You used to be an analytical chemist. Do you think having a science background influences your writing?
Yes, definitely. I think my whole fascination with science is part of why I mostly write science fiction, but I’ve even used my chemistry knowledge in a paranormal story. Chemistry/alchemy/magic – they all need rules to work properly (or in the case of fiction, believably) for example. And while I’m not the smartest cookie in the jar, an interest in science means I can pick up enough detail from research on technology to at least make the tech in my stories look feasible.
Restless in Peaceville, your new zombie novella, is your first paranormal romance release. What is it about the story that grabbed you?
It just wouldn’t leave me alone, once I got the idea. We’re talking mega-mutant plot bunny attack, lol. I’d seen Warm Bodies, and the whole idea of that just hooked me – a different kind of zombie. I’d read other kinds of zombie that weren’t the classic Hollywood brain-eaters either, and once someone mentioned Louisiana voodoo, that was it. I got so interested in the research I couldn’t NOT write the story.
Your sci-fi novels are all set in the same broad universe. What tip would you give writers who are looking at building such a detailed world? Do you have certain threads that you like to weave through all of them?
Build it slowly, and don’t try to cram all of it into one book – and definitely not into the first few pages (I’ve seen agents complain about that). Like anything, you need solid foundations, and to keep things consistent, but you can’t info dump an entire new universe on your readers right at the start.
There are elements I use in all the books – like types of medical care, identification, interstellar transport – but each story focuses on a different area or alien or event of my universe, which helps grow it organically. And anything background needs to be sketched out enough to be believable, like the military force that overseas everything for example – they crop up in various stories to a greater or lesser degree, so that needs to be consistent. And when it gets too big, try to make your own encyclopedia for your universe for reference. It’ll save you having to keep going through your other stories all the time to check facts. (Plus it could be an interesting freebie for readers in the future, or a glossary on your website.)
Which writers have had the biggest influence on you?
There are a lot! I read voraciously as a youngster. But most recently Neal Asher, Jaine Fenn and Isaac Marion.
What project (or projects!) are you working on next?
Well, I have a paranormal romance short releasing October, a superhero romance – When Dark Falls – releasing November, and a futuristic urban fantasty short – No Angel – releasing December. I also have a YA dystopian romance (Zombie Girl) on submission, and some SciFi romance novels and shorts for release next year. So *quite* busy.
What’s the one question in interviews that you wish people would ask you in interviews, but never do? Pretend I just asked it! 😉
Would you like some cookies with your questions? And of course I’d say yes…
Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising…from the grave…
Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems…
But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead?
And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.
Then something bangs a door downstairs and Annabelle grabs me hard. “Luke?”
“Shh.” I push away from her and roll myself out of bed. My feet thump onto the floorboards, but any sound I’m making is drowned out by another crash down below. “Stay here. I’m gonna check.”
I wave her back. There’s no sense of it being the Peacemaker, not like before, and I can’t smell vampire. If this is another undead looking for refuge, I can warn them off. If it’s something else—
A creak is all the warning I’m given before the floor gives way and I plummet through the rotten woodwork like a kingfisher diving through the water. I can’t see a thing for dust and chunks of debris, but I know I’ve gone through the ground floor of the house when I break through a second layer of wood and hit earth. Damn, how long will this body hold up if I keep crashing like this?
I lever myself up, and find my head just above ground floor level while more dust and splinters shower down around me. I turn, looking for some way to pull myself back up…and find myself being stared at by three kids.
Oh, shit. For a moment we all just gaze at each other, no one sure what to do or who’s going to do it first. Then one of the boys, maybe eight or nine and his mouth hanging open points at me and screams, “Zombie!”
What else can I do? I yank myself out of the hole and lurch at him, moaning fit to scare them to death. They don’t hesitate. Each of them competing for the most piercing holler, they scarper out of the house so fast I expect to see scorch marks from the acceleration.
I laugh. Seriously, it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen since I died. Maybe I could get to enjoy this.
Enter to win a zombie heart necklace (pictured) or
a $5 gift voucher to Breathless Press/Lycaon Press
After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.
Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include a YA science fiction novel—Gethyon—published through BURST (Champagne Books), two self-published short stories (Terms & Conditions Apply and The Bones of the Sea), and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).
Cassandra Page is a young adult urban fantasy writer whose debut novel, Isla’s Inheritance, comes out in less than two weeks. Send wine! And chocolate! (I hear these are good to stop you fainting?)