Tag Archive | interviews

The Next Big Thing

Violetta Vane tagged me for The Next Big Thing, and since it’s Christmas week, I’m afraid I am running behind. At first, I was going to do this about the novella I’m working on right this minute, which is a second Superheroes Union romance. But so many of you reading this are already familiar with the Superheroes Union, so I thought I’d give you a taste of something different instead.

This is the story I had to back burner when the Superheroes Union first occurred and am still finishing…just not very fast. *g*

What is the title of your book?

It’s MMF space opera romance with the working title Boundless.

How did you come by the idea?

I discovered MMF entirely by accident, and I love the way the character dynamics work when it’s done well. So I decided that’s what I wanted to write, and started with the emotional dynamic I wanted between the characters. Then I fleshed them out into a space opera milieu. When I knew who I needed the characters to be and where they were, they brought most of the story elements along with them.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie?

Joseph is interesting. He’s a character I see very clearly in my head, which makes him harder to match with any real person. If you can imagine kind of a cross between Antonio Banderas in Desperado and Antonio Vargas in Strictly Ballroom, you’ll be on the right track, though at 6’2″, he’s taller than either. Joseph is going a bit grey and wears his curling hair back in a short tail. Both of them are now older than Joseph looks, so the truth is, it would have to be someone with that kind of look who can play forty-five-ish.

Michelle Rodriguez is a close match for Ty, though Ty’s eyes are green and her hair is light brown.

Daniel Curtis Lee comes close for Dak. Dak wears his hair different and his skin tone is darker, but this will give you an idea.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

An old soldier who outlived his war, a young mechanic who’s never been off-planet in her life, and a gorgeous drifter with the entire slave trade breathing down his neck. What could possibly go wrong?

Will your book be self-published or traditional?

Traditional. I really like my editor at Carina Press, and I’m hoping she’ll work with me on it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Work in progress! *g* And that progress has been interrupted for several other writing projects along the way, along with the editing work I do. I imagine that by the time I finish the rough draft, I will probably have been working on it for two years on and off.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The Slipstream Con, by S. Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore, might be a reasonable comparison. Boundless rests on the same strong core of a central character dynamic and phenomenal chemistry, and both books are space opera, though Boundless has more sex in it and is…maybe not darker, but grittier.

Shards of Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold, also has the sense of space opera meets romance I’m trying to capture with Boundless, though it’s a standard two-person romance, and I’d be ecstatic ever to succeed in my career as well as Bujold has.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Fanfic. 😉 Not some particular fanfic, but fanfic in general. Fanfic is where I discovered MMF, which, at the time, I would never believed could be written well otherwise–sadly, my first picks in original MMF weren’t quite the caliber I was hoping for.

Fanfic is also where I met so many talented people who are now my beta readers or fellow writers. I feel incredibly blessed to have so many really good collaborators and so much encouragement, so when I decided to try my hand at writing romance, I wanted to do something I knew they’d enjoy: MMF and science fiction.

Of course, then I met my characters, and they became their own kind of inspiring. 🙂

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

World building out the wazoo! New planets, cosmopolitan space stations, and one little tramp freighter where the gravity generator occasionally glitches and leaves our heroes floating midair while having sex. Dak’s dirty sense of humor! Rainbow asteroids and pearl beaches! Kick-ass friends scattered across three sectors of space! David standing up to Goliath, evil getting its just desserts, and a burned-out old soldier remembering how to live again. And Sancho the space beagle!

Let’s try a little excerpt. Copyright Ruth Diaz, do not use without permission.


“If you hid his body in one of the freezers, I’m going to be very put out. I just secured them all.”

Joseph laughed and settled in at the nav boards, entering some command with one hand and patting the seat next to him with the other. Sancho the beagle jumped into it like he belonged there—and maybe he did, since he’d sat there as they docked at Mèngjǐng, too.

From out in the corridor, Dakota’s laughter joined Joseph’s. He strolled into view in the doorway, sauntering into the control room like he . . . not owned it, but owned something. Himself, she guessed. His black pants were a little short—of course they were, he’d have borrowed them from Joseph, where else was he going to find wrap pants before they hit their next port?—and the dark green wrap shirt he wore gaped open at the front, exposing a deep sea of smooth, dark skin. It must have something to do with the way he’d fastened it, since he was about as broad as Joseph was, even if he didn’t look it, being taller.

Ty wrenched her eyes away before she could think any harder about licking him.

“We just secured the crew quarters,” Dakota said.

“Off we go, then.” Joseph’s amiable voice accompanied the soft clicking of his fingers on the navigation boards. “We’ve got clearance in forty minutes, and we can jump as soon as we’re past the second asteroid belt.”

Ty stared. “You guys are okay? No more of this ‘just stick my finger in a conglomerate’s eye’ rubbish?”

Joseph shrugged. “Somebody’s got to look after his kind, and it’s usually me.”

“I offered to demonstrate being easy to look at, but he made me wear clothes.” Dakota looked at the sleeve of his borrowed shirt as he unfolded a jump seat and sat down. “Said I needed pockets to keep that controller in till I can get a surgeon to pull the slave collar.”

Ty started to snicker, but stopped, staring as she caught a glimpse of the back of his head. “What happened to your hair?” The long cornrows she’d seen out on the docks were no more, shorn a couple of inches below the nape of his neck.

“Joseph cut it off for me.” He looked ridiculously pleased.

Joseph, not Captain. Well, that was something, but… Her fingers twitched—she hadn’t realized how much she wanted to run them through the length of his hair. She patted the bun at the back of her own neck, instead. “You couldn’t just have put it back?”

Dakota’s smile faded down to something more ironic. “I never wanted it like that in the first place. Anything more than a couple of inches is too much of a handle in a fight.”

Which explains why Joseph’s ponytail was so short. “I’ll never understand soldiers,” she complained. “Whatever makes you happy, I guess.”

He chuckled. “Don’t worry, beautiful, you’ve got enough hair to balance out both of us.” His eyes fixed on the nape of her neck, and Ty found herself blushing at the attention. “Someday, I hope I’ll get to see it.”

Ty bit her lip and smiled, looking back at her boards. Dakota had no trouble seeing her as a woman. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught Joseph giving him a dirty look.

They broke dock on schedule, on a false heading Joseph said made them look like they meant to jump for Huàshuō. It wouldn’t make much difference—once they jumped, there was hardly more fuel expenditure involved in leaving from that point than from the one he’d usually use for Horizonte. Upon hearing this, Dakota started telling a story about the party he’d been to out on Huàshuō right before his ship was sent to a battle point nearer Niflheim. He’d just gotten to where they were doing strip karaoke (Joseph complained you couldn’t possibly play strip karaoke, but Dakota said the point was to end up naked) when her stomach took a very odd turn and Sancho started to howl. A red light came up on one of her boards.

Joseph pulled Sancho close, and the ends of the beagle’s ears floated away from his head with the motion. The canine serenade showed no signs of stopping. “Gravity’s out.”

“Thank you, Captain Obvious.” Ty tapped keys and slid her fingers across the glass to zero in on the red telltale. By the time she confirmed it was just for the gravity, she was drifting away from her seat. “Right, that would be me.” She tried to stand up and ended up veering crazily across the control room, kicking to catch her foot under the edge of her chair, but she clipped the edge of it, which started her going over backwards.

“You said this happens often?” Dakota’s voice was very dry over the sound of Sancho’s displeasure.

Ty looked for anything on the diamond-patterned surface of the deck she might wrap her fingers around when she got that close. An access door with a recessed handle caught her eye, but she didn’t know if she’d have the range…

“I had enough money to replace the gravity or the inertial dampers. Floating once in a while beats bashing into the walls. Doesn’t it Sancho?”

Sancho didn’t sound convinced. A strong hand wrapped around Ty’s ankle. “Don’t move around, Ty,” Dakota said. “Stiffen up and keep stiff until I let go. I’m going to correct your spin, get you back upright. Zero-g maneuvering isn’t hard, but you’ve got to start slow till you get the hang of the way the trajectories work.”

Afraid even to nod, Ty said, “Okay.” Sure enough, a gentle push on her leg had her turning upright—not fast enough to feel nauseous, but faster than she’d been going backward. When she could see him over her own legs, she asked, “I’ve got to get down to the gravity generator without coming adrift. How do I do that?”

Grasping her shoulder to check her momentum as she came around, he grinned broadly. “Zero-g maneuvering classes and heavenly bodies.” His words oozed innuendo, and she giggled. “My favorite.” She caught him looking at Joseph, whose stubborn frown couldn’t quite hide an upward twitch of his lips, and wondered what she’d missed between those two.

Whatever it was, at least it meant no blood on the floor—or in the air, she supposed, floating in bright red globules. “Hey,” she said, suppressing laughter in favor of a smile. “Gravity now, flirting later.”


Interview With J.L. Hilton, author of the Stellarnet series

Sorry I’ve been off the air for a while, but I’ve got an awesome author interview for you here as I get back in the saddle. J.L. Hilton talks about science fiction, the future of journalism, and the inspiration of Legos. She’s also giving away copies of her new release, Stellarnet Prince, and a hand-made r’naw eye pendant.

What got you started writing?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t telling tales. Before I could read, I drew picture books and acted out stories, either by dressing up or by using dolls and puppets. I won several writing contests in school, and had a short story published in Dragon magazine by the age of 18. I went into journalism and did the non-fiction thing for newspapers and magazines for awhile, then drifted back into fiction again after my kids were born.

What draws you to science fiction?

I grew up with science fiction – Star Wars, E.T., Star Trek, Alien, Twilight Zone, just to name a few. I used to write a lot of fantasy and supernatural, but with age I’ve grown to love technology more and magic less. I have a passion for the Internet, video games, devices, social media, and all of their potential. We live in remarkable times. The future is now.

The thing that got me hooked on Stellarnet Rebel, even before I developed an attachment to the characters, was the world building. What were some of your inspirations for the colony on Asteria?

Thank you so much for saying so. It took a tremendous effort to build the background for my characters, and I spent many hours doing research on everything from NASA and the International Space Station, to the United Nations and world history, to the physiology of dolphins and electric eels.

In 2009, I re-watched Babylon 5. That show was made fifteen years ago, before we had the Internet, smart phones and laptops. Also before widespread use of security cameras, I guess, because I often found myself wondering how so many people got away with so much on that space station! Where were all of the security cameras?! And they still read printed newspapers in 2258? Really?

I found myself wanting to see something similar to Babylon 5, but extrapolated from the social trends and technology that we have right now. When I began writing the Stellarnet Series, I wasn’t trying to write “cyberpunk.” I was trying to envision a future where people used the Internet and whose lives revolved around social/interactive media and gaming, as they do now. What would the world be like when the current generation of MMORPG-ers, Tweeters and Facebookers grows into middle age? And what will it look like when that technology moves into outer space?

Other inspirations included: 1) a book I read about Biosphere 2, and 2) my husband’s obsession with Legos (he bought them for the kids, of course). I came up with the idea for standardized space colony modules or “blocks” that would interlock. Hallways, stairwells, pipes and wiring would line up and interconnect when the modules were set side-by-side or on top of each other. Blocks could be manufactured by different countries and still match up, wherever they were sent in the universe. So you could start a settlement with one block, or ten, and keep adding to it very quickly and efficiently. No need for building tools or construction workers on the planet itself. Not even any need for an atmosphere or fertile soil, because each block – ideally – would have its own air processors and greenhouse. Though, as we see in Stellarnet Rebel, that’s not always the case.

Which comes first for you, the characters, the world, or the plot?

Stellarnet Rebel came to me in my sleep. I had a dream of Duin and Genny meeting for the first time. The characters, the setting and the basis for the plot were all there, and that scene appears in the book pretty much just the way I dreamed it. The characters, setting and – to some extent – the basic plot all happened simultaneously.

Even when I’m awake, it seems to come to me as a package deal. A few of my WIP: Dreolan and Cuilleen are raggedy adventurers trying to survive in an alternate-reality Dark Age Europe by accepting preternatural employment. Ephelia is a visitor to a far-flung space station turned interstellar cultural crossroads who hires Raldr to protect the alien art she acquires for collectors back on Earth. Vera and Boon are orphaned farm kids turned con artists in a weird west where hell literally breaks loose and a steampunk ouija board might be the only thing that can save their lives.

For me, who the characters are stems from where they live and what they are doing. So far, I’ve never conceived of a character without a home, or a plot without characters. But I dunno, if I HAD to pick one, I’d say characters come first, then setting, and the plot continues to develop as I plan, outline and write.

Tell us a little about your new book, Stellarnet Prince.

It’s the sequel to Stellarnet Rebel, and continues the story of interstellar news blogger turned Net celebrity Genevieve O’Riordan, who is the first journalist to break the news of an alien war and also the first human to have a relationship with an alien. Or aliens, plural, in this case. That the series turns into a M/F/M storyline is a bit spoilery, but anyone who reads the reviews of the first book and cover copy of the sequel will know it, anyway. How they reach that M/F/M situation by the end of book one is a bit unconventional, and repercussions from their triangle continue to be felt and dealt with in book two, as do the challenges they face from bigotry and xenophobia, some pretty dangerous secrets and further strife on the Glin home world.

Stellarnet Prince is classified as science fiction and romance, and there’s plenty of both (the first book is classified as science fiction and thriller). The sequel delves deeper into the personal struggles of the heroes and their relationships to each other, as they are faced with a whole new set of challenges. But the story also gets bigger, introducing new characters, new technology and new twists only hinted at in the first book. We learn a lot more about the Tikati invaders, the world of Glin, the heroine’s family and what Earth is like in 2062.

J.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series published by Carina Press, including Stellarnet Rebel (January 2012) and Stellarnet Prince (November 2012), and a regular contributor to the Contact-Infinite Futures SF/SFR blog. Her artwork is featured in the books Steampunk Style Jewelry and 1000 Steampunk Creations. Visit her at JLHilton.com or follow her on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and deviantART.

Don’t forget to enter to win copies of Stellarnet Prince and a hand-made r’naw eye pendant!

An otherworldly love. Human blogger Genny O’Riordan shares two alien lovers: Duin, a leader of the Uprising, and Belloc, the only surviving member of the reviled Glin royal family. Their relationship has inspired millions of followers–and incited vicious anti-alien attacks.

A planet at risk. A Stellarnet obsessed with all things alien brings kidnappers, sex traffickers and environmental exploitation to Glin. Without weapons or communications technology, the planet cannot be defended. Glin will be ravaged and raided until nothing remains.

A struggle for truth. On Earth, Duin discovers a secret that could spur another rebellion, while on Glin, Belloc’s true identity could endanger their family and everything they’ve fought for. Have the Glin found true allies in humanity, or an even more deadly foe?

The sequel to EPIC-award finalist Stellarnet Rebel, Stellarnet Prince is out on November 12, 2012 and is available for pre-order right now.