Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by Crystal’s Many Reviewers today. I’ll be answering some questions, and offering you the chance to win an ebook of Darker Space.
A few weeks ago on Facebook I asked people to throw some questions at me, so that I could answer them here. Thanks to everyone who did! Here we go:
Where did you get the inspiration to write about Dark Space and Darker Space?
Dark Space originally started off as an attempt at a YA dystopian novel that I never got around to finishing. It was a lot different Dark Space. It’s not set in space for one, but the MC carried around a lot of Brady’s baggage. For a variety of reasons I never could get that YA story to work. Then, one day, it occurred to me that this was one story that would work better as m/m: there was already a lot of sexual tension between the main characters, even though in the YA book it wasn’t intended to get anywhere near as explicit as it did in Dark Space! So I shifted the ages of the characters up, and threw them in space. The moment it all came together was when I realised that Brady had to be Cam’s human pacemaker, and they had to share dreams. Because, frankly, that’s the only way someone like Brady would ever let his guard down. Once I added that, the thing just wrote itself.
I had to work hard at Darker Space. I’d originally intended Dark Space to be a standalone, but people responded to it so positively, and kept asking for a sequel. I went through a lot of drafts on this before I was happy with it. It was very much a balancing act. Brady had to grow without doing a complete turnaround from Dark Space. The Faceless had to come back, and I had to reveal some more things about them while still keeping them as creepy unknowable aliens. And I had to develop a plot that extended this universe while at the same time not overextending it: the focus had to stay on Brady and Cam, and not on everything else going on. I hope I did an okay job!
What is your inspirational source for writing good scfi? Literature? Television? Movies? Comics? Science fact? What are your favorites? I’d love to know!
TV, mostly. I loved the remake of Battlestar Galactica. I loved the gritty low-tech feel to it, so, so different from the Star Trek universe where everything is clean and everyone is always striving to do the right thing. There was none of that in BSG. Hell, no. Putting people in space doesn’t magically make them not assholes. Actually, that could have been the tagline for Dark Space.
I also love Firefly, for the same aesthetic reasons. Plus Joss Whedon, obviously. Firefly is arguably a little less bleak than BSG, but it’s still set in a universe where, okay, maybe the main character didn’t have a shower today, but he’s totally going to get on that at some point. Maybe tomorrow. Because right now he’s got shit to deal with, and there ain’t no-one else coming to help.
Both of these shows definitely influenced me when it came to Dark Space and Darker Space, as did a documentary I watched about submariners. I’ve always been fascinated by artificial environments, and what happens when you throw a bunch of unhappy people together in an enclosed space. As you can probably tell by the end result, I’m kind of a pessimist.
It’s not that I don’t think humanity is incredible. It’s just that for every shining, glorious moment like the Renaissance, or the Enlightenment, we’ve got genocide and fascism and bombing each other into the ground. So as much as I want to believe in a shiny, clean Star Trek future, there’s something about the hopelessness of the BSG universe or the grittiness of the Firefly universe that just makes them more believable to me.
What can you tell us about the dynamic of Brady, Cam and the little sister in Darker Space? When Dark Space ended, well, I won’t give anything away, but how are they doing together?
Brady isn’t the most domestic guy in the world, but he’s fiercely protective of Lucy, and so is Cam. Cam’s parents also help out with Lucy, something Brady’s not comfortable with. Brady’s pretty terrible at dealing with social occasions involving other kids and their parents, so he leaves that stuff up to Cam. Brady was fixated for so long on purely surviving, that he’s not very good with all the day-to-day stuff of being in a relationship and raising a child. It’s a team effort. Cam is the one who makes sure that Lucy eats her vegetables.
Brady would sacrifice anything so that Lucy doesn’t have to grow up surrounded by the poverty and violence of a refugee township, while at the same time he can’t relate to the childhood she’s experiencing, with friends and school and birthday parties. I think it goes to the heart of Brady’s insecurities. He wants to give Lucy every opportunity he never had, even while he’s secretly terrified that he’ll lose her if he does.
I’d love to see a post from successful authors about some of the good and negative feedback they’ve received over the years, and how they’ve dealt with it.
Positive feedback is the greatest thing ever! When someone takes the time to leave a comment or review, or send an email telling me how much they liked what I wrote, it makes my whole day. The flipside, of course, is the negative feedback. It can sometimes be hard to shake that off. The important thing for me is to remember how many books I’ve read, and how many of those books I didn’t like. Opinions are subjective. I’ve had reviews ranging from I LOVE THIS BOOK AND WANT TO MARRY IT to OMIGOD BURN IT WITH FIRE. And both of those opinions are totally valid. I wish I had a magic way to make everyone love what I wrote, but not every books works for every person. And what a boring world it would be if we all liked the same things.
I know a lot of writers say not to read any reviews, but I don’t have the self-control for that. The trick is, don’t respond to any reviews. Reviews are written for other readers, not for the author. All writers can do is send out the best product they can, and hope people like it. So how do I deal with negative feedback? Sometimes I might have a glass of wine and a private pity party, but then it’s back to work. I also print out a few of my most glowing reviews and remind myself that those people are my audience, and I’m writing for them.
I think the funniest negative review I ever got was for The Merchant of Death, a book I co-wrote with J.A. Rock. The review was one star, and one sentence: “Too gay – no warning.” It was the second book in a series clearly labelled gay romance. There was an entire first book leading up to the sex. I’m not sure how much more warning we could have given! I guess there are some authors out there who might be upset by the one star review, but that one still makes me laugh out loud.
Now, for a chance to win an ebook copy of Darker Space, leave a comment! Don’t forget to leave your email address, so I can contact you if you win. A winner will be drawn on October 30!