Grimspace is a gritty, emotional read that will keep you up late at night and cranky as a wet cat the next morning from all that missed sleep. (But unlike the wet cat, secretly grateful.) Dear Author gave it an A minus, which in most universes would be an A plus plus plus plus.
The novel's heroine, Sirantha Jax, possesses the rare J gene, allowing her to partner with starship pilots to 'jump' a vessel through great swaths of space. Her last jump resulted in tragedy, and now an interstellar conglomerate wants her dead, or at least locked up, drugged up, and shut up so she can't reveal their secret, one that would overthrow the established order.
Ann agreed to be my
Q. What's been your biggest surprise/thrill about your first release?
Oh man, there have been so many moments that rocked my socks along the way that it's going to be hard to narrow it down. But if I'm brutally honest -- my biggest surprise was selling Grimspace. Even though my agent (and beta readers) adored it, I thought it might be a longshot because SF and romance have not been best pals in terms of crossover, but I'd like to think I'm at the vanguard. The reader response has been phenomenal.
My biggest thrill? Getting my Grimspace cover, no question. That made everything feel real, even more real than signing the contracts, because, hello, I have art! Plus, it's gorgeous. Scott Fischer is so gifted, and I hope I'm lucky enough to have him do all the Jax covers. I'd love keeping the same style through the series.
The word 'grimspace' is so chilling and evocative. How did you come up with it?
Short answer, hell if I know. Long answer, Walter Jon Williams penned an interesting novel called Aristoi, wherein he taps the idea that we possess fragments of other personalities locked away inside our brains; he called them daimones. These sub-personalities can think and feel independently and possess talents that we need. It's an intriguing take on beneficial schizophrenia, and I sometimes wonder if there's a kernel of truth to it.
Because the fact is, I don't know where Jax (or her world) came from. She told me about everything as we went along, including the name of grimspace. So I'm going to theorize that I allow these personality fragments to evolve into whole people, complete with history and everything, and then I listen to what they have to say (without going batshit crazy). It sounds marginally better than, "I write what the voices in my head tell me to."
That is the coolest thing I've ever heard. And yes, much better than the 'voices' explanation.
Though present tense narrative is becoming common in women's fiction and young adult fiction, it's still fairly rare in sf and romance. What made you decide to use this technique? Did you try it first in past tense and then switch over, or was it like that from the beginning?
No, I started in first person, present tense, which is weird because it's the only project in my long and multifarous career wherein I've done so. It wasn't a choice so much as dictated by Jax. Events unfold as the reader rides along with her.
When an author writes in past tense, the reader has the unconscious security of knowing that everything must've worked out in the end, or the narrator wouldn't be able to relate his story.
At least, that's how I feel when reading.
If you could inhabit the life of any of your characters, enter their world and deal with it as that person, which one would you choose?
Hm, I'm going to say none of them. Why? Well, I'm pretty hard on my characters. I put them through the physical and emotional wringer, and frankly, I don't think I could hack it. I'd much rather be in my office writing about their harrowing adventures than having them.
Conversely, which of your characters would you most like to bring to life in our world (maybe as a best friend or much, much more ;-) ?
I'm always madly in love with whatever hero I'm writing. Right now, it's a cold-as-ice hitman named Reyes. I love a hero who seethes with passion deep down and yet keeps it tightly controlled. Until he meets the heroine. Then his iron discipline begins shorting out, and to me, there's just nothing quite as hot as watching an iceman melt. So I'll have to say, I wouldn't mind being the focus of this hero's leashed longing.
Same two questions, but use examples from another author's work (including television/movies/theatre)?
This is tough because I've spent many years learning to enjoy being exactly who I am. I can't think of anyone whose life I'd want other than my own. I'm fantastically happy, and I'm living my dream, so I'm going to pass on this one.
The second question, though, what movie character would I want brought to life? That's sooo easy. Riddick. I have such a crush on that character. Vin Diesel's looks and voice add to the package, but the character himself... man.
I love an anti-hero. We know he's a criminal and a killer from his backstory, but in the movie, he doesn't actually hurt anyone who doesn't deserve it. It makes you wonder how much of his rep came from people looking to make a name off him, and him putting them down for it.
I think something primitive in the feminine psyche responds to that sort of toughness. The hint of danger gets our adrenaline going, and the idea that he'd use his strength to take on our enemies and protect us? Powerful stuff.
Which author, living or dead, would you most love to collaborate with?
Sharon Shinn. I bought her books back when I didn't even have money for food. I sold plasma to buy her books. She was the first author I read who combined romance with fantasy--and she did it with such deft elegance that my chest felt tight when I finished one of her novels. So if I ever was so fortunate to collaborate with her (or heck, share anthology space with her!) I would feel like I had totally made it.
If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the publishing industry, what would it be?
The speed, I suppose. I hate waiting for books I really want, and I know most readers feel the same. I'd also like to see it become more green when possible. My publisher is going to electronic edits now, though, which should help.
What's the weirdest tidbit of research you've ever incorporated into a book?
How it feels inside a cow's vagina. Thanks a lot, too. I'd almost blocked that out. Now I'm gonna start having the flashbacks again. No, I'm not saying another word.
What's your earliest memory?
Reading Bambi in my bedroom when I was supposed to be asleep. What? It was summer, dammit. You can't expect a four year old to sleep when the sun's out.
Do you have any phobias?
I'm terrified of tiny lizards. A tiny lizard once cornered me in the kitchen for like ten minutes while I yelled for my husband. He still mocks me to this day, but I'm afraid they'll jump in my hair and then, hello, lizard-hair! It'll be running with its tiny scaly feet all over my head, and what if I smash it while trying to get it out? Then I'd have lizard guts in my hair. So not cool.
My husband hates when people use the word 'barometer' to mean 'measure.' Which word usage faux pas drives you berserkest?
Hm. I'd have to say use of the word 'drowned' bothers me most. "She had all the appeal of a tiny drowned angel." Well, okay, but this meaning of drowned -- to die by suffocating in water or another liquid -- trumps any other. It's what I think of first. So when I read that, I think the hero is that he's secretly a bit of a necro, which probably isn't what the author wants. Word choice is very important because of connotative meanings.
Name a literary cliche that makes you throw a book across the room.
Well, I'm quite done with the Chosen one trope, and I do rather wish that an orphan would just be an orphan one of these days, not a long lost heir to a throne, or a secret prince / princess.
Let's say there's a TV show, movie, or recording artist that has a cult of one, i.e., you. Which is it? (i.e., what do you like that no one else you know likes)?
I can't imagine too many people have heard of Little Annie, and I love her raw, torchy sound.
If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
Read books and eat food that someone else cooked. Ravioli would be good.
If you could ask your favorite author one question and they had to answer honestly, what would it be?
"Will you pimp my book?" Wait, do they have to actually do the thing I ask or just answer honestly? Because I bet I could get a "no, go away" right now. *g*
If you could write in a totally different genre than your current one, which would you choose?
I'd love to be published in romance. I've got sales in SF and UF, so now I'm turning my sights toward conquering paranormal romance. Mwahahaha! We will stop at nothing less than world domination.
Actually, that's a lie. Romance, fantasy and SF will do it for me. I haven't the clever puzzle-building brain for writing mysteries.
What are you working on now, and what new releases can we expect to see from you down the road?
I'm working on a hot paranormal romance project. Once I have that proposal done, I'll write Hell Fire, which is book two in my Corine Solomon series (urban fantasy with Latin flavah). After that, it will be the third contracted Corine novel. There are more Jax books in the pipeline as well, pending approval.
Wanderlust, Jax book two, will be coming out in September. And look for the first Corine book, Blue Diablo, in '09.
Ask Ann a followup question, tell her how much you want to read her book, or make friendly with your own daimones. Whatever you choose, do it in the comments before 5 p.m. EST on Monday, March 3. (Crap, it's almost March already?) I'll draw a name and announce it next Tuesday morning.
If you don't have a Blogger account, don't panic! Just sign in as anonymous and leave your name at the bottom of your comment so I can identify you.
Also, there are still three more days to get your commentin' on down at Mark Henry's post to win a copy of Happy Hour of the Damned.