Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Author Interview: Jennifer Linsky

Jennifer Linsky writes sci-fi and F/F fiction that's influenced by her travels around the world. Her first book, The Flowers of Luna, came out in February to rave reviews. You can catch up with her on Twitter or on her blog, where she's always posting about her upcoming works, things she's read lately, and her cats.

Tell us about yourself. Have you dabbled in writing your whole life, or is this a new interest for you?

I think my first writing was Nancy Drew fan-fic when I was in second grade, though of course, the term fan-fic hadn't been invented then. And it was a dreadful Mary Sue; it was all about me galpalling around with Nancy. I don't think we actually solved any mysteries, because writing mystery has never been in my skill set.

When I was in my teens, I sent a story to a prominent SciFi magazine, and I got back the ashes of my manuscript in my SASE. So that stopped me from writing for a number of years, or at least, stopped me from showing my writing to anyone for a number of years. But then, in 1999, I got involved with Star Trek cooperative fan fiction writing, and I started having more confidence in my skill again.

What attracted you to writing science fiction?

It was a natural progression, really. Both of my parents were science fiction readers, and so a great deal of what we had on our bookshelves was science fiction, mostly by the "Big Three," Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein. So I started reading SciFi pretty early, and you know what they say: write what you know!

What are some of your favorite SFF and/or Sapphic reads?

You should always be careful when asking a bookworm about their favorite books! We tend to have an inability to narrow it down to one or two!

My favorite SciFi still includes Heinlein's books for young adults, though I recognize that he himself was somewhat problematic, as are some of his books. Roger Zelazney is very much an old favorite that I have returned to many times over the years. Here lately, I've been reading a lot of Japanese stuff, Miyabe, Nojiri, Ogawa, that crowd.

As far as Sapphic reads... I have to begin with the book which literally saved my life, Nancy Garden's "Annie on my Mind." Here lately, I've been really quite impressed with Abby Crofton's "Say Yes" books -- ignore the dreadful stock photography covers; I assure you, the books are excellent! Maria Hollis' books are quite delightful, and Heather Rose Jones has a deft hand with fantasy.

Do your characters and plot draw any inspiration from your own life?

Oh, absolutely. The Space Family Gray started as an amusement for my ex-girlfriend, and the characters Rihoko and Jane were quite deliberate dreadful Mary Sues. That whole set-up with the mining ship in deep space was -- and is -- wish-fulfillment. When I went through a bad breakup, I turned to those characters quite naturally to work through some of the feelings I had because of the breakup. Hana, however, ended up being very little like my ex, and of course, the story has a happy ending I didn't get.

What is your next project?

I always have two or three things simmering. At the moment, my friend Andrea Brokaw (who is the author of the delightful shifter-series "Of Snow and Whiskers"), and I are very slowly working on a kind of fun story about a girl band in the same universe as Flowers of Luna. And there's a possible sequel to FoL floating around in my head, but it's a murder mystery, and as I mentioned, mystery isn't really one of my skill sets.

The thing that's most likely to see the light of day, however, is a fantasy book, currently called "Little Sisters of the Dragonslayer," which is about an order of warrior nuns -- paladins and clerics, in D&D terms -- in the peaceful aftermath of a thousand year civil war. How do they adapt to the peace, and what call is there for divine champions in a world without ongoing war?

What do you do besides writing?

I used to be a nurse, but I'm medically retired. I read, I take care of two gray cats (and they take care of me). I watch entirely too much anime. I avoid writing.

How much writing do you get done in an average week, and how do you motivate yourself to stay on-track?

If I am to be honest, in an average week I do no writing other than my Star Trek cooperative writing -- and some weeks, I don't actually manage to get to that! Writing, for me, is very definitely something I have to schedule and set deadlines on. Like, "two thousand words by tonight, hell or high water!" And usually that works. Usually.

Any advice you'd like to give other authors?

Read. Read authors you like, think about why you like them, and how they do the things you like. Practice writing. Write letters, write fan-fic, write masturbatory fantasies about and for your girlfriend. Find beta readers to read your writing, and when they say something is problematic, don't defend what you've done -- listen to them! Improve your writing! But never listen when someone says that there's no market for what you've written. Ignore people who say they didn't connect to your work. That's about them, not about you or your writing.

And most importantly, get the words down! Get the editorial voice out of your head, and just write. You can... and should... come back later and think about how to better express what you're trying to say.

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