SFR stands for Science Fiction Romance, and is a sub-genre that fuses sci-fi and romance into an interesting new whole. However getting the balance right is not always easy, or successful.
Christie Meierz is one SFR writer who manages to get that elusive balance just right. The proof is in her legion of fans, and a very shiny new award!
Meeks : Firstly, congratulations on the PRISM award Christie. Could you tell us a little about it? As in, what is the award about, and which one of your books won it?
Christie : The Prism awards are given by the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. It’s one of the RWA’s largest chapters. The Marann, my debut novel, won the award.
While I was still at the awards dinner, I posted from my smart phone to Facebook that I’d won, and two previous winners of the award, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (a husband-wife team of authors), both congratulated me. I was so psyched, I was showing it to people at the dinner – their Liaden Universe books are among my absolute favourite reads right now.
They warned me to be careful where I put the award. You see, it’s an actual glass prism, and apparently, Sharon and Steve had placed theirs in a sunny place. Until they painted, a scorch mark on the wall served as a reminder to keep their Prism out of the sun.
I’m glad for the warning!
Meeks : lol – Perhaps the PRISM should come with a warning label!
I have to say I really enjoyed The Marann, especially the world building. Could you give us a quick overview of Tolari society?
Christie : Spoilers! (Yes, I’m a Doctor Who fan!) The Tolari are an empathic civilization on a planet circling Beta Hydri, which is 24.4 light years from Earth. Most of them – the farmers, the scholars, what-have-you – are a peaceful lot, mainly focused on advancing their own art and culture and not very interested in the goings-on out in the rest of the universe. That’s not true of their ruling caste, who tend to be ambitious and rather violent. That violence disturbs ordinary Tolari enough that the rulers and their guards live separately, in massive strongholds a short distance from the provincial capitals.
You find out in The Marann that the Tolari are not what they seem.
Meeks : I’m always fascinated by where other writers get their ideas. Was there any one thing that triggered your creation of this unusual society and culture?
Christie : I started by writing about Kyza, who is the daughter and heir apparent of the Tolari ruler. As my ideas about her evolved, her father, the Sural, and her human tutor, Marianne, more or less took over the story.
Meeks : I know the story of the Sural and Marianne continues in Daughters of Suralia, but I believe you are now hard at work on a third book about the Tolari. Can you give us a sneak peek into the story?
Christie : The third book is about Laura Howard, who comes to Tolar as a widow during the second book. At the end of Daughters, she heads off to Parania, newly transformed by the Jorann’s blessing into an incredibly powerful empath, to return to the man she’s fallen in love with.
That’s a happy ending, though, and happy endings make for a boring beginning. It took me a number of months of plugging away at a “slush file” to start coming up with ideas to
torture them create enough drama in their lives to make an interesting story. Then I started adding the political conspiracy with Central Command, and what happens when Tolari rulers go bad, and then I twisted up Laura herself.
Meeks : Do you plot your stories out in advance? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants?
Christie : I’m more of a pantser. I always start with a character and a situation and a direction and go from there. When I have to plot, I do it in retrospect. I had to do that with the third book, which goes by the working title The Fall. It’s still not finished, though the first third and the last half are written. I had to go back and plot it out so I could get that sixth in the middle figured out.
Meeks : I can so empathize with plotting in retrospect. 🙂
Now I’m going to be cheeky and ask you a little about yourself. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Christie : Actually – yes, I have. I started writing when I was seven years old. I wrote constantly and compulsively until I got married and started having kids, and then it sort of… got lost, for a good long while. After the kids were grown, and after I survived a life-threatening illness, I started taking Spanish at a local university. The textbook was based around what college students do, which was very much not anything I get involved in. So I invented a nineteen year old college student to do it all for me. The professor thought it was a great idea.
That seemed to get the writing juices flowing again. After the class was over, I sat down and started writing about a little girl named Kyza.
Meeks : Talking of children, I have to ask how you juggle being a successful author, wife and mother?
Christie : I spend a lot of time talking ideas out with my husband, and he reads everything I write before anyone else does. That way, it actually creates quality time with him. As for the kids – well, they’re grown, and all but one has flown. The guys can forage in the pantry if they have to.
Meeks : Forage, I like that idea. 😉
Before we both race off for a refreshing beverage, I’d just like to ask if there is any advice you’d give to aspiring young authors out there?
Christie : First, write what you want to read. Then, get an editor! There’s an awful lot of self-published material out there with typos and poor grammar and howling continuity errors; don’t add to it. If you can’t afford an editor, find a critique partner, or a critique group, or an online community like Scribophile. No one’s first draft is publishable, not yours, not mine. Work on it until it shines.
Meeks : Thanks Christie, that is really good advice. Thanks also for chatting with me, and letting me pick your brains. I hope you’ll drop in again.
And now me lovelies, if you’ve got questions I haven’t asked, please ask them in Comments.