Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Interview with author Marva Dasef

Today, my guest is Marva Dasef who talks about her book, Ultimate Duty published by Eternal Press.

by Marva Dasef
Remy Belieux, a woman born into a life of servitude on a repressive factory planet, is desperate for a different life. When she's accepted into the Space Service Academy, run by the organization that enslaves her planet, she discovers the truth behind generations of rebellion. Now, she must decide what to believe, where her ultimate duty lies, and fight for more than her life against impossible odds. (Excerpt at end of interview)

1)     Tell me a little about your book.
“Ultimate Duty” is science fiction tending toward space opera. It has no paranormal aspects, not even an alien in site. It's speculative in that I envision of future for humanity that continues in the direction it has recently turned. People may or may not agree that we're headed into a wholly corporate-owned system of government, but I'm not the first science fiction writer to extrapolate such a future. In 1947, George Orwell published “1984” which most certainly points in that direction.

But “Ultimate Duty” is also a story about love and duty, so it gets classified as an SFR (science fiction romance).

2)     What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I wrote a short story titled "Pressure Drill" years ago. I got a good response from my critique group, but back then, submitting was entirely by snail mail. I didn't pursue publication. When I retired from real work, I hauled out the story, along with a few others and gave them a fresh look and rewrite. That first story, plus one more with the same main character were published. From that I expanded the story and it eventually became a novel titled “First Duty.” This is a much shorter book without any adult material. It was published by a small press. Last June, my contract expired. I was already working on “Ultimate Duty,” which expands the same story considerably and does contain adult material.

3)     Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I'm a full-time writer since I retired from a long hitch in the high tech industry as a technical writer and programmer. My last gig was fourteen years working for a government agency. I saved every penny I could toward the goal of retiring while my hair was semi-brown. That was five years ago, and I've been writing fiction ever since.

I don't organize my writing time. My job is writing, so I pretty much work at some aspect of writing and publishing for the best part of every day. Of course, I get to play more solitaire and take long lunches working for myself.

4)     When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Somewhere in my mid-teens. I had a very inspiring teacher in 8th grade who encouraged me. I was lucky enough to have really great teachers all through high school. When I began college, I did so with the very practical idea of majoring in technical communication. I figured I'd save the fun part of writing (fiction) after the kids left home and I could afford to not work at a regular job.

5)     What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope they're entertained. I'm not writing heavy, philosophical books. Mostly I write for the middle-grade audience. I have the usual life lessons—friendship, being truthful, standing up for youself—but I don't want to bop the kids in the head with it anymore than Mr. Disney.

6)     Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I've written everything except erotica and chicklit (women's books). I prefer writing humorous fantasy with a little danger, a strong female lead, and a totally rotten villain. With fantasy, I have the freedom of making up my world rules as I write. I have a couple of books based on middle-eastern mythology. Those were fun to research. But my favorite is a series about a girl witch who can't spell without disastrous results. I set the series in present day, but from the Arctic Seas to Norway to Siberia. So, not urban fantasy, more like rural fantasy.

7)     What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Marketing my own books. I've never enjoyed the role of salesperson. I haven't got past it, unfortunately. I just do what I can, such as appearing on blogs such as yours.

8)     How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Going back to “Ultimate Duty,” Remy is who I'd like to be. The only thing we have in common is that we're both riddled with self-doubt. Remy is strong enough overcome her doubts. I just muddle through.

9) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I'm a long-time scifi reader, so I already had a pretty good base knowledge to see me through technical details. I did get help from a martial artist for the fight scenes and I read quite a bit about the different disciplines before I realized that it'd never be “just right” for those who practice the art, so I made up my own discpline, Ffegga. That way, nobody could say I was wrong.

10) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
I don't write horribly gory or highly sexual scenes.  “Ultimate Duty” does have an R-rating, so there is violence and sex, but I don't like to overload the story with either. So the answer is that I write to my comfort level, and I wouldn't want to write anything that I wouldn't read.

11) What about your book makes it special?
It's solid science fiction in an area that's, well, to be kind, a little overloaded with paranormal calling itself SF. Everything I've written is grounded in good science, even if wormholes or corporate overlords don't happen in the future, they could.

12) What is your marketing plan?
Plan? Writers have a plan?

13) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My website is http://marvadasef.com . It pretty much covers everything that I write.

14) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Whatever genre you want to write, be sure you've read a ton of it first to understand exactly what it is you want to write. Maybe you think you want to write science fiction, but you absolutely plow through fantasy or paranormal and haven't any idea who Robert Heinlein is. Write what you love to read.

 15)  What's up next?
A mystery/suspense novella titled "Missing, Assumed Dead" is scheduled for July 2011 from MuseItUp. MuseItUp also bought the first book in the middle-grade fantasy series about a witch who can't spell right. It's titled "Bad Spelling" (get it?) and is scheduled for October 2011. They also have books 2 and 3 and I'm hoping they'll take the entire series.

I have some ideas another book in the Witch series. My beta readers have clamored for a follow up starring the witch girl's brother, a half-vamp, half-warlock smartass with huge magical talent. You can guess the sibling rivalry there.

Remy and Garrett arrived at the outer wall path that led to the dock ports. Remy hoped at least one shuttle was still attached to the station. She dropped to the floor and peered down the slope of the passageway. Two guards stood at the entrance to bay 5. Luckily, they faced the opposite direction. Remy slid back and pointed silently, then held up two fingers. Garrett nodded and pointed left and then at himself. Remy nodded.
With no way to get any closer unseen, they must use speed instead. Both stepped back a couple of paces so they’d hit the corner at full tilt. A nod from Garrett and they sprinted through the twenty meters separating them from the guards. One guard turned to look only when Remy and Garrett were close enough to attack. The guard yelled, “Halt!” as he raised the barrel of his blaster. The second guard turned with a confused expression and didn’t manage to raise his own weapon before Remy reached him.
Remy felt her mind and body slip into fighting mode. Time slowed for her and she noted every detail of the guard’s stance. She leaped high in the air, her legs coiled like springs. The second guard finally lifted his rifle but never had the chance to fire. Remy drove both feet into his abdomen, slamming him against the wall with the force of her strike. In the low gravity, she landed easily on her feet crouched and ready. She crossed her arms against her torso, grabbing the guard’s belt with her left hand and prepared to strike with her right. The man’s eyes widened when Remy’s backhand arced toward him. The force of the blow across his jaw sent him tumbling to the floor.
She glanced over at Garrett and saw he had already disabled the other guard, now curled on the floor moaning. Garrett kicked him in the head with an almost gentle tap. The connection of his shod foot on the guard’s temple did the job, knocking the man unconscious.
Garrett walked over to Remy’s guard and bent down. He pressed two fingers against the side of the man’s neck. “Good. He’ll live.”
“If I wanted him dead, he’d be dead,” Remy snarled. Her stomach twisted in disgust at herself. How could she even think it, never mind say it out loud. She’d never killed anybody and the thought of it made her sick. Before now she had regretted not killing Jens on Starbird. She shook her head. No, she did not regret letting him live. Everything had changed. Now she was truly a rebel, wanted dead or alive. The idea startled her. She wondered when she had made the decision to change roles from infiltrator to freedom fighter.


  1. Interesting interview, Penny. Enjoyed learning more about Marva and her writing. I look forward to reading the books from her middle-grade fantasy series.

  2. Susanne, glad you can stop by. I always enjoy reading your comments.

  3. Sorry to come so late, Penny. I thought this was for the 26th. Yikes! I've got to pay attention to schedules!

    Susanne: Thanks for stopping by. I'll be so stoked when the first book in the fantasy series comes out. I'm absolutely sure people will enjoy it.

  4. When asked how she felt about the sex scenes in "Ultimate Duty", our oldest granddaughter replied "I've read other stuff that's hotter, but it is kinda creepy that my grandma wrote it."

    It all depends on perspective.

  5. Hey Marva, nice to put a face to the name. :~) Great interview. Ultimate Duty sounds like a great read.


  6. No apology necessary, Marva. It's my pleasure to have you here.

  7. Anonymous, Isn't it interesting how kids perceive things. You're right, it's all about perspective.

  8. Nancy, thanks for stopping by. I agree about the photos, which is why I like to include them whenever I can.

  9. Little do you know that my headshot was taken in 2003. I now look a lot like Grandma Moses.

    However, I still have the gray turtleneck and wear it at least once a week (I like turtlenecks, since they hid the neck). I should consider getting a new headshot done wearing a ski mask.

  10. Oh, I thought I was Grandma Moses.
    Nice interview, Marva.

    I've read the book and loved every page of it. It's a thrilling ride from start to finish.

    Now for the sequel.

  11. Lorrie, thanks for stopping by. It's always encouraging to hear from someone who has read the book.

  12. Marva, great to learn a little more about you! Enjoyed your excerpt and look forward to reading Ultimate Duty. No ski masks, but a cabbie hat would look good on you with your short hair:)

    Cheers, Sara

  13. Hi Sara, thanks for commenting. I agree I also enjoy getting to know the author behind the book.