore these themes, undoubtedly. Do you do so purposely or unconsciously? That is, do these ideas come out in your plots because such things are important to you already and thus, come onto the page, or do you have ideas that you wish to explore? Another way to put this would be: what moves you to write about such themes; perhaps as a reaction to society in its current state of affairs?
ST: It’s a little of both, I suppose. While some issues such as women being devalued by a patriarchal society is a definite sticking point with me, other themes/issues may arise subconsciously and I perceive only after the fact.
QR: Do you think that science fiction or fantasy is marginalized as genre? Why or why not? Within that scope, do you think that women writers of the genre are even more marginalized, relegated to “chick lit?”
ST: In a way, scifi/fantasy is a marginalized genre. When someone says a person is a “fantasy” writer, one immediately has an image of a person not in touch with or grounded in reality. I disagree. The person who can pull off good scifi or fantasy is a person with a great imagination. It is far easier to imagine “real world” events and make them believable than to create worlds solely from the author’s mind. I do not, however, believe women writers are even more marginalized. I think lesbians in particular can relate to products of the imagination and appreciate the work that goes into such creative endeavors.
QR: Is writing in the sphere of les-fic particularly important to you? Why so? Do you think that becomes a limiting factor in readership to your detriment in some way? Writing les-fic is definitely important to me. Good lesbian fiction tells the story of “us”.
ST: Through our stories, we illustrate the lives we live and get those tales out to the world at large to overcome the stereotypes and discrimination with which we’ve been afflicted by the mainstream. I do believe it restricts my audience as some people will not read gay/lesbian literature through concern that others will “label” them as homosexual. Until people stop worrying about what others will think of them, this will be true.
QR: I think that your writing is deeply philosophical in a multitude of ways. If you were to think about that statement, how would you respond?
ST: I don’t believe I strive to make my work philosophical. I am a huge fan of the action, scifi/fantasy movie and when I write I’m basically seeing a movie in my head. If philosophical issues arise, it’s usually through an unconscious process.
QR: Lighter question: what are you reading right now?
ST: I just finished Marie Castle’s “Hell’s Belle”. It’s amazing!
QR: Do you have a playlist that you go to while writing?
ST: In a way…I put my television (I have satellite), and listen to classical music. Music with lyrics is far too distracting.
QR: Anything that you would like to say in parting?
ST: As a former Marine, I’ve been in Beirut and Grenada. I’ve seen my best friend murdered by snipers while there. I was a deputy sheriff in San Diego, dealing with gangs, drugs and dead bodies. Despite the horrors, I like to think that I see the positive side of things. That’s why my books will always have a happy ending. The killer/bad guy might get away, my heroines may be severely wounded, but good will always win out. Some might call that sappy or unrealistic. I say that I get enough of reality on a daily basis.
Deep gratitude to Elizabeth Hodge for asking me to participate in her interview.
QR: Absolutely my pleasure. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.