Thursday, May 21, 2015

Susan Kaye Quinn - rocket scientist who writes sci-fi and steampunk

I am beyond thrilled to introduce Susan Kaye Quinn, a rocket scientist, bestselling speculative fiction author, indie publishing mentor, wife, mother of three and fellow cat-lover.

MJN: You have a stunning website. The graphics and the color scheme evoke images of Ender's Game. The young male model on the cover of your Singularity 1 novel looks like a mixture of Elijah Wood and Haley Joel Osment. Were you using those two teen icons as a guide when picking the model for your cover?

SKQ: Considering I don’t know who Elijah Wood and Haley Joe Osment are, I’m going with no on that. J But I did search long and hard to find just the right cover model for my main character (also named Eli!) – I needed a range of shots, a young man that looked like Eli in my head, and a model that could emote. I even worked with a photographer to do a custom shoot to get just the right look. Just when I was despairing of finding the right model, I stumbled across this talented young man on a stock photo site. Here are a few of the myriad photos I’ll be pulling from for covers.

MJN: I was intrigued that you got "a bunch of engineering degrees". My grandma is a retired engineer, and I have a lot of respect for scientifically-minded people. I'm just a poor English major ;-) But you seem to have been able to combine your passion for science with your passion for writing, which resulted in convincing, thought-provoking prose. Do you consider yourself a scientist who writes or a writer who invents?

SKQ: These days, I’m a writer who invents – I write full-time and don’t plan to ever stop! I loved doing science when I was working in the field, but writing is my true calling.

MJN: Let's talk about the esthetics behind your steampunk trilogy Dharian Affairs. You combine the elements of Bollywood and retro futurism traditionally associated with British settings. One of the reviewers dubbed is a Bollypunk. The fusion is far from inconceivable, given that India was a British colony for a long time.

SKQ: Exactly! When I started writing Dharian Affairs, moving beyond the British setting of most steampunk was just starting to happen. Now there’s all kinds of non-British steampunk. One of my favorites is this Asian-themed fantasy steampunk series by SM Blooding – isn’t the cover gorgeous?

MJN: You have a blog on indie publishing that offers a wealth of support for authors contemplating the indie route - or looking to make their current marketing practices more effective if they are with a small publisher. Do you get more fan mail from your readers or from other writers who follow your blog? 

SKQ: I get a healthy mix of both – most of my actual fan (e)mail comes from readers, but I connect with writers every day on Facebook. And writers are readers, too! I’m a fan of writers like Hugh Howey (Wool), Jennifer Wells (Fluency), and Annie Bellet (Twenty Sided Sorceress). These writers are my friends, they inspire me with their business practices, but I’m a reader-fan as well.

MJN:  I'm going to ask you a question that I asked another author recently. If you could introduce an element of sci-fi into our reality, any element at all, what would it be? Can you think of a particular supernatural talent? Would it be granted to everyone to the same degree, or would it have to be earned by the select few? How would it potentially upset the balance of things?

SKQ: So many good questions – and ones I incorporate into my fiction all the time! Relevant to my Singularity series I’m writing now… I would have to say neural augmentation. My brain needs all the help it can get! But when it comes (and I think it will), it will turn our world upside down. When brainpower is what literally runs our world, what will we do when some select few have access to even more? Or if everyone has the ability to upgrade… at a price. It’s a shocking thing to think about. And something I’m going to be writing about this summer.

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