TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Sara: I tend to get obsessed with detail. For Song of Scarabaeus I drew a plan of the pirate spaceship, the Hoi Polloi – all four decks. It was important to keep the layout correct while I was writing the book, but I enjoyed doing it in any case. I tend to draw plans and design costumes and create all kinds of details when I start a project. Recently I researched Victorian domestic servant hierarchies and duties for a new book. I love getting into the nitty gritty, even if most of it doesn’t end up in the final book.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Sara: It’s hard to name specific writers who’ve influenced me because I’m sure anything I’ve read and enjoyed over the years has had an impact. My favorite writers include Josephine Tey, Mary Stewart and Jane Austen; SF writers Elizabeth Moon, Vonda McIntyre and John Wyndham; and non-fiction writers Stephen Jay Gould (an evolutionary biologist) and Bill Bryson.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a panster?
Sara: Definitely a plotter. I plot way too much, in fact, because a lot changes along the way and the rewriting takes ages. When I do occasionally write without plotting, just to see where it takes me, it’s a lot more fun! I should definitely do it more often.
TQ: Describe Children of Scarabaeus in 140 characters or less.
Sara: Edie and her bodyguard Finn uncover a destructive plot to use highly trained children to demolish, rebuild, and colonize alien planets.
TQ: What sort of research did you do to create the world of the Scarabaeus series?
Sara: Because of the biological technology in the book, I had to brush up on my genetics. I extrapolated a plausible scenario whereby alien ecosystems can be changed at the genetic level, over a period of years, to make them compatible with human life. This process uses retroviruses, which are viruses that change the host cell’s DNA.
Some of the description of the jungle they encounter on the planet came from a sewing book, of all things. It was a coffee table book with machine embroidery patterns and photos. The designs were beautiful, alien, very organic. I leafed through those photos and wrote down all the words that came to mind, and used those terms in describing the jungle.
TQ: Who is your favorite character(s) to write in the Scarabaeus series?
Sara: Finn, because he’s sexy and rational and protective and capable. A downtrodden man who’s constantly finding ways to exert himself until he finds true freedom. I like that he’s open to trust and to love despite his past. I think he has honorable ideals. He’s definitely someone I’d want on my side.
And Cat Lancer was just plain fun to write. She’s a confident, sassy gal with a mind of her own – you’re never quite sure whose side she’s on. I had to bring her back for the sequel because she adds a spark to any scene.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what it your favorite scene or scenes in Children of Scarabaeus?
Sara: There are several scenes where Edie and Finn interact with the children on the ship they find themselves on. I especially like the way Finn interacts with the little seven-year-old boy. I have several nieces and nephews and I imagined them in that situation. I thought about what their priorities would be, how they would talk, how they would interpret what was going on.
TQ: How many books are planned for the Scarabaeus series?
Sara: Just the two. This story could go in all sort of directions, though, so maybe in the future I’ll return to it. I also have ideas for other stories in that same world, with new characters.
TQ: The Scarabaeus series is Science Fiction Adventure. Would you like to write in any other genres?
Sara: I have plans to eventually write in several genres. Who knows if that will actually happen. I feel most comfortable writing science fiction, but I’m determined to try my hand at other things. The genre I’m not too interested in is straight contemporary, because I read fiction to escape. I don’t want to read about the problems people like me are having in a world just like mine.
TQ: What's next?
Sara: I’m working on three very different books, and I’m not sure which I’ll finish first so I don’t know exactly what’s next. The science fiction book, working title Incursion, is lighter in tone than the Scarabaeus books, with more romance. It also has aliens in it (friendly and otherwise). I didn’t really have much interest before now in writing alien characters, but this story called for it.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery!
Sara: Thanks so much for having me!
Song of the Scarabaeus
(April 27, 2010)
But Edie's abilities far surpass anything her enemies imagine. And now, with Finn as her only ally as the merciless Crib closes in, she'll have to prove it or die on the site of her only failure . . . a world called Scarabaeus.
Children of Scarabaeus
(March 29, 2011)
Edie Sha'nim believes she and her bodyguard lover, Finn, could find refuge from the tyranny of the Crib empire by fleeing to the Fringe worlds. But Edie's extraordinary cypherteck ability to manipulate the ecology of evolving planets makes her far too valuable for the empire to lose. Recaptured and forced to cooperate—or else she will watch Finn die—Edie is shocked to discover the Crib's new breed of cypherteck: children. She cannot stand by while the oppressors enslave the innocent, nor can she resist the lure of Scarabaeus, the first world she tried to save, when researchers discover what appears to be an evolving intelligence.
But escape—for Edie, for Finn, and for the exploited young—will require the ultimate sacrifice . . . and a shocking act of rebellion.
Sara Creasy grew up in the UK and moved to Australia as a teenager. Her biology degree led to work as a text book editor for 10 years, both in-house and freelance. She was associate editor of Aurealis, Australia’s SF&F magazine, from 2001 to 2004. Her first novel, Song of Scarabaeus, was published in 2010 by Harper Voyager and was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. Children of Scarabaeus came out in March 2011. Sara lived in Arizona for five years before moving back to Australia in late 201. She now lives in Melbourne with her husband and baby daughter.
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