Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Science Fiction author Becky Chambers. Becky, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?
My name’s Becky Chambers, and I’m a science fiction author based in Northern California. I’m best known for my Hugo Award-winning Wayfarers series, the most recent of which is The Galaxy, and the Ground Within. I also have a new novella out this year, entitled A Psalm for the Wild-Built, which is the first of my Monk and Robot books.
Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
You can find my work anywhere you like to buy books. Support your local indies!
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
You can learn more about me and my work at otherscribbles.com. I’m not on social media, but if you would like updates about book launches and events, you can sign up for my newsletter via my website.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from The Galaxy, and the Ground Within?
I will be the first person to tell you that if you’re looking for a big crunchy plot, my work is not for you. I tell character-driven science fiction that focuses on everyday moments and ordinary lives. I love to sink my teeth into the little, seemingly inconsequential things that pull people together (or push them apart). I try to make fantastical places feel familiar and tangible, and I love to invent new species and cultures. I want the future to feel like something to be welcomed, rather than something to fear.
The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is very much in line with all of that. It’s the fourth and final book in my Wayfarers series, but like all the others, it exists as a standalone story, so you can jump in anywhere. It’s chock-full of aliens, it’s very quiet and contemplative, and I hope it’ll be good company for anybody who picks it up.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Take care of yourself. It’s true that writing is hard work, and that you have to be very disciplined in order to finish a big project like a book, but beware of romanticizing burnout. I don’t write everyday. I take naps. I eat my vegetables. I make plenty of time for rest and hobbies. Always remember that you are a complex animal that needs a lot of maintenance, and you can’t sustain creative output for long if you don’t make that your top priority. Writing is awesome, but you are the most important thing.
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
I have an office at home that I am very fond of. I do my writing on a laptop in a big upholstered chair. I don’t know why, but I write best when I can just lose all sense of my body, so being comfy is key. I also have a standing desk with a dual-monitor setup where I do everything that isn’t writing from scratch – editing, emails, doing virtual events, that kind of stuff. My walls are jam-packed with art, and I have a shelf full of plants above the desk. I’ve also got a bookshelf where I keep all my notebooks, the copies of my books I use for reading, and various knickknacks. There’s a closet in here as well, and I painted over the doors with whiteboard paint. That’s always covered in notes. There’s a balcony outside, with a glass sliding door. I’ve got redwoods out back, so they wave at me all day. Post-it notes, pens, a notebook, and either a pot of tea or my water bottle are always on hand. Chocolate makes a frequent appearance as well.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
It depends on what I’m working on, and what mood I’m in. Silence often suits me well, but sometimes my brain needs a little bit extra input. I can’t listen to music with lyrics when I write, so I only listen to instrumental music. If there’s any vocals in it, it has to be in a language I don’t speak. Electronic ambient music and lo-fi beats are common choices for me, as are video game soundtracks. I sometimes go for something classical, but only in really specific instances. If I’m really having a hard time focusing, I might go for nature sounds or white noise, but those are the big guns.
Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to answer these questions for us, Becky!