This month’s twitterview guest is Karen Sandler, author of Tankborn and its sequel Awakening. Before diving into YA science fiction, she wrote over a dozen adult romances and is currently writing a mystery series as well (clearly an author after my own heart). Visit Karen on the web at www.karensandler.net, and enter for a chance to win a finished copy of Awakening at the end of the interview!
1. Pitch the Tankborn series in 140 characters or fewer.
Genetically Engineered Non-human Kayla teams with trueborn Devak to fight for GEN equality and the right to love one another.
2. What inspired Tankborn and its sequels?
Fascination w/ genetic engineering, love of science fiction & YA literature, & a sci-fi movie script called ICER all spawned Tankborn.
3. Describe Kayla for us – what is she like?
Kayla is courageous but insecure, cynical but hopeful, loyal to a fault and a fighter for the underdog.
4. What is Kayla’s world – Loka – like?
Loka is a desert-like planet filled with arachnid-based creatures from the tiny slime beetles to the massive bhimkay spiders.
5. Loka feels like a living, breathing world. Each chapter – and each book – gives us more detail. What research went into its creation?
Much of it came from my imagination. I’m a “just in time” researcher, looking for details as I need them.
6. What inspired the caste system? Are its roots in Earth’s cultures?
I based Loka’s society on both the Indian caste system and America’s history of African enslavement.
7. How have readers reacted to the caste system, GENs, and other unpleasant aspects of Loka?
Many have commented on how thought-provoking the books are & how much the stories reflect both past history & present day events.
8. How likely do you think the world of Loka is for humanity’s future? Are GENs actually possible?
I do think GENs are possible. Some of the science is already there. But would creating humans for servitude be ethical?
9. What can you share about the third book in the series?
REBELLION will introduce new characters, bring back old characters & tie up all the loose ends of the first 2 books. Sorry, no spoilers 🙂
10. What should readers walk away with from these books – if anything?
We are more alike than we are different. Wealth doesn’t equal superiority. We have to decide our own happiness, others can’t dictate it.
11. Tell us a little about the series’ path to publication.
Wrote book on spec (no contract), got a beta read & rewrote, queried 30 agents & found 1, agent marketed book, Lee & Low/Tu Books bought.
12. What were some of your favorite SF reads as a teen?
As a younger teen, I was a huge fan of Ray Bradbury. I’ve read nearly every book of his. Later, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND was a fave.
13. Tankborn is one of few YA SF novels starring a non-white protagonist. What other SF reads featuring people of color would you recommend?
All of the Tu Books releases, of course. Earthsea Trilogy. Liar. House of the Scorpion.
14. Can you talk a little about the importance of writing people of color in SF novels, and why you chose to do so?
I like to have a diverse cast of characters in all my books. But I feel it’s important that the POC be main char, not just sidekicks.
15. Who do you think is breaking ground in YA right now?
Tu Books. They’ve broken out of the Pretty White Girls on the Cover syndrome, put POC front & center on their covers & in their stories.
16. Describe your writing process.
I start as a plotter w/ a synopsis, then as I fill in the details of the story I go off the synopsis rails & write the book like a pantser.
17. What’s the best writing advice you ever received?
Seat of the pants on the seat of the chair. Thinking about writing, imagining writing, isn’t writing. Only actually writing is writing.
18. What’s your favorite writing advice to give?
When people give me ideas for stories, I say, that’s your story. You should be the one to write it.
19. Who are some of your writing influences?
Ray Bradbury & Lois McMaster Bujold (SF), Anne Stuart (romance), John Green & Neal Shusterman (YA), Dick Francis (mystery)
20. What do you like to do in your free time?
I do international folk dance, and love to ride horses (dressage). And I read, read, read.
21. Aside from the third Tankborn book, what’s next for you?
I’m currently working on HANGTOWN FRY, a sequel my mystery, CLEAN BURN. HANGTOWN FRY will be released in 2014 by Exhibit A.