Noah Chinn Interview with the Author: Arlene F. Marks

Every so often I like to ask other science fiction writers to talk about their projects. It gives us a chance to see how we approach the genres we love, how they differ, and how they might be the same. This week, we have a look at a Canadian SF author, Arlene Marks.

Arlene F. Marks currently has three very different series of speculative fiction novels out there. Her space opera with a political thriller spin, the Sic Transit Terra series; the Nash’terel books, which mashes urban fantasy with science fiction and horror; and a series of cozy mysteries that weaves in paranormal elements, set in the Georgian Bay area where she currently resides.

Q: Speculative fiction author is just the latest of the various hats you’ve worn in your life. What else have you done?

A: It’s true that I’ve had a number of jobs, but I’ve only ever had two careers, and I’ve been fortunate enough to engage in them simultaneously: teaching and writing. I began teaching in 1970, and I started getting paid for my writing and editing in 1976. For decades after that, I switched back and forth between these two passions, working full-time at one and part-time at the other. For a while, I was also an indie publisher. When I officially retired from the classroom in 2012, I dived into writing full-time. I still conduct occasional writing workshops, but there won’t be any more flip-flopping at this point in my life. I aim to produce two novels per year, and with luck I’ll be able to keep up that pace right to the end.

Q: So, about Sic Transit Terra. I see you summarized it as “Dynasty meets Star Trek with a side helping of 24“. Where did you get the idea for that series?

A: It actually began with a question – Why does it take us Humans so long to grow up and realize what’s really important? – and progressed from there to “What if it’s because…?” With an answer in hand, I began writing a mystery set in the future. I intended to let the truth about (and the impact of) ancient events be revealed gradually over the course of the narrative. Then the characters I’d created took over and made all of that the background to an unfolding tale of political intrigue and upheaval surrounding the members of a powerful family.

Q: There are six books in the first story arc. Do you plan to continue the series?

A: Yes. Sic Transit Terra is now completed and the next phase, Sic Transit Stragon, is about to begin. The first installment, The Stragori Deception, will be coming out from Brain Lag later this year. This novel picks up where The Identity Shift left off, with the rescue of ten Terran agents from a Stragon on the brink of civil war. However, the focus remains on that world as Dennis Forrand continues working against the radical elements threatening to bring down his family along with the planetary government. Readers will get reacquainted with characters from the previous arc as well as meeting new ones, and as always with my books, each novel can be enjoyed as a stand-alone and will contain plenty of plot twists, suspense, and humour.

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing SF, and what’s the most difficult thing about it?

A: I love creating interesting characters and watching what they do when weird stuff happens to them – and by definition, a lot of weird stuff happens in this genre. Also, the more humour I can inject into a story, the more fun it is for me to write.

I tend to hyperfocus when I’m writing or editing, so the most difficult thing for me, regardless of the genre, has always been knowing when to stop working on a story and pronounce it done.

Q: Will you be opening up any of the universes you’ve created to other authors?

A: Tough question. Anything is possible. However, all I can say for now is that each universe contains far more stories than I’ll be able to write during my lifetime. It’s like a painting by Pieter Brueghel, containing a multitude of characters, all unique, all busy doing things, and each the protagonist of their own narrative. I’ll write as many of them as I can. And I hope that when I’m forced to stop, there will be at least one other author ready to step up and continue studying the canvas.

Read the FULL interview at: Noah Chinn Interview with the Author: Arlene F. Marks

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