Interview–Regina Shen 4

What would you like readers to know?

I hope readers will enjoy taking the journey with Regina Shen as much as I have. She is an entirely different character than Annabelle from the Rebel series. Aside from living three hundred years apart, I can’t help wondering how the two would react to each other. Annabelle is kick-ass. Regina Shen is as book-smart, in a world that bans books, as she is swamp and life-smart at such a young age. She is fifteen in the first book and seventeen in books two and three. Maybe one of these days they will meet.

Interview–Regina Shen 3

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Regina Shen has grown up on the outside, at the bottom of the official caste system. Yet, her tough upbringing has given her strength to endure what she must to survive, help family, and achieve her goals. Giving up isn’t an option for her. She’s resilient, vigilant, and defiant in protection of what matters to her: family and friends.

 

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

In a sense, everything writers write reflect experiences and research in some mix. Research fills in details of place and circumstance, but I believe the emotional aspects come from the heart. Having moved as much as I have, I’ve had to start over from the bottom rung of each new society I moved into. Perhaps the resilience, vigilance, and defiance I find in Regina are in some part derived from these experiences.

Interview–Regina Shen 2

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style varies from story to story. Of my published stories, Rebels Divided was the first written. I did extensive notes on world building, some sixty thousand words. I also heavily outlined because I had two storylines I needed to have come together and I wanted to make sure they worked before I wrote. Rebels Divided is now the third book in the Rebel series. I next wrote The Rebel Within, or should I say Annabelle dictated it to me, often in the middle of the night. She had a story to tell and I was the vehicle. It helped that I’d already fleshed out the world. I did virtually no outline, but from the beginning I knew how her story started, what her major hurdles would be and how it would end. The Regina Shen series began pretty much like The Rebel Within, driven by a strong character, a beginning, hurdles, and an end. The first story in the new series was the novelette (Regina Shen: Into the Storm). Like Annabelle, Regina wouldn’t leave me alone until I continued her story. Unlike the Rebel series, each book of which was written as a standalone novel, the Regina Shen novels were written from the beginning as a series. What I found after writing the first book and launching into the second, was that the more of the second I wrote, the more I had to go back and change the first. Thus, I waited until I’d completed all three books in the Regina Shen series before seeking publication.

Interview–Regina Shen 1

How much of the Regina Shen series is realistic?

While I hope we can avoid the calamity of rising seas and economic collapse, there are those who would suppress knowledge of the past and knowledge they don’t approve of to suit their aims. We may not have an official caste system, but at times in our history moving up from our birth station has been difficult for many. The places in the story match names on our maps, but after four hundred years have changed in ways to be unrecognizable. In addition, I’ve taken a few liberties for the sake of creating an interesting story. Thus, I believe the conflicts, emotions, and struggles are real, yet this is a futuristic, some might say fantasy type world.

Author Interview Part 2

By Lance Erlick

Why did you choose science-fiction as a genre to write in?

I grew up with science fiction stories, movies, and TV shows. I’ve found myself drawn to this genre because of the ability to speculate about our many potential futures. I like to explore the future implications of social and technological developments on people, the characters in my head. Science fiction in its broadest sense considers itself the big tent, bringing in traditional science fiction, fantasy, horror, historical time travel, and alternative history, all of which speculate about different worlds and different ways we can relate to each other. I find this to be an exciting place to write.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write because you have a passion for stories. Write because you have characters in your head that you want to share with other. Write because you have stories rattling around that keep you up at night because they need to be told. Write because you want to take the journey with your characters and believe others will want to come along.

Whatever you do, don’t write with the goal of striking it rich. You have a better chance of winning the lottery, though winning it through writing will be far more enjoyable, plus you can share it with your fans without impoverishing yourself. In writing, don’t copy what you believe will be popular if you don’t have passion for the stories themselves. Your readers can tell and you will be frustrated with the result.

Make sure you know where your story is going before you write, otherwise you could end up with a flat, or even circular story that doesn’t go anywhere. Don’t be afraid to experiment and test your boundaries. You are bound to grow from the experience even if that particular story doesn’t sing. An example is writing from the points of view of different genres and people who are on the surface different than you. When you stumble onto writers block, I find it best to frame the problem and move onto something else, letting my subconscious sort out a solution. It might not always work, but I find trying to bulldoze a solution never does. Then edit, edit, edit some more. Your potential readers deserve the best experience you can provide.

Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?

I’m working on several story ideas right now, more than I have time for. I’ve sketched out another novel in the Regina Shen series that people are asking for. I have two completely different alien stories I want to tell. Then there’s is a time travel story that shoots back into ancient history and a futuristic computer hacking story. That’s the short list.

Author Interview

By Lance Erlick

Have you been writing for a long time?

I’ve been writing since I was eleven. We moved around a lot while I was growing up, including a stint in a boarding school in Brussels. Stories that I read and wrote seemed to anchor me. Writing has come in spurts with bursts of creativity interspersed with life and other priorities pulling me away. But every time I’ve gotten dragged away, I’ve come back better prepared and with renewed vigor for writing.

What inspired you to start a writing career?

At first, I enjoyed adventure stories and then thrillers and science fiction, in particular Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury. My first writings were inspired by stories I’d read that I felt I could match. One published story that had great promise but fell flat inspired me to write my first novel. Unfortunately, I soon learned that getting into someone else’s story and writing my own were quite different. My story was even flatter than the one that inspired me. It took many years of practice and development to get to the point I felt confident in my writing. Then I found inspiration in my many interests from history to science and social developments.

Is this your first series? If not, can you tell us about your first series?

Regina Shen is my second series. My first, the Rebel series, actually didn’t start out as a series. I’d written Rebels Divided, now the third book in that series, and one of the main characters bugged me to write her story. That became The Rebel Within, followed by The Rebel Trap. The series takes place after a second civil war divides the United States into a Federal Union that is predominantly female and a warlord controlled Outland in the mountains, since mountain people tend to be a fiercely independent lot. Because of atrocities committed during the war and technology that allows two women to have a child without a father, the Federal Union has gone down the path of ostracizing males.

Annabelle Scott is at odds with the Federal Union because they took her parents when she was little. Raised by an adoptive mother in the political opposition, she is expected to become a cop or a mechanized warrior supporting her regime.

In The Rebel Within, she rebels against being forced to capture escaped boys, including one she fancies. This puts her and her adoptive family at risk. In The Rebel Trap, her military commander gives Annabelle audio implants and video cameras to watch everything she does, which kicks her rebelliousness and risks to a new level. Then, in Rebels Divided, the local governor pledges Annabelle to the local warlord as part of a secret deal and Annabelle has to find common ground with an Outlander she’s sworn to kill. The series deals with the dilemma of following conscience at odds with what she’s told to do.

Writers Block

I’ve been asked how I deal with writers block.

Writer’s block plagues most writers at least some time during their writing careers. They stare at a blank page and nothing comes forth.

I’ve been fortunate so far to have avoided such writer’s block. I attribute this to my approach.

The human mind has two ways of experiencing the writing process: creative and editorial critique. It’s a natural response to parental, teacher, and peer criticism over the years to have an editor sit on our shoulder. That critic says things like, “That won’t work.” “That’s not the right word.” “That’s trash.”

This editor will stifle our creative process if we don’t turn it off. There will be time later to rework and polish our story. Creative writing is like modeling clay. We can’t mold the clay until we get it on the spinning wheel.

Assuming we silence the critic on our shoulder, the other problem I’ve seen is trying to write a story before we’re ready. We get our protagonist into a fix and have no idea how to get him or her out. At times like this, it helps to step back and let the subconscious mind mull the problem. When I return later, the answer often presents itself. Forcing the answer rarely does.

While writing Rebels Divided, I had a problem. I needed Annabelle and Geo to meet in such a way that would throw them together despite mutual distrust. Rather than pushing through this dilemma, I moved around it by writing other parts of the story. When I returned, the answer presented itself in what I hope readers will find as creative and satisfying ways.

Lance Erlick