What can you tell us about your new book Queen of Nowhere?
A paranoid geek-girl super-hacker with interpersonal issues is trying to save the universe. Her paranoia is justified: They really are out to get her. Her plan is to get them first.
Can you give us a brief insight into your previous works?
I write far future Science Fiction, heavy on the intrigue and angst. I'm more interested in people than technology, so my stories are about the characters. I put them through hell in strange and interesting ways that you just don't get outside the SF genre. All my novels to date have been part of the Hidden Empire series: 'Queen of Nowhere' is the fifth book, though as with all my books you don't have to read any others in the series to know what's going on; I hate that as a reader, so I try to avoid it as a writer.
What attracts more: the short story or the novel?
Can I have both please? Seriously, some stories only work as novels, and some are perfect as short stories. And that's especially true in Science Fiction, which is heavy on the ideas.
When did your interest in sci fi begin?
When I first saw Star Trek. I think I was about four or five years old. Then there was Dr Who, and Star Wars. I only started reading non-media novels in my early teens, when I'd run out of TV and movie tie-ins. Liking SF wasn't a conscious choice; I grew up in a house with no books so everything I found, I found for myself. By the time I was 12 I knew that Science Fiction and Fantasy was what I wanted to watch, and read. I don't appear to have grown out of it yet.
What advice can you give to those wanting to get published?
Don't give up; keep writing; never take rejection or criticism personally. Of course, the internet means you can get your work out there without the traditional book deal, but that has its own pitfalls, because you're one amongst millions, and you have to do all the work yourself (editing, proofreading, publicity etc), or else pay someone to do it for you. To anyone wanting to go the self-pub or small press route my main piece of advice would be not to publish until the story is the best it can be, because once it's out there, you can't take it back.
Tell us about your writing background.
I was a very lazy writer. I knew I wanted to write but actually doing it was hard, and life kept getting in the way. For many years I dabbled, just writing what I fancied when I fancied. Finally I realised hard work was required, so I took an evening course in Creative Writing. I also joined a critiquing group to get feedback. Soon after that, my short stories started to get published, and I finished my first novel. I actually met my future editor at a Science Fiction convention where we were on a panel together but I wouldn't have been on that panel if I hadn't got the short story credits.
When did you realise that you had an aptitude for writing?
I think of it not as an aptitude so much as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Storytelling is something I've always done, and even without putting in the effort I got by (winning writing contests, that sort of thing), although now I've taken the time to learn the craft, I realise how much more I have left to learn. I suspect it may take the rest of my life.
What would you say to sci fi being largely a man's genre?
Once, perhaps, but this is the twenty-first century. Now, thanks in part to blockbuster movies like 'The Matrix', 'Avatar' and 'Inception' which have introduced SF concepts to a larger audience, the genre is far more widely watched, read and appreciated. The perception still exists though, which is a bit annoying – I've gotten used to the look of surprise and mild concern some people still give me when I first tell them what I write.
What is a typical day like in your world?
Which world? Sorry, that's what you get for putting a question like that to a Science Fiction writer! In what we Earthlings call the real world I have a part-time day-job doing marketing and database support for a bespoke furniture company (something of a contrast to my writing life). On non 'day-job' days I get up pretty late, because I'm not a morning person, and put in about eight hours on the current story – unlike some writers, I can only work on one thing at once. I write in chunks of an hour or two interrupted by housework, walking or other activities which get me away from my desk and give me thinking time. If I've been at the day-job, I still write for a couple of hours in the evening, because it's important to keep up the momentum. Finally, I settle down for a late TV dinner with my long-suffering husband.
What is next for you?
I'm currently working on a Young Adult SF mystery, which could be described as 'Lord of the Flies' meets 'The Stepford Wives', in space. There are more Hidden Empire books to come, but I'm taking a break from them for now.
Female First Lucy Walton