Mon ami, French author Julien Morgan, has penned a story that has a Starship Commander by the name of Susan Quinn... in French! It's out and available - if you read French, pick it up and let me know if I save the day.
"The Stars Also Stare"
Half a century after an alien signal is received at the Lembang Observatory in Indonesia, the survey spaceship the Geminga discovers a planet that may be the source of the signal, 28 light-years out in the constellation Tucana. Unfortunately, the solar system the ship just landed in is under attack by an armada of warships, its crew a helpless by-stander as the alien homeworld is devastated by thousands of thermonuclear explosions. Both shocked by this tragedy and worried about the political fallout, defense contractor Jari Orison launches a scientific mission to the newly discovered Mendung, hoping to understand what happened.
How This Happened
The story is one of coincidence and friendship across the blogosphere - and I love it!
[Ed. Note: Here is Julien's French version of our interview.]
[Ed. Note: Here is Julien's French version of our interview.]
Not only did Julien name a character after moi, I also named a character Julian (after Julien) in my Mindjack series! The best part: neither of us knew we had done this until after the stories were written. We discovered this one day on twitter. Julien spilled the news first, then I revealed I was writing a "Julian" character (albeit with slightly different spelling) in Closed Hearts (which was yet unpublished, but where Julian first appears).
It's time for Julian Navarro to fulfill the mission left to him by his dead parents: to spark a revolution that would allow mindjackers to live freely in a mindreading world. While his ability allows him to mentally control the instincts of others, Julian wants to win jackers to his cause with words, not weapons. But when his first recruit has a secret--and bloody--history, Julian has to decide how far he'll go to ensure his revolution isn't snuffed out before it begins.
A delightful coincidence! (And Julian/Julien is one of my favorite characters.) I have Julien here to chat a little bit about our alter-egos...
Sue: I definitely had you in mind when I created Julian - smooth, confident, sexy, yet with a tremendous soft side in spite of his mindjack ability to control the instincts of others - an ability so powerful, all the other mindjackers fear him. This is you, oui?
Julien: Tremblez, you fools! Haha! Smooth and confident with a tremendous soft side, that would be me. I'm a buddhist, praying every day for the achievement of world peace, so I guess I'm not a bad person overall. Then, sexiness is in the eye of the beholder, haha! As far as powers are concerned, I use mine, albeit limited compared to Julian's, as an author, to create stories, and as an editor, to help other writers push theirs into the spotlight. The only time the latter do fear me is when they're nearing a deadline. But back to controlling the instincts of others, I'm amazed at Julian being so decent... If I was empowered the same abilities as his, I'd use them to make people react the way I wish they would, with the best intentions in the world, love and care and so forth. Sci-fi shows for the last 50 years have taught us that would turn out CATASTROPHIC.
Sue: I’ve been accused of having characters who aren’t evil enough before, and I plead guilty. Even my bad guys have a human streak that’s plausibly decent. I think it’s my basic faith in humanity showing through. I’ll have to work on that! Tell me about this "Susan Quinn" character! Do I die a horrific death??
Julien: Actually, at some point during the writing of the second book coming up next year, KHASHOGGI, you were supposed to... Not the horrific, painful slasher way, but yeah, something like your ship blowing up or crashing on the alien planet after one last heroic stand. Susan Quinn was designed to be the warm, human counterpart to Rear-Admiral Greenwold, another character in the first book, the two being some kind of a good cop-bad cop duet. She's a seemingly submissive officer, although clearly not a submissive woman. I can afford a bit of spoilers here and say you... sorry, SHE does have a big role towards the end of the story in MENDUNG. I really like her character because in military sci fi, you often get the feeling that while soldiers are lost and disorientated, commanding officers know their way around a conflict. Susan openly doubts, and people with power, responsabilities AND doubts are rare enough. Are you the doubting kind too?
Sue: I love that my character has power and open doubts. You are right – that’s not the kind of vulnerability that powerful people often show. As for me, I have many, many doubts, and I’ve found that sharing them – being vulnerable in my fears about writing and this business we’re in – is a powerful way to connect with other people. It shows that we’re human, and the people who aren’t afraid to show their humanity have always been the ones I’ve been drawn to.
I have to admit to being excited about dying a heroic death… in fiction! I only wish I could read your books! Is there any possibility you will have them translated to English? You seem fluent yourself in both languages, but I understand perhaps not wanting to translate your own work (or would you?). I recently signed with a German translator to translate Open Minds into German – it is a unique revenue-share agreement with some money paid up front and the rest of the translation fees paid out of royalties. Would you consider some arrangement like that, if you found the right translator?
Julien: I definitely would, but I've got no funds available for that, unfortunately. Professional translators do a wonderful job but they struggle to get (well) paid offers; let's say I'm not gonna consider hiring one unless I can afford it at a decent rate. I think it's important authors and readers alike realize their work is paramount. As for doing it myself, this would take me a lot of time, then dealing with gathering readers both here and in the US/UK on Internet, the socials, blogs and so forth would require me to make it a full-time job--which I can't afford right now :(
Back to the chat! A few words about Debt Collector, your awesome futur noir ongoing series? The French market is adjusting very, very slowly to the series format. According to you, what are its specs? What do readers like about it?
Sue: Debt Collector has a small (but growing) and fervent fan base. I think the serial format was different enough to slow some readers from trying it, but now that the first season is complete, more people are jumping on board (plus the first episode is free, which encourages people to give it a try). It has fantastic reviews, so I know readers like it once they try it. The main character, Lirium, is an anti-hero – a debt collector who extracts people’s life energy and transfers it to another, more “worthy” person – but readers are falling in love with his tremendous internal conflict. He’s a good man with a bad power, and his struggle to find a way to live, love, and maybe even have a soul, pulls readers through the nine episodes of the first season. I can’t wait to get back to writing Season Two in 2014!
Julien: And here is a very intimate question I ask everyone: do you have a writing ritual? Any music, dance, beverage or esoteric invocation before you start writing or when finishing a chapter? :)
Sue: My ritual involves tea – I heat the water (in the microwave, because even my rituals have impatience), and while I wait for that, I sit quietly and try to clear my mind. It’s only a couple minutes, but it readies my brain for writing-mode. Then I brew the tea, bring the pot and cup to my computer workstation, and get started. Now, I have to ask: what is your ritual? I imagine you have a fresh baguette from the local patisserie, a glass of red wine, and a thin-leafed notebook that was salvaged from a secret and ancient stash of Jules Vernes’ personal notebooks. This is how it is, oui?
Julien: I feel like I'm a terrible French representative, here. There IS a ritual, although it involves neither the baguette, nor the red wine... I'm used to keeping ideas that come across my mind during writing in a file called "en vrac" (which translates to "in a jumble"); in it are lines some character could be speaking later in the novel, excerpts from songs or news broadcasts, as well as dreams that make no sense. Before I get started, I peruse the aforementioned jumble while chanting a powerful mantra, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, asking the universe to empower me with all that's needed to write incredible stuff! More than once, it had me bringing in some weird subplots and settings that turned out to work out pretty well. Then, when done with a book, I usually make out with friends... and get wasted. I know there's no glory to it, but I see it as some kind of spiritual shower. I think letting go of a story, characters and ideas that have inhabited your mind for too long is a good thing--regardless of the way you achieve that goal (DRINK RESPONSIBLY).
Last question: Any plans for the next couple of months, aside from Debt Collector Season 2?
Sue: And now I know what I’ve been missing in letting go of my stories – silly me went and wrote new stories, when I should have been making out and drinking wine. I will not make this mistake again.
As to your question, mon ami, I’m currently finishing up my steampunk romance novel and about to embark on a grand adventure of novel-writing about the Singularity (the time when computers surpass humans in intelligence). It is my most ambitious work to date, will involve a series of novels and shorts stories, as well as a prequel screenplay, and will explore the mind-body-soul connection that blurring the lines between human and machine will entail. I can’t wait to get started. But first I must finish that steampunk novel! And apparently make out and drink wine. All of which I’m now very much looking forward to.
Thank you so much for visiting, Julien!
And friends, don’t forget to scoop up a copy of Julien’s work – and find a French lover (or lover of French) to read it to you. (Making out and wine drinking optional.)