I’m very excited to help celebrate the release of THE SPIRAL PATH, a science fiction romance novella from debut author Lisa Paitz Spindler. The author is a familiar face here as she’s been blogging about science fiction romance for many years now. I'm always hooked on her eloquent and insightful observations about the subgenre. At long last, she now joins the ranks of published sci-fi romance authors.
I was lucky enough to have read an eARC of THE SPIRAL PATH and initially blogged about one aspect of it in The Pure Awesomeness of Futuristic Military Uniforms. Other aspects of this space opera romance also fascinated me, such as the space pirate heroine, Lara Soto, the unique nature of the Chimerans, and the jaunts into alternate dimensions. Additionally, the story is full of action-adventure and political intrigue, not to mention starships, exotic matter, and a mysterious villainess. How many different ways can I say it? Hie thee hither and read THE SPIRAL PATH!
Now before we start the interview, I’d like to present information about her giveaway, which you can enter for a chance to win a copy of THE SPIRAL PATH and other cosmically cool prizes.
Here’s the lowdown:
“Out Of This World Blog Tour Giveaway”
As part of my Out Of This World Blog Tour, I’m giving away a copy of THE SPIRAL PATH and this Retro Saturn T-shirt to one lucky reader.
Everyone who enters will receive a door prize: The Spiral Path electronic trading cards depicting the four main characters in the story.
Click here to enter.
About the author:
Lisa Paitz Spindler is a science fiction author, web designer, and pop culture geek. Her debut space opera novella, THE SPIRAL PATH, will be released March 28,2011 from Carina Press. In addition to contributing book reviews and television recaps to SF Signal, she also maintains the Danger Gal Blog hosted by her alter ego, Danger Gal, whose stiletto heels are licensed weapons and whose ninja stars travel faster than light. Lisa, however, gets through each day on caffeine and science blogs. Lisa can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.
Now for my interview with Lisa Paitz Spindler:
The Galaxy Express: Please tell us about yourself. How long have you been a fan of science fiction romance? Describe how your interest in the subgenre evolved.
Lisa Paitz Spindler: I’ve been a fan of science fiction ever since I watched Star Trek with my dad and grandma and read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series with my mom. I’ve been a fan of science fiction romance ever since I discovered a certain scoundrel named Han Solo. Growing up, my parents definitely emphasized the importance of science and learning in general. We went to museums and were watching Discovery Channel-type shows before there was a Discovery Channel. I vividly remember watching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series and being fascinated with how big the universe is. My mom has always been an avid romance reader and one day I started picking up her books in addition to all the others I was reading.
TGE: How would you explain the fundamental appeal of science fiction romance?
LPS: Character-driven science fiction uses science to explore human relationships all the time. The distinctions between science fiction and science fiction romance are just about where the emphasis of that exploration is placed. I’m absolutely fascinated with black holes, the formation of planets, elemental particles, and the potential for traveling vast distances, but I can learn about those topics in Scientific American. I read novels for the characters. Science fiction plays out the permutations on what we may become and how science might help or hinder that outcome. In science fiction romance, the science is the relationship and the relationship is the story. You can’t separate the two aspects.
TGE: You are one of the earliest sci-fi romance bloggers, for which I salute you. How long have you been advocating for the subgenre online?
LPS: According to my archive, my earliest blog post is from 2004. I guess I’ve been doing this a while! I remember attending a RWA chapter conference years ago – around 1999 probably – and pitching a science fiction romance only to be told by a pretty reputable agent that it just wouldn’t sell and I should move on. Good thing I’m stubborn. The subgenre is really starting to take off now and I think a huge part of that is the trend of character-driven stories in general being the norm in science fiction now. Romance has always been character-driven, so the two mesh well.
TGE: What seem to be the hot topics? Please share a few of your favorite blog posts you’ve done on science fiction romance.
LSP: The Artemis Unbound post that I wrote for The Galaxy Express’ first SFR Holiday Blitz I think is the best case I’ve ever made for science fiction romance. That article was sparked by some comments Athena Andreadis made about the second Star Wars trilogy and brought into focus why I read romance: strong heroines.
From very early on in my blog I wanted to highlight some of those great heroines and from that came the idea for my Danger Gal Friday profiles, which have always been very popular. The romance genre continuously re-invents itself, but at its core has always been the idea that a woman’s point of view is important, that her wants and needs are valid – something society still struggles with in real life. Now that the genre is merging with others like science fiction and horror we’re expanding that heroine’s repertoire to more than secretaries and teachers – we’re seeing women as starship captains, cyborgs, werewolf alphas and vampires. It’s like that bumper sticker: “Silly boys. Trucks are for girls.” It’s not only boys and men who want to escape to other worlds, whether that’s other planets or the supernatural. Silly boys, science fiction is for girls.
Other very popular posts on my blog have been the series of Thursday Thirteen articles I wrote on various science topics like quantum entanglement, black holes, space junk, nuclear fusion, and the Large Hadron Collider. The post “Thirteen Actors I’d Cast in a Black Dagger Brotherhood Mhovie” was extremely popular as well.
TGE: Who is Danger Gal?
LSP: DG’s stiletto heels are licensed weapons and her ninja stars travel faster than light. She won’t tell me much more than that, probably because then she’d have to kill me. All I know is you don’t mess with the Danger Gal. I’ve often wondered what’s behind those mirrorshades, and think the lady deserves her own comic book depicting her adventures. Maybe I’ll be able to pin her down for an interview sometime when she takes a break from giving 007 pointers.
TGE: You recently made your first sale to Carina Press for THE SPIRAL PATH, a science fiction romance novella—with space pirates! What was the inspiration for this story?
LSP: Even though I love to read and write all sorts of science fiction, I was introduced to the genre via Star Trek-esque space opera. I glommed onto both the original and re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series and have always been a Stargate fan (and Farscape and Lex and…). After working with no success on other projects, I needed one that I knew I could just relax with and enjoy. I never guessed it would be the first work of mine to be published, but it seems perfectly fitting. I’ve always found quantum physics fascinating and wanted to include some of those concepts as well. It was fun to twist the usual idea of traveling vast distances via faster than light travel by having the characters in THE SPIRAL PATH travel via wormholes to another dimension.
And space pirates! Aside from being just plain fun to write, I wanted to play with the notion of white hats and black hats. Lara Soto, my heroine, leaves her straight-and-narrow world behind and learns to steer the helm of her own life. The hero, Mitch Yoshida, makes the same journey -- he just takes a little longer to come around.
TGE: Describe three (non-spoiler) things readers can expect from the story.
LSP: THE SPIRAL PATH is a reunion story. Lara and Mitch were involved eleven years prior to when the story begins, but their relationship blew apart when the discrimination against Chimerans got too personal. Lara is a Chimeran – those born with a parent from each of the dimensions. Both sides see Chimerans more as tools than people, and when the Star Union buckled down on them, Lara started a mass exodus of her kind to forge a colony of their own. Her new world collides again with Mitch’s when her brother goes missing and they have to join forces to find him – and dredge up all of their issues once again. In addition to some fun science underpinnings and a moving love story, I hope readers will also enjoy reading about three strong women: Lara Soto, her second-in-command Camryn Rossa, and a third I think readers will find deliciously creepy.
TGE: When will it be released? Can you share an excerpt?
THE SPIRAL PATH will be available March 28, 2011 from Carina Press as well as other major online retailers. Following the interview is an excerpt from the opening scene when Lara’s ship, the C.S. Gryphon, is detained near Saturn’s Cassini Station just before launching into the wormhole.
TGE: What was the path to publication like?
LSP: Long. Never give up, never surrender.
TGE: Please describe a few of your favorite science fiction romance books, films, and/or television shows.
LSP: My favorite science fiction romance novels combine the two genres on a fundamental level using each other's conventions to illuminate character more deeply. Right at the top of my list is anything by Catherine Asaro, specifically Primary Inversion. Other favorite authors include Joan Vinge, Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Shinn, Susan Grant, and Linnea Sinclair. In TV, Farscape did such a great job combining science fiction and romance. I’m still sad that show is now more. I also loved all of the layers in Battlestar Galactica and Firefly and am definitely a fan of Warehouse 13 and Fringe. In movies, I’m looking forward to Suckerpunch and was drawn in by all the aspects of Avatar.
TGE: What else can readers look forward to from you? Where can they find you?
LSP: I’m currently working on the second book in THE SPIRAL PATH trilogy, with a romance between two starship captains: straight-shooter Camryn Rossa and the somewhat shadier Gabriel Rao.
I can be found at my own blog and from there I always let readers know where else I’ll be blogging. I can also be found on Twitter and Facebook. In addition, I’m a regular contributor to SFSignal.com with book reviews, TV recaps, and the weekly podcast produced in conjunction with The Functional Nerds.
The wormhole, what sailors called the Spiral Path, led to only one of the many dimensions in space-time. Unfortunately, Lara might not be crossing into any of them today.
“Gryphon, your launch slot has been denied,” said a voice from Cassini Command.
“Captain Soto, please report to the embark bay antechamber for inspection.”
“Inspection? What’s stuck up those Star Union asses now?” Camryn Rossa, Lara’s first officer for the past eleven years, locked down her station and unsnapped her restraints.
Lara leaned back in her command chair and clicked her nails on the arm. Those damned royal pains. All her permits were in order, immaculate even. The Gryphon’s manifest had been logged days ago. Star Union officials could be sticklers—especially out here at Cassini Station—but no one had ever denied her launch before. No one would dare threaten a Creed aristocrat, even one with a reputation as tarnished as hers. Plus, pissing off the Creed prime minister by detaining her daughter could destroy diplomatic relations, which meant the Union might have finally given up on peace.
Except, like the rest of her crew, Lara wasn’t just Creed, she was also half-Terran. In other words, a Chimeran—born of both dimensions. And neither Terra nor Creed trusted the Chimerans. They were unnatural, after all.
Lara’s stomach clenched and a cold sweat shivered on her skin. Maybe the Union was finally trying to make good on their threat to enslave her and her Chimeran crew. Maybe her days of freedom were over.
“Captain, are we going?” Cam stood statue-still and patient, gods bless her, hands clasped behind her back. Despite walking out of the Union Academy with her over a decade before, the woman had learned her lessons well. No way could Lara let her longtime friend down now.
Lara stood and smoothed the creases out of her leather jacket. Outside the viewport, Saturn’s rings floated behind its moon Titan. She glanced at her young navigator. “Chandra, you have the conn. If we don’t return in fifteen minutes, blow through that launch bay and rendezvous with the Centaur on Alpha Haven.”
The ensign swallowed and nodded but took her command seat without hesitation. “Yes, ma’am.”
Lara clenched her jaw. This was the boy’s third mission. If anything happened to Chandra, his uncle would kill her.
“Expecting trouble?” Cam fell into step beside her. “We’re not even transporting anything illegal this time. What’s Union’s diss?”
“I have no idea, but activate your wrist-sync.” Lara kept her gaze trained ahead and pushed her panic away. If the Union wanted a fight, she’d give them one, but not at the risk of her crew. She’d ceased following their orders a long time ago. “We’re stopping at the weapons locker on our way.”
Ms. Paitz Spindler, thanks for your time, and for your art. Looking forward to more stories in the SPIRAL PATH universe.
Now's a great time to enter the author’s contest for a chance to win a copy of THE SPIRAL PATH and other prizes—because every reader needs a little exotic matter in her life!