Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Greta van der Rol – Author Interview @GretavdR

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

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Why did you choose to write this particular book?

I guess mainly the response to Morgan’s Choice. I had hoped originally to spin out Morgan’s adventures into two books at least, but that didn’t happen. Really, people’s interest in what happens next motivated me to tell this story.What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

Morgan’s Return was an interesting book to write. I don’t find writing specially easy at the best of times. I go with the flow and let the story go where it wants. I was intrigued to find at the end that bits of what you might call ‘fluff’ – like the short encounter between Admiral Makasa and his grandson – ended up having much more meaning than I’d thought when I wrote the scene. The subconscious mind is a marvellous instrument.

Will you write others in this same genre?

I certainly will. I really enjoy space opera and I’ve developed a universe where I can set additional stories. My current project is set in Morgan’s universe. It’s going to be about four ladies, each from a different Manesai caste, who are thrown together and have adventures in a wonderful spaceship. It’s actually Vulsaur, the ship in Morgan’s Return, which Morgan gives to her friend Jirra, who is a secondary character in that book. I can see a whole series of stand-alone adventures for that crew. Working title? Something like Morgan’s Gang.

How much of the book is realistic?

Well, since Morgan’s Return is space opera, it isn’t realistic in that sense. However, I do try to make my tech believable. For me, if there’s no science, it isn’t science fiction. I’ve also drawn on my history background to sketch a number of societies and to show their disintegration in believable ways. One part of the book which is absolutely real is the interplay of characters, the importance of prejudice, jealousy and love. At the end of the day, the book is about people.

How important do you think villains are in a story?

Villains are essential in my sorts of stories. The heroes have to be have somebody to strive against, somebody who is at least as strong as they are. Look at Harry Potter and Voldemort, and Tolkien’s villain, Sauron, who we never see. That’s why the villain in Morgan’s Return is another supertech – just as smart, just as resourceful as Morgan, but with a selfish, evil bent that Morgan doesn’t have. Morgan has her work cut out for her.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I take photographs, mainly of nature. Flowers glistening with raindrops, sunlight reflected from wave tops, a misty beach, sunsets. I particularly like photographing flying birds and butterflies. To me, photography is the art of capturing a moment in time. I do sell some of my work on Dreamstime and Redbubble, and I share my pictures on Face Book. And yes, photography helps me to visualise scenes when I’m writing.

Have you always enjoyed writing?

Yes. I’ve played around with writing professionally for many years. I’ve started and not finished a number of writing courses, and actually finished a few. I remember many years ago sending a short story to a totally wrong magazine. Back then editors had more time for newbies, and the person wrote back to say they loved the story, but they didn’t publish SF. Encouraged, I sent the story to an SF magazine in America. It was returned a few weeks later with a terse hand written note. ‘This does not suit present needs.’ I was devastated. It was many years before I was prepared to try again.

What book should everybody read at least once?

There is no answer to this question. There is no such book. Some people might point at the Bible, or the Koran, but that depends on your religious beliefs, doesn’t it? Some might point at Shakespeare, but personally, I don’t much like his style. If I was forced to give an answer, I’d say whatever takes your fancy, be it crime, SF, romance, literary fiction. The important thing is to read. Books contain an extension of our brains, an external hard drive, if you will. Whether we realise it or not, we learn something from every book.

Have you included your friends in your books?

They say that, don’t they? ‘Never upset a writer, you might find yourself in a plot.’ Actually, I never do that. If anybody reads one of my books and thinks, “that’s me!” Sorry, but it’s not. Certainly, I draw on my observations of people to draw characters in my novels, but I’ve never said, “Billy Smith is going to be my villain.” The closest I ever got to having a real person in a book was in my historical fiction novel To Die a Dry Death, which is based on a real shipwreck in 1629. The characters in that book were real people, who lived and died and had descendants and no-one knows what they actually looked like. I rarely describe characters, so that didn’t matter but I needed a character map, if you like. When I considered Adriaen Jacobsz, the much-maligned captain of the Batavia, I thought about my own father. Even then, Jacobsz wasn’t anything like my father in many critical respects. But my dad was a tough, uncompromising individual, and in that respect he resembled Jacobsz.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences in your books?

Life experiences drive plots, don’t they? It’s what makes stories real. I think every author uses events in their own lives in one way or another. In the opening chapter of my paranormal romance, White Tiger, Doctor Sally Carter intends to take a train to New York’s Natural History Museum, but she’s on an express that takes her to Harlem.

That actually happened to me, so it was a very real way of having a woman end up in the wrong side of town.

I tend to be claustrophobic, so I recalled my own reactions to going into an underground mine to write about a journey in the dark tunnels of a mountain. Being trapped for forty-five minutes in a lift gave me an idea of what it’s like to be in a situation where you can’t do anything but wait, while the walls press down on your soul and you hope you’re not going to need a pee. All these experiences are grist to the writerly mill.


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Genre - Science Fiction

Rating – PG-13

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