[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: Sharon Lynn Fisher on Honing Character via Physical Challenges
A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, Sharon Lynn Fisher lives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes books for the geeky at heart—sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance—and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. Her works include Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8 (2014). You can visit her online at SharonLynnFisher.com.
First of all, a huge thank you to Sarah for inviting me to be the first science fiction romance participant. I think this is a fascinating area of focus for a column.
I had a conversation with Sarah before writing this post, because none of the characters in my Tor book The Ophelia Prophecy have a disability in the conventional sense. Sarah pointed out that, in the broader sense of physical challenges, both the hero and heroine experience memory loss, and the hero undergoes some body modification for nebulous reasons. I realized there are some interesting bits to unpack there. I will try my best to do it without spoilers.
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[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.
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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
You hear new stories every day: humans are ruining the planet. If we don’t do something now, we’ll certainly destroy the world for our children. Dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction is wildly popular, and for good reason! These scenarios, while bleak, are also exciting and offer the opportunities for lots of what-ifs. However, in the spirit of optimism, I wanted to explore some future scenarios that offer hope and a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
We asked this week’s panelists…
Here’s what they said…
I have always been an optimist. It IS a little tough to pull that off right now, but there is still reason for hope. I know that climate change is a common topic, and you’ll get more than this post on it. But I do think we can get better at taking care of our world than we are now. The just-past election is one example. President Barak Obama mentioned climate change in his acceptance speech (after it had been off the radar all election). Here in Washington State, we just elected a rabidly pro-environment Governor, Jay Inslee. In fast, the US elected five people who are expected to drive change in this area. In addition to Jay, there are two new senators and two new congressional representatives who get it. Our city just passed a levy that funds, among other things, a program called Green Kirkland that is about support for our beautiful local environment. Katrina was a knock on the door. Sandy was a louder wake-up call.
The trick is that we are past the first tipping point – the climate is going to keep on warming even if we shut off all of the carbon spigots tomorrow. Success now looks like slowing and eventually stopping or even (maybe!) reversing the trends that are putting us in mortal danger right now. We caused a lot of this problem, and as ill-equipped as we are, we will have to help mitigate it. In addition to gaining at least some of the policymakers that we need, there is significant progress being made on important fronts: Electric cars, higher emission standards, more efficient buildings, green energy, better batteries. We are also gaining deeper understanding the world through big data modeling. We have the Internet. We have increasingly specific and high quality mapping and sensor nets. We can intervene on some levels, and we’re going to have to.
We have the communication tools to support what we’re going to need to do. If we could turn these tools to unseat bad governments all over the world last spring, and to occupy our own ill-behaved banking system, we can use the power of the Internet to spread ideas and action on climate. All we need is focus. Hurricane Sandy was a focus point. The heat waves were focusers. There will be more on the way. It will take some pain, some death, and a lot of action, but we can transform our relationship with the planet. That may leave us as the tenders of the garden in more ways than we want, but it is a path to success.
Sharon Lynn Fisher is the author of Ghost Planet, coming from Tor Books on Oct. 30. The book — a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist — is a sci-fi/romance blend that offers a “fresh and fascinating take on the human-alien problem” (says author Linnea Sinclair). She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is hard at work on her next novel and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. You can visit her online at SharonLynnFisher.com.
One question that interviewers always ask is how you came up with the premise for your book. While this seems fairly straightforward, and I have managed to work out a fairly straightforward answer so it doesn’t run on for a thousand words, it’s really a multifaceted question.
Because there is the idea trigger — which for Ghost Planet came when I thought of the title, and then noodled on what the story behind that title might be — and then there is the actual idea, which comes out of this crazy stew that’s been simmering for years in the creative crockpot, where your subconscious has been happily tossing in ingredients with little to no direct involvement from you.
So one thing that goes into writers’ crockpots is other stories that have impacted them in some way. Many people note the similarity between the premise of Ghost Planet and the premise of Solaris, by Stanislaw Lem — basically, the fact that my ghost-aliens are reincarnated beings generated by the colonists’ connection to dead family and friends. I thought it might be fun to take a closer look at how that sci-fi classic influenced Ghost Planet.