TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery.
M.C.: Thanks for inviting me.
TQ: When and why did you start writing?
M.C.: About twenty years ago I took a short-story writing class at a community college. I felt I had read enough sf & fantasy that I was ready to write some. Ten years later I managed to actually produce a novel. Ten years after that I managed to sell a novel.
TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
M.C.: Alliteration. I like sentences that have the same sounds in them. For some reason, it makes me think of classical guitar.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
M.C.: I have to know how it begins and how it ends. Everything else writes itself; I just have to pick a level of detail to fractally extrapolate down to. Which turns out to be trickier than it sounds, as the 200-odd pages of my fantasy novel sitting in the bin testify.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
M.C.: Escaping the whirlpool of distraction that is my two-year old daughter.
TQ: Describe The Kassa Gambit in 140 characters or less.
M.C.: Aliens attack! Followed by much heroic brooding.
TQ: What inspired you to write The Kassa Gambit?
M.C.: My wife doesn't like fantasy. So I wrote her a sci-fi story where everything was exploding on the first page.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for The Kassa Gambit?
M.C.: Mostly, reading my wife’s book, Song of Scarabaeus. Also, watching Firefly. I did have to look up some star names, which I then proceeded to misuse.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
M.C.: Easiest – The old professor, because he was inspired by a real person I admire.
Hardest – The junk dealer, because he was inspired by a real person whom I don’t like.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Kassa Gambit?
M.C.: When she rents a pair of party shoes. Although it’s a trivial scene, it’s probably the most original idea in the book.
TQ: What's next?
M.C.: I have a finished fantasy manuscript in my agent’s hands (hence the previously mentioned page slaughter). It’s a trilogy, which can be described as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court + Dungeons & Dragons, but without the snark. I am also working on another sf novel set in contemporary times, with a yet another dark and brooding female protagonist. It has a tricky ending, though, and I’m not sure I can land it.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
M.C.: It’s great to be here!
The Kassa Gambit
The Kassa Gambit
Tor Books, January 8, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages
Centuries after the ecological collapse of Earth, humanity has spread among the stars. Under the governance of the League, our endless need for resources has driven us to colonize hundreds of planets, all of them devoid of other sentient life. Humanity is apparently alone in the universe.
Then comes the sudden, brutal decimation of Kassa, a small farming planet, by a mysterious attacker. The few survivors send out a desperate plea for aid, which is answered by two unlikely rescuers. Prudence Falling is the young captain of a tramp freighter. She and her ragtag crew have been on the run and living job to job for years, eking out a living by making cargo runs that aren’t always entirely legal. Lt. Kyle Daspar is a police officer from the wealthy planet of Altair Prime, working undercover as a double agent against the League. He’s been undercover so long he can't be trusted by anyone—even himself.
While flying rescue missions to extract survivors from the surface of devastated Kassa, they discover what could be the most important artifact in the history of man: an alien spaceship, crashed and abandoned during the attack.
But something tells them there is more to the story. Together, they discover the cruel truth about the destruction of Kassa, and that an imminent alien invasion is the least of humanity’s concerns.
About M.C. Planck
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