I’m so excited to welcome Sharon Lynn Fisher to the blog today! Ghost Planet was such a great read (you can read my review here), and Sharon has been kind enough to answer some of my burning questions. I also have an excerpt from Ghost Planet that will make you want to read more. And don’t forget to read all the way to the end for a GIVEAWAY of the book!
Welcome Sharon! I’m thrilled to have you visiting Books, Bones & Buffy. Your idea of an alien ghost that attaches itself to each colonist and appears in the form of a dead loved one is so unique. How did you come up with the idea?
Thanks for having me, Tammy!
I was trying to think of a science fiction story idea for the Writers of the Future Contest. I had mostly written fantasy up to that point, but was having trouble coming up with unique ideas. The first thing that came to me was the title, and I asked myself what would be the story behind a world called GHOST PLANET.
Next came the idea for a first scene: A woman travels to an Earth-like world to work as a scientist, meets a man she’s attracted to, and discovers he’s an alien that’s tethered to her. Finally, the moment that really got me excited about this book: “The heroine should be the sexy alien. Only she doesn’t know it.”
The sci-fi classic SOLARIS has a similar premise (I discussed the connection over on SF Signal), but the two books go in very different directions.
Ghost Planet is a very character-driven story and focuses on different kinds of complex relationships. Did you find that writing in the science fiction genre gave you more freedom to explore unusual relationships?
Yes, that’s an insightful question! It’s what I love about both writing and reading speculative romance – exploring relationship dynamics in extreme or unique settings and situations. It really makes for some great conflict too!
By setting your story on another planet, it seems that you would have more freedom to invent details about Ardagh 1 and that research would take a backseat to the more creative parts of writing like character development. Did you have to do much research for Ghost Planet?
Ha ha, more good insights. It’s one reason I like writing fictional worlds: If you get a detail wrong, no one is going to call you on it because it’s all in your head! However, I did not manage to escape research. Since Ardagh 1 and its indigenous inhabitants are symbiotic, I had to research both symbiogenesis and Gaia theory. I also had to do research to help me fill in details about construction of the colonies.
I think world-building probably involves as much research as using a real location. In my second book for Tor I’m having to do both!
I was thrilled to read a science fiction romance, a genre that I’ll have to admit I have not seen or read a lot of. Do you plan on writing more in this genre, and do you have plans for another installment with Elizabeth and Murphy?
I am fairly new to writing this genre, myself, but am loving it. I like how including science-based elements in any type of story can help you come up with unique twists and angles.
My second book for Tor is a post-apocalyptic biopunk romance, about a man with praying mantis DNA and a human archivist-turned-sleeper-agent who is his prisoner. I do have an idea for a follow-up to GHOST PLANET, and am also thinking of writing a short story set soon after colonization.
I’m dying to see exactly what a “biopunk romance” is! OK, this is a two-part question. What writers do you love to read yourself, and have any of them influenced your own writing? And do you read a lot while you’re working on a manuscript? I know some writers worry about being too heavily influenced by other writers and try to stay away from reading completely while they write.
The bad news is I don’t seem to have much time for reading anymore! What with writing, promo, and being a mom. And yes, I do have to be careful reading while writing. I don’t think I’m influenced so much by story as by voice. If someone has a distinctive style I can find myself channeling it a bit.
As for writers I love, I’m a huge fan of classics, and love the Brontes, Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, and George Eliot to name a few. JANE EYRE is probably my favorite book, and it was also my “gateway” classic novel. I also always mention WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams, and A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle, both of which I read numerous times. WRINKLE was the first sci-fi book I loved. WATERSHIP is hard to explain, but it’s brilliant. I think I probably learned a lot about including mystery and plot twists from Adams.
WATERSHIP DOWN is one of my favorite books, too! I understand you’ve written a novel called ECHO 8. Is it available yet to purchase? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
ECHO 8 was my second RWA Golden Heart finalist manuscript. Here’s the pitch:
The fate of two worlds hangs in the balance as three lives entangle: Jake, a man shifted to an alternate Earth, where he must drain energy from others to survive. Tess, the parapsychologist trying to save him. Ross, the FBI agent torn between duty and his love for Tess.
There are some excerpts and such on my web site. It’s not available for purchase yet. Stay tuned!
I’m sure you’ve probably thought about this question! If you lived on Ardagh 1 and you could choose who your ghost would be, who would you choose?
Love this question! I answered it recently (a bit tongue-in-cheek) for a blog that used it for their giveaway. Jane Austen – I think she could give me good writing and relationship advice, and would keep me laughing. If you want me to stick to the rules and choose someone I personally knew, I’d have to say my Granny, for almost exactly the same reasons.
Thanks Sharon! And now, a teaser from Ghost Planet:
We trotted up half a dozen steps and were passing through the glass doors when Murphy said, “We’ll be scanned by security just inside. I hate them being here, raising people’s anxiety level in a place where we want them to feel safe. But all new arrivals pass through here, and someone decided it was a good idea.”
Thinking about the illicit-substance and weapons scans in all the airports and public buildings back home, I raised my eyebrows. “What’s it for?”
“To get a sort of fingerprint on everyone,” he explained, walking through the doorframe-shaped scanner. “Just to make sure we know who’s who. They can’t do it at the transport terminal because no one has ghosts when they first arrive.”
I followed him through the scanner, and a long beep sounded somewhere off to my left as I joined him inside. Murphy’s head jerked toward the sound. His eyes moved to the glass doors we’d just come through, and slowly back to me. He glanced at the security desk on our right.
“Where is it?” Murphy called to the guard, whose fingers were flying over his keyboard. The guard’s ghost leaned against the wall behind him, little more than a shadow.
The man stopped typing and looked up. “I’m sorry, Dr. Murphy?”
“I heard the alert go off, but I don’t see her. My ghost, Simon,” Murphy added, growing impatient. “Do you see her?”
The guard blinked at him a couple times. Then he cleared his throat. “She’s standing right next to you, Dr. Murphy.”
And now for a Giveaway! Three winners will receive a paperback copy of Ghost Planet! JUST CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM. Contest goes until November 13th and is open to US & Canadian residents.