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 last published novel was The Vengeance Season: Book III of the Covalent Series. I call the series a romantic science fantasy because there is a central love story, and because the science wouldn’t work in the real world.
The books feature a race of ancient beings—the Covalent—who hold the elemental forces in balance. Long ago, the expanding forces of Creation and Destruction threatened to destroy the Covalent, so the most powerful among them fused their minds to bond the forces and prevent their expansion. The tension caused other dimensions to burst in folds from the bonded realms, one of which is home to Earth. The Covalent found Earth and were fascinated by humans, sentient beings like themselves but whose short lives they saw as an expression of Creation turned to Destruction. They were received as gods or divine emissaries, but many were ill-behaved and lost Balance, the source of their power. They become sick and weak themselves. Their rulers outlawed travel to Earth, and their presence among humans receded into myth.
My story begins when a powerful Covalent warrior is exiled to Earth after his father, Lucifer, rebels against the leadership and starts a war. The banished warrior falls in love with a human woman, which has all kinds of consequences.
The concept of Balance grew out of my interest in Yin and Yang, the idea that we shouldn’t attach values to creation/destruction, darkness/light or good/evil, but see them as an interaction. And, of course, the notion that aliens visited Earth in the distant past is nothing new. Think Chariots of the Gods.
The series will be five books total. The third concluded a major story arc. I’m working on The Warlord Season and aim to publish by the end of this year.
2) How did you get started writing science fiction?
I read a ton of science fiction in high school. I was a Dune fanatic. When I went to college, being an English major, I switched to a university’s idea of literature. When I worked as a reporter I read a ton of nonfiction, mostly history and politics.
I’d say television brought me back to fantasy and science fiction. I’m a big Joss Whedon fan. My writing lives by his quote, “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” To tell you the truth, I’m not sure why I came up with a science fantasy story rather than something else. I guess all the stuff I read fermented in my brain for 25 years and out poured the Covalent Series.
3) What specific sub-genres within science fiction do you write in and why?
I consider my book science fantasy because it doesn’t contain hard science. No technically sound descriptions of artificial gravity or propulsion drives or the like, although I do get into quantum physics a little.
One reviewer who loved my first book called it a sci-fi suspense romance. I like that label. The love story is central, but there is also a murder mystery and a bunch of other stuff going on, which is where the suspense comes in. The series is genre-bending, very difficult to fit into a slot.
4) What tropes do you think are important for that sub-genre?
In a science-fiction alien romance, the alien is usually the male in the couple. He’s always powerful and always handsome. This is true of my books. Alien romances tend to have lots of sex, which is also true of my book.
My male hero passes for human on Earth, a variation on the supernaturals-among-us trope common in urban fantasy. My books also feature political intrigue on an alien world, a science-fantasy staple.
In addition, the Covalent move through the cosmos using rifts—tears in the fabric of existence—a variation on portals or wormholes, a trope used often in sci-fi romance and all kinds of science fiction.
The Covalent don’t use spaceships, though. They rely on a type of Covalent known as a traveler, born with the ability to perceive the molecular composition of all things. This talent, developed through intensive study, allows them to navigate the rifts. Those who achieve mastery are called adepts, the highest rank of traveler. Adepts can manipulate the properties of matter and energy with their minds. They can detect and alter the bonds that give structure to all things. In other words, they’re quantum wizards, another variation on a trope. If we’re talking archetypes, they’re tricksters.
5) Do you prefer to write in first or third person and past or present tense?
I write in third-person past tense with a few different point-of-view characters. I never switch POV within a scene, but I do from scene to scene.
6) What is your favorite part about being a writer?
Getting in that zone where the words seem to be coming from my subconscious. Sure, if I’m not feeling it I can use the things I’ve learned about the craft of writing to come up with something decent, but the best stuff just flows. All writers have experienced it, I’m guessing. You know, when you reread a passage and then say to yourself, “Damn. I came up with that?”
7) What is the hardest part about being a writer?
Visibility and marketing, especially with a genre-bending series like mine. I [expletive deleted] hate marketing. Don’t we all?
8) What stories or authors influence your writing?
I mentioned Dune. I love all those books and I’m in the camp that likes to call them science fantasy rather than science fiction. After all, in that world, they used a drug that induced visions to navigate space, not an Epstein drive.
Two of my favorite writers are Ursula K. LeGuin and Margaret Atwood, women who often take on gender issues in their writing. I aspire to be like them, even though my stuff is pulpier.
9) Recommend a great science fiction book or movie that we might have
missed you didn’t create?
If you’ve never read Kameron Hurley, you should check her out. God’s War is a great book, filled with kick-ass women, complex motivations and fabulous worldbuilding.
10) Anything else about you or your novel that you would like us to know?
I’m also a freelance editor. I’ve got the chops. I have a master’s degree in journalism and worked in the business for more than a decade.
11) What’s the best way to find you online?
Thank you for asking me questions!