Sunday, January 8, 2012

Author J.L. Hilton is here!!!

Carina Press author J.L. Hilton is here to let me grill her, and to talk about her new release, Stellarnet Rebel!

1.First, I LOVE stories about other worlds! What was the inspiration for Stellarnet Rebel? And are you working on anything new? If so, give us the inside scoop!

When I started writing Stellarnet Rebel, I was re-watching Babylon 5 and North and South, I was listening to a lot of Les Miserables and Irish folk music, and I was in the middle of designing and creating 60 pairs of earrings for the “Can't Stop the Serenity” charity events. (I'm a big fan of Firefly and have been involved in the fandom for years.)

I had zero plans to write a novel, certainly not a cyberpunk novel. Most of my previous writing was either non-fiction or fantasy. But one morning I woke up dreaming of the scene where Genny and Duin meet for the first time. After that, the rest of the story just seemed to exist in my head, and I rushed to type it out. That sounds kind of weird and metaphysical – but that's how it happened.

I am currently working on the sequel, Stellarnet Prince. I'm also writing two SFR novellas unrelated to the Stellarnet Series. In Stellarnet Rebel, the sex scenes are only about 3% of the entire book. They are “open door,” but not very graphic. They're more for the sake of plot and character development. But SF erotica would allow me to get much more creative in exploring what it is about aliens that we might find attractive – and imagining ways in which we might not be fully compatible. It's fun to see how love conquers all.

We LOVE Firefly at our house too!

2. Okay, so whenever I write, even when I’m really digging the manuscript as a whole, there’s always a line or two that I sort of fall in love with in an unholy way. That I look at and go “Huh. That’s pretty friggin’ good.” Can you share a couple of your favorites from Stellarnet Rebel with us?

One of the lines used in the marketing promotion is, “My love is not a pittance thrown to a beggar, nor a treasure stolen by a thief, but a tribute to a hero. Which do you choose to be?” I really like that one.

There are a lot of great lines – and a lot of places where I go, “Whoa, did I write that?” But most of my favorites would be big spoilers... So I'll have to go with the blog post Duin makes when Genny is detained for a crime she did not commit. He admits publicly that he loves her, which is very brave considering how much some humans hate him, and he pleads for help. It's at the beginning of the excerpt, below.

3.Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? And why romantic fiction?

I drew stories on little pads of paper before I could write, and I was writing by the age of 5. I won several school writing contests, and I completed a full-length, utterly terrible novel at 13. My first short story was published in Dragon Magazine by age 17. I began writing articles, interviews and book reviews for magazines at 19, then worked in newspapers for several years after college. So I didn't always want to be a writer, I've always been a writer. :)

Stellarnet Rebel is romantic, but it's not just about love between two individuals, it's about love of family, friends, home, technology, freedom, truth, justice. I like to write about these things because they're what matter.
As for why fiction... I've written a lot of non-fiction over the years – news reports, opinion pieces, columns, articles. I think fiction gets closer to the heart and soul.

4. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Can you give us a quick rundown of your writing process?

I guess I do a combination of pants-flying and plotting... I'm not very good at analyzing my creative process, whether it's designing jewelry or writing stories. I don't do a lot of detailed planning, but it's not as if I just throw any ol' doodads together and get beautiful jewelry – or write any ol' thing and it comes out a complex futuristic thriller. I have this weird way of seeing the gestalt of something, or sort of “feeling” the whole as I assemble the parts.

I wrote Stellarnet Rebel out of order, jumping around between beginning, middle and end. That would have been impossible to do unless I had a strong sense of what I was writing and what needed to happen in each scene. But I'm also open to change – sometimes I plan something, and the characters have other ideas.

I write out of order too, lol!

5. I really enjoy learning about and connecting with authors whose books I read and love. Can you tell us a secret about yourself? It could be something serious, or something fun, silly or quirky that will give us some insight on you as a person!

Because I've written a SF novel – specifically, a “cyberpunk thriller” according to my publisher Carina Press – people often try to discuss other SF novels with me. My dark little secret is that I don't read a lot of SF. I prefer classics and quirky stories. Some of my favorites are Les Miserables, Vanity Fair, Jane Eyre, John Dies at the End, Mogworld, and Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale (steampunk is a subgenre of SF, but it's not hard SF, right?). I also read a lot of non-fiction, history, autobiographies, etc.

6. Last one! If you were stuck on a desert island, and had to eat the same thing, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? Song? Movie? Book?

So, I've died and gone to hell, is what you're saying. (HA!)

Please share an excerpt from your upcoming release!

This is one of my favorite sequences from the book. Not only because it's exciting, but because it's the point when the heroine has a paradigm shift. She goes from thinking of herself as “Genny” to thinking of herself as “J'ni,” which is the way the alien freedom-fighter Duin pronounces her name. It's the point where she is forced to leave behind her family, her country, her ex, her career, in order to escape injustice and stay with the one she loves. It's the point where she and Duin both become “Stellarnet Rebels.”

His compartment echoed with memories of her. The remains of dinner. Her new Mysteria shirt. Her shawl, black with his own dried blood. The chair where they merged. The bed where their anatomy lessons continued. Her cup from dinner, half full of water, which he placed on a shelf.

He sat down, logged into her blog and typed.

To Humanity I’ve made my arguments and my pleas, borrowing the words of your own great thinkers, in the hope that the familiarity of those speeches, and the similarities of our conditions, would move you. With Genny’s help, I have told you my story. But, today, this will be the most difficult thing I have ever said to you, because I will say it on my own, in every way.

I love Genevieve O’Riordan. And, while that love remains within me, its object has been removed, and my anguish is beyond my ability to use your language. The Air & Space Force is holding her in the military zone of Asteria Colony, on the presumption that she is guilty of destroying her own block. They call her a terrorist, this compassionate, equitable individual
whose only crime is that she believed in me and in the hope of a free Glin.

She is to be relocated to Adiri. I don’t know when.

Yesterday, she told me of her faith in humanity. I marveled at how this faith endures, in spite of humans attacking her, in spite of them destroying her block and injuring her. I wonder, today, how she feels about humanity. I wonder how I feel. I haven’t had time to give it much thought. Until now, all of my hopes had been pinned on you. This bright, brave race, which has
risen, a thousand times over, to prevail against oppression, illness, environmental disaster, even death itself. You grow plants in the air, dream massive dreams together and sail the sky ocean between worlds.

Can you not find some way to end injustice? I might understand if you cannot bring yourselves to aid an alien. But Genevieve O’Riordan is one of you. She loves you. And I am grateful that she loves me, as well. I will do what I can to free her.

Will you?


She was awakened by the sound of the door opening. When she saw who it was, she thought she was dreaming.

“Seth? Why are you here? Are they detaining you, too?”

“No, I’m escorting you to the transport ship.”

“The ship to Titan? I don’t fucking think so.” She scrambled into the corner of the bunk. “You just try to drag me out of here.”

“I will if I have to.” Seth grasped her by the shoulders, which wasn’t easy to do while she kicked him. “You don’t want to do this the hard way, Genny. They’ll drug you and carry you out on a stretcher.”

“Leave me alone. Get off me!”

“Stop it and look at me! Look.”

And then she saw it. Words tickering across his forearm, blocked from the cell cameras by Seth’s back.

Go with Seth. At Sector M, take the first stairwell up. Head to Sector W. Duin is getting you out of here.

She looked into Seth’s face, inches from her own. Not long ago, when they were like this in a bed, it had meant something so different.

“All right,” she said.

Duin is getting you out of here.

Seth took her by the arm and led her out of the block. “I emailed your parents. Left out the part about you and the alien. But I guess the whole universe knows about that, now.”

“Why?” The hallways and thoroughfares were quiet, and she saw only a few other Airmen.

“Your frog blogged it.”

Duin was able to post. It brought her a sense of relief. He was free to access the Stellarnet. J.T. and her followers would know what was going on. Maybe Duin would be taking her to Earth. INC’s main offices were in the European Union. She might seek asylum there, beyond the reach of her own government.

“That thing said you loved each other. Is that true?”

They were approaching the edge of Sector M. From there, according to the mysterious words on Seth’s bracer, she would need to go up one of the stairwells, then cross the Colony Square toward Sector W. Her heart was racing.

“Yes, it’s true,” she replied.

Seth looked ill. She tried to pull away from him, but he tightened his grip on her arm.

“This is the square,” she whispered. “Shouldn’t I go?”

“You think Imma let you go, now?”

“But your device said—”

“The colonel can suck my dick. I’m not part of his plan anymore. Your father will make sure you have a good lawyer and the charges will be dropped. Then they’ll bring you to Earth, where you belong.”

“I don’t want to go to Earth.” She twisted in Seth’s grasp as if she were an angry cat he held by the tail. She was strong—courtesy of the standard gen-mods—but he was stronger. Still, J’ni had one thing he didn’t. Intelligence mods were outlawed, but she came by her cunning naturally.

She stopped struggling and wobbled on her feet.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

Her knees buckled. Seth eased her to the floor.

“C’mon, Genny, don’t lose it.” Seth’s voice held true concern. “You’ll be fine, I promise you.”

She moaned. “I think Dr. Geber was wrong about alien diseases. I feel sick.” Rolling onto her side, she began convulsing.

“Oh, shit, no.” He recoiled.

That’s when she sprang to her feet, kicked him in the face with her booted foot and ran like fucking hell.

Yay! I just started reading my copy and am loving it so far. Thanks so much for coming by!