Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Interview with author Rhobin Lee Courtright
Tell me a little about your book.
Crewkin is a scifi space opera but not in the traditional sense of spaceships fighting each other in an all out war. The war in Crewkin is within the spaceship and who will control it.
In the far future companies need specialized crew capable of spending the time on long-duration spaceflights. Most people can’t take the stress of endless years confined in the same small space and with the same small community, so the companies breed crews to specifications and raise them in exclusive societies so they can never quit.
The main character of Crewkin was raised like this, but something went wrong, and when all of her kin died, Renna refused to commit suicide. She wanted to live, so she had to find a way to survive. After a few failed attempts on short hauler spaceships, she signs on to the Vagrant Spirit. As the story develops, the reader learns everything isn’t as straight forward as they might think.
2) What gave you the idea for this particular story? I think of scifi and fantasy as great genres to explore current issues. All of present day science developments in genetics, the crisis in big companies’ goals and ethics are used to explore future life on a spaceship.
3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
While I’d like to write full time, I have too many other sticks in the fire -- teaching, painting, and gardening. I always thought after the children left home I’d have so much free time. That scenario never played out. I have less time, not more.
4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
While living in Colorado and hubby was working in St. Louis. With two children, and no relatives in the state, I couldn’t go out, so I started writing a story. It was horrible and I never finished it, but it lighted a spark; now, its nine books later.
5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
A few hours of good entertainment and maybe some thoughts on the themes I try to present. If they think about the story a day, a week or a month later and want to reread it, I’m satisfied.
6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I’ve written science fiction and fantasy, but recently expanded into romantic suspense and historical. I don’t think of myself as writing in a specific genre, but writing in the setting and time the characters and their story belong.
7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Promotion. It takes too much time away from writing, but without the promotion, no one would learn about my books, so I need to promote not only for myself but the publishers who have taken a chance on my books.
8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
In a way everything I write is based on real life experience. In order to write you have to have experienced life and people. I try to stay away from taking incidents about my family and friends and relaying them in a story.
9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
I don’t think Renna is like me at all, but she came from my imagination, so there must be some connection, right?
10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
First off, with any story, I classify the personality types of my characters and try to keep them true to themselves, so my research is about the character and writing their stories. For Crewkin’s research, I had to think about the ship, what it was like, which took a lot of research, as did current proposed methods of travel through space. I tried to understand some basic concepts of quantum mechanics although I can’t say the science in Crewkin is 100% feasible. All of this took a few years to assemble.
11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you?
Why or why not? Hmmm. Two- sided question, which means it depends on the situation. I think if a highly violent, or highly sexual scene doesn’t affect me, it won’t affect whoever reads my words. Do these scenes bother me? Not if they work within the plot-scape of the story. On the other hand, I don’t want to put anything in my stories that are so offensive the reader closes their e-reader. Very descriptive rape scenes, abuse of children, excessive degradation of a character, explicit torture scenes, etc. bother me when I read. If something disgusts me and I fail to discover any reason for its inclusion in the story, I stop reading.
12) What about your book makes it special?
I think it is a different take on future societies, space and space travel. I like strong women characters and I think readers do, too.
13) What is your marketing plan?
What marketing plan??? LOL. I try all the recommended methods, from social networking, blogging, web page, email signature tags, paid spots on reviewer lists, etc. It isn’t easy.
14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have a website—rhobinlee.com; and a blog—rhobinsrambles.blogspot.com.
15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Don’t give up. Discover what your writing faults are, correct them and try again.
Born and bred to be crewkin, Renna is devastated by the death of her ship and most of her kin. Crewkin combine aspects of family and crew who are raised in a closed society developed to guide spaceships on the decades long voyages between asteroid mining colonies and the sun’s planets. When her company’s medical department advises the few remaining kin to commit suicide and join their kin in death, Renna refuses. Knowing she will never join another crewkin, she resolves to stay in space doing the only job she knows. She seeks a berth on one of the short-haul shippers running between the planets, but integration into ‘norm’ crew seems impossible until she joins the crew of the Vagrant Spirit, whose captain seems as desperate for any capable crewman as Renna is for a ship’s position. This job, this journey will propel her into a new world.
There is nothing so true as change is inevitable. The shipping companies who operate the long haul crewkin ships know this, and rumors of a new ship engine, which can thrust a ship greater distances in a fraction of the time a crewkin ship takes, threatens their business. A stolen prototype destroyed one of the Markham Company’s ships. There is only one thing left to do—cover up the whole project--get rid the engine that failed, and the last surviving member of the crew.