Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fantastic Fiction: Interview with Tia Nevitt of Fantasy Debut

Despite the plethora of genres and subgenres, the boundaries between science fiction and fantasy are frequently blurred. This factor poses a challenge for Web sites or blogs that feature these stories. Restricting books or films because they don’t fall into one category or another is almost a lesson in futility. However, blended genres also makes for more varied reading choices.

Often the focus is simply on spreading the word about great stories—categories be hanged, danged, drawn and quartered.

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Tia Nevitt, proprietor of Fantasy Debut. It's a great resource for SF/F fans. She breaks down the newest SF/F releases to give readers informed choices and help prioritize those ever multiplying "To Be Read" piles.

Over a couple of virtual Shirley Temples and pecan praline cookies, we gabbed about her blog and what it means to you, the hip passengers of this galaxy-hopping locomotive. (Chef’s rolling by with the snack cart—snag some of the cookies before they’re gone!)

While you’re munching, here’s Tia’s guide to life, the universe, and everything:

The Galaxy Express:
You run Fantasy Debut, a joint for…debut fantasy books. Please tell us about your blog’s mission.

Tia Nevitt: For a long time, my logline was “All debut fantasy . . . all the time.” However, I had to add an “(almost)” in there because it’s hard to read 100 percent debut fantasy. Mostly because I don’t even read 100 percent fantasy.

The idea behind my blog was to showcase debut authors. The reason I wanted to do that is because I've been reading debut novels for years. I had discovered that debut novels are often something special, so I loved discovering new authors. My goal is to showcase every major debut fantasy and science fiction release. I often cover supernatural horror as well. I do as many reviews as I can, but I have limits on my free time that makes the time it takes for me to finish one novel painfully slow. That’s why I am so hesitant about taking review copies.

TGE: You also post reviews and announcements about “the occasional science fiction novel.” What makes the ones you choose so hard to resist?

TN: To me, a science fiction novel is as fantastical as fantasy, but in a very different way. I am a geek at heart, and I love astronomy. Therefore, I love adventure that takes place in the stars, even though in real life travel between stars is highly improbable. I like all kinds of science fiction, from hard to soft, military or romance, as long as it takes place in space. I only occasionally read science fiction that isn’t space-based, such as Elizabeth Moon’s outstanding THE SPEED OF DARK.

The last science fiction novel I reviewed was ELOM, which I absolutely loved. It starts out as a fantasy, but by the end it is very much science fiction. I also want to read THE COLD MINDS, which is the sequel to THE HIDDEN WORLDS by Kristin Landon.

TGE: What are your thoughts about books that mix romance and science fiction? Please describe a few debut books you’ve featured that blend science fiction and romance.

TN: I love a good romance. I’ve read two debuts in the past year with strong romantic elements, THE HIDDEN WORLDS and THE OUTBACK STARS. I enjoyed both, but THE HIDDEN WORLDS was almost too gritty for my taste. Even so, I couldn’t put be dratted book down. Both novels had forbidden love. In THE HIDDEN WORLDS, the man came from a male-only society where women were only used to propagate the species. THE OUTBACK STARS had a wonderful forbidden romance between and officer and an enlisted man.

In my opinion, any novel that doesn’t include a touch of romance is missing something. I know that some excellent novels don’t allow for the possibility of romance, such as HUCKLEBERRY FINN. But in general, we all love a love story. I’m reading a very gritty science fiction story right now called MIRRORED HEAVENS by David J. Williams and what does it have? A love story that gets downright self-sacrificing at times. And right in the midst of a cyberpunk thriller where the action never stops.

TGE: You recently celebrated Fantasy Debut’s one year anniversary. Congratulations! In light of this, have you noticed any interesting trends in the speculative fiction market since you started?

TN: Thank you! Urban fantasy and dark fantasy seem to be very hot right now. In fact, sometimes the genres seem to blend a bit. Some urban fantasies take a humorous turn, such as the work of Jennifer Rardin, who has done very well over the past year. YA fantasy is also very hot, with newcomers like Melissa Marr and Stephanie Meyer shooting up the bestseller lists. Epic fantasy doesn’t seem so hot in comparison, but I can think of several debut epics that have come out in the last year so it seems to be holding its own. I don't see very much high fantasy—the kind that features elves and such. Lisa Shearin’s Raine Beneres series is a notable exception, perhaps because it has an urban fantasy voice.

TGE: Is there anything else you'd like to share about Fantasy Debut?

TN: Only that this is my very first interview. I feel like a celebrity—thank you!

Tia, thanks for your art and for visiting The Galaxy Express!

As we chug along toward our next destination, what are your thoughts on science fantasy? Are some SF stories too fantastical to be called science fiction? If you ran a mega chain bookstore, how would you shelve the current crop of fantasy and SF? Finally, do you have any favorite genre blogs like Fantasy Debut that you’d like to recommend?

Joyfully yours,