March 29, 2011

Interview with Sara Creasy + Children of Scarabaeus Giveaway!

Today is the release day for Sara Creasy's Children of Scarabaeus--the second book in her wonderful Scarabaeus duology. I'm delighted to be celebrating release day with an interview with Ms. Creasy. I picked up Song of Scarabaeus a couple of weeks ago, fell immediately in love, and set about getting my hands on an ARC of the sequel as quickly as possible (you can read my reviews here and here). This is the kind of science fiction I love--character-driven and exciting, set against the background of a fully developed and eerily fascinating world. If you haven't had a chance to pick up these books, now is the perfect time. Please welcome Sara Creasy! 
First things first: The Covers. I am kind of a fan of Chris McGrath’s covers, and I love the little touches on these two that make them unique to Edie & Finn’s story. Did you have any input on the covers and what was your reaction upon seeing the first one?
Isn’t his work amazing? As soon as I found out he was doing my SONG OF SCARABAEUS cover I knew it would be awesome. For that book, my editor asked me to put together some ideas so I sent her a few covers I liked (a lot of them were monochromatic, like my covers are) along with an idea of Finn’s and Edie’s appearances in generic terms, and an idea of the clothes they might wear. I described Finn as the US Marine type. I described Edie as pixie-ish and not the kick-ass woman you see on so many urban fantasy covers these days, because that’s just not who Edie is at all.
When the email arrived with the cover art attached, I closed my eyes and made my husband look at it first. I was excited and terrified! But it was everything I hoped for. I love the background spaceship. In the original art you can see all the hardware – very cool. I was a bit more relaxed about the second cover, and I like it even better. I had simply asked that Edie look more assertive, because she does mature and take control, and that Finn have a bigger gun.
You have a degree and background in science and biology, and I think it really enhances your treatment of the world of Scarabaeus, as well as the ways in which Edie interacts with that world—almost as though it’s a character in its own right. What was your initial vision for Scarabaeus, and how did it evolve over the process of writing the books?
I always had the idea that the planet would have these discrete pockets of jungle, giving the characters a defined “stage” where the story takes place. I wanted them to climb down into the jungle from the canopy, as a change from moving through it horizontally. It’s an alien world and it’s highly mutated beyond what a natural evolutionary process would create, so I wanted to describe it quite specifically. I didn’t have much idea of exactly what it would look like until I came to writing it. I used ideas from an embroidery craft book, of all things.
For the second book, the world has been evolving rapidly in a different direction again for many months, so it looks quite different when Edie returns. Without giving anything away, I’ll say that I had to think hard about what it would look like given how the technology has changed. There was a need for a certain sense of drama about the “stage” where the action took place.

I’ve read a fair amount of science fiction and science fiction romance and I really fell in love with the balance you struck between the two in this series. How did you decide how much was just right as far as the romance aspect goes?
I didn’t intend to write a romance book at all, although I knew there would be a relationship in the story. A romance, to me, is when the relationship is the main focus and the plot revolves around it. Characters do what they do because of their developing feelings for each other, not so much because of external plot. The Scarabaeus books are first and foremost science fiction stories but I was keen to develop the romantic tension as well. The second book takes the relationship quite a bit further and that’s a natural progression of what happened in book 1. What would not have felt right would be rushing these two characters into a lust-driven relationship. Their situation gives them too much else to worry about. I wanted to show that they develop a mutual trust and understanding before they even think about getting physical or expressing undying love for each other.
What’s it like being married to another author, and could you share the story of how you two met?
We met online on a discussion forum about 6 years ago. We’d both been frequenting the forum on and off for years, but never run into each other before. He impressed me with his ability to correctly use a semi-colon. I impressed him with my affinity for Firefly. So we exchanged manuscripts. Within weeks, he came out to Australia to visit me and then I visited him in Arizona for a few months to see what I thought of the place. We decided to take the big step, and I migrated to America at the end of 2005. We got married a month later. We moved back to Australia last year to raise our daughter.
My husband’s name is M C Planck and his first book, a science fiction novel, comes out from Tor next year. It’s called Fireax.
It’s fantastic being married to another writer. We understand each other very well in terms of what it takes to write and to just find time to write. We have a ready beta reader who will be honest and constructive and supportive. When he’s sitting next to me writing, I feel guilty if I’m not also writing (and vice versa) so that helps us with our wordcounts.
How do you go about naming your characters?
Naming characters is my bugbear. I change character and place names repeatedly. Finn was always Finn, and Cat was always Cat, but Edie is Edie’s third name. Captain Rackham had at least half a dozen names before I was done with him. The rover ship, the Hoi Polloi, used to be the Icarus. Even Scarabaeus originally had a boring sci-fi name (Proximity Rho, if you must know).
I use name generators and baby name websites and foreign dictionaries. I don’t usually worry too much about the meanings – it just has to sound right. The word Saeth, though, is Welsh for “arrow” (as in, flying true), and the ship in book 2, the Learo Dochais, means “ray of hope” in Irish. I do love those Gaelic words.

You’re a new mother (congratulations!) and, as I’m about to have a baby myself, I’m intrigued to find out how that life change has affected your writing and your writing schedule?
Thank you, and congrats to you, too! My writing schedule is non-existent at the moment. I try to write when she’s napping but in the afternoon I usually need to take a nap myself. So I try to write in the evening but I’m always aware that I need to get to bed because she’ll be up at 6.30. Until she’s better able to entertain herself, I think my productivity will remain rather low.
As for my writing – when I was writing Children of Scarabaeus I found that it was really difficult to be mean to the children in the story. This has affected my reading habits too. I’m just not interested in reading anything where children get hurt. Not that I ever was, really, but these days it makes me feel awful to hear about even fictional stories like that.

Is there a Song of Scarabaeus soundtrack?
The closest thing to a soundtrack would be Jean Michel Jarre’s Rendez Vous, which I listened to early on when I was developing the plot. I generally write in silence.

It’s my understanding that the Scarabaeus books are a duology and Children of Scarabaeus will finish Edie & Finn’s story. Is that correct, and what are you working on now?
That’s correct, there are no more Scarabaeus books planned. That doesn’t mean I won’t get back to those characters eventually, but I have too much other stuff going on. I’m working on three quite different books, which has been useful because I can just open up whichever one I feel like doing that day. One is a sci-fi adventure/romance, one is a middle grade contemporary fantasy, and one is a fantasy/steampunk/romance crossover that I started years ago.

What’s the one book and/or series you’ve been gushing about nonstop lately?
 I haven’t finished a gushworthy book since – let’s see, since my baby was born. I recently ordered about five books, some of them quite old, in the sci-fi romance genre. I hope to discover some gems. Meanwhile, I’m open to suggestions from your readers. Please!

And just for fun, what’s the first word that comes to mind when I say:

Edie: beetle
Books: Dr Seuss
Finn: quiet
Music: violin (argh! I wish that wasn’t the first word that comes to mind – I played for years and hated it)
Scarabaeus: escape
Writing: coffee
Science: knowledge
Sexy: hands
Science Fiction: possibilities
Home: baby

Thanks so much, Sara! Come back anytime.
Thanks for having me, and I’d love to come back another time.

***
And now for the giveaway! Sara has been so kind as to offer up one signed copy of Children of Scarabaeus plus a bookmark to one lucky commenter and one signed bookmark to a second commenter. All you need to do is leave a comment telling me your favorite scifi book, show, or film. The giveaway will be open for one week and will end at midnight on Tuesday, April 5th. I'll announce the winners the next day. This giveaway is open internationally. As always, please be sure to leave me a way to contact you. 

44 comments:

  1. Congrats to Sara on her new release. Sounds good. My favorite literary couple are JR Ward's Zsadist and Bella.

    Crystal816[at]hotmail[dot}com

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  2. Thank you for the interview! So fun! I have a hard time iwth favorites-they change all the time-but I'd have to say Firefly and Doctor Who are my two all-time favorites.

    stephanie.boaman@gmail.com

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  3. I would say the stand is my favorite book, and the x-files has to be my favorite sci-fi series.
    twoofakind12@yahoo.com

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  4. Anonymous1:44 PM

    thanks for the great interview!

    doctor who is my all-time tv fave (although the old blake's 7 gives it a run for its money), 1984 the all-time classic book, and i'd let the matrix just push out blade runner for the movie title...

    daisy.banana@gmail.com

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  5. Negine2:00 PM

    Since I just started reading some romantic scifi books I would have to go with Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series..LOVE them! and as for movies/shows hands down FIREFLY and also Farscape..although not sure it's considered scifi ;) Thank you!
    negine@gmail.com

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  6. While I'm sad Edie and Finn's story is over, I saw "fantasy/steampunk/romance crossover" and something inside me went DING-DING-DING. But the other two sound great too. I'm interested in them all.

    Don't put my name in for the contest, I already have a copy coming to me.

    I think one of the last gushworthy book I read was the latest Seanan McGuire October Daye book. I could sit and discuss that one with someone for a good while I think.

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  7. I'm getting really excited to read this series Angie - wonderful interview! I love it that she fell in love with her hubby over FIREFLY!

    As for Sci-Fi books? I love the Sirantha Jax books and just finished GABRIEL'S GHOST by Linnea Sinclair. Fantastic -- it's been awhile since I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning to finish a book.

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  8. I never thought that Firefly could put together a marriage - wonderful story!

    AS for my favourite sci-fi? I'm going to be the traditionalist who says STAR TREK BABY. I love my Firefly and my Sirantha Jax, but there's something to be said for some good-ol'-fashioned Trek.

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  9. I'm pretty much in love with Edie and Finn's story. Plus, I don't have a whole lot of options to choose from as I'm new to the scifi scene. But the story is still good!!

    Hoping I win this book *crosses fingers* !!

    cait.peterson@hotmail.com

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  10. I watched Star Trek Next Generation with my family growing up (I know!), but I think my favorite sci fi show is Battlestar Galactica (the new version)! What can I say, I'm a big fan of Lee Adama...

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  11. Oh and my email is bookwormjo@gmail.com. Sorry I forgot!

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  12. what a lovely interview! I'm pretty sure this duo of books is right up my alley. i'll put it in on the tbr list. ;)

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  13. Me, I love Firefly!

    Thanks for the giveaway :)

    starmetaloak(at)gmail(dot)com

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  14. I love Battlestar Galactica. Thank you for posting and for the giveaway! :D

    Giada M.

    fabgiada (at) gmail (dot) com

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  15. My favorite sci fi show is Fringe. Love, love love that show. So happy it's coming back for another season.

    marieimy (at) gmail (dot) com

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  16. I'd would say that my favorite sci-fi TV show is Dr. Who, but it's practically impossible for me to consider it sci-fi. So it has to go to Stark Trek: Voyager, which I would watch with my mom every Wednesday night as a kid.

    eargoldman (at) gmail (dot) com

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  17. I would have to say Star Trek TNG with Captain Bichard, but also Star Trek Voyager. The new Star Trek movie was sooo good! Love those actors. Thanks for hosting this giveaway! This series sound so good!

    atselec@gmail.com

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  18. In movies, I love the first Star Wars. It's still the best general SF movie I've ever seen. I also love Men in Black. I don't read many SF books these days, but I'd love to read this one. It sounds great.

    jen at delux dot com

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  19. Film: Moon
    Book: Tess Gerritsen's Gravity
    Show: Futurama (though I'm ever grateful to Red Dwarf for adding "smeg" to my vocabulary ;-) )

    TezMillerOz at gmail dot com

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  20. favourite sci-fi...

    Show: Dr. Who

    Film: The Fifth Element, Star Wars

    Book: Shade's Children by Garth Nix

    Yay! Love Sci-fi period.

    this_is_shar(at)live(dot)com

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  21. OOh ! Two writers together. Imagine what that would be like if they both get writers block at the same time !

    I haven't read the first book but I would certainly like to try the second.

    Too many favorites to select a book but the last TV series I enjoyed was Firefly. Hate that they just cut it off like that.

    Thanks for the giveaway and for opening it to worldwide entries.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

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  22. My favorite from TV shows was X-Files. love love those shows.

    uniquas at ymail dot com

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  24. I'm thinking it might almost be time for me to re-read Grass, by Sheri Tepper--have you ever tried her, Angie?

    charlotteslibrary at blogspot.com

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  26. Denise P.7:02 AM

    My favorite is Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clark.

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  27. My favourite show right now is Fringe. But my all-time favourites are Doctor Who and Firefly. Loved reading Song and am looking forward to reading Children!

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  28. Denise P.7:06 AM

    forgot to put in my email.

    flgirl1987@yahoo.com

    I'm a dunce!

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  29. Battlestar Galactica and Firefly!

    I'm reading the first book now. Very good so far!

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  30. Great interview! After reading your reviews I was planning on buying the books anyway, haha!

    My favourite scifi book would have to be Devil on My Back, by Monica Hughes. I've also read far too many Star Trek books in my life! I know I've got to watch Firefly at some point too.

    Thankyou so much for the opportunity!

    My email is clumsygrrrl at gmail.com

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  31. Denise1:55 PM

    I'm an Arthur C. Clark fan. I really liked 2010:Odyssey Two.

    dmpinfl AT yahoo DOT com

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  32. I loved the Jetsons as a kid and still do now. In fact, I can still clearly hear the opening theme song in my head. :) I also love Wall-E as well. :)

    yuchie_88@yahoo.com.ph

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  33. I have loved Ender's Game for years.

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  34. I haven't read a ton of Sci-fi but I would definitely have to say my favorite is anything Sirantha Jax. You just have to love the girl.

    After reading your review of Song of Scarabeus I couldn't wait to pick up a copy. I was not let down. I'm excited to read Children of Scarabaeus! Thanks for the fun giveaway.

    steph_3232@yahoo.com

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  35. My Fave SiFi TV show is a toss up! I cant decide if I like Fringe, Sanctuary, or Firefly the best. I have more content to go on with Sanctuary and Fringe, but Firefly was just so amazing with only the few episodes it got. My fave sifi book is The Host by Stephanie Meyer and my fave Sifi movie is all of the Back to the Futures, I just love marty mcfly!

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

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  36. Great interview! My favorite scifi show is Dr. Who.

    tiahmichelle(at)gmail(dot)com

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  37. My favourite Sci Fi book is Grimspace by Ann Aguirre.

    spav05(at)gmail(dot)com

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  38. Such a great interview! The covers of Sara's books got me curious enough to check out Chris McGrath's site and he has some amazing drawing skills! And how cool that she and her husband are both authors :)

    I haven't really read or seen many things sci-fi... the closest thing I read to the genre is Stephenie Meyer's THE HOST. I also started Ann Aguirre's GRIMSPACE which is so far really good<3

    piratepenguinreads(at)gmail(dot)com

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  39. My favourite sci-fi book is Dune and my favourite show is Doctor Who.

    gpmargial(at)alice(dot)it

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  40. Mmmm. Favorite sci-fi show definitely Firefly. It's just awesome on so many levels.

    Books is harder, because my enjoyment can come from so many different reasons, and there's a huge difference between all the subgenres in my head.

    Best Sci-Fi Romance would be Games of command by Linnea Sinclair, Best Sci-fi Comedy would be Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (O how I love that series...), best Sci-fi classic would be 1984 I think, but that one changes often.

    There's so many to like!

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  41. Mmmm. Favorite sci-fi show definitely Firefly. It's just awesome on so many levels.

    Books is harder, because my enjoyment can come from so many different reasons, and there's a huge difference between all the subgenres in my head.

    Best Sci-Fi Romance would be Games of command by Linnea Sinclair, Best Sci-fi Comedy would be Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (O how I love that series...), best Sci-fi classic would be 1984 I think, but that one changes often.

    There's so many to like!

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  42. My favorite sci fi show is Doctor Who. Ten is "my Doctor" but I'm absolutely adore Eleven from the new series. Matt Smith is doing a great job and I'm looking forward to the new episodes.

    Thanks for the chance to win! These books sound awesome. I love character driven novels :)

    melodiousrevelry (at) gmail (dot) com

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  43. One of my favorite sci-fi shows was Dollhouse. Only problem was that it ended too soon.

    Thanks for the giveaway, Candice
    candicerjames (at) gmail (dot) com

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  44. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Thanks for the giveaway!

    bamboogrovers at gmail dot com

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