This morning it's my great pleasure to have Deborah O'Neill Cordes back for another interview. Deborah's one of my favorite people in writing - heck, one of my favorite people anywhere - and she's here to talk about worldbuilding and ceiling fans and her newest book, Alienne Mine...
Deborah O’Neill Cordes is an award-winning screenwriter and novelist of historical and speculative fiction. She is the author of the sci-fi time travel novel, Dragon Dawn, Book One of the Dinosaurian Time Travel Series, and its prequel, Alienne Mine, which blends fields of study she loves in equal measure – Deborah holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a master’s degree in history. She is also the co-author of the Morgan O’Neill time travel novels. Deborah resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two West Highland White Terriers, who, alas, are precocious terriers and therefore never white.
You can find Deborah at her website deborahoneillcordes.com or on the Morgan O'Neill website www.morganoneill.com.
Now, Alienne Mine is a prequel to your sci-fi novel Dragon Dawn. Why a prequel instead of a sequel?
I decided to write a romantic sci-fi prequel which introduces two new characters, human astronaut Edward McAdams and Alienne, a sentient female alien who has watched humanity for decades. The story takes place before the main action of the Dragon Dawn human universe, with the idea that the characters of Alienne Mine will eventually team up with the ones from Dragon Dawn in order to battle against the evil set in motion in the Dragon Dawn dinosaurian universe. And I hope that makes sense to everyone. If not, I encourage you to read Dragon Dawn and Alienne Mine. **wink**
You write historical romances and sci-fi, so I know you’ve got a knack for worldbuilding. What do you like best about writing sci-fi? How does it compare with writing historicals?
First, I'd like to tackle the difference between writing straight historical fiction (such as my as-yet-unpublished Russian historical fiction manuscript) vs. historical time travel romance (the Morgan O'Neill time travel series and my screenplay, Conjurer). For me, the genres are similar in that my historical and time travel fiction both incorporate real historical events and people into the plots, but my time travel uses some form of magic to explain why the protagonists journey through time, i.e. witches, Druid curses, etc. As for the sci-fi, I have the freedom to use my imagination to create worlds in this universe - and in others. I strive to use real and verifiable scientific knowledge as much as possible, so that the stories don't veer into the unbelievable or ridiculous. Creating a suspension of disbelief for the reader is an admirable goal for any author, so I want readers to feel they're experiencing what might have been, whether in my straight historicals or in my time travels.
I’m going to circle back around to the worldbuilding thing. How do you approach creating a new world for a story? Do you have any tips or techniques that are particularly helpful?
The more intensive an author's research, the better the worldbuilding will be. A writer must observe the world - and the universe - all the time. You never know what gem of information or experience will be the basis for a book or scene, or even a little "touch" that resonates through a novel or script. For example, years ago I saw a Hubble photograph of Hoag's Object, a strange ring galaxy with mysterious origins. I held back and did not put information about Hoag's Object in Dragon Dawn, thinking I could use it somewhere else. Lo and behold, it became one of the catalysts for the creation of Alienne Mine! It was a kick to realize something that I'd tucked away in memory over ten years ago influenced key scenes in my prequel. And I got a real fondness for Ghirardelli chocolate while visiting Disney's California Adventure (I've also been to the Ghirardelli factory in San Francisco), hence my inclusion of that wonderful sweet touch in Alienne Mine.
Some writers like the rush of getting a first draft down on e-paper, but others prefer the editing process, to mold and shape what they’ve already written. What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
I think of a scene, write it, and then edit it again and again until I don't want to change it anymore. Sometimes it takes dozens of edits and tweaks to get things "perfect." Maybe that means I like editing better than facing the dreaded blank page.
Dragon Dawn was your first indie publication. Regarding promotion, what was the most important lesson you learned that you can apply to Alienne Mine?
Punt. The publishing world is changing so rapidly, I can't predict what's going to happen next week or next year regarding promotion. And I've gotten really good at reminding myself to relax, because I'm probably going to remain a small fish (or wee dinosaur) in the vast publishing swamp of millions.
How are you coping with this incredibly warm, dry summer? Is your car on automatic pilot to take you to the ocean?
I try to get to Ocean Shores as much as possible (my mom lives there). The temps in OS have been much cooler than inland, and I adore beachcombing in the breezy, salt air. On the home front, my husband installed a big attic fan in our house, which is great at removing the hot air from upstairs, particularly in the evening. I call it my "giant sucking fan," and I do love it. **grin**.
You must have an upcoming project. More hot Romans? Something from the Elizabethan era? Where will your imagination take us next?
I have one more Elizabethan time travel novel to write with my Morgan O'Neill writing partner, Cary Morgan Frates. It's the sequel to The Thornless Rose, titled Ever Crave the Rose. We also have a forthcoming release in Begun by Time, the prequel to The Thornless Rose, which will debut on August 25, 2015 (publisher for all three Elizabethans - Entangled/MacMillan). In late 2016, I hope to finish my sequel to Dragon Dawn, titled Dawn of Time. Then I'll edit my Russian historical, The Sacred Cradle (it's fully written, just awaiting more edits). After all of that, I think I'll collapse under that giant fan!
Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Liv! And thanks to your readers for spending some time with me.
Far from her home world, an alien female clandestinely observes the Earth, but her intense need for a mate overwhelms her desire for secrecy. It is time to pick her Chosen, the one who will share her life. With her keen ultraviolet vision, she’s watched the human astronaut, Edward McAdams, a man with a unique and compelling aura. Is he the one? If so, will he agree to leave Earth and travel with her to the stars? But her plans are threatened when she discovers dangers lurking in the vast reaches of the Milky Way galaxy, menacing aliens who may not only imperil Edward, but everyone else on Earth.
What if the extinction of the dinosaurs hadn’t occurred? An alien stranded on Mars is determined to find out by sending human astronauts back in time to rewrite Earth’s past. But a female astronaut, through a strange twist of fate, survives the change in the space-time continuum. After finding herself in a dinosaurian body, she must race against time – and the formidable alien – to restore the universe to its rightful course.