Guest Post: Jaleta Clegg on Space Opera
I am thrilled to have author Jaleta Clegg come on the blog today to talk about Space Opera! First a little bit about the lovely lady:
Jaleta Clegg loves twisting words into adventures. She loves space and astronomy, too. What better way to blend the two than to write science fiction adventure stories? She also dabbles in silly horror and fantasy stories. Her poetry is bad enough to kill a Vogon, though, so you won’t find that anywhere but hidden in her deepest drawer. She enjoys creating things with yarn and a crochet hook, most of them monsters or variations of Cthulhu but occasionally they’re normal things like hats or blankets. She likes to cook most days. One of her favorite grocery games is “stump the checker” – find the weirdest vegetable or fruit they sell and see if the checker can identify it to ring it up. It also helps if you know how to cook the thing, too, which she does. Her blog features recipes every Thursday and random posts on Mondays. Check it out at jaletaclegg.blogspot.com. Find her stories at http://www.jaletac.com and her space opera series at http://www.altairanempire.com (She also thinks it’s silly to write about herself in third person, but recognizes that it is sometimes a necessary conceit.)
I don’t want to keep you from her awesomeness so let’s get right into it!
When I tell people I write space opera, I tend to get blank stares. “What’s that?” they ask, or worse, “Is that like soap operas?” usually delivered with a curled lip. Lately I’ve been telling people I write science fiction adventure.
So what is space opera? From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_opera), that source of all knowledge both true and speculative, “Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, usually involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The term has no relation to music and it is analogous to “soap opera“. Perhaps the most significant trait of space opera is that settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale.”
So, galactic empire? Check. Space battles and aliens? Check. Romance? Check. Melodrama? Sort of check. Great literary fiction? Um, no.
The Fall of the Altairan Empire series (www.altairanempire.com) was written as entertainment. It doesn’t aspire to be more than just a good story. If you’re looking for an exploration of the deep inner meaning of artificial intelligence or the cosmos, read something defined as hard SF. My books fall squarely under the “beach-read” category. If they have deep inner meaning to you, I’d love to hear about it. They have deep meaning to me, but that’s because I’ve been living with these characters and situations in my head for a couple of decades now.
My favorite books and movies tend to fall under the space opera umbrella, just like the ones I’ve written. Flash Gordon will always have a special place in my heart. Spacehunter in the Forbidden Zone is one of my all-time favorite movies, especially when it ISN’T 3D. Buck Rogers, especially the cheesy 70s tv show with the silly costumes, will always have a place on my shelves. The space tales of the Solar Queen are some of my favorites of Andre Norton’s many books. Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series is another great space opera series. Tell me my books remind you of the golden age science fiction stories or they remind you of an Andre Norton tale, and I will love you forever. That was exactly what I set out to create.
So how does today’s space opera differ from today’s science fiction? Most of the science fiction I’ve picked up lately was very bleak and depressing. It dealt with dystopias – societies that were repressive and dysfunctional. I had to read Orwell’s 1984 in high school. It reminds me of that. I prefer my future to be better than our present. I want it bright and happy. I want hope. The original Star Trek series delivered that in spades, including the bright happy sixties colors. Purple, orange, lime green, yellow – all on the same screen at the same time. Was it always happy? No. Was it always perfect? No. But they delivered a future that had possibilities. They delivered a future I wanted to be part of. The current crop of ugly futures are not where I want to be. Ever. Space opera tends to focus on broad sweeping stories that deliver a better future, a place where hope lives.
So if you’re looking for that kind of future, where heroes can happen, where evil can be defeated, where life can be better, try my books. Nexus Point is exactly that – a beginning point, a nexus of situations and people that collide into a bigger story. Priestess of the Eggstone continues building on the events of Nexus Point. Poisoned Pawn introduces more characters, both good and bad. I’ve got eight more of these books coming. The Kumadai Run is in edits. The rest are written, waiting their turn.
And if you hate it when an author with a long series keeps leaving you hanging off the edge of a cliff at the end of each book, I hate that, too. Each of my books is a complete story that will build into an even larger story through the series. I don’t leave readers dangling. At least not too much.
I hope you enjoyed this guest post as much as I did and make sure to come back tomorrow as I review Jaleta Clegg’s newest book, Poisoned Pawn, which is set to release tomorrow! Make sure to check out her books by clicking on the pictures above! ^.^ Thanks as always for reading!
Interview with Sarah-Jane Lehoux
I was lucky enough to get a second post in Sarah-Jane Lehoux’s Masquerade blog tour, this one an interview with her! Fair warning, I wrote the questions and they are kind of random, but I think you’ll enjoy them! Plus, as an extra bonus make sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom as we are giving away 3 Sevy Series eBook sets as prizes!
1. Tell us about the Sevy Series as a whole, what gave you the idea for it and did you ever think it would reach a third book?
Well, I first got the inspiration for Thief from a dream, in which a woman was running to a hut where her lover had just been murdered. I can’t remember much of that dream anymore, but I know there was a lot of fire and the floor of the hut was covered in furs. It was very real to me, and those images stuck in my mind.
Shortly after, I decided to join an RPG thread on a forum that I was a member of. I created a couple of different characters for that thread, including Sevy, whom I based upon that dream. As the thread went on, I fell more and more in love with her.
That RPG thread died out due to lack of interest from other participants, as such threads are wont to do. But I couldn’t let Sevy end there. I decided to write her story. I didn’t intend for it to become a series, let alone a novel, but once I started writing I couldn’t stop.
As soon as I was finished writing Thief, I knew that Sevy’s story was not done. So I began working on Shades of War, and halfway through that, I had decided that I needed five books to take her story to its conclusion.
To me, the Sevy Series is more than the magic and monsters it contains. It’s about a broken woman trying to become whole again. It’s about her trying, against all odds, to let go of past trauma, learn from her mistakes, and grow into a better person. Granted, I don’t make it very easy for her. J It’s also about learning to love yourself so that you can love someone else. And not just romantic love either. The friendships and the familial bonds that develop throughout the course of the series is just as important as the smexy times.
2. What about Masquerade sets it apart from the previous two books in the series? Is there a favorite element you incorporated into it?
FAIRIES!!!!! I’ve waited for a chance to delve deeper into the magic of Sevy’s world, and Masquerade gave me the perfect opportunities. I adore fairies; have since I was a child. I love their absurdities, I love their horror. These aren’t Disney fairies, and I love being able to showcase these creatures as they were originally viewed by our ancestors: not cutesy, doe-eyed innocents, but crafty, vengeful creatures with a completely different set of morals and logic.
3. Each book in the Sevy Series has a different setting. How do you manage to create such beautiful new places, how do they come from dream to reality in such detail?
I honestly don’t know, as I’ve sadly not traveled much in real life. I think it comes from my educational background in anthropology. I learned a lot about different cultures and how they have evolved over the millennia in response to their environment. Once I have a type of environment in mind, I research (gods bless the internet!) similar real world places to get a sense of what sensory words I can plunk in to give it the right feel.
The bulk of the action in Masquerade takes place on a tropical island. But I didn’t want your standard Caribbean paradise, so I mixed Central American islands with a touch of ancient Egypt. The Fingarten villa, for example, was inspired by watching Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra.
4. I love a kick-ass heroine as much as the next person, but do you identify most with Sevy or is there another character that you feel a kinship with and why?
There are parts of each of my characters that are similar to my own personality, but I definitely don’t think that Sevy and I would get on well in real life. In fact, the character I most identify with is Lon Destan (and if you’ve read the series, you can see that he and Sevy do not often see eye to eye). He is a good, kind person that sadly has low self-esteem due to abandonment and bullying as a child. This inferiority complex makes him a target for more dominant personalities (such as General Kye in Shades of War) to take advantage of him. I see a lot of myself and my own struggles in him.
5. A type of mind control or influence was used heavily in Masquerade, what was the inspiration for that?
Masquerade was intended to go in a much different direction than it ended up going. A character that turned out to be the antagonist was originally designed to be a good guy, but as I got further and further into the book, I had to stop and rethink things. I found that what I had written seemed stilted and forced, and I realized that it was because I was trying to force the characters into my intended plot.
This actually caused a major writing block for this story, and I ended up putting it on the backburner for a couple of years. When I came back to it, I rewrote the bulk of what I had previously written and just let the characters go.
But I still had SOME control, and in order for the series to progress, I needed a particular event to happen. But how to make it happen when I knew it was out of character for Sevy and co.? This got me stuck again, until one day, I was sitting on the bus, and it hit me! I realized that the magic I was setting up was a perfect conduit for the plot to flow through.
It was one of those perfect, serendipitous moments where all the wild threads of thoughts knit together and form a cohesive pattern. It’s moments like this that make writing worthwhile, imo.
6. From what you have told me there are at least two more upcoming books in the Sevy Series that feature her prominently, what are some things in the upcoming books that we can look forward to and will you ever stop torturing the poor girl?
Oh, I’ll never stop torturing her! She’s too much fun!
Hmmmm, some things to look forward to, huh? Well, let’s just say that someone will fall in love again, someone will find what they once lost, someone will make another cameo, and someone will become more powerful than anyone could imagine. Also, more magic, monsters, and murder. Book Four will have fans screaming for my head on a pike, but I may curry their favour back with Book Five.
Random Quick Hits:
Cats or Dogs? Cats, definitely. Although dogs are cutie-pies, I love the snarky, don’t-give-a-shit attitude of cats. Such big personalities in such tiny bodies. Plus, I’m a lazy person, so cats fit better in my day to day life than a dog would. I mean, a cat’s favourite thing to do is snuggle up somewhere comfy and nap the day away. How much more like me can you get?
Rain or Sunshine? There is nothing quite like the sound of spring rain on the roof. I love it! I love fleeting sprinkles and I love huge, booming thunderstorms. The only downside is that I tend to get head-achy on wet days, but what’s a little pain compared to the romance of rain?
Scary Movie or Funny Movie? Scary. A million times over. I eat up every bit of horror I can get. Growing up in a small Northern Ontario town, there wasn’t much to do but rent movies (unless you liked hockey and fishing!). My best friend and I would rent a couple horror movies every weekend and scare ourselves silly. I think I desensitized myself, because nowadays it takes a true spooky masterpiece to give me the chills, but I still love laughing over fake gore and cheap jump scares. And honestly, funny movies are more likely to make me cringe in embarrassment than laugh.
Favorite Snack? Any sort of chocolate treat. I’m a complete cliché. Chocolate is the wind beneath my wings.
Music while reading/writing or silence? I need music for a couple of reasons. One is that it helps me set the tone of what I’m writing. The second is that I live in a small-ish apartment with a husband who enjoys yelling at his video games. Music is a must to help keep me focused on what I’m working on.
Favorite underused word? Perfidious. It’s a fancy word, and sounds like it should mean something high-faluting. Actually, I changed my mind. High-faluting is my favourite underused word. I’m fickle with words. Ooh, fickle is another good one.
I hope you enjoyed the interview, make sure to check out her book Masquerade here and enter the giveaway!