"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Publisher Spotlight: Aphrodite's Apples
Linnea Sinclair is a former news reporter, former private investigator, and now a RITA© award-winning author in the science fiction romance and fantasy genres. A long time 'Star Trek' and 'Star Wars' fan, she writes what she wishes she could live: adventure and romance in the space lanes.
Until she's recalled to active duty in any available space faring
fleet, she can be found in south Florida with her husband and
two demanding cats.
PNR: Welcome back Linnea, when we last spoke with you in 2002, Gabriel's Ghost had just released from LTD books, and you have been very busy since then. Could you tell readers what you have been up to?
Linnea S.: Writing, running from hurricanes (I live in south Florida), writing, scooping kitty litter pans (we're down to 2 cats, alas. But in 2002 we probably still had 5), writing, going on cruises (no hurricanes, no kitty litter pans and with the laptop along, I can write!), and writing.
Somewhere in the midst of that I acquired a terrific agent, Kristin Nelson, who shortly thereafter signed me to my first three-book deal with Bantam/Random House for the reissue (and fluffing out) of Finders Keepers, Gabriel’s Ghost (which actually had a fairly substantial rewrite) and An Accidental Goddess. So that required I do more..writing. We're now into our second three-book deal with Bantam, with Games of Command (a total rewrite of my Alliance Command series books) coming out February 2007. That will be followed by The Down Home Zombie Blues and Chasidah's Choice.
Sounds like more writing!
PNR: Congratulations on the RITA Award for Best Paranormal/Futuristic Book, GABRIEL'S GHOST. How does it feel to have such positive recognition for your work?
Linnea S.: Winning the RITA was incredible. I honestly considered myself very much the dark horse. I didn't even prepare an acceptance speech. Plus, my book is shelved in science fiction, not in romance. To have Gabriel's Ghost final in Best Paranormal (and Finders Keepers final in Best First Book) was enough for me. To actually win on my first experience with the RITA was...well, it left me...as I said - speechless. You can see photos of the convention here: http://www.linneasinclair.com/RWA2006.htm
But quite honestly, the fan mail I receive is as good as the RITA if not better. When readers yell at me for keeping them up all night, because they couldn't stop reading Gabriel's Ghost, or because they missed their stop on the subway coming home from work, because they had to find out what happened to Trilby in Finders Keepers, I get just as speechless. And more than a bit giddy. I love the fact that so many people have so much fun with my characters. That's why I write them.
After the RITA awards, when I was still in a bit of a daze and my husband was off grazing the dessert selections across from the ballroom, one of the RITA judges told me how much she enjoyed Gabriel's Ghost. I have no idea who she was: blame shock and the lack of name tags in formal dress. But she said it was the character of Sully that cinched it for her.
Sully has that ability. I should know. He made me write the dang book in thirty four days, waking me up at 5 a.m. to write it and not letting me get to sleep until 2 a.m. I look forward to his delightful torture in the sequel, Chasidah's Choice.
PNR: Readers and reviewers have complimented your expert world-building; what are the challenges you face in making it believable for the reader? How much is research vs. imagination?
Linnea S.: I'm a research junkie. Okay, I was going to say I'm a research slut but I'm trying to keep this clean for those of sensitive sensibilities. But it's true: I love research. I get all giddy around libraries. Google makes me grin and Questia sends me over the moon. It's probably a hold-over from my news reporter and private investigator days.
But I do far more research than is apparent in the books (as some hard-core SF readers have derisively noted). Fact is this: I have a limited word count with Bantam. So it’s always a toss-up between facts and character development. I tend to go more for character development because in my humble opinion, most of my readers read to experience the characters, not any particular planet’s climatic variations. I do write to an HEA (Happily Ever After) so that’s more important to me than two pages of backstory on a particular planet’s political machinations or the specs of a hyper-space transit.
Given that, I have oodles of fun with my settings. I’m not going to explain how or why a particular deep space station operates. But I will set you in the station and let you experience life there as you move among the inhabitants. In An Accidental Goddess, you get a chance to get a grin out of the station’s teenaged population who had taken to wearing their hair in long ponytails—hanging over the front of their faces (my character, Gillie, wryly notes that it must make eating soup quite a challenge…). In Gabriel's Ghost, when Sully and Chaz and company make Dock Five, you’ll note the malfunctioning escalators and have a chance to participate in an illegal contraband transfer in a seedy bar. I don't particularly tell my readers about my worlds; I have them live them.
Is it harder that way? Absolutely. Info dumps are easy. Weaving what a reader needs to know in to dialogue and action is more difficult. That's where the imagination part comes in. I try to notice what I notice when traveling to a new locale. For instance, I've been to St. Thomas dozens of times but only to Tortola twice, recently. Now the two islands are not all that far apart but there are very great - and very subtle - differences between the two. So what I notice - and catalogue in my mind - as to flora and fauna, accents, infrastructure, inhabitants, customs, climate and the rest, are the same things I use to build a port city on a distant planet or a space station one exit from nowhere.
PNR: Though you have written in the fantasy genre with your book, WINTERTIDE, and a short story 'To Call the Moons' in the DREAM QUEST anthology, your niche seems to be futuristic/sci-fi romance. What is it about this genre that captures your imagination? Is there a genre you haven't written but would like to try?
Linnea S.: I've been a SF fan since I was a child, both through books and television, and I've been a Trekker since the first time James T. Kirk uttered "beam me up". Be that as it may, I'm fascinated by the vastness of the landscape that science fiction offers. It's not what is now or what was, but it's whatever I want it to be. I can toss away traditional male/female roles. I can ignore - or redefine - what it means to be human. One plus one doesn't have to equal two.
I can challenge my characters with situations, cultures, experiences far beyond our own so the story is't just about him and her, but him and her and this incredible setting which almost becomes a character as well.
The other genre I'll write in someday would be mystery and romantic suspense. I have a background as a private investigator and I'd like to be able to bring my experiences with that into fiction. Also I somewhat do that in my upcoming The Down Home Zombie Blues, as the male protagonist is a homicide detective in a Florida city. I also wrote a series of short stories, a few years ago, based on a psychic investigator. That's also SF. But contemporary romantic suspense is something I'd like to try.
PNR: You were writing futuristic/science fiction romance when it was not readily accepted by the publishing industry and I consider you one of the authors that pioneered the growing popularity of this sub-genre. Tell us about some of the obstacles you faced, and still face in bringing your work to readers. What stopped you from giving in to 'popular trend'?
Linnea S.: The biggest obstacle I and any SFR author faces is this anti-science fiction sentiment in the romance community. It's a fear of SF which, I think, is somewhat based on the belief that one needs a PhD in Physics to read it. That's like saying you need to be an experienced horseback rider to read westerns or know how to shoot a gun to read mystery. It dismays me when women come up to my table at a signing and say, "Oh, I can't read science fiction. I'm not smart enough".
They'll pick up a western romance with a woman holding a rifle on the cover but they won't pick up a science fiction romance with a woman holding a rifle on the cover.
For that reason, the sales numbers of SFR...less so with Futuristics as they're marketed differently and seem to be more accepted in the romance community...are lower than other sub-genres. This is also why SFRs were more often found in small press and e-book houses than in major NY publishers.
Why I kept writing it, in spite of the fact that the numbers out of NY were originally so low, is that I can only write what I love. If my book, my characters, my story doesn/t catch my interest, if it doesn't make me feel, then I can't write it.
The obstacles I faced from agents and NY houses initially were: "We love your writing. We can’t sell you because we don't know where to shelve you". It's a marketing issue and I understand that. Let's face it, we live in a world devoted to categorizing. Life is like a department store (men's clothes: first floor; shoes: third floor; bath towels: second floor) or an aisle in the supermarket: cereal in aisle 10, cat food in aisle 3. But if you created a cereal that both cats and people could eat (okay, wacky example but my cat walked across the desk as I was answering this, so that's what came to mind) where would you shelve it? How would you market and sell it? That's the problem with my books.
Bantam, however, decided I'd fit just fine in science fiction. This was the time when Tor was also launching their paranormal romance line. The market seemed to be opening more to cross-genre so into the SF section went Finders Keepers, Gabriel's Ghost and An Accidental Goddess. Now, with my February 2007 release—Games of Command, Bantam is going to try shelving me in the romance aisles. See, it's still a tough category call. I hope my SF readers will look for me in the romance aisles. And I also hope my romance readers won't be afraid to also check in science fiction for my back list.
PNR: In your opinion, what is it about the futuristic/sci-fi genre that seems to cross the traditional male/female reader boundaries? Do readers expect more or less romantic elements in this genre?
Linnea S.: Science fiction, when written to an HEA and not a doom-and-gloom plotline, is very empowering. I write strong characters who grow stronger by facing near-impossible challenges, including falling in love. By the way, the same kinds of stories are found in the wonderful, awesome books by Susan Grant, Patti O'Shea, Catherine Asaro, Robin Owens, J.D. Robb, Isabo Kelly, Stacey Klemstein and others. You also find this in non-SF paranormals in the vampire/shape-shifter sub-genres. Sherrilyn Kenyon comes to mind, as do L.A. Banks, J.C Wilder, Christine Feehan, Charlee Compo, Cathy Clamp/Cie Adams and more. So the appeal of the strong character is spread widely over paranormal romance. It's just with SFR, there's a bit more high-tech.
I think when readers get into the SF end of romance, they are as interested in the worlds and conflicts as in the romance. So given that books have a finite word count, then there may, yes, be less space devoted to the romance aspect because that word count has to be shared with world building (i.e.: If I write a book set in Miami, Florida, I don't have to do all that much defining for the reader as to what Miami, Florida looks like. But if I set a book in Port Rumor in Gensiira, then I have to bring the reader there because there’s no common frame of reference). But I think the HEA is incontrovertible. It has to be there. It is in all my books. I couldn't write a book that didn't have an HEA.
PNR: Your titles, FINDERS KEEPERS, GABRIEL’S GHOST and AN ACCIDENTAL GODDESS, were all reissued by Spectra in 2005; this was very exciting for your fans. Could you tell us how this came about? Can readers look forward to more projects coming from Spectra?
Linnea S.: My delightful relationship with Bantam Spectra is solely the product of Kristin Nelson, my agent. She read my books, loved them, wasn't afraid of the fact that they didn't fit neatly into a pigeon-hole and she presented them—with considerable enthusiasm, I gather, to Bantam and the senior editor there, Anne Groell. It was a terrific match because Kristin, Anne and I get along extremely well. as photos (you can find them on my site) of us at the outdoor martini bar at the Romantic Times conference in Daytona Beach (May 2006) prove. Kristin and Anne are just people I'd choose as friends.
Upcoming from Bantam Spectra in 2007 and 2008 will be Games of Command, The Down Home Zombie Blues and the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost, Chasidah's Choice. The only firm release date I have right now is February 27, 2007 for Games of Command. As I know others, they'll be posted on my site.
PNR: Like a growing number of print authors, you started out in the e-publishing market. How does being contracted with a print publisher differ? Would you still consider e-publishing in the future?
Linnea S.: I heard all sorts of horror stories about NY publishers while I was in the small press, and even when I first signed with Bantam. NY was cold, uncaring, mercenary.
None of that came true. My editor, Anne, is warm and fun. We swap photos of spouses, cats, vacations. She understands a writer's angst over plot and characters. She knows I love my characters. We discuss every change she suggests I make and in 99% of the cases, I have final say. She's provided me with fabulous cover artists that are so nearly exact, save for one character on one cover but we laugh over that now, that I'm beginning to wonder if being a mind-reader is a prerequisite for any artist hired by Bantam. She even got me a cat on my cover for Games of Command! A cat! I'm beyond thrilled (and I told her that more than makes up for the red spandex bimbo outfit she foisted on my character of Gillie in An Accidental Goddess).
Having survived a couple of horrendous experiences with small press and e-publishing (no distribution, no getting paid, checks bouncing, etc..), working with Bantam is a blessing. (And let me clarify that those horrendous experiences did not apply to my relationship with LTDBooks, who were wonderful people.) But the big difference is my readers don't need to shell out $18 for one of my books. I think its great they're now affordable and findable to just about everyone.
Would I consider e-publishing in the future? I don't have to. Bantam already issues all my books in e-formats as well as paperback.
PNR: You have published as both Linnea Sinclair and Megan Sybil Baker. Will you continue to do so or have your dual-writing personalities merged?
Linnea S.: Oh, I killed off Megan Sybil over two years ago. She was always my younger, thinner self. I got tired of my husband wanting her in bed instead of the older, pudgier Linnea. So she's little more than a fond memory now.
The only reason she existed at all was that when I first became published in fiction, I was still a practicing private detective. I didn't think my clients, who trusted me with their secrets, would like knowing I also crafted fiction.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Linnea S.: Character driven. No question about it. I start with a 'what if' and it always involves the male and female protagonist and whatever their personal, emotional issue is. I wrap the world, the setting around the story only after I'm clear about who they are.
The plot derives from the conflict between the two. And the conflict drives the story. As the esteemed SF author, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, says on her site (www.simegen.com): "Conflict generates plot. Story does not generate plot. Story just sits there. Story is INTERNAL CONFLICT, and it won't grow, change, transmutate, or resolve WITHOUT the traction of the external situation that exactly mirrors that internal conflict".
PNR: Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who is your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
Linnea S.: My characters just sort of show up. Honestly. It could be any number of things that could trigger their arrival: a song, a newspaper article, something I overhear in conversation. Next thing I know: whammo. There he is. Or there she is. I usually don't even have their names (though not always). So I sit back and listen to what they have to say.
The most challenging characters to write are the villains. For one thing, they're trying to hurt the characters I love so I'm not particularly keen on making their lives pleasant. But I have to let them have their space, have to let them interact and even get ahead. For a while.
Then it's so much fun when my main characters finally get the better of them, though. That’s the part where I'm grinning and dancing around the office when I'm writing it.
My favorite character to write? Pretty much all of them as each is unique. Sully in Gabriel's Ghost is a prankster and a rogue. When he comes on the page, there are always layers of things going on. Trilby, in Finders Keepers, is gutsy and very clear on what she wants. Mack (An Accidental Goddess) is my 'boy scout', my 'what you see is what you get' kind of guy.
In Games of Command, it was a hoot to write the furzels, which are essentially house cats with a few extra abilities. Tank the furzel (fidget, really, as he's still young) is my cat, Daiquiri (who my husband said we should have named Thumper).
PNR: Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer? As a writer of futuristic/science fiction?
Linnea S.: Undoubtedly, C.J. Cherryh. Starting with her Downbelow Station to her current Foreigner series, her work just blows me away. I love the action, the world building, the plot twists, everything.
PNR: Please tell us about the projects you are currently working on; what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Linnea S.: My current WIP is The Down Home Zombie Blues, which is a fun and funky combination of science fiction, police procedural and romance. It's rather as if the movie, Men In Black, melded with the old TV show, Hill Street Blues. Theo Petrakos is a forty-something divorced homicide detective in a Florida city who has no idea—when he investigates a suspicious death case, that he's actually working on a case of galactic proportions. But it's that case that brings intergalactic zombie hunter, Commander Jorie Mikkalah, quite unexpectedly into his life. They're forced to work together to stop the zombies and, as Jorie doesn't speak English that well and has no idea of this planet's customs or culture, and as Theo can't reveal that she's an outer-space alien without causing an all-out panic...well, suffice it to say they get in some interesting scrapes and it's quite funny.
After that, I'll start on Chasidah's Choice, the sequel to Gabriel's Ghost. That will be a book of an entirely different flavor, more intense, more serious.
PNR: Thank you, Linnea, for taking time out to speak with us. Where can readers find out what's new and how can they contact you?
Linnea S.: Readers are always welcome to play around on my website—especially in my Intergalactic Bar & Grille (where there are bar games, and more!). For the latest on my books, sneak peeks and special contests for members only, they can join my Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LinneaSinclair/
I'm also part of a multi-author blog with Rowena Cherry, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Susan Sizemore, Colby Hodge, Margaret Carter and Susan Kearney. We talk about all sorts of things relative to science fiction romance. It's Alien Romances: http://www.aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/
And they can always bump into me on the PNR loop. When I/m not deep in deadlines, or running from a hurricane, I love to hang out at PNR and talk about books!
Thanks so much, Dee, for letting me ramble.
Featured in this issue:Futuristic/Sci-Fi Romance Aphrodite's Apples Press
Available Now Buy it now! Spectra
December 27, 2005
Paperback (reprint) Read the Reviews!
ACCIDENTAL GODDESS Raheiran Special Forces captain Gillaine Davré has just woken up in some unknown space way station, wondering where the last three hundred years have gone. The last thing she remembers is her ship being attacked. Now it seems that while she was time-traveling, she was ordained a goddess…. Gillaine’s only hope of survival rests with dangerously seductive Admiral Mack Makarian, who suspects her of being a smuggler—or worse. But he can’t begin to imagine the full extent of it. For Gillaine is now Lady Kiasidira, holy icon to countless believers, including Mack—a man who inspires feelings in her that are far from saintly…feelings she knows are mutual. But when their flirtation is interrupted by a treacherous enemy from the past, Gillaine’s secret—and secret desires—could destroy them both….Buy it now! Spectra
October 25, 2005
Paperback Read the Reviews!
GABRIEL'S GHOST - After a decade of cruising interstellar patrol ships, former Captain Chasidah Bergren, onetime Pride of the Sixth Fleet, finds herself court-martialed for a crime she didn't commit-and shipped off to a remote prison planet from which no one ever escapes. But when she kills a brutal guard in an act of self-defense, someone even more dangerous emerges from the shadows.
Gabriel Sullivan-alpha mercenary, smuggler, and rogue-is supposed to be dead. Yet now this seductive ghost from Chaz's past is offering her a ticket to freedom-for a price. Someone in the Empire is secretly breeding jukors: vicious and uncontrollable killing machines that have long been outlawed. Gabriel needs Chaz to help him stop the practice before it decimates imperial space. For Chaz, it's a matter of survival. For Sully it means facing the truth about who-and what-he really is. The mission means putting their lives on the line-but the tensions that heat up between them may be the riskiest part of all. For both of them, it's a life- and-death battle where giving up the ghost just took on a whole new meaning..Buy it now! Spectra
April 27, 2005
Paperback Read the Reviews!
FINDER'S KEEPERS Dumped, destitute and desperate. Captain Trilby Elliot's last chance at survival in the space lanes is to salvage a crashed fightercraft, and return its pilot for a reward. Except for one small problem: the pilot, Rhis, is intent on commandeering her ship. And another much larger problem: someone very powerful wants Trilby Elliot dead.
Buy it Soon! Medallion Press
June 1, 2004
Paperback Read the Reviews!
WINTERTIDE - For centuries, the Infernal War has been waged by witches and sorcerers to control the Orb of Knowledge. Khamsin becomes its innocent victim, and the enigmatic Tinker her guide on a journey to win a war only love can conquer.Buy it Now! LTDBooks
October 1, 2003
Paperback (out of print) Read the Reviews!
"To Call the Moons"
DREAMQUEST contains nine diverse paranormal romance tales. These tales contain such subjects as curses, ghosts, elves, and alien worlds. Although some tales don't have the expected ending, they are all entertaining. DREAMQUEST has a tale for everyone.
Coming Soon! Buy it Now! Spectra
February 27, 2007
Paperback Read the Reviews!
GAMES OF COMMAND Captain Tasha "Sass" Sebastian is hiding a deadly past, and doing her best to keep a low profile on Admiral Kel-Paten's ship. . . despite the fact that the bio-cybe admiral won't leave her alone, making her job on the first Alliance-Triad integrated huntership that much more difficult. But when her best friend, Doctor Eden Fynn, gets a new patient in the form of wanted rebel Jace Serafino, both their lives will change irreparably. For Jace is privy to information that could expose not only all of Sass's secrets but tear the fragile Alliance peace treaty apart. There's just one catch: Jace is not entirely what he seems either, as Eden learns when the soul behind the man starts whispering to her in her dreams...
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