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!