Monday, February 05, 2007

Make-Believe Monday with Linnea Sinclair

Today on Make-Believe Mondays I'm pleased to introduce my friend Linnea Sinclair. It's late and some of you have been patiently waiting, so let's jump right in.

Linnea, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

Linnea: Ever see that great fun movie, Men In Black (or Men in Black 2)? Combine that with the TV cop show, Hill Street Blues and you’ve got my The Down Home Zombie Blues. It’s science fiction. No, wait. It’s romance. No, wait. It’s police procedural. No, wait. It’s comedy. No wait. It’s edge of your seat intergalactic monster action adventure…

My working blurb for the book:
After almost twenty years on the job Bahia Vista homicide detective, Theo Petrakos, is used to the fact that almost everyone in Florida is from somewhere else. Then a mummified corpse and a room full of high tech computer equipment sends Guardian Force commander and intergalactic zombie hunter, Jorie Mikkalah, into his life. And ‘illegal alien’ takes on a whole new meaning...

I’m just about finished with the book (yes, running a month late) but my editor has the first 3/4ths of it so she and the art department have it in process already. It’s due out (pending schedule changes) Fall of 2007, which is kind of cool because the book’s action centers over the Christmas/New Year’s holidays.

Christmas? New Years? But wait, Linnea, you say in your mellifluous voice. You write science fiction!

Debra: LOL :)

Linnea: Ah-hah! Yes, I do. The Down Home Zombie Blues is science fiction but set here in Florida, USA. A first for me.

Debra: Ray Bradbury said, “We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” How do you keep your creative cup filled?

Linnea: I dare say I’m still running on imagination overload (gluttony?) from twenty years past. My brain seems to be stuck in a constant “what if..?” mode. I’m always what-iffing. Probably too much as I get ideas for books in the midst of writing a book and sometimes get distracted from what I should be doing.

I’m a relentless observer of human nature. That’s a polite way of saying I’m nosy. This started long before I was a private detective, where I got paid good money to be nosy.

So I watch people, wonder how did they get where they are, why are they where they are and from that do little novels grow.

Debra: "What-iffing" is such fun. I'm going to have to borrow your name for this game now you know. :)

Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Linnea: I can’t write until I can see and hear my characters. When their sadness brings tears to my eyes, then I’m there.

Debra: Some very famous authors have played with language, creating words for people or places that no one has ever heard of. Have you ever played with words in that way and if so how?

Linnea: I write science fiction romance so yes, I’m always inventing things: planets, cities, ships, recipes, religions, cultures, etc.. I invent entire languages. I have a Zafharish lexicon (the language spoken in my Finders Keepers, which was a 2006 RITA award finalist) on my site:

I also invent swear words. Those are the most fun. What does someone from another star system say when she drops a sonic wrench on her toe or finds out his plan to save the galaxy has come unraveled? Oh, darn? I don’t think so. Try:

Mullytrock or trock-brained
Vomit-brained slut bucket
Motherless son of a Procyon whore
Ass-faced demon’s whore

I’ve blogged about it here:

Mullytrock is from my February 2007 release Games of Command. My female protagonist is a starship fleet captain with a very sordid past that—literally—comes back to haunt her as she’s forced to relive it. As she revisits a part of her life she’d rather forget (in front of someone who shouldn’t know about that part of her life), her vocabulary reverts back to what she’d been:

A rectangular data-systems panel jutted out from the wall a few feet in front of them, its cover tarnished and dented. He reminded himself that there were very serious issues at stake here—hallucinations that could kill. The crew of Degun’s Luck had learned that. Who she was and whether she viewed him only as a ’cybe had to be tabled for now. He peeled off his gloves and answered without looking at her. “Do you really think I wouldn’t know how to get into U-Cee hardware? But if you remember the primary security codes, I can work more quickly. Are we looking for Zanorian’s dock assignment?”
“We’re looking to create a diversion. RaftTraff gets mighty testy when a ship breaks dock. And I’m not willing to wait for clearance.”
RaftTraff. Mining Raft Traffic Control. Definitely not Fleet terminology.
He flipped the cover open, studied the interfaces and crystal boards while she rattled off the codes. A patched mess but not unworkable. One stroke of luck: a compatible dataport. “What kind of diversion? I need location, start time and duration.”
I’d love to launch a raftwide mullytrock, but then we’d have every other damned jockey in straps burning bulkheads. ’Course, that would work too. RaftTraff wouldn’t know which one of us to send the sec tugs after first.”
Mullytrock. Definitely Lady Sass. He remembered Ralland at fourteen getting his mouth washed out with soap for saying that.
“You want a mullytrock, Sass, I can give you that.” Roving, sporadic power outages, ventilation failures, lift malfunctions. For starters. “But I still need start time.” He took his attention from the panel and looked at her. “How far are we from the Blade?”
(FROM Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair, Bantam Spectra, Feb. 2007)

RaftTraff, burning bulkheads, mullytrock and others are all words I created for the book. The slang (“burning bulkheads) is indicative of the culture of a itinerant starfreighter crewmember. In the same way that someone working in a hospital, school or in law enforcement has their own slang and acronyms here on our world.

Speaking of which, for The Down Home Zombie Blues, I’ve had to learn both law enforcement slang and how to curse in Greek (because my male protagonist is Greek-American). I must say that the Greeks have cursing down to a fine art.
Ti mano popi sekone rroosooza pootanis

…has to do with your mother, her illegal occupation and resemblance to a gargoyle. A truly useful epithet. I’m duly impressed.

Debra: I'm impressed too!

For some writers, dreams play a role in creating fiction. Has this been true for you? Have you ever dreamed a scene or an image that later wound up in one of your books?

Linnea: I write all my scenes first in my dreams—not the middle-of-the-night-out-of-control, giraffe-driving-the-Jeep-made-of-chocolate-under-the-ocean-while-Marie-Antoinette-sings-Feelings-in-Portuguese kind of dreams (you guys all have those, right?). But rather the musing, daydreams that you can do whilst folding laundry or driving or cleaning the kitty litter pan.

Debra: Yes I have those. (And the other type as well.)

As a child did any particular book or author pull you into their imaginary world?

Linnea: Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. I think that’s why I enjoy Anne Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series so much.

Debra: If there were no categories for books, no reader expectations to meet, and you could create the wildest work of imagination that you could think of what kind of story would that be?

Linnea: Probably exactly what I write because I don’t write to genre. I write what I write and Bantam Spectra, bless them, pulls their hair out trying to market me.

To date, I’ve been shelved in science fiction, even though my back covers promise “sexy stellar romance”. With Games of Command, Bantam is shelving me—first time!—in romance. See, they don’t quite know what to do with me. I have a strong SF following but then Gabriel’s Ghost won the RITA award and suddenly they realized I have a strong romance following as well.

I just received a terrifc 4-1/2 star (highest number they give) review from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine for Games of Command,

“When it comes to high-flying adventure, political intrigue and dark romance Sinclair has it aced! This surprising tale is filled with shifting loyalties, deception and jaw-dropping flying maneuvers. The characters in this complex novel are all faced with the realization that what they have always believed may not be the truth and that powerful emotions can be stronger than any mechanical implants.”Romantic Times BOOKreviews

and they labeled me ‘fantasy’ then in parenthesis ‘futuristic’. Which makes no sense as my cover art is clearly SF. But yes, there is a telepathic/paranormal element in Games of Command. But I would never consider it fantasy.

But some people do, and that’s okay. I recognize I don’t write inside the box. Or perhaps I color outside the lines.

Debra: Writing outside the box is good. I don't think our imaginations as writers (or as readers) want to play inside the box. There's so muchmore to be discovered outside.

Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination, and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?

Linnea: Imagination—the muse part of writing—is terribly important. It’s the one part of writing that can’t be taught. But it’s not the only part of writing and if you ignore the others: craft (grammar, word choice, pacing, etc.) and business (marketing, contracts, etc.) you’re setting yourself up for failure if you’re looking to get published in commercial genre fiction.

The good news is you can be taught craft and marketing. So if you have the muse part down pat, then you’re one third of the way there.

Debra: Linnea, thank you for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

Please do visit me on my website
and my MYSPACE page
and my shared blog

I also have a fan group on Yahoo that’s oodles of fun AND I have special contests AND sneak peeks at upcoming books!

1 comment:

Diane9596 said...

Thanks for the small look into your head, Linnea. I've been enjoying your books since the original Gabriel's Ghost came out so many years ago. *G* I'm dying to get my hands on Games of Command, frothing at the mouth you could even say.