[GUEST INTERVIEW] Heather Massey Chats with Sharon Lynn Fisher About THE OPHELIA PROPHECY, Freaky Orange Cats and Praying Mantis Sex
Sharon Lynn Fisher writes books for the geeky at heart – sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance. She has a passion for world-building and twisty plots, and themes that recur in her writing include what it means to be human and symbiosis in human relationships.
Her latest release is The Ophelia Prophecy, a biopunk flavored, post-apocalyptic tale out now from Tor. A mix of light science, heavy moral conflicts, and sizzling sexual tension, The Ophelia Prophecy is sure to please the romance reader looking for something different, or the SF fan looking for something hot.
After Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express and Sharon binge-watched all 110 episodes of Space Ghost Coast to Coast-because, you know, Zorak-they chatted about The Ophelia Prophecy, freaky orange cats, and praying mantis sex.
Heather Massey: Describe a typical week for Sharon Lynn Fisher.
Sharon Lynn Fisher: I’m not sure there’s any such thing – a result of being a freelancer and a half-time single parent! My working hours (which can occur at any hour, any day of the week, in any state of dress) are divided between my contracted fiction, new writing projects, and my work as senior editor for SilkWords, a new “pick your own path” romance short story site. Whatever is left goes to my daughter, my boyfriend and HIS daughter, and one freaky orange cat.
HM: What’s the first creative thing you ever wrote? The most recent?
SLF: I think the first story I ever wrote (at age 6) was about a little girl who shrank and went on an adventure in her grandmother’s strawberry patch. I guess I’ve always been a speculative gal. The most recent is this steampunk romance thingy I’m working on for SilkWords.
HM: The Ophelia Prophecy is your second book with Tor. Please tag it in seven words.
SLF: Post-apocalyptic sci-fi Romeo and Juliet story. Bugs.
HM: What inspired this story?
SLF: Two things got the ball rolling on this story: (1) The title (I always reverse engineer), and (2) A weird dream I had about two praying mantises fighting with wooden staffs.
HM: Asha and Pax begin the tale as “strangers and enemies.” The story also sets them up as dual-protagonists/heroes. Why did you decide to take this approach?
SLF: Is that what I did? Cool. This is not the sort of thing I put much thought into. I just write it the way it feels like it needs to be written.
HM: I’m travelling to the world of The Ophelia Prophecy. What should I pack for this post-apocalyptic setting?
SLF: Well, as a human, you best take everything you’d miss about modern-day Earth. Toilet paper. Beer and pizza. That sort of thing. If you’re planning to visit anywhere but Sanctuary, I’d also suggest a personal protection device or twelve.
HM: The Ophelia Prophecy features a genetically engineered race called the Manti. Given the level of detail, I’m guessing you did some research about insects for the story. Even if you didn’t, regale me with three of the juiciest insect facts you’ve ever learned.
- Many insects have telescoping…parts.
- Praying mantis females likely chew off the head of a male either because he did not buy her dinner first (she was hungry), or due to stress in the environment at the time of mating. (But this happens less frequently than people believe.)
- I found a reference to one entomology book that said the male praying mantis will try to ensure the female enjoys herself during mating. (Maybe he’s worried about #2.)
HM: Insect-like characters are a longtime SF trope. Why do you think readers continue to find them so appealing?
SLF: Honestly I have no idea, because GROSS. I can’t believe I ended up writing about them myself.
Okay that’s not true, I do have an idea. I think insects are the most alien creatures on OUR world, so when we think about aliens from space, our brains just naturally go there. For myself, despite being creeped out by most of them, I imagined that a blending of human and insect DNA could lead to the genesis of a sort of futuristic fairy. I was intrigued by that idea.
HM: One thing that struck me about The Ophelia Prophecy is that its coming-of-age/enlightenment theme pertains to Asha, the heroine. In SF, the default gender for coming-of-age stories has traditionally been male. Why did you decide to buck the trend?
SLF: Ha ha, you make me sound so smart! Again, not something I planned. But considering this is a sci-fi romance as opposed to just sci-fi, I think it was a natural choice. In romance, the heroine is the main character. In my view, she should have the most interesting character arc. I see no reason this can’t be done in straight SF as well, but you’re right that it’s not usually the case.
And actually Pax does arc similarly in OPHELIA. His transformation is perhaps less earth-shaking because he had begun to question a long time ago.
HM: Pax’s sister, Iris, is an awesome blend of insect and human. She’s also smart and a kickass fighter. Any chance of a spinoff book for her?
SLF: I absolutely intend to write a book about Iris and Carrick (the wolf/human transgenic ex-priest for whom Iris develops an uncharacteristic weakness). She was one of my favorite characters. And Carrick, he’s so riddled with inner conflict – can’t wait to sink my teeth into him. So to speak.
Meantime, however, I’ve got another stand-alone coming from Tor – ECHO 8, due out early next year. I think this one features my most accessible setting to date – Seattle, present day (er, on an alternate Earth). Here’s how I describe it (unofficially) on my web site: “Parallel-universe romantic suspense that explores possible connections between quantum physics and psi (also a Bermuda Love Triangle between a parapsychologist, an FBI agent, and an energy vampire).”
HM: Where can readers find you?
SLF: Oh, the usual places…
I love hearing from readers!
Filed under: Interviews
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!