1) Tell us about your current or last science fiction novel. What is it about and how did you come up with the concept?
My most recent release, Water to Water, is set on a planet that has had no contact with humans or other such aliens:). In fact, none of the sentient species there have sufficient knowledge of astronomy to conceive of that possibility.
The book has to do with how members of the Vushlu species die, and whether what the Vushla believe about that process is in fact the whole story. Two of the main characters are young enough for the book to be, in part, a “coming of age” story. Either the idea or a vision (I don’t remember which) of how Vushla die – by swimming or wading into the ocean and dissolving – came to me in a dream. The rest of the story came together gradually. My husband contributed a key plot point.
2) How did you get started writing science fiction?
I’ve been reading SF since my teens (a very long time ago). So I tend to view current events and other info that comes my way through a science-fiction lens. Once I returned to writing long fiction after a hiatus of some decades, SF was the natural form for my storytelling to take.
3) What specific sub-genres within science fiction do you write in and why?
I write near future SF, usually examining unintended or otherwise adverse consequences of possible new technology. I try to do this without appearing to endorse a retreat from the pursuit of advances in science and technology.
I also write SF with aliens. Besides Water to Water, I’ve written a series (three books so far) – the Twin-Bred series — focusing on human-alien communication and interaction.
The near-future plot ideas pop up when I read about scientific or technological discoveries. The ideas involving aliens probably come from my preoccupation with certain themes: communication difficulties, the nature of personal identity, unintended consequences.
4) Do you prefer to write in first or third person and past or present tense?
I’ve never written in first person or in present tense. I very much like some stories using one or both, such as the Hunger Games trilogy, but it’s never felt like what one of my stories needed.
5) What is your favorite part about being a writer?
Hearing that one of my books has moved a reader. (Also up there: rereading something I’ve written and either laughing or crying; holding a paperback copy for the first time.)
6) What is the hardest part about being a writer?
Finding readers, or rather, making it more likely that they’ll find my books. I am not naturally gifted at self-promotion. I’ve learned a good deal about the process since I started, but I still fall short.
7) What stories or authors influence your writing?
I’ve read so much for so long that it’s hard to say – but Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow made a huge impression on me. Further back, I read most of Heinlein’s novels, many Asimov novels and stories, many Robert Silverberg ditto, and several of Ursula K. LeGuin’s novels.
8) Recommend a great science fiction book or movie that we might have missed you didn’t create?
How about Way of the Pilgrim by Gordon R. Dickson? It’s a very good SF novel I read recently, and it’s gotten surprisingly little favorable attention.
Here’s my review.
“This is an absorbing, suspenseful, sometimes moving, and highly original tale of an Earth and humanity conquered by aliens, the genesis of a resistance, and what comes of it.
“It is hard to say how much the POV character changes, and how much his original self-assessment was inaccurate; but his perceptions and his actions grow in directions and in magnitude far beyond what he would have believed at the beginning.
“The ending is an interesting blend of conclusive and inconclusive. I found the last sentence unsatisfying in its vague not-quite-profundity, but on the whole, I enjoyed the book and was impressed by it.”
9) Anything else about you or your novel that you would like us to know?
When I try to describe my author “brand,” I come up with something like “thoughtful fiction in varied genres.”
I hope that my work shows my affection and compassion for the human race, whatever the SF ideas and settings.
10) What’s the best way to find you online?
I’m most active on Twitter, where my handle is @KarenAWyle. I also post on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KarenAWyle , mainly about writing and publishing, occasionally about one of my books.
I have a neglected website at https://www.KarenAWyle.com . I give it more attention when I have a book coming out soon – but the best way to keep abreast of my new releases, aside from following me on social media, is to sign up for my email list at http://kawyle.wufoo.com/forms/z7x3k7/ . Subscribing gives you early access to occasional goodies like (most recently) commissioned drawings of key characters in an upcoming novel. (Disclosure: that novel isn’t science fiction, but rather my first foray into historical romance.)