Monday, 15 February 2016

Meet the #Author Monday - Carol Van Natta #spaceopera

Please tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m an independent science fiction author with a space opera romance series (Overload Flux, Minder Rising, Pico’s Crush) and the co-author of a retro science fiction comedy. I share my Fort Collins, Colorado home with various cats and a sometime mad scientist (who would graduate to full time, if only it paid better). I grew up reading and watching science fiction and fantasy, and wanting to be a doctor, but I pretty well sucked at chemistry, so I chose science fiction, where I get to make up the answers.  My muse’s home planet is science fiction, but loves to visit romance, mystery, adventure, suspense, and the paranormal, any and all of which are liable to show up in my books.

Tell us about Pico’s Crush:
Pico’s Crush is the third book in the Central Galactic Concordance (CGC) science fiction romance series. Jerzi Adams, introduced as a supporting character in Overload Flux (Book 1), takes center stage. All he wanted was a nice vacation on the paradise planet where his daughter, Pico, is going to school. He renews his friendship with Andra De Luna, a former squadmate from his military days, who asks for his help to investigate a series of suspicious school laboratory accidents. Characters from both Overload Flux and Minder Rising show up, and then explosions, and rogue robots, and pretty soon, they’re all experiencing that old curse, “may you live in interesting times.”

What inspired you to write this particular story?:
There’s this big damn story arc in my head for a sprawling space opera that has to do with how we as the human species deal with evolutionary change. As with all big paradigm shifts, there are winners and losers, and the losers don’t go quietly. Pico’s Crush story completes a smaller story arc that started in Overload Flux, which introduced the CGC universe, and Minder Rising, that explored the Citizen Protection Service, a ubiquitous government agency with many missions. Zero Flux, a novella, was inspired by several pointed requests from readers on what was happening with Luka and Mairwen from Overload Flux. Pico’s Crush introduces some good guys and bad guys for future stories, and shows how the military views its role. Book 4 will introduce new characters and new challenges that get closer to the heart of the big damn story arc. Thrilling times ahead!

Please share a favourite snippet from your book:
This is from Chapter 1, where Jerzi first encounters Andra, who he hasn’t seen in years, and who he certainly doesn’t expect to be a professor at his daughter’s prestigious university on a paradise planet:
“Professor De Luna! Come meet my dad.”
Jerzi turned to see the famous professor of materials science who had inspired Pico to declare a study focus for her certificate. The woman was a little taller than mid-height, conservatively dressed in a long-sleeved, high-necked, dark jacket with half-tails, and her dark hair was scraped back away from her striking face. If she wore makeup on her light brown skin, it was subtle. She seemed familiar, somehow.
“Professor Andreina De Luna, this is my dad…”
“Commander Crush,” she said with a lopsided smile. “It’s a small galaxy.”
It was the use of his old unit nickname and her soft Spanish accent that finally sparked his memory. “Subcaptain Lightning. It certainly is.” Delight bloomed in him, and he grinned and held out a fist to her, thumb up. She bumped his knuckles twice with a fist of her own, once straight up and once turned sideways.
Pico looked back and forth at them, owl-eyed. “You know each other?”
Andra nodded. “Five years together as gunnin in the CGC Ground Division, Command’s Forward Intelligence Unit Zulu Six Echo.” She winked at him. “Your father was the best sniper we ever had.”
Jerzi felt himself redden, as if he was suddenly twelve years old. He ducked his head to hide it. “Thanks.”
He looked at her more closely, trying to reconcile the brash, volatile, very unconventional officer he’d known in the military with the sedate, contained woman in front of him. She was the picture of a dedicated academic, though her straight pants didn’t quite hide her muscular legs, and he suspected her shoes were more practical than they looked.
She’d apparently been thinking along the same lines. “You sure clean up good, Adams. Nice suit. Must have given the designer fits with all those extra muscles.” She winked at Pico, who smirked back.
He had no idea why women were interested in what he wore, but no way in hell was he getting into a discussion about clothes. “Materials science, huh? That’s what they’re calling boom-down these days?”
Andra’s eyebrow twitched. “Claro que sí. Of course. Sounds more dignified in the college brochure.”
“What’s boom-down?” asked Pico.
“Munitions. Explosions,” said Jerzi.

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:
Personality always comes first for main and supporting characters. For romantic leads, they have to both challenge one another and complement one another, and have the right balance and chemistry. Similarly, the villains need to have the right combination of traits that puts them in natural opposition to the main characters, so it’s not a walk in the park for any of them. After that, it’s a tossup as whether names or looks come into play first. In my CGC universe, most people speak English, because it’s the current official standard, but they also speak other languages. Jerzi grew up speaking Polish and taught his daughter Pico to speak it. She also speaks Marathi, her mother’s family language. Andra’s primary language is Spanish, but she’s equally fluent in English. A character’s primary language sometimes colors their speech and life philosophy.

Any tips for aspiring authors?:
Write the book. You can’t edit what you don’t write, and you can’t sell what you don’t write. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time out, but it does have to be written. And here is bonus advice: Treat writing as a business. It helps you make better strategic decisions, and insulates your art—the maddening and thrilling creativity that drives you—from the slings and arrows of marketing mistakes or troll reviewers.

Questions for fun:
If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change? Why/why not?:
To heck with going back; that’s over and done with. I’d use my power to move forward in time, to see what happens next. Will we get over parochial prejudices against gender and sexual orientation, or skin color, or what have you? What fascinating things will we discover about the solar system? When do I get my self-driving car?

What super-power would you choose?:
Teleportation, since apparently I can’t have a self-driving car anytime soon.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?:
Perfect health, to be 30, and immortality. Yep, selfish, but with eternal youth and time, I could help fix the other things that need it.

Coffee, tea or wine?:
Tea, Earl Grey, hot. ;-)  Coffee is a nasty invention, right up there with beets, and I’m a cheap drunk with no palate to speak of.

What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!):
This often changes, as I read fast and voraciously. I tend to remember the “big finish” books in a series, where we’ve been along for the long haul, and this book is the payoff, such as Nalini Singh’s Heart of Obsidian and Lindsay Buroker’s  Forged In Blood I & II.

Favourite genre and why?:
Science fiction romance, because it’s doubly hopeful. Science fiction, because it implies we successfully make it off this planet, or at least get past our current tempests, and romance, because happy endings are the backbone of the genre, and give us hope that even the most imperfect of us can find love.

Favourite colour?:
Depends on the application. For wearing, I like the jewel tones, ruby, emerald, amethyst; for luggage, I like bright colors because their easier to see when it comes off the conveyor belt; for cars, I like medium-brown because it hides dirt really well.

Upcoming news and plans for the future?:
Next up for me is a secret paranormal romance project, and Book 4 of the CGC series. I figure that will keep me off the streets and out of the karaoke bars for the rest of the year.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!

Whoever wrote the guidebook description of the planet of Nila Marbela must have a very different meaning for the word "paradise." When ex-military sniper and current personal security specialist Jerzi Adams visits his daughter Pico's quiet college, he doesn’t expect emergency evacuations and rogue robots. Nor does he expect to renew a friendship with former squadmate, Andra DeLuna. Explosions, sabotage, and assaults used to be her routine, but she gave it up for a professorship at a prestigious university.

When the hunt for a cunning serial killer leads Jerzi's old friends Luka and Mairwen (Overload Flux) to town, trouble in paradise is the least of anyone's worries when the body count starts to rise. Either the world of academia has gone from merely cutthroat to downright deadly, or more sinister forces in conflict, with the campus as a battleground. It's going to take an improvised miracle or two for everyone to make it out alive.

Pico's Crush is space opera, adventure, and romance that give new meaning to the old curse, "may you live in interesting times."

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