I am having the great pleasure in featuring author Roxanne Smolen, a fantastic and exciting author of such descriptive and entertaining sci-fi novels that once you start you cannot put them down. I am thrilled to have been able to speak with her about her novels and her writing, and it has been a great joy to learn more about this skilled author.
Collette: Wow, Roxanne! You are an imaginative writer! Can you tell us how that came into being? When did you start writing?
Roxanne: I was a young teenager when the writing bug bit. In those days, I thought of myself as a poet/songwriter. Poetry taught me to be precise and concise. I didn’t get into fiction until my twenties. I wrote short stories about space and distant planets, and was published sporadically in magazines. In 2000, I made the leap into novels. I remember the date because that was the year I lost my day job. I figured it was a new millennium, time to start a new life as a novelist.
Collette: Were you inspired by someone/something to write the genres you’re writing in?
Roxanne: Television. Without a doubt. I grew up with Star Trek, Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits. They stretched my imagination and set me dreaming. On top of that, watching television shows taught me to end my chapters with a bang, because every commercial break has a mini cliffhanger.
Collette: That’s very true. What is your writing process?
Roxanne: I’m a fan of outlining. It’s not a structured thing, more stream of consciousness with bits of conversation thrown in as I think of them. When I have the entire story plotted, I start fleshing it out. I have a laptop just for writing. I use parental controls to limit my Internet access—no Facebook or Twitter, not even email. Fewer distractions that way. I split the screen and put my outline on one side and my novel on the other.
Collette: Do you write full-time now?
Roxanne: Yes, I do. I get up at 6:00, make myself a pot of tea, grab my laptop, and write. On a good day, the tea will grow cold because I’ve forgotten to drink it. On a very good day, I’ll forget to eat lunch as well.
Collette: You have written quite a bit so far. You have two series going in different genres. Can we start with those? Tell us a little bit about the Anneliese-Thielman and Colonial Scouts Adventures series.
Roxanne: The Anneliese Thielman Trilogy is a science fiction romance about a spoiled rich girl whose new husband takes her to a far-off world and sells her into prostitution to settle a gambling debt. The story was inspired by a photo I once saw of a woman in a cage, her hand snaking out, beckoning.
The Colonial Scouts Adventures is Young Adult science fiction about a group of teenagers who scout out habitable planets for colonization. The plot grew from a short story I once wrote. I loved the idea of using collapsed wormholes as transportation devices and stepping onto an alien world as easily as stepping through a door. This series is limited only by the number of stars in the sky and my imagination.
Collette: How long did they take you to complete?
Roxanne: It takes about a year for me to write a book. I aim for 100k words, although The Colonial Scouts were shorter.
Collette: Can you describe your research into your subject?
Roxanne: You’d think that creating a world completely out of your imagination would require no research. Unfortunately, a reader can’t connect with those worlds unless there is something basic they can identify with. You want your settings to be plausible and your alien cultures to be rich. That takes research. I’ve read everything from scientific journals to the Bible. The Internet is a marvelous tool for research, but I keep in mind that I don’t always know where the information is coming from, so I use it as inspiration rather than fact.
Collette: You also have sci-fi horror, e.g. Satan’s Mirror. What inspired you to delve into that genre?
Roxanne: Satan’s Mirror came from a nightmare that wouldn’t leave me. For years, it sat in the back of my mind, demanding to be heard. Finally I said, what the hell. Literally. The story is about a woman whose daughter is kidnapped by the devil and she must break into hell to rescue her. It is based loosely on the story of Persephone, the goddess of spring, who was stolen by Hades. My granddaughter’s name is Persephone, and I would go to hell and back for her.
Collette: Oh, I hear you there! Was writing horror harder than writing romance or young adult?
Roxanne: I think so because to write a convincing book you have to become your character, put yourself entirely in their situation and write through their eyes. Teenage angst and love’s first kiss are easy compared to the fiery pits of hell. That said, I think all genres should incorporate elements of suspense and urgency.
Collette: Your latest book is about a shapeshifter… yet another genre twist. Can you tell us a little bit about The Amazing Wolf Boy?
Roxanne: The Amazing Wolf Boy is a perfect example of having your characters take over and write the story for you. I’d intended to write a Twilight-type book with werewolves instead of vampires, but instead of a moody, angst-ridden love story it turned out humorous and fun. Cody is a joy to work with. He is a bumbling, nerdy, soft-hearted teen who turns into a werewolf. His lady love is a goth girl who, when she discovers his secret, tries to cure him with magic potions. I’m currently writing the second of the series and hope to write a dozen more.
Collette: Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?
Roxanne: In The Amazing Wolf Boy, Brittany started out as my granddaughter, who also likes to paint her eyes, dye her hair, and listen to The Pink Spiders. But Brittany evolved from there and is still growing. Now there’s little resemblance.
Collette: Do you ever incorporate yourself into your characters?
Roxanne: At their core, I believe all my characters have a little piece of me. How else could I identify with them enough to see through their eyes?
Collette: Are you still writing? If so, what will your future projects entail?
Roxanne: I will always write. My WIP is the next installment of The Amazing Wolf Boy, given the working title of Problem Parents. It explains why Cody’s mother banished him after he became a werewolf.
Collette: Ooh, exciting! Considering how well rounded you write, do you have a favorite genre to write or do you write what stories come to mind?
Roxanne: I’ve always written within the science fiction realm. However, my Wolf Boy series is billed as Young Adult Romance, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. I think I’ve found my niche.
Collette: How often do you read?
Roxanne: I read in spurts. I’ll go a month without anything, and then the next month read everything in sight. Also, I keep audio books in the car. I never listen to music anymore.
Collette: What is your favorite genre to read?
Roxanne: I like to read books in series, i.e. The Dresden Files, Sookie Stackhouse, Dexter, The Game of Thrones, Harry Potter.
Collette: Does your reading inspire you?
Roxanne: Certainly. Even a poorly written book can inspire you to write something better.
Where can we find you online?
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/roxanne-smolen?keyword=roxanne+smolen&store=allproducts
Collette: Where are your books available for purchase?
Roxanne: I’m available at your favorite bookstore online or off. Just ask.
Collette: What formats are your books available in?
Roxanne: My ebooks are formatted for any ereading device. In addition, both Satan’s Mirror and The Amazing Wolf Boy can be bought in paperback.
Collette: Thank you so much, Roxanne! I wish you all the best with your writing projects J.
Roxanne: Good luck to you as well, Collette.
I was lucky enough to pick up and read Roxanne’s sci-fi thriller/romance, Mindbender. I have to say that I loved every second of it, and I’m not an avid reader of sci-fi! Here is a review of one of her wonderful stories:
Mindbender was such an imaginative and exciting tale that I zipped through this book eagerly and excitedly all the way to the end. While this story is definitely sci-fi, the author did a magnificent job in keeping it realistic enough that you could visualize the planets, taste and smell the volcanoes of Io and feel the cold of Mars. Beyond these descriptions, we have a strong and powerful psychic, Taralyn, whose love for her adoptive daughter is so maternal that you can feel her pain when she thinks she has lost her. There is also the child, Gloriana, whose possession is so creepy that I was actually frightened of her, and our handsome hero, Asher, who you’re not entirely sure you can trust due to his past but who does everything he can to help, for better or for worse. Add to that the persecution and discrimination of the people that Earth views as ‘dangerous’, and you have quite a tale! My experience with sci-fi is limited, but Roxanne Smolen’s gift with writing prose has definitely hooked me as a reader. I can’t wait to read the rest of her books!