Interview with Author: Carol Van Natta
It is a great pleasure to welcome Carol Van Natta author of the Central Galactic Concordance space opera series.
Welcome Carol to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl and thanks so much for taking the time out your busy schedule to help us get to know more about you and your series better!
What does the title of this novel, series or set of stories signify?
The title of my space opera romance series is the Central Galactic Concordance. The series is set millennia in the future, when humans have faster-than-light travel and have spread out among the stars. Future us has the galaxy to ourselves, so we mine resources at will and pick “goldilocks” planets to terraform and colonize. The series—and the box set—is named after the current government that manages 500+ planets.
The big damn story arc of the series concerns a revolution that will end 200 years of peace. Minders—people with mental talents such as telepathy and telekinesis—were once a minority, and helped save civilization during the catastrophic fall of the previous empire. Now that there are more of them, they are no longer content to be regulated and controlled. As you might imagine, this doesn’t go over well with the government agency tasked with the mission to keep the galactic peace.
I’ll be the first to admit that “Central Galactic Concordance” doesn’t roll trippingly off the tongue. However, I wanted the series name broad enough that I could tell other stories in the universe that dealt with interesting characters and smaller issues, too. I like to think I’ve made up for the series title by having more evocative story titles: Overload Flux, Minder Rising, Pico’s Crush, the three books in the box set, plus Jumper’s Hope (Book 4), and the upcoming Spark Transform.
Do the names of the characters in your novel have some sort of significance or importance to you? If so, give a few examples…
Sometimes, both story titles and character names come easily and quickly, and sometimes they change half a dozen times before I find the perfect name.
In Overload Flux (book 1 of the series), the main female character is an ex-assassin trying to learn ordinary social skills. I wanted her name to sound both old-fashioned and a bit awkward, so it took me a few tries to settle on Mairwen Morganthur. The main male character’s name, Luka Foxe, came more easily. His first name is Polish and his last name English, but his ancestry is a mix of Nordic and several others.
In Minder Rising (book 2), Lièrén Sòng is the hero, estranged from his old, rich family because of his job as a covert agent. The lingua franca of the galaxy used to be Mandarin, before the present government changed it to Standard English, so Lièrén’s name reflects that history. The title of Pico’s Crush (book 3) came before I even had the outline finished. Pico is the daughter of the main male character, and his military nickname was Crush. There are a couple of other meanings for the title, too, which readers will discover for themselves.
In the galactic civilization, people are highly multicultural and interracial, so family names don’t necessarily help in guessing the person’s actual ethnicity or what their primary language is. Furthermore, if you have the money, it’s safe and easy to get a full body makeover to change height, skin color, bone structure, and physiognomy. I usually name ALL my characters. I then have to remove the names of the bit-players during the edit process so readers don’t think they’re stuck in a Russian novel.
What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?
My muse’s home base is science fiction. One summer when I was young, my parents gave me science fiction books (starting with Andre Norton) to stop me from whining about having nothing to read. I burned through every SF&F paperback in the house and never looked back. Romance came a little later, when I was in high school, and writing Star Trek fan fiction with my friends.
Fast forward to a few years ago, when my muse marched in with the plot for this big, sprawling space-opera plot about evolution and revolution. I wanted the relationships to be romances, because in trying times, hope and justice are needed more than ever.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer and do your characters reflect some of these attributes?
Whoever told you I am sane has taken one giant step away from their good senses. 😉
Seriously, the advice I give to new writers is to first, finish the manuscript, and second, protect your muse by separating the business side from the art side.
Starting manuscripts is easy; finishing them is hard. Want proof? Ask for a show of hands on how many people have started a novel, then watch how many hands drop when you ask how many have finished it. Figuring out how to finish the first novel, then repeat that with the second, third, twelfth, and fortieth novel is the secret sauce for a successful career. By separating the business side, you can relegate the trolls, naysayers, and basic mistakes as the price of doing business, not personal attacks on the stories you love to tell.
My characters reflect attributes of me, my family, friends, the cashier with the annoying voice, the energetic plumber, the coworker who permanently smells of cigarette smoke, the parent who lets their kids decorate them like a holiday tree… I am a secret observer and a shameless thief of attitudes, mannerisms, style, nervous tics, and relationships that sooner or later end up in my books. My primary physician suspects I’m a hypochondriac because I ask him about odd diseases and conditions. My chiropractor gleefully helps me figure out what happens to people in a fight, and if they could limp away afterward.
What kind of research did you have to do for the novel, series or set of stories that was different from others?
Research, otherwise known as creative avoidance when I’m supposed to be writing, is one of the most entertaining parts of writing. For the space opera series, I’ve haunted the physics and materials science groups, pondered islands of stability, learned how long a parsec is (93 million miles/ 150 million kilometers—the Milky Way galaxy is about 30 kiloparsecs across), and watched hundreds of YouTube videos on everything from 3-D printing with molten glass to astronauts in zero gravity. I happily invent technology (such as new metal alloys for faster-than-light ships) and weapons (beamers, force blades, spider mechs) galore, but I like them to at least be plausible and consistent.
What makes you laugh?
Pretty much anything, actually, because I love to laugh. Good improv comedy. Tripping over my own feet. My silly cats.
What makes you cry?
The same things that make most people cry—sad movies, brave rovers left alone on a far planet, romances with all the feels, the last of the Thin Mints Girl Scouts cookies.
What are you a fan of, and is this reflected in your writing?
I am a fan of science, humor, book series, found families, romance, fantasy, good people, magic, justice, cats and other pets, whimsy, perseverance to do what’s right, and happily ever afters. And yes, they’re all reflected in my writing, because life is too short to write about things I’m not a fan of, like entitled jerks and eggplant.
What is the best way for readers to interact with you?
I love meeting new people and finding out what they like to read. Come say hello Facebook (https://facebook.com/CarolVanNattaAuthor), or sign up for my monthly newsletter at https://bit.ly/CVN-news. My website has book news, a blog, and extras for readers: https://author.carolvannatta.com. You can also learn more about the series at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3980825.Carol_Van_Natta.