Name a famous author you've met, nearly met or wish you'd met.
I met Ray Bradbury briefly at the World Science Fiction Convention in Atlanta in 1986. I had just bought a large plush stegosaurus in the dealer’s room and was carrying it under one arm through the room, when Mr. Bradbury, with his handler, came down the aisle from the other direction. He halted his handler in mid-sentence, left his side and made a beeline for me, when he started petting my stuffed dinosaur and discussing the creatures with me! Turns out he loved dinos. It was very cool.
At that time, I wasn’t a writer. Since becoming a writer, I’ve met numerous authors, including New York Times bestsellers, like Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Larry Correia, Eric Flint, John Ringo, Travis S. Taylor, Sarah Hoyt, and more.
What are the weirdest things a character ever did in a book?
Oh me. I suppose it depends on your definition of weird. I write science fiction; in the regular world, most of it would be weird!
Falling in love with and marrying an alien, maybe? That happened several times in the Cresperian Saga.
Then there’s always deciding you’re going to infiltrate Area 51 while being a fugitive yourself, which happened in Burnout.
Who really wrote the book, you or your characters?
Initially it was, more or less, the characters. It’s been said that I write very cinematically; well, that’s because I watch the events play out on this little screen inside my eyelids, and I just write down what I see, hear, and otherwise observe. But as I’ve gained more writing experience, I have gotten rather more control over the plot, at least. Now I tell the characters what I want them to do, and they tell me how they’d do it!
How many books have you started and how many have you finished?
There isn’t a book that I’ve started that I haven’t finished, sooner or later. Some are currently in work; there’s 4 of those. There’s a couple of things that I wrote some years ago that are derivative works, and I’m dinking around with “filing off the serial numbers,” as Sarah Hoyt puts it, and making it fully my own original work. But I do that around working on other stuff, because I don’t know if it’ll work or not, so I don’t want to waste a bunch of time and energy on it, when I have other stuff I know I need to do.
What's the hardest part with writing: the writing of the story or the editing?
Oh, the writing, by far. In general editing is fairly easy for me. I’ve done so much editing over the years – theses, government papers, reports, etc. – I actually free-lance as an editor and like it. I love writing too, but the creative energy that I have to pour into it renders it much harder than editing.
If one of your books could be made into a movie, which would you choose and who would you cast?
Do I have to choose?
Well, my first book, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281, was a film in my head, no lie. And there have been numerous attempts to translate it to film, but so far it hasn’t gone through. We do keep trying.
But when I first wrote it, I could see actors playing the roles. Tommy Lee Jones was Crash Murphy; Hugo Weaving was Dr. Michael Anders. Hugh Jackman was Steve Blake, Harrison Ford was Jet Jackson, James Cromwell a NASA manager…on and on. I had every major character cast in my head. It’d never get made like that; too many stars, too many schedules to coordinate, too much money. But in my head, that’s what they look like.
How many books have you written in total?
Well, back when I was first trying to get published, I wrote an entire series that was intended to become a movie-to-novel franchise. Unfortunately I was never able to sell it due to the issue of rights being tied up. I currently have 22 books (some contributions to anthologies and the like) in print, with a 23rd coming soon. If I add in that unpublished series and a few other novella-to-novel-length stories I wrote but never published, I’ve probably written close to 40 books.
Where did the last one take place?
The one that’s just gone under contract is Displaced Detective book 5, A Case of Spontaneous Combustion, and it takes place in London. The one I’m working on now, Displaced Detective number 6, is called Fear in the French Quarter and takes place in New Orleans.
Then there’s the sequel to Burnout, called Escape Velocity. It, like its predecessor, roams over half the planet.
And the fourth Cresperian Saga book, Heritage, takes place partly on Earth, partly in space, and partly in the Cresperian system.
Besides writing, what’s your favorite hobby?
Oh um, that’s a hard one. I read – a LOT – and I like to shop. I like researching stuff – yeah, I really do. I can lose hours to the search for information, learning new stuff the whole time. But then, what does one expect of a scientist, I suppose. I used to do a good bit of live theatre, but that requires a bigger block of time than I have to give these days. Still, it’s how I met my husband: we both auditioned for and were cast in a play in college.
What is your genre?
Well, I tend to cross genres a lot. Science fiction mystery, for the most part, I’d say. I usually throw in some romance (because romance occurs in real life – people do fall in love, and I want my characters to be as realistic as possible), and a judicious dash of suspense/thriller.
What’s your Country of Origin?
Born and reared in the good ol’ USA.
What are the names of your two leads?
For which books?
For Burnout, it’s “Crash” Murphy and Mike Anders. For the Point series, it’s Ray and Samantha Brady. For the Cresperian Saga, it changes from book to book. For the Displaced Detective series, it’s Sherlock Holmes and Skye Chadwick.
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