Please welcome Sharon Lynn Fisher to The Qwillery. The Ophelia Prophecy, Sharon's most recent novel, was published on April 1, 2014 by Tor.
TQ: Welcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, The Ophelia Prophecy, was published yesterday. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote Ghost Planet (2012) to The Ophelia Prophecy?
Sharon: Oh, that is a cool question! I was just thinking about that the other day. The biggest change is I’m no longer 100% pantser. The first fifty pages or so of GHOST PLANET pretty much wrote themselves, and having written two books since then, I’ve decided that’s the way it works for me. But unlike the first draft of GHOST PLANET, with my more recent novels I’m also writing and revising the story’s synopsis as I go, especially in the first half of the book. I can’t get too detailed because as a pantser, that really takes all the fun out of it for me. And I never fully commit myself to the synopsis, as I may need to change things up as I go. But I need to keep an eye toward structure and pace or I risk getting in a muddle.
One kind of funny thing that has stayed the same is the reverse engineering part of my process. I still come up with titles first, and the whole story somehow unpacks from there. That’s a mystery I don’t try to probe into too much. You can’t mess with that stuff!
TQ: What do you wish that you knew about book publishing when Ghost Planet came out that you know now?
Sharon: I’m going to answer a slightly different question, but one that’s in the same spirit. I wish that when I’d written GHOST PLANET there were as many options for writers as there are now. Not because I would have made a different choice — Tor has been great for my brand; my editor GETS my books — but because I think I would have relaxed a little knowing that if no traditional publisher was interested in my book, I could make a go of it myself. I would have felt a little more in control of my destiny, which would have saved me a good deal of nail biting.
TQ: Both novels are Science Fiction and Romance. What appeals to you about these genres? Does a Romance absolutely have to have an HEA?
Sharon: Despite the fact that I’ve never really considered myself a romance reader, I can say without hesitation that yes, romance absolutely has to have an HEA. At least for me. As a matter of fact when NONromance books don’t have at least a hopeful ending I tend to get cranky. I can take downer endings in movies because it’s not much of a time commitment. But books are a whole different deal.
Beyond the HEA, in my book (ha!), anything goes. I’ve always loved books that have integral romantic plotlines, but push the boundaries of traditional structure. OUTLANDER, for example. And THE LAST HOUR OF GANN. And I think that gets back to the first part of this question: speculative fiction is particularly conducive to pushing those boundaries. Examining relationships in new dimensions (literally at times!). That’s why I write it.
TQ: Tell us something about The Ophelia Prophecy that is not in the book description.
Sharon: One of the important characters in this story is actually the hero’s ship, Banshee. Here’s one of my favorite descriptions of her and her kind:
The Manti, not their creators, had been responsible for merging insect and plant DNA with artificial intelligence. The Scarab fleet had made the Manti masters of the skies. And now this particular serial number had gone sentient over a barely there, sylph of a human woman who’d all but forgotten her own name.
TQ: What sorts of research did you do for The Ophelia Prophecy?
Sharon: Lots of science-y stuff — recombinant DNA, and biomimicry. Open science, biohacking, and DIY bio. The event that really jumpstarted my research was a seminar on open science at the University of Washington in Seattle. When they started talking about arguments against open science — the kinds of experimentation some people are afraid it will open the door to — I really sat up and paid attention. Also a book that was released near the end of my first draft — FRANKENSTEIN’S CAT — helped me refine some of my worldbuilding and descriptions.
I also drew on some of my European travels, setting parts of the book in boggy western Ireland and Granada, Spain.
TQ: Which character in The Ophelia Prophecy surprised you the most?
Sharon: The hero’s sister, Iris, who is much more exotic than the hero (with praying mantis wings and spiky arms). She starts off the story seeming to want to help and protect the heroine, Asha. I kept writing her that way, but later had to backtrack, because that’s just not Iris. At times she seems to have very human, emotion-based motivations, but then she’ll drop some comment that makes it clear how pragmatic she is. She really kept me guessing about what she’d do next. Even in the end when we begin to better understand her motivations, she remains an enigmatic character. She’s got unfinished business with a human/wolf transgenic ex-priest, and I’ll have to give them their own book eventually. She’ll haunt me if I don’t.
TQ: What's next?
Sharon: ECHO 8! Coming out next year, also from Tor. This is my most accessible setting yet — modern-day Seattle. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of geeky sci-fi bits, suspense, adventure, and romance. I don’t have an official blurb yet, but on my web site I describe it like this: Parallel-universe romantic suspense that explores possible connections between quantum physics and psi (also a Bermuda Love Triangle between a parapsychologist, an FBI agent, and an energy vampire).
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Sharon: Thank you so much for having me!
The Ophelia Prophecy
Tor Books, April 1, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Our world is no longer our own.
We engineered a race of superior fighters--the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us.
In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.
Some of us intend to do more than survive.
Asha and Pax—strangers and enemies—find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.
Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource—information—viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.
Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.
But neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.
With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other's secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.
The Ophelia Prophecy is the thrilling new SF romance from Sharon Lynn Fisher, author of Ghost Planet
Tor Science Fiction, October 30, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
Psychologist Elizabeth Cole prepared for the worst when she accepted a job on a newly discovered world—a world where every colonist is tethered to an alien who manifests in the form of a dead loved one. But she never expected she'd struggle with the requirement to shun these "ghosts." She never expected to be so attracted to the charming Irishman assigned as her supervisor. And she certainly never expected to discover she died in a transport crash en route to the planet.
As a ghost, Elizabeth is symbiotically linked to her supervisor, Murphy—creator of the Ghost Protocol, which forbids him to acknowledge or interact with her. Confused and alone—oppressed by her ghost status and tormented by forbidden love—Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence.
But her quest for answers lands her in a tug-of-war between powerful interests, and she soon finds herself a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet…a struggle that could separate her forever from the man that she loves.
A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, SHARON LYNN FISHER lives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes books for the geeky at heart—sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance—and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. Her works include Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8 (2015). You can visit her online at SharonLynnFisher.com.