Lisa Paitz Spindler is a science fiction author, web designer, blogger, and pop culture geek. Her debut space opera novella, The Spiral Path, will be released March 28, 2011 from Carina Press. In addition to contributing book reviews and television recaps to SF Signal, she also maintains the Danger Gal Blog hosted by her alter ego, Danger Gal, whose stiletto heels are licensed weapons and whose ninja stars travel faster than light. Lisa, however, gets through each day on caffeine and science blogs. Lisa can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.
SF SIGNAL: Hi, Lisa. Congratulations on your first novel, The Spiral Path! Tell us what it’s about.
LISA PAITZ SPINDLER: The Spiral Path is the story of two Earth-like dimensions and the impact on their societies upon discovering one another. It’s also a reunion love story. The two main characters, Lara Soto and Mitch Yoshida, were involved eleven years prior to when the story begins, but their relationship blew apart when the discrimination against Chimerans spiraled out of control. Lara is a Chimeran – those rare few born with a parent from each dimension. Both sides see Chimerans more as tools than people, and when the Star Union buckled down on them, Lara started a mass exodus of her kind to build a colony of their own. Their lives collide again when Lara’s brother goes missing and they have to join forces to find him – and dredge up all of their issues once again. In addition to some fun science underpinnings and a moving love story, I hope readers will also enjoy reading about three strong women: Lara Soto, her second-in-command Camryn Rossa, and a third I think readers will find deliciously creepy.
SFS: The Spiral Path sounds like it includes components of sf romance, military sf, and space opera. How do you juggle all these components without diluting them?
LPS: I hope I managed to juggle all of those elements well. My two favorite genres are science fiction and romance; so combining those two elements feels natural to me. I like applying the “what if” aspect of science fiction to relationships and to how scientific developments might affect our daily lives. Also, I wanted to twist the space opera idea of traveling vast distances by having my characters avoid the whole FTL issue and instead travel to another dimension via a wormhole. I was intrigued by the idea of “exotic energy” that might be used to hold open the throat of a wormhole and how that might work.
In this story, the very first astronauts to cross dimensions soon discover that they can’t stay very long in that other dimension (and vice versa) because each of the worlds vibrate at a different frequency that was set at the Big Bang and the molecules in their bodies lose cohesion. Luckily for them, there is a grace before your atoms blow apart.
This idea opened up a whole host of interpersonal and trade issues to explore. For instance, if an apple from another dimension could only exist here for a few hours, then even an average mundane apple would become a delicacy. Now we have all sorts of avenues for trade and piracy. For interpersonal relationships, it would be tragic if you met the love of your life, but literally could not exist in the same world together. Could children result from such unions? In Lara’s world, few pregnancies of such couples make it to term, but those rare ones that do produce children called Chimerans who can live in either dimension indefinitely. The Chimerans are regarded as valuable tools, but also sometimes not as real people. This set up a mass defection and tore apart already broken families.
As far as the military aspects go, Lara’s band of Chimerans is only loosely based on military operations. There are also bands of Chimeran pirates and smugglers who follow their own leaders. For the aspects of the story that dealt with Commodore Yoshida and his place in the Star Union, I tapped into insights from friends and acquaintances who have served in the military.
LPS: Well, back in college, I spent four years living in a wormhole, so that really prepared me to write this story.
Seriously, though, we all know people who have dealt with, or have ourselves lived through, the challenges of fractured families. Science fiction enables me to ramp up that conflict by depicting a family separated by a whole dimension – and physically unable to live with one another. For the scientific aspects of the story, I conducted a lot of research and asked a lot of questions.
SFS: What’s the hardest part about writing? How do you overcome that obstacle?
LPS: The hardest part about writing is to write when you don’t feel like writing. The successful authors I know write every day, almost no matter what. That means ignoring the annoying internal editor who tells you that your writing stinks. For me, music seems to soothe that beast and so I create a playlist for every project that helps me connect with the story world.
SFS: What’s the hardest part about getting published? What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
LPS: Never give up. Never surrender. Remember that every rejection is just one person’s opinion and doesn’t mean your story is poorly written. The key is finding the right editor or agent at the right time in the market for your particular story. After that, keep honing your skills because each story you write is different. Two tools that have helped me are seeing the story from a macro view with the Hero’s Journey and then drilling down into the character arcs using Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel series.
SFS: Who are the authors (and what are the books) that influenced you the most as an author?
LPS: I grew up reading science fiction and romance simultaneously, so my influences are all over the board. However, Catherine Asaro and Lois McMaster Bujold have been combining these two genres for a long time now and I’ve always enjoyed their books. Luckily, there are quite a few new authors out now continuing this fusion of science fiction and romance. My gateway stories into science fiction were Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. On the romance side, I’m happy to read Laura Kinsale’s historicals over and over again.
SFS: What’s next for you?
LPS: Right now I’m working on the next two books in the trilogy, which center on a connection between the other two captains in the Chimeran fleet — Camryn Rossa and Gabriel Rao — as well as the continuing story of Calendra and Raphael. I’m having a great time exploring these two interesting worlds. I also plan to continue with my Danger Gal Blog highlighting strong heroines in genre fiction.
As part of Lisa’s Out Of This World Blog Tour, she’m giving away a copy of The Spiral Path and this Retro Saturn T-shirt to one lucky reader, to be chosen on April 3rd.
Everyone who enters will receive a door prize: The Spiral Path electronic trading cards depicting the four main characters in the story. Click here to enter.