Tuesday, June 30, 2009

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Catch A Rising Star: An Interview With Kristin Landon

Welcome back to part two of a feature on Kristin Landon, author of THE HIDDEN WORLDS, THE COLD MINDS, and THE DARK REACHES. If you missed part one, click here.

Kristin Landon not only granted me an exclusive interview, but she’s also providing two copies of her entire trilogy for two lucky passengers!

Read on to find out more:

The Galaxy Express: Please describe the very first creative spark that birthed THE HIDDEN WORLDS.

Kristin Landon: THE HIDDEN WORLDS was only my second novel, so that creative spark was quite a few years ago! But I know it began with the image that opens Chapter 1: poor people on an isolated world, searching a cold, windy beach for proof of a terrible loss. And Linnea was always there. The story grew from her quest to save her family from disaster. Though I knew from the beginning that Iain was out there, and that he was a jump pilot, I didn’t realize at first how entangled their lives would become.

TGE: Was the decision to include a romance intentional from the beginning, or did it evolve as you wrote the saga?

KL: A developing relationship seems to be a necessary element of stories I want to tell. Not because I decide up front that there must be a relationship, and then figure out how to work it in, but because I see the yearning for connection and caring as part of the essence of being human. My characters often start out as disconnected loners, “fish out of water.” But in the course of the story they learn to trust, and eventually to love, another person. The relationship isn’t the main point of the story—because I write science fiction, other elements necessarily take center stage. But that progression in my major characters, from isolation to connection, is fascinating to me and gives me a lot to work with in the rest of the plot.

TGE: Silly question time! Your heroine’s name is Linnea Kiaho. Any relation to SFR author Linnea Sinclair?

KL: Believe it or not, the answer is no. I was surprised (as well as delighted) when Linnea Sinclair wrote a cover blurb for HIDDEN WORLDS; I didn’t know she’d been asked. And you’re not the first person who’s asked me about the coincidence! But in fact, I found Linnea’s name years ago: it’s a street near my home. I knew it was a somewhat unusual name and a pretty one, and that was what I wanted for my character.

TGE: If you could be a jump pilot, where would you go (can be a real or a fictional setting)?

KL: Oh, my goodness. There is so much I would like to see, so much to find out! I’d probably go out looking for nearby worlds that support life—even if it’s pretty much at the level of bacteria and algae, thrilling mainly to molecular biologists (and I do understand why; I'm married to one).

I’d also love to see the outer reaches of the solar system for myself. I’ve spent a lot of time reading about the outer planets. I think if I’d ever had the chance (or the will) to apply to graduate school, I’d have wanted to study planetary science.

TGE: Do you have any advice for aspiring science fiction romance authors?

KL: Read a lot of books in the genre you want to write in—I think it helps if that genre is the one you naturally love best. Write, and keep writing. Ask people you trust, and who know what good writing is, for feedback on what you write—and listen to the feedback! A critique group that’s based on honest assessments and mutual trust, and whose members take a professional attitude, is a priceless asset—I honestly wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t had that advantage. I’d still be “thinking about writing someday when I have time.”

Really, there are three elements that have to come together before a first novel can sell: you have to write a good book; you have to get it in front of the right person; and you have to be lucky enough that this happens at the right moment. And the only element you have any control over is the quality of your writing. That’s got to come first: learning the craft.

I also believe it’s important to infuse your stories with your own passions. What do you believe is important in life? What have you learned, and what must your characters learn? It’s not necessary to consciously lay it in—in fact, I think it’s better not to try—but if it’s in your mind, it will inform your writing and can give the story more depth.

Writing novels is difficult, and I still have plenty to learn. But learning is part of the fun!

TGE: What are some of the science fiction romance stories you’ve enjoyed in books and/or film & television?

KL: I don’t think I’d call the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold “science fiction romances,” because the science fiction adventure elements almost always outweigh the romance. But I read through them every few years with great pleasure, and I know they’ve influenced me. The first book, SHARDS OF HONOR, includes a deeply human and realistic romance between two wounded people, with sharp dialog and fascinating world-building—and the series only gets better from there.

I suspect that for Bujold the science fiction comes first, just as it does for me. I would love to be able to tell a story as compellingly as she does.

Some of my favorite SF television has had definite romantic-relationship elements—FARSCAPE and BABYLON 5 come to mind. But they tend to be “novelistic” series with long arcs, where the romantic resolution, if there ever is one, is several years in. That’s probably why the romantic elements in movies don’t usually have much impact for me: it all happens too fast!

TGE: Is there anything else you’d like to share about future projects or science fiction romance?

KL: At the moment I’m beginning work on an SF book on a grander scale than the HIDDEN WORLDS series. I like the thought of working on a larger canvas, with more characters, more cultures, more worlds—and with aliens as well as humans in the mix. It’s early in the process at this point, so I won’t say more than that. Except that, yes, there is a strong romantic element to the story!

Thanks for coming aboard to chat with us, Ms. Landon!

Now for the giveaway! To win a copy of this trilogy, leave a comment for this post and I’ll have my electronic randomizer pick two names from the proverbial hat (contest limited to U.S. residents). The deadline to enter is midnight on Friday, July 3, 2009.

Take a moment and imagine you're a jump pilot. Where would you go?

Joyfully yours,