"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
October 2001 Issue
Out of This World Romance
PNR Poll: We Want More............Interstellar
Update: Susan Grant
Dubbed the "inventor of Aviation Romance," by Romantic Times Magazine, Susan Grant loves writing about what she knows best: flying, and the delicious interaction between the sexes.
She was one of the first women in history to attend the United States Air Force Academy. Upon graduation, she flew jets in the Air Force, including a three-year stint as a flight instructor in the rigorous USAF pilot training program.
These days, she pilots 747 jumbo jets around the world for United -- that is, when she's not flying at an even faster speed to keep up with her two young children!
When we last spoke to Susan Grant in the December 2000 issue, THE STAR KING, her first Sci Fi/Futuristic romance had just hit the shelves. It has since gone on to win two PEARL awards (Best Sci Fi, Best Futuristic Romance) and a RITA nomination, as well as critical acclaim. Abundant in compelling secondary characters, it is not suprising that THE STAR KING has been joined by a second novel, THE STAR PRINCE, which will hit the shelves in November. Find out more about Ms. Grant's newest effort in her most recent PNR Interview below.
PNR: First, let us congratulate you on your Rita nomination. Since we last spoke you have written a sequel to the PEARL winning (Best Sci Fi, Best Futuristic 2000) novel THE STAR KING. As we recently rediscovered, extreme circumstances often make unexpected heroes of ordinary men and women. Ian Hamilton, hero of THE STAR PRINCE, is one such ordinary guy who has just been given a unique opportunity with lots of responsibility. Tell us about Ian. Who is he and how does he handle the honor bestowed on him?
Susan G: Thank you! Winning the PEARLs was a thrill I'll always remember, and will always be proud of. While I've learned my books don't please everybody, I'm glad that THE STAR KING was so well received both online and off.
mentioned that extreme circumstances often make unexpected heroes of
Anyone who's read THE STAR KING knows that I like to break a rule or two and "write out of the box." THE STAR PRINCE is no exception. Ian isn't larger than life, like many romance heroes; he's a "regular guy" plunged into a larger-than-life situation.
PNR: The heroine Tee'ah Dar is just the opposite. She is a Vash Princess. What is life like for a Vash princess?
Susan G: Vash princesses, like all royal Vash women, are protected, sheltered, and rarely leave their home worlds. Readers might find similarities to the lifestyle of Muslim women in some parts of the world. The protocol that keeps Vash Nadah women cloistered dates back to the years before and during the Great War, a period of anarchy when such protective measures were necessary. Eleven thousand years later, (the time period in which the Star books take place) the galaxy is stable and safe. Yet, the customs restricting royal women remain. It is a strange twist that the religion binding the galaxy together is based on a feminine entity, the Great Mother, when the highest-ranking women in the eight royal families spend their life in the shadows.
Tee'ah, the palace in which she was raised is a gilded cage, not the
fairyland of luxury others might see. All the personal decisions you
and I take for granted
Tee'ah is close to being promised to a Vash
Prince whom she barely knows, let alone loves, and she has a secret
passion which she has been indulging on the
Susan G: For a year, she has been disguising herself and sneaking off-planet a few nights a week to learn to fly on one of the huge cargo freighters that bring goods from several moon-based mining stations to the space city orbiting her home planet Mistraal. When the book opens, we learn she has recently earned her cargo-pilot wings.
PNR: Naturally, she is caught and is forbidden to continue flying. What does she do about it?
Susan G: First, she tries to convince her father that she can continue her royal duties, including the marriage, AND fly. But her father won't hear of it. So, she makes the heart-wrenching decision to leave her home and family.
PNR: Ian has been working hard to prove to the Vash that he is worthy to be heir to the King of the Galaxy. What happens on his home world of Earth that complicates matters and what does Ian do about it?
Susan G: Since first contact, public opinion polls on Earth have consistently shown high approval ratings for the Vash. Earth likes being part of an intergalactic Trade Federation. But soon after Rom B'kah addresses the Vash Great Council, announcing his intention to name Ian as Crown Prince, a US senator launches a campaign called "Earth First," insisting that Earth is better off as a sovereign planet. The timing can't be worse. Ian can't think of any member of the Great Council who'd want to approve a Crown Prince who hailed from a rogue planet. Rom and Ian know that peace depends on a strong, benevolent galaxy-wide government. Yet, Ian's view in that regard is tempered by his loyalty to Earth. Somehow, he has to find a way to bridge his two worlds without sacrificing the needs of either. So when, unexpectedly, Randall embarks on a trip into space, Ian follows.
PNR: Tee'ah is Ian's cousin by virtue of his mother Jas's marriage to Rom B'kah. How do the two connect, and does either know of the other's identity?
G: They meet on
a planet that is a main crossroads. Since everyone doing
PNR: Ian is having an unusual amount of problems with pilots and with his ship. One gets the impression that these circumstances are not accidental. Not everyone is happy with Rom's choice of heir?
Susan G: Absolutely. The Vash are extremely paternalistic; bloodlines are everything to them. To choose an heir not of royal blood is unthinkable. But Rom B'kah (the hero from THE STAR KING) is willing to break with tradition if it means assuring his people a future of peace. And so he chooses his stepson Ian, a man of honor and integrity who has ties to both the Vash Empire and the frontier (Earth), a decision that makes quite a few galactic royals unhappy. Some of those royals, it seems, are willing to do just about anything to make sure Ian does not ascend to the throne.
PNR: Like we said previously, Ian is an ordinary man of Earth. He develops feelings for Tee'ah, however he like she is expected to make a political marriage. How does he handle his feelings? What affect does his childhood have on his behavior?
Susan G: Ian avoids making love to Tee'ah for two compelling reasons. First, he doesn't want to lead her on, making her think they have a future together when he knows they do not. Secondly, because he'd witnessed his own father's infidelity, Ian doesn't believe in physical intimacy without emotional commitment. But as he becomes more and more emotionally involved with Tee, his fight to keep his physical distance from her becomes that much more difficult.
PNR: There is a secondary romance (Gann) is going on simultaneously. Tell us a bit about it. Fans have been asking about Muffin as well. What is new on that front?
Susan G: As soon as he is dispatched to find the runaway princess, Rom's old friend Gann hires a tracker, someone experienced in finding people or possessions in the wild and woolly frontier. Lara is an embittered repo-pilot, someone who confiscates starships for a living. But when her own starship is impounded, she needs money to get it out. Gann's salary will cover her fine, and so she agrees to help him find the princess, despite her hatred of the Vash. As determined as they are to remain uninterested in each other, a deep attraction develops when they find they have common ground.
Muffin. He is so popular! Readers will be happy to hear that the good-hearted
beefcake has a critical role in THE STAR PRINCE. However, it'll be clear
he isn't ready to settle down. Yet. That will come in a later story
. . . with the right woman.
PNR: The final confrontation between Tee'ah and Ian, and also Ian and his enemy, take place on Earth, in LA, before the entire world. Would you say that Ian really breaks loose and comes into his own here?
G: Yes, I would.
Remember that song by Kenny Rogers, "Coward of the County?"
I was reminded of that song when writing that scene you've mentioned.
While Ian is courageous throughout the book, he'd rather use his brains,
not brawn. But when it comes time to "kick a little butt,"
he certainly does.
PNR: Ian's sister Ilana plays a role in the outcome. She is rather the polar opposite of Ian, yet she loves her family. Will we be seeing a story for her? She seems to have attracted the interest of a particular member of the Vash royalty, no?
Susan G: I'm dying to write Ilana's story. A filmmaker living in Santa Monica, Ian's twin sister is a fireball, and blissfully rebellious. She'd be the antithesis of any royal Vash male's idea of what a woman ought to be, so (hee hee) naturally I've decided to pair her up with a very traditional Vash prince, Che Vedla, the man Tee'ah was supposed to have married.
PNR: The Star King has a really wonderful cover, could you tell us a bit about the artist?
G: John Ennis has
been a romance and science fiction cover artist for years, but his recent
works in digital artistry are really breathtaking. I am so lucky to
have a cover done by him. I encourage everyone to visit his website
where he has all his covers for sale as signed prints, including the
cover for THE STAR PRINCE (you won't believe how gorgeous it is seen
as an entire print!) at http://www.ennisart.com
PNR: You have become known for you aviatrix heroines, will you continue to write them? What is next for Susan Grant?
Susan G: Well, I have a whole other career, a demanding one at that (airline pilot) and simply put I'm writing books for the creative pleasure of it and to entertain people. What brings me pleasure is creating characters with whom I share something in common, and many times that means the hero or heroine flies. But in future books, who knows? Whatever the story brings, I say. I have plans that include writing non-paranormals and even non-romances, but my heart will always belong to SF romance.
2002 will be a busy year for me-- I'll have a funny contemporary novella (where a mother and daughter abduct an alien) in an anthology with Lisa Cach, Lynsay Sands and Julie Kenner (Mar '02) and then followed by a bit of a darker, scarier SF romance tale where an alien ship "swallows" and flies off with an entire 747 full of people (yes, of course the pilot is a woman!!!). (CONTACT) in Oct '02.
In a daring bid for freedom, Princess Tee'ah fled the world she knew for the freedom to fly. No more princes, no more rules. Both the man she wed and the life she led would be of her own choosing. And when a handsome stranger offered her a job piloting the Sun Devil, she chose the romp of a lifetime -- with the one man she should have avoided at all costs.
From ocean-dark skies to the neon-drenched streets of L.A., Tee'ah and Ian found that true adventure was learning some rules are made to be broken . . . and some loves are written in the stars.
DARK STRANGER WHO HAS
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