Saturday, May 23, 2015

Questions Asked and Answered

Before I get into the infrequently asked questions that I gathered from the very obliging members of the Facebook Science Fiction Romance Group, let me say a little about being the person on the other end, asking the questions of an author.

I get to play both roles, author and interviewee, since I regularly interview SF&F and Paranormal romance authors for my USA Today Happily Ever After column. (In fact, I just interviewed fellow Whore Jeffe Kennedy this week about her new book The Twelve Kingdoms: Talon of the Hawk.) When I'm approaching an interview, I read the book, make notes and try to frame at least a couple of questions tied to the plot or the characters that won't be spoilery but which I think a reader might find interesting to know more about. I research the author and see what interviews they've given elsewhere, to see what questions they've been asked over and over. I want to avoid those as much as possible. Gail Carriger was a genuinely fun challenge because she even has a post on her blog about questions she's been asked and her answers. John Scalzi was another fun one to interview because he really keeps the interviewer on their toes, ideas flying like lightning bugs. I didn't want to bore Scalzi!

My hope always is to be that interviewer who asks the one thing no one else has asked (so, the infrequently asked question I guess!) and gives the author a chance to talk more about some favorite aspect of the book. Asking Rachel Bach about why one of her characters in the Paradox Series was named Maat was fun in that regard. I have Ma'at in my Egyptian fantasies, because she's the goddess of Truth. You'd have to read Rachel's answer to see why she used the name.

But, I also have to keep in mind that the USAT/HEA blog is primarily for readers and so I don't ask craft-related questions, as I might if I were interviewing an author for my personal blog. (Do you use Scrivener or....NO.) And some of those "questions everyone frequently gets asked" are of interest to readers and my column might be the only place they happen to catch an interview with that author. So I may ask "how do you celebrate finishing a book" and "What's next for you" on occasion.

OK, so here are some of the questions the FB Group asked me, and my answers:
How do you keep the characters in your head from distracting you from real life? I can honestly say I've never had that problem. I guess if it did happen, I'd have to negotiate some boundaries with my unruly cast quick!

How do you come up with unique and fitting names for your spaceships? Ummm, they just come to me? I decided a long time ago the military ships in my Sectors science fiction universe would be named for ancient Greek goddesses and legendary women. And the cruise ships in the same universe tend to have  cruise ship-ish names, like Nebula Dream.

If you had to save your books, your cat or your husband from a fire, which comes first? Well the
Is this where she hides the cat treats?
books exist in many forms in many places, so not them. I'm a widow, so no husband to worry about. The cats are living creatures so they'd have priority!

Who is the most famous person you ever met and have you used the incident in a  novel? Carl Sagan in an elevator at the day job, briefly, and no, never used that. In our author world, probably Nalini Singh, at various book signings, because she's one of my alltime favorite authors, and I've never used those encounters as plot fodder either. No worries, Nalini!

What skill are you learning this year so you have something to barter with the other survivors when the zombie apocalypse arrives? If Daryl of "The Walking Dead" is available, I'll sign up for private crossbow training sessions today!

And we're out of time, gosh what a pity.....

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