Can you hear me screaming? Because I am.
I want the interview to be avaiable to as many people as possible. Therefore I will be translanting it to catalan and spanish. Here is the original version, the best one if you want to get to know the author better.
Let’s get to know the author a little better. Were you an avid reader? When did you start writing? Was there a book that inspired you to write?
I did read a lot, though I remember being frustrated with how long it took me to learn. I think it wasn’t until I was at least seven or so that I was able to read, which was frustrating because I remember being several years younger and desperate to learn. It just took me awhile to pick it up.
I started writing outside of the classroom when I was eleven or twelve. Mostly I’d write down all the adventures that I’d have in my head while wandering around our rural property. I thought it was really magical that I could take these things I imagined in my head and put them on paper so they could be shared with someone else. Making thoughts real!
I don’t know that if there was a specific book that started me writing, but a book that certainly formed a lot of what I’d later become interested in writing and learning about was Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce, about a young girl who pretends to be a boy so she can train as a knight. I read that when I was eleven, and it clearly had a huge impact on me.
You have written many best-sellers by now. But the question is: how was the experience with your first publication? Do you have any recommendation to give any aspiring authors?
Write what you want to write, because life is short. Spanish author Rocío Vega talks about how she wrote «the book of her heart» when she penned La compañía amable. Write the book of your heart! Write what matters to you. Write the book only you can write. Everything else after that is just a matter of persistence.
Do you think that your history studies have influenced your stories?
Oh, absolutely. I focused my academic studies in history because I wanted to go where the greatest stories were. Reading widely is vital to any writing career. Every book I have written required a great deal of research. I spent eight years doing research for my God’s War trilogy, and the book that finally cracked open my writing on my book, The Light Brigade, was reading The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in WWII.
Many people tend to make a character like themselves. Do you believe that any of your characters is just like you?
I sure hope not! I write about broken, complex, and often angry people. And while I have been all of those things, I don’t think there’s a character that’s exactly like me. In real life, writers are fairly boring people.
Certainly I’ve felt many of the emotions my characters go through at one time or another, and I’ve felt connected to characters like Nyx from the God’s War trilogy and Zezili from the Worldbreaker Saga not because they are like me but because they are so unlike me in many ways; like a Dark Jedi mirror-image. They are not good people, but they get things done.
Which of your books holds a special place in your heart?
My first trilogy will always be special to me, as I poured so much of what I knew and felt at the time into them. I spent many years trying to write books that were «like» what was selling elsewhere, and not only were they boring to write, but they simply didn’t sell. The God’s War trilogy was me saying «fuck it» and just throwing everything that I was interested in and thought was cool into a single series.
It was a tough sell, in the end, but it did get sold, and nearly ten years later – it’s still in print and I’m still getting checks for it. So, win!
Why did you choose the space as the place for most of your novels?
I had been thinking about the world of The Stars are Legion since at least 2011. I loved the idea of creating a raft of living worldships and populating them entirely with people who could give birth to the parts the ships needed. With the success of that book, The Light Brigade was the logical next step: I had been wanting to write a military SF novel for a while, and because I only had a 2-book contract, it made sense to write another book that could stand alone instead of working on a fantasy series that would most likely have at least a three book arc.
I am sincerely curios about the concept of “Bugpunk”, are there other stories around except from yours of this genre?
I made up the term «bugpunk» to describe my God’s War trilogy because there didn’t seem to be an existing genre that it fit neatly into for marketing purposes. That said, I was certainly inspired by a number of books which were part of the New Weird movement, like China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, Steph Swainson’s The Year of Our War, and KJ Bishop’s The Etched City. An older novel, Frank Herbert’s The Green Brain, also does fun stuff with bugs, as does Leena Krohn’s Tainaron.
I participate in an initiative called #UnAñoDeAutoras where different bloggers try to give more visibility to female authors through reviews, interviews and more.
Being said that:
Which proportion of female authors do you have in your library at home? Do you believe that there’s a need to give more visibility to women stories?
That’s a good question! I’m honestly not sure. Certainly when it comes to books I’m interested in, I tend to try women authors first. In any given year, my recommendation list is probably 70% women authors.
I do think we need to surface more women’s work when examining our reading habits and our «best of» lists, for sure. I have also sought out books from people who aren’t white and/or North American, which are even more underrepresented and under-promoted in the genre here in the US.
How do you feel with the #UnAñoDeAutoras initiative? Do you have something like it in your home country?
I’m always supportive of initiatives that challenge readers to seek out new work, especially work from authors they would not have otherwise sought out. Reading widely exposes us to a range of viewpoints and perspectives, and makes us smarter, better humans.
We don’t have a specific initiative related to women authors, though I know there are readers who choose to challenge themselves by reading half women authors, or all women authors, in a single year. We also have #WeNeedDiverseBooks, which is a campaign that promotes the writing, publishing, and reading of more diverse books from a broad range of authors, in particular those who have been historically marginalized in the publishing industry.
What change do you believe important to acquire the literary equality? I sure believe you express many of them in your book: The geek feminist revolution.
Certainly books by women authors need to be promoted on equal footing with those of their male counterparts. We often see, even in genres such as YA where women are the predominant writers, men getting more speaking engagements and more press than their female counterparts.
I also challenge readers and reviewers to pause before they recommend the first book that pops into their head: often we surface books from white male writers first not because they are necessarily «best» but because they are first to come to mind due to our social programming.