Stopping by the Dark Phantom this weekend is Karina Fabian, whose book, Infinite Space, Infinite God, just earned her an EPPIE Award this year. Welcome to The Dark Phantom, Karina! It’s nice to have you here. How is your virtual tour going so far?
Hi, Mayra! I’m laughing, because I’m writing the answers to your interview in June! That’s the beauty of a virtual book tour—you can get so much of it done ahead, and then the month runs on automatic. I am pleased to report, however, that at this time, I have scheduled 25 blogs, two podcasts, and two live chats, covering a wide range of interests from science fiction to literature to religion. Many of the blogs are interviewing me or reviewing the book. I can’t even imagine getting this kind of participation from print magazines and radio. And I can do it all in my pajamas!
Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your book, and what inspired you to write such a story?
Our anthology Infinite Space, Infinite God is thought-provoking science fiction with a Catholic twist. Readers will find just about every SF approach from space opera to dystopia to SF mystery. The topics span time and space travel, genetic engineering and animal/human hybrids, alien encounters and interplanetary colonization. The slant, however, is exploring how the Catholic faith will play and be defined by all of these developments. We have Catholics leaning on their faith, physically and mentally, to survive incredible catastrophes. We have Catholic traditions challenged by dystrophic environments and priests and nuns living and working in space. The book however, is an exploration of possibilities, not an evangelization piece for the Catholic Church. The best of SF asks, “What if?” and that’s what ISIG does.
The contributors span a wide range of experience, but all have incredible storytelling talent, which is why ISIG won the EPPIE award for best electronically-published science fiction of 2006. It’s also gotten some terrific reviews from people of all or no faith. I’m so tickled it’s gotten so much acclaim—and it’s only just coming into print! August 15 is the launch date. The inspiration for ISIG comes from Rob’s and my faith and our love for science fiction. We actually met because of our love of Star Trek. However, most science fiction completely ignores faith, and that bothered us. Humankind will not outgrow a need to love God anymore than we will outgrow a need to think or imagine or create. As Catholics, we also didn’t believe it likely that a faith that has survived essentially theologically unchanged over two millennia of change would die out because humans get new tech toys or meet an interstellar neighbor.
In 1996, Rob and I had developed a near-future universe in which humans were just starting to colonize the solar system, and group of nuns, the sisters of Our Lady of the Rescue, conducted search and rescue operations for the spacers. When a friend on the Catholic Writers Online started an e-book press, we suggested a story collection, but she wanted a broader-reaching anthology. Leaps of Faith was born, and became an EPPIE finalist. It caught the attention of a Catholic publisher—a big one—who suggested a Catholic-exclusive anthology. We put together Infinite Space, Infinite God, but they decided against taking a chance on genre fiction. A year or so later, Twilight Times picked it up and we’re so glad!
There’s been a great rise in Christian literature these past few years. To what do you attribute this?
I think folks are coming around to our way of thinking. (Wink) I believe readers are looking for books that don’t ignore or brush off the faith aspect of the human condition. I don’t know for certain about fiction for other religions, whether it ever died out or if it is now resurging as well, but as the future brings more wonders—and more uncertainties—we are finding a need to recall and cling to our Creator, in all aspects of our lives.
Christian literature as a subgenre itself is very specific, sometimes heavy-handed approach. Certainly it has its place; readers want, and at times need, that kind of affirmation. Personally, I don’t want ISIG pigeon-holed into that genre. This is mainstream SF with a Catholic theme.
I think, though, that the rise of Christian literature has opened the eyes of publishers, and that means good things for books like ISIG that acknowledge faith without evangelizing. We’ve seen it in the music industry; Christian rock has become very popular, but if you listen to country music, you’ll find significantly more references to God and church and prayer than you would have a decade ago.
Is Christian SF something new? Who started it? If you go to a bookstore, do you find them in the Christian section or the SF section?
C.S. Lewis wrote Christian SF; it’s been around as long as the genre. But you wouldn’t call it by that name. I’ve never looked for “Christian SF” in the bookstore, so I have no idea where or if you’d find it. Frankly, I think folks would have better luck on the Internet. If ISIG gets into the brick-and-mortar bookstores, we want it in the mainstream. That’s really our audience. However, we’re also working with Catholic and Christian bookstores to try to get them to include Christian genre fiction (beyond romance, which is big already.) After all, Christians enjoy science fiction, fantasy, even horror. They don’t look for them in a Christian bookstore because no one expects to find them in a Christian bookstore, but if owners stocked them and let people know, I think a following would develop. It’s about trying to reach everyone rather than pigeon-holing.
Right now, however, if you want to find Christian science fiction, you’re better off looking on-line. Here are a few I recommend:
Infinite Space, Infinite God (Twillight Times Books) (http://isigsf.tripod.com): but of course!
Light at the Edge of Darkness (The Writer’s Café): a heavier-handed but entertaining sampler of Biblical speculative fiction. These stories cover SF, fantasy, and horror and have strong sometimes evangelical Christian messages.
Flashpoint (The Writer’s Café): Biblical cyberpunk, but good enough to be mainstreamed.
Faith Awakened (www.faithawakened.com): Christian SF involving virtual reality as an escape from dystopia
Dragons, Knights and Angels; The Sword Review; Raygun Revival, and Wayfarer’s Journal: Christian SF and fantasy magazines.
Also check out the Christian Fiction Review Blog (www.cfrblog.blogspot.com) the first Sunday of every month to see what’s touring.
The Lost Genre Guild is dedicated to promoting quality Christian speculative fiction. Check out their blog as well.
How would you describe your creative process while writing this novel? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline? How long did it take you to write it?
It’s an anthology rather than a novel, so I can’t speak for all our contributors. Since we were mostly editing, we let the stories determine the flow of the book. We tried something a little different, as well, and put in some essays about the current Catholic Church to introduce the sections. It was done with the Catholic publisher in mind, but we kept them in. We hope that some Catholic literature courses will pick it up. In all, it took about a year and a half to gather stories, select them, edit them (some needed re-writes), write the introductions, and polish the manuscript.
For our own stories, they usually start out with an idea or a character. Rob and I will go out to dinner, discuss the idea and hash out the details. Then I go home and SOTP (seat-of-the-pants) write. I haven’t outlined a novel since my first one in college, and then I only outlined because the story was coming so fast, I couldn’t keep up if I wrote each word down. I’m also a character-driven writer, so they need to reveal their story to me. When I’m done with a story, Rob will go over it, redirect and edit, and I do the next draft. Until Rob retires, I’m the writer on the team and he’s the idea man. I think that will change when he has time and mental energy for writing fiction—then watch out!
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?
My writer’s block usually involves transitions. I’ve accomplished a task or finished a scene and since I don’t outline, my characters want to go out for coffee or take a nap and that really translates into *** or a chapter break. So I either take a shower and get into my character’s (awake and active) head, do something manual and mindless like clean house, or IM a friend and whine that I’m stuck. I love Yahoo! IM. I probably waste a lot of time on it, but I’ve also made some terrific friends and gotten some fantastic ideas, especially for my latest novel. (If you pick up Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem and love the cowbell scene, thank Ann Lewis.)
Rob and I had writers’ block on another Rescue Sisters story, but we hit on an idea while on the road to Colorado for a working vacation. To break past it we asked ourselves what hadn’t been done yet and how could we do it. In this case, it’s a story where a young man gets his Calling to the priesthood.
How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?
First the advice. KEEP LOOKING! Rejection is seldom personal: often the book doesn’t meet their needs, or is too far out to be worth the risk, or just not click with the editor. If you actually get back a useful rejection (“Couldn’t identify with the character,” “quality of writing not up to ours”) consider it carefully, make changes if you agree, but KEEP LOOKING!
Let you own goals dictate where you send it. For example, with ISIG, we went to some pretty big publishers first and worked down in size. In all ISIG took a year and a half to find a publisher. I’m doing the same with my trilogy The Miscria, and that one has been three years in the search, but mostly because DAW held onto it for two. However, for Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (a fantasy noir comedy), I went straight to a small press. That’s because I knew the publisher and she liked my characters, and I knew this book has a large but potentially limited audience: Mensa members. I think it will appeal to anyone who likes twisted cliché and fantasy humor, but I also recognized that most big publishers probably would not see it my way. Besides, this one is pure fun.
Overall, I advise against self-publishing, esp. for fiction. I also advise you to check out potential publishers. Even some self-proclaimed “traditional” presses are really more vanity press. Predators and Editors is a good place to look. Do a Google search on the publisher—folks with bad experiences will post. Also, pick a name or two out of their book list (not the ones who may have put “testimonials” on their website—that in itself is a warning sign), and e-mail them. Someone had told me about Twilight Times, and I knew one of their authors from a group, so I asked her about it before submitting. She loved TTB, and I am pleased with everything so far, too.
Incidentally, looking for a publisher is my least favorite part of writing. This is where it becomes a job rather than a vocation.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Infinite Space, Infinite God – (http://isigsf.tripod.com): This is the dedicated site for the book: events, interviews, story synopses, reviews, book trailers. Its there for the curious to learn more about ISIG and for the press to get information for articles.
FabianSpace – (www.fabianspace.com): My personal website. It has my blog, a list of my works, descriptions of the universes I play in, a media room for the press, and my chat room FabChat, where I host live chats with authors and their fans every Thursday night.
Dragon Eye, PI – (www.freewebs.com/dragoneyepi/index.htm): The universe of Dragon Eye, PI. Usually, this is written in the character of Vern, the cynical “Sam Spade” of the dragon world. It has a list of stories, the link to the serial mystery I’m writing for The Prairie Dawg, and Vern’s own blog. I’ve got dragon and St. George stories and art from others, too.
I’m also on MySpace: www.myspace.com/karinafabian and ShoutLife www.shoutlife.com/karinafabian
Do you have another novel on the works? Tell us about your current and/or future projects.
Right now, I’m working on a fantasy noir comedy, Magic, Mensa and Mayhem. Vern, a dragon from the Faerie universe, and his partner, Sister Grace, a mage in the Faerie Catholic Church, are eeking out a living in the Mundane universe as private detectives for the particularly desperate. Bishop Aiden, however, sends them to a Mensa convention to chaperone the Faerie guests. It should be a cushy job, but when the Valkyrie Brunhilde goes on the prowl for men who don’t smell of mead, a dwarf heads to BillyBeaver™’s Fantasyland to “get discovered,” and elves high on aspartame want to declare war on Florida , their job goes from Chaperone to Supernatural Haz-Mat.
Next in line is to finish my SF novel, Discovery. This one involves the Rescue Sisters, assisting a mission to explore the first-discovered alien spaceship, which has been found crashed and abandoned in the Kuiper belt beyond Pluto. When Sr. Rita’s old flame shows up as part of the expedition, she can no longer run from her feelings. Will she forsake her vows for a human love? What discoveries does an ages-old alien ship hold for her—and how do they affect her faith?
We’ll also be collecting stories for ISIG II. If you’re a writer, look for an announcement in January!
In addition, I have regular author interviews in Hereditas Magazine, and host a live chat every Thursday 8-10 PM EST (9-11 PM after Sept 13). Go to www.fabianspace.com and click on FabChat. Hope to see you there.
Thanks for stopping by, Karina! It was a pleasure to have you here!
Thank you! I love virtual interviews, and you’ve been a terrific host. After all, you didn’t mind my being in my pajamas.
Please remember that Infinite Space, Infinite God is out in print from Twilight Times Books August 15. (www.twilighttimesbooks.com) You’ll also be able to order it from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble online, or from your favorite bookstore
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