Interview with Susan Thompson

ice planet

 

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.

 

 

 

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Interview with Linda North

space helmet chick

 

When I started the search for lesbian writers of fantasy/ science fiction, a significant number of readers, as well as author of the genre suggested Deep Merge, by Linda North.  With many positive recommendations, I had to check it out.  Instantly I fell in love.  How wonderful:  Deep Merge contained my favorite themes: dystopia, space travel, space-society, and time-travel.   Even better, the plot was lesbian focal.   Imagine my glee.

After reading Deep Merge, I felt compelled to review it, first on Amazon, then on this blog.  I passed the word in a host of FaceBook groups.   In short order, not only did I become a Linda North fan, we became friends, as well.

In the course of a few conversations, I asked Linda if she would be willing to answer a few questions about writing science fiction, as that is my main area of focus.   She agreed to do so.

The interview, by way of questionnaire, takes place 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 more intrepid, approachable.   So, if you were to introduce yourself to someone at a party, how would that differ to your professional introduction?

LN: I’m retired since 2010. I worked for the state of Florida in various social work related fields. I have been writing since 2006. I started out writing Star Trek Voyager fan fiction under the name cygirl1. My main focus was pairing B’Elanna Torres with Seven of Nine. I also wrote two Janeway/Seven stories. Writing was a way for me to relax after a strenuous workday. It was never an ambition of mine to be an author. I’m an unabashed romantic and believe in happy endings. My Star Trek Voyager stories can be found here. http://janewayandseven4ever.com/

WIND AND DREAMS is a combination of a historical novel (1901-1902) combined with the fantasy of a secret kingdom deep in the Sahara Desert ruled by a female pharaoh. It also delves into reincarnation and the role the ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses play. Rose McLeod is very much an all American woman of that time period. Merytneit, the ruler, believes in the ancient Egyptian Gods and Destiny. Her culture is a reflection of ancient Egypt around the 4th century A.D. She rules supreme, her will is law, and she is arrogant and feels entitled. Cultures and beliefs clash. Each woman must push aside many of their cultural biases if love is to prevail.

DEEP MERGE takes place in this time period and involves an alien abduction of an Earth woman. Antonia Kaye Lorne (Toni) finds herself in a situation where she has to put aside her fears to assist an alien, Kaesah, in reaching her home world with vital information to prevent a possible extinction of her species and possible dire consequences for Earth. Kaesah doesn’t like humans, but to reach her home, she must form an amicable bond with Toni. This is not just a story about cultural differences and acceptance, but also about earning trust.

QR: Every writer has to be asked this question: who were your biggest literary influences?

LN: For science fiction there was Frank Herbert’s DUNE series, James Tiptree Jr., and Ray Bradbury. Also, Analog and Galaxy magazines. They contained stories by many well known science fiction writers.

 

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? As a kid I read thousands of comic books.

LN: As a kid I read thousands of comic books. Wonder Woman, Fantastic Four, Spider Man, Super Man, along with other heroes and heroines. I read all the SPACE CAT series written by Ruthven Todd. During my teen years, I started reading science fiction novels and short stories.

 

QR: What led you to science fiction? Was it real world events, like space travel, or something else?

LN: Science fiction opens up the imagination to “what ifs” and other possibilities, some outside the limits of nature and the natural order as we know it. What if Earth is invaded by aliens? What if someone invented a time machine and stopped Alexander the Great from invading Persia. What if we discovered faster than light travel.

 

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?

LN: Both purposely and unconsciously. In DEEP MERGE, I touch on homophobia, technology, religion, and to some degree, sexuality. This was necessary as the story deals with an alien culture and the culture of a segment of American society rooted in southern religious beliefs. My main characters are shaped by their culture, as are humans in general. When my characters discuss aspects of their cultures with each other, they let go of many beliefs they took for granted.

 

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 ever more marginalized, relegated to “chick lit?”

LN: Truthfully, I’ve never delved into this subject with any great thought. I write what I want to read. I don’t worry about an audience for what my stories.

 

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?

LN: I’m a lesbian and like to read stories about lesbians. Since I write what I want to read, and lesbians are the main characters, I think my stories would appeal mainly to lesbians. If that limits my audience to mainly lesbians, so be it. I think stories written by lesbians for lesbians and about lesbians are important to lesbians in general. To me as a reader a lesbian author shares an identity and experiences that I can relate to on a more personal level and this is often found in the lesbian stories they write.

 

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?

LN: My characters, in a lot of ways, have a little of reflections about myself at various stages in my life. Naturally, my stories contain some of my philosophy on life.

 

QR: Lighter question: what are you reading right now?

LN: THE VIKINGS. VOYAGERS OF DISCOVERY AND PLUNDER.

 

QR: Do you have a playlist that you go to while writing?

LN: Sometimes. I like classical and New Age instrumentals. Songs with vocals distract me.

 

QR: Anything that you would like to say in parting?

LN: To you who want to start writing, write from your heart and soul the stories that you want to read. Don’t worry about what is popular. Write for yourself.

Thanks for letting me participate.

QR: No, thank you!

 

 

Interviews with fantasy/sci-fi authors

 

space helmet chick

An excellent part of reviewing books is meeting the authors.   What’s even better, is when authors agree to participate in interviews — not as a means for book promotion, but as a means of helping out another writer with her research.  In the coming days, interviews will be posted by authors who have agreed to help me with my book on the genre of Fantasy, especially on the dark side of that spectrum.

To date, Linda North, author of Deep Merge  and SY Thompson, author of Fractured Futures and Destination Alara have agreed to participate.   The interviews, along with links to their books and reviews thereof, will be posted next week, beginning Monday, 7/14.2014 with an interview with Linda North.