"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
December 2000 Issue
Soar into the Future.........Fly high with Sci-Fi
PNR Poll: We Want More............Tales from
Catherine Spangler fell in love with romance from the moment her parents began reading to her. She teethed on fairy tales, then moved on to Nancy Drew, Louisa May Alcott, O. Henry, Sherlock Holmes, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, then on to romance greats such as Kathleen Woodwiss and Joanna Lindsey.
also discovered fantasy and science fiction. Her interest in SF romance
was probably sparked by her family's deep involvement with the space
program. She grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, and her father worked for
NASA, on Redstone Arsenal, where Werner Von Braun headed up the space
Barb S: Futurists seem to be enjoying a comeback recently. Many attribute this to the popularity of several television programs and perhaps the continuation of Star Wars. What influenced you to write futuristic romance?
Catherine S: I hope futuristics are enjoying a comeback! I haven't seen as much interest as I would like yet. This may be due in part to readers having difficulty finding the futuristics that are out there. This is why PNR is such a wonderful list, because readers can learn what paranormals books are available. I do think that the Star Trek shows and their spin offs, along with Star Wars (which I love), have influenced readers. I also think readers are becoming more willing to try something different, to move away from more traditional types of romance. My interest in writing futuristics was probably sparked because I grew up around the space program. My father was an engineer with NASA, so traveling to the stars was of vital interest in my family. Also, I've always been fascinated with paranormal and metaphysical things.
Barb S: Your debut novel SHIELDER won a P.E.A.R.L Honorable Mention for BEST FUTURISTIC, were you excited to win reader acclaim so early in your career?
Catherine S: I was amazed and thrilled! The honorable mention SHIELDER received was even more special because it was voted upon by *readers*. That meant my story had reached others, had touched them in some way. It helped validate the hard work, the rejections (oh, yes, I know about those <g>), and the frustrations of this business. It made it all worthwhile.
Barb S: You've introduced several labels in your two novels SHIELDER and SHADOWER. First lets talk about the Controllers. They are the rulers of the quadrant in> which your stories are set? From their name I gather they are tyrants? Who exactly are being controlled?
Catherine S: Yes, the Controllers dominate the quadrant, and they do so by mind control via psionic brain waves. They don't have to control every individual, only key ones, like political leaders, and their own military force, the Anteks. The Controllers also indoctrinate anyone who works for them as a shadower (bounty hunter).
Barb S: Obviously we know the other two labels from the titles of your books. Tell us a bit about the Shielders. They are persecuted?
the Shielders are persecuted, more so than many of the other races
Barb S: Shadowers are the bounty hunters, correct? Kind of space mercenaries? Do they work for themselves or the controllers?
Catherine S: Shadowers are bounty hunters who basically work for the Controllers (as I said before, they're indoctrinated first). They do the dirty work for the Controllers by bringing in the numerous offenders who resist the Controllers in any way. In return, the Shadowers collect generous bounties. Some Shielders without conscience become bounty hunters, because they can readily identify other Shielders. They feel no remorse about turning in their own kind--greed is their god.
Barb S: Your heroes and heroines all seem to have experienced tragedy, do you think this helps the readers to empathize with them? Do you think it makes their ultimate triumph seem more meaningful?
Catherine S: I think readers have vivid imaginations and empathize strongly with the characters in a story. We all understand tragedy, having experienced it either directly or vicariously in our lives. Tragedy stirs emotion, makes us care. If we don't care about the characters in a story, we'll stop reading. Also, I like to challenge my characters. I like them to face the fire and come through, stronger, purer. Yes, the tragedy enhances their ultimate triumphs. Personal growth is a key element in my stories.
Barb S: The heroine of SHIELDER has several disabilities, the heroine of Shadower has experienced physical abuse, both have suffered great losses. What is it about their characters that give them the strength to go on and achieve great things?
Catherine S: Number one: They're women : ) What I especially love about these two heroines is the inner core of strength in each of them (which I believe we all have). I think it is their hardships which have honed them like the finest steel edge of a blade. Their experiences have made them determined to never again be victims, but to make their own choices, and to win. Shades of the classic scene in "Gone With The Wind", where Scarlet, pushed to the limits of her endurance, waves her fist at the heavens and vows she will never be hungry again. I believe we all have that personal power (enabled by a Higher Spiritual Being) within us.
Barb S: Both of the heroes have suffered severe personal losses as well (and they're not women <g>), do you think it makes them more tolerant or understanding of their heroines? The heroines give them a lot of trouble don't they?
Catherine S: My heroines always give the heroes trouble <g>. I love classic "battle-of-the-sexes" stories, and I love a hero who's strong enough to be tender, and secure enough in his masculinity that he doesn't have to hurt a woman to prove himself, no matter how far she pushes him. The personal hardships my heroes have suffered tend to make them withdraw from society, to create their own world, either to keep from being hurt again or to meet a personal challenge (as Chase McKnight did). Their lesson is to learn that they can't go it alone, that love is the ultimate power, able to redeem and heal.
Barb S: Your second book SHADOWER is actually a prequel to SHIELDER featuring side characters introduced in SHIELDER, correct?
Catherine S: Yes. When I wrote SHIELDER, I didn't have the next two books planned. But Sabin Travers and Moriah Cameron proved to be such strong, intriguing characters that I knew I had to tell their story. As amatter of fact, Sabin strutted onto the scene in SHIELDER and tried to wrest the story away from Chase. I had to fight him over it <g>. What a guy! Yep, he deserved a story all right. But the way SHIELDER was written, Sabin and Moriah's story had actually already occurred. So I went back and wrote their story in SHADOWER. However, each book stands alone, so it doesn't matter what order you read them in.
Barb S: The hero of SHADOWER, Sabin Travers is a both a Shielder and a Shadower. The two roles seem to be incongruous, how does he reconcile the two roles? Is he a traitor to his people? Tell us about his partner Chase McKnight, hero of SHIELDER.
Catherine S: Those two roles are definitely incongruous. As I mentioned earlier, there are traitorous Shielders who hunt and turn in their own kind for the gold. When we first meet Sabin Travers in SHIELDER, he appears to be a traitor, and poses a very real threat to the heroine, because he can turn her in. You'll have to read SHADOWER to find out if he really is a traitor. His partner is Chase McKnight, the hero in SHIELDER.
Chase, also a bounty hunter, has a secret of his own. He's lost faith in himself, and all he has left is revenge--against the one person responsible for his personal hell. Guess what? You'll have to read SHIELDER to discover Chase's secret <vbg>.
Barb S: You've touched on prejudice, avarice, genocide, euthanasia, sexual abuse, and germ warfare, yet the stories never seem to be horrific or depressing, but rather hopeful and uplifting. How do you achieve that balance between the H/H's plight and their romance?
think there are human conditions that are, unfortunately, universal
in our world. By touching on some of these conditions, I can strike
universal chords which all of us respond to. I want that emotional reaction,
that involvement with the characters. However, I don't like depressing
stories. I do like dark, edgy stories that are emotional and intriguing,
but if they get too dark or too violent, then I don't read any further.
So, although I like to throw tremendous challenges at my characters,
I also want to be able to laugh and feel good. I try to have humor in
my stories, to lighten the impact of the challenges. And I like sexy
stories, the kind that curl your toes. But it's important that sensuality
be a natural outgrowth of a caring, monogamous
Barb S: This series seems to be too good to end here. Will there be more Shielder stories? Jarek san Ranul's for instance <hint, hint>? What's next for Catherine Spangler?
Catherine S: There's nothing I like more than for readers to ask me: "Where's the next book?" There is a third book in the series. SHAMARA will be published by Leisure Love Spell in the fall of 2001. And yes, it is *Jarek's* story. So many readers have asked about him. As I'm writing SHAMARA, I'm discovering that Jarek is the greatest hero of the three men (and that's saying something, because Chase and Sabin are definitely sterling hero material!). I've fallen hopelessly in love with Jarek (but please don't tell my husband--he's already jealous of my "other men"). I hope you'll join me on this third adventure. Visit my web site, and let me know how you like the Shielder Trilogy. I love to hear from readers.
SHADOWER - Unjustly shunned by her people, Nessa dan Ranul knew she was unlovable -- but when n opportunity arose for her to save her world, she leapt at the chance, disregarding her own life. Setting out for the farthest reaches of the galaxy, she had one goal: to elude capture and deliver her race from destuction. But then she found herself at the questionable mercy of Chase McKnight, a handsome bounty hunter whose hard-muscled arms both captured and protected. Suddenly, Nessa found that escape was the last thing she wanted. In Chase's passionate embrace she'd found a nivana of which she'd never dared dream - with a man she could never dare trust. But as her identity remained a secret and her mission incomplete, each passing day brought her nearer to oblivion. Nessa kniew the truth could save her, but could she risk trusting her heart?
SHEILDER - Unjustly shunned by her people, Nessa dan Ranul knew she was unlovable -- but when n opportunity arose for her to save her world, she leapt at the chance, disregarding her own life. Setting out for the farthest reaches of the galaxy, she had one goal: to elude capture and deliver her race from destuction. But then she found herself at the questionable mercy of Chase McKnight, a handsome bounty hunter whose hard-muscled arms both captured and protected. Suddenly, Nessa found that escape was the last thing she wanted. In Chase's passionate embrace she'd found a nivana of which she'd never dared dream - with a man she could never dare trust. But as her identity remained a secret and her mission incomplete, each passing day brought her nearer to oblivion. Nessa kniew the truth could save her, but could she risk trusting her heart?
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