PBJ: I write for and to adults, but my work can, and is, read by older teens. I wouldn’t be comfortable having YA reading A Dangerous Dance because it has some disturbing content, but otherwise, my older nieces and nephews have read my books.
Into which genre would you say your latest book falls and why?
Girl Gone Nova is most definitely science fiction romance, with strong action/adventure elements, because it takes place in another galaxy (though it is present day, SF, not futuristic SF.)
Fantasy and science fiction create a new world for the reader. Tell us about the world you’ve built.
PBJ: Both Girl Gone Nova and the previous book in the series, The Key, are based on assumption that US has secret space program that is taking first steps in intergalactic travel. It’s called Project Enterprise and the intergalactic ship is called the Doolittle. Its mission is to “jump” the farthest into space (there are other ships exploring “closer” galaxies) where they land in the middle of an galactic conflict between the Dusan and the Gadi. The Key is the story about that firs contact and Girl Gone Nova picks up the story two years later.
The people they’ve encountered thus far are humans and while they have their own languages, there is something called “standard” that allows my people to converse with these aliens, though there are many differences in experience to overcome. So far they’ve mostly run into misogynists. It’s bothered a couple of readers, but I chose to do this quite deliberately. If you look at our own world, and the way women’s emancipation has played out, there are still large pockets of people who don’t see their women as an important resource. A lot of SFR fiction shows alien civilizations as more advanced than us in women’s emancipation, I just went the other direction.
It makes for interesting conflict as the cultures clash and it lets me explore what happens when a civilization fails to use all its resources effectively. For instance, in Girl Gone Nova, I explore what happens when boy babies are more valuable than girls (since a civilization needs girls to have boy babies.) I try to use a light hand, but the subject does interest me.
Who is your favorite character in your book(s) and why?
PBJ: Wow, you’re going to make me choose. Let’s see, well, I always like my heroes (if I don’t like them why should my heroine?). The hero of this book is quite the character. He was a sort of bad guy (at least not the good guy!) in The Key and when I wrote “the end” he was miffed that he didn’t get the girl. I never planned to give him any girl, but he kept bugging me and finally I had to play “what if” in my head. I had a lot of fun getting to know him better.
What other writers would you say have influenced your work and why? What are some of your favorite books in the genre?
PBJ: My early influences were Mary Stewart, Elizabeth Cadell, Georgette Heyer, Alastair Maclean and Helen McInnes. From them I learned character, plot, humor and great storytelling.
In my genre, my favorite author is, hands down, Linnea Sinclair. She writes fun and exciting science fiction romance. I particularly like that she doesn’t flinch from writing the big ending. Nothing I hate more than to read an “adventure” novel that fizzles at the end.
What is your writing process like? Do you do a lot of background research? Do you plot every detail or do you prefer the characters to move the story in new directions, or a combination of both? Do you belong to a critique group and do you find this helpful?
PBJ: Well, it is kind of hard to do a lot of background research on fictional science, but I did do some research on the US Air Force, using it as a basis for how my fictional space ships might be structured. For The Key. Sara, the heroine of that book, is a pilot, so I wanted her to be grounded in the real AF, even if she was in space. For Girl Gone Nova, my heroine was a black ops genius. She hides in plain sight. I did do some research on SERE (survival-evasion-resistance-escape) training, a bit on weapons. But since I already had my foundation laid down, I didn’t have to do as much.
My writing process is very much “seat of the pants, into the mist” writing. I do little to no advance plotting. When I started The Key, I had one scene: a woman crashes something and wakes up in a cave with someone. That was it. I just started asking myself questions and 142,000 wds later, I had a book. With Girl Gone Nova, I had a setting and a problem. I had some characters (one who insisted he was the hero!) and I asked myself, who could solve this problem AND cause my hero the most problems? 138,000 wds (and some near head exploding) later I had a new book.
Obviously I spend a lot of time editing, though I also edit as I write. I’ll write myself out on a limb, inch back and rewrite, then press on again. It’s very…organic in a somewhat painful, but very fun way. As long as my head doesn’t actually explode, I’m good.
I do not use a critique group, but I do have a couple of very good friends/readers who give me feedback at key points in the writing process.
Do you have any advice for young or beginning writers?
PBJ: Don't let anyone tell you that you can’t make it. But don’t expect it to be easy. Easy is no fun anyway. Doing hard things are the only things really worth doing.
Are there e-books and hard copies available?
PBJ: My books, print and digital, are available in a variety of online outlets, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Fictionwise (my personal favorite place to shop digital).
What is your website and/or blog where readers can learn more? Can they friend you on Facebook or other sites?
There’s something else special about this book, for you and your publisher, isn’t there?
PBJ: Not only is Girl Gone Nova my eighth, full length novel, but it is L&L Publishing’s 100th release! It is a wonderful achievement for them and I’m thrilled to be going “nova” with them (and that they’ll be re-releasing my backlist and my new novella Tangled in Time in 2010).
Wow! That's very exciting, Pauline, congratulations to you and L&L Dreamspell. I'm happy to have them as my publisher as well! Thanks so much for joining me today!