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Many thanks Cloe
This is the final set of interview questions by Olivia Crane.
How much research do you do when placing your characters in the future on Mars where you haven't been before? How do you know what it feels like?
I'm interested in the planets in our solar system and read a great deal about them through nasa.gov and space.com. The information on Mars is more than you think. I have been and seen dust storms so I know what they look like and what they are capable of.
Other planets I can dream and imagine what they are depending on the story I am writing. Whenever there is anything technical, such as Pluto's distance from our sun to tunneling, I research the subject as much as I can. The noise the old shuttle in Found The Lost Ones made, I heard that one night when we were camping near a railroad. What a racket.
How did you get the ideas that you used for the first, second, third, etc books?
I had just joined a writing class and since I liked science fiction, I chose that genre. In Similar But Not the Same I wanted a mirror look not just from the alien characters but from the future looking back on today's political manipulations. In Deflection A Race Against Time, once again I wanted the other side of stories that had political fronts. I also wanted to showcase a proud and well known Indian tribe in the southwestern corner of Arizona. The third, Crossroads A Moment in Time, was a half to tell story about the Depression our parents went through. It was a challenge to project the same occurrences, which were true, into the future. _Found The Lost Ones continue on the story of the aliens finding their long lost relatives. This became more of an action adventure tale and addressing the age old problem of slavery. Watch for Return There's No Easy Way coming out soon. It is like a part II to Found. When I wrote _Where Did They Go? for Nanowrimo, there is a message to all husbands to make sure your affairs are in order in case something happens to you. A lot of wives muddle through the bills, and the mechanics around the house after their spouse had passed away. I may be faced with that some day and that is why I wrote Where.
Fantastic. My last question is, what is the hardest thing you have to work at?
I'll have to say grammar. I was an average student in English classes and I never took journalism. But I have remembered some of the basic rules. I found two to three wonderful readers that know their stuff and help me correct the punctuation and other minor problems such as spelling. But the best device I have found to use is the free Grammarly program that catches what my readers missed. It's not easy being a reader. I can read the same passage four to six times and then I see an error. Your brain passes over what you think you read.
Thank you, and by the way, I'm sure your readers want to know what the A. stands for.
It's just my middle initial but when I began Similar, A. Nation was a reference to the characters on Mars building a new nation. Nation is my real married name.
This my third interview with my character and reporter, Olivia Crane. Thank you. In your Domino series I find certain characters transcends through each story. Who do you consider to be the main glue that keeps your books together as a series?
Alice appears in Similar, as the main character, in Deflection as a secondary character, and the main character again in CrossRoads. She is not prominent in Found but Jennifer takes over that role. Alice re-appears again in my latest book, Return There's No Easy Way, soon to be out this month.
What about the handsome Alex Blackhawk? Will we see him again?
Yes, I am thinking of another detective story for him in the future.
Your characters often refers to hot issues such as race, prejudice, sex, slavery, greed, and retribution. Why?
These are issues that bother us as humans but we can't seem to talk about these subjects in mixed company. By making my alien characters a mirror of ourselves, I can refer to these topics. For example, when I see a wrong, let's say, vindictive behavior, then it needs to be brought into the open. It cannot be ignored.
Many new writer's want to know how to have the time to write. What is your writing routine?
First of all, I'm retired and have lots of time on my hands except for my activities with friends; secondly, because I have a hard time falling asleep, I will read or write at that time. The next morning I will re-write my notes onto my computer. Whenever I have a slot of time, I will have my pen and paper or epad at my side.
My last question for this session is, Who is your favorite character?
Like real people, everyone is unique, but I have to say the one that was the easiest and funniest to write was the alien child I called Penda. This is a young alien that accidentally took an unauthorized trip from Mars to the Moon and the gruffy cook on board who managed to hide it. You have to read the scene to appreciate what I wrote.
~ Stay tuned for the last installment of Interviewing with A. Nation ~
Olivia is one of my characters introduced in my First Saga, Similar But Not the Same. Today she continues her interview with me as the author:
What types of books do you enjoy?
Currently I love reading mysteries by J. A. Jance and C.J.Box. I have also loved english mysteries by Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer. Once in a while I'll read a Nero Wolf mystery by Tim Stout. I used to read a lot of Sci Fi and Romance when I was younger but like anything else, reading goes in phases.
What inspires or motivates you to write the stories you create?
I could say Life, but that is a broad topic. I may hear of a wrong being done to someone, or a fraud inflicted upon the American people to serve their own agenda, or a message I have to tell. Writing is my way to right some of the wrongs in our society. My inspiration could be as simple as what I am experiencing at the moment. For instance, the sounds and description of the inside of a space shuttle. Most of it is what I experienced while I was on a ship cruise. The rest I researched.
What fraud had been inflicted upon the American people?
Unfortunately, Olivia, you are part of the problem at the same time we need reporters such as yourself to get at the truth. Without communication, our country would fall apart. As to the fraud, let's take the example of perpetuating that the year 2000 is the new millennium. Actually 2001 is and has always been the beginning of the new century. If you read my books, you'll figure out what I'm trying to set straight.
Ahem, let's continue on about your characters. What part of you is expressed in your books?
Writers always have a piece of themselves in the character makeup. I guess mine would mostly be in the women that have to think and finally take charge of the situation. There is some of me in Alice, in Similar But Not the Same, Jan, in Deflection A Race Against Time, Jennifer, in Similar and Found The Lost Ones, and maybe DiLane in Found and my new one Return There's No Easy Way.
~ Stay tuned for more questions from Olivia ~
One of my characters that interviewed the aliens in Similar But Not the Same will be interviewing me. She's an ambitious reporter that isn't afraid of asking hard questions.
"You've written now five going on six novels. If they are in a series, why is the story format in each one written differently?"
~My first book, Similar But Not the Same, began just as a writing exercise for my writing group. It was a self test as to whether I could write. When I finished the story, I was hooked and had to work on the next story, which came from a prompt we did in writing class. My stories aren't as different as you may think. In all of them, to a certain extent, bring two to three character events together to drive the story to its combined goal.~
"You have wrote a mixture of heroine/heroes in your novels. In Found and in the new one, Return, the protagonists are a group of people versus one antagonist. What are the challenges you face to maintain a point of view whose gender or species is different from your own?"
~I have lived a lot of years, watched a lot of movies, and read many, many books that help me understand how to think like someone else. Women usually have a larger repertoire of vocabulary and men like to keep communication to a minimum. As to the aliens, by describing each of the five species, I am able to imagine what they might say. These people have a different culture than the humans do but they are also very much like us. They care about their children as a guarantee of their future. They have a stronger connection to their animal world on how they live, eat, and make decisions. In Similar, I started the story with the aliens to get the reader familiar with them and realize that they are not much different in their logic from us.
(Stay tuned for more questions from Olivia Crane)