Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to have Sharon Lee and Steve Miller as our spotlighted blog guests this week! Sharon and Steve will be returning to our little “bigger on the inside” bookstore on Friday, June 5 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM to celebrate the release of their latest novel Dragon in Exile!
Among other things Sharon and Steve are writers of fantastic and science fictional literature, and they’ve been writing as a team since the 1980s. They’re best known for the Liaden Universe ® of which there are currently 18 novels and 2 major short story collections with a third on the way in a couple months. They’ve won a number of genre awards including the 2012 Skylark Award – other Skylark winners include Anne McCaffrey, George RR Martin, Sir Terry Pratchett, Isaac Asimov, and Andre Norton.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Dragon in Exile?
We’re pretty flexible in what we write since we insist that we be able to enjoy what we write. Specifically, we write science fiction and fantasy, mostly set in a geography — a universe — of our own devising; the Liaden Universe®, which is kind of a Regency-punk-space-opera-adventure-romance. With talking turtles. And a sentient tree.
Dragon in Exile fits into a crucial time in the Liaden experience, particularly of Clan Korval, since the former leading Clan has been tossed off Liad for saving it, taking refuge on a back-water world that’s suddenly teeming with some of the galaxy’s highest rollers and lowest low-lifes. Readers will find intrigue, adventure, manners and society, all as the characters must come to terms with new realities and shifted loyalty.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
When we started reading – and when we started writing – Science Fiction tended to be forward looking and hopeful, which was appealing to us, who both grew up in Baltimore, a city with both problems and promise in those days. Tomorrow will be better, yeah, that’s the ticket. Space opera? Wow – wide vistas, strange worlds, rooms for lots of ideas and lots of people and lots of peoples! We’ve won awards for YA books, though we don’t write YA as such, we’ve won awards for Romance even though we didn’t set out to write romances. Part of what draws people to our books is that our work is about people solving things, moving forward. Tomorrow will be better, that’s the ticket.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
Sharon gravitates to New England landscapes (and seascapes) in her individual novels. Her Carousel books are called Urban Fantasy but much of the “romance” in Carousel Tides, Carousel Sun, and Carousel Seas is the New England setting combined with New England people faced with the fantastic. She’s also written a couple of mysteries that depend heavily on the New England setting.
But yes, New England does creep into our Liaden books – Mrs. Trelu lives on a world that’s almost recognizably upcountry Maine, and Surebleak’s weather is close enough to a heavy New England winter to be a match.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
Nearest is Liaden Universe® Constellation Number 3 – that’s our third collection of Liaden Universe® shorter works – and that’s due out in August. We have also just turned in Alliance of Equals as we were getting on the train for this tour. The exact in store date isn’t set yet on that. Beyond that we have three more in the current story arc over the next several years as well as 2 more Liaden books, probably not in that arc, to follow.
Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
Guilty. Guilty of cats to the point that our cats are probably more popular on Facebook than we are. We usually have at least four, though right now we have three and are expecting to add a fourth – another Maine Coon to the household again two weeks after we get home from this tour.
Well, yes, they do help. For example, Sharon was using sticky notes on Dragon in Exile while we were in a pre-proof stage and Sprite (one of our Maine Coon cats) developed a habit of helping by stealing the stickies off the page.
On a more serious note, we both have co-pilot chairs at our desks so that one or more of the cats can join us at our seats; and the cats often take over the boxes and trays we use for sorting manuscript stages. Too, the cats join us when we’re re-reading sections – we have a magic couch that attracts the cats to us whenever we start to read on it, and then we all go to sleep if we read too long, no matter how exciting (or overdue) the section might be. The cats do help us by being a friendly distraction and reminding us that sometimes we need to get up and feed them, if not eat and take part in the rest of the world ourselves.
Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?
SFWA – That’s the professional organization Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Steve joined at the urging of Jack Chalker and Roger Zelazny. Some years back we were so involved that Sharon ended up as Executive Director, then was elected Vice President and then President – the only person to have held all three of those positions in the organization.
There are specialty conventions for most fields and we suggest writers seek the community of writers for their fields at those conventions – World Fantasy Con , World SF (WorldCon) , World Horror are only some examples along with Romance Writers of America (RWA), Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and don’t forget your own state writer’s organization. Writing is often done solo, but it doesn’t have to be lonely! Don’t forget Broad Universe, Sisters in Crime, and the excellent Writer Beware website.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
Our work is available from the major booksites and stores like B&N and Amazon and BooksAMillion (and even Smashwords electronically), but also and as importantly directly from Baen.com and lots of independent bookstores like yourselves, Uncle Hugos in Minneapolis, Childrens Bookcellar, in Waterville, Maine and dozens of other SF and genre centric specialty stores. The key is to ask and buy locally when you can. If you need or want audio versions of our work, Audible.com has most of it.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
Lots of choices –
Facebook Connections — on Facebook look for the groups Friends of Liad, Clan Korval, and Flaran Cha’menthi We have personal pages on Facebook which are only somewhat about our work and may also be about cats, trains, weather, and other miscellanea including politics and the state of our flowers:
http://facebook.com/kinzel — Steve Miller
http://facebook.com/rolanni — Sharon Lee
We’re both on twitter – not necessarily daily:
Steve’s on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bechimo
Sharon’s on Twitter, too: http://twitter.com/ClanKorval
Sharon also has a blog where she periodically posts the latest Liaden Universe Infodump – that would be Sharon “Professional” blog: http://sharonleewriter.com
We also have Splinter Universe: http://www.splinteruniverse.com which features outtakes, splinters, oddities from the Lee&Miller writing career, currently changes irregularly.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! ABSW looks forward to hosting Sharon Lee and Steve Miller on Friday, June 5, at 7:00. Come out and join us!