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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.

What SciFi Romance influenced you?

‘Everyday Fangirl Asks’ is a new segment to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl that asks a question posed by the Everyday Fangirl to a group of fans or creators on various fan related topics.

Today, the Everyday Fangirl asks members of the SFR Brigade the following fan related question:

So what was the first Science Fiction (SciFi) Romance that either started you down this path or has the most influence on you?

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First, The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl would like to thank all of the members of the SFR Brigade who took time out of their busy schedules to share their influences and memories for this article!

The responses given by these members reflect a diverse set of influences on their science fiction romance genre journey…

Liza O’Connor Everyday Fangirl guest blogger and author of the Multiverses series

I had been reading sci-fi all my life, and while the science and adventure parts were excellent, they all lacked a major part of life for any species (sexual interest/romance). Thus, I wrote my own. It’s not funny so I’ve yet to publish it, but I expect to soon. I can’t remember the book that made me try and write a better sci-fi, but the protagonist went on and on about food, (I think he must have been on a diet, because his prior books had never been so food oriented), but the only woman in his book was nothing but a one-dimensional prop. It resulted in me no longer reading him and why I can’t remember his name or the book. He had failed me.

Pippa Jay Everyday Fangirl guest blogger and author of Keir and the upcoming Keir’s Fall

The Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffery. I just re-read the Crystal Singer trilogy recently, and was even sadder at the end to think there’ll never ever be another Killashandra story.

Pauline Baird Jones author of the upcoming All I Got For Christmas

The funny part for me, I wrote The Key not realizing it was SFR, because I didn’t write science. I barely passed science. Of course, looking back, I realize my science was mostly fiction back then, too. haha When someone compared it to a Linnea Sinclair, then I read her books and fell in love with the genre.

C.J. Gnos author of The Offspring series

One night when I was a kid, I had a dream that was so vivid that it stuck with me through the years. Planning to write it down some day, I would add to it in my head, until the day came when I did write it all down. That was five books ago. Now story has expanded into other worlds and species.

Carysa Locke who wrote the SFRBrigade article Of Fangirls and Heroines

I would have to say everything by Anne McCaffrey. Her Dragonriders of Pern was the first SF/F I ever read. It was what made me long to be a writer. (It was the summer before my 6th grade year.) I quickly read her entire backlog of books, including her Crystal Singer books, The Ship Who Sang, et al. Sure, SFR these days contains a little more R, but those books that set me on this path. I tried writing everything but SF for a long time, under the assumption that science would be too hard. LOL. But here I am, some three decades later.

Greta van der Rol author of the Ptorix Empire stories

I think the first SFR book I ever read was McCaffrey’s “Restoree“. But that’s not what led me to write SFR. Rather, I read hard SF (still do) and found that emotional bit missing. So I wrote a book I wanted to read.

Lea Kirk author of Prophecy

The Star King by Susan Grant . That book spoke to me at a time when I was doubting my own ability as a writer. It inspired me to finish my debut book, Prophecy, which is set for release in January 2016. I keep my copy of The Star King on my book shelf (and reread it from time to time). One day my path will cross with Susan and I’ll ask her to autograph it.

Melisse Aires author of Her Cyborg Awakes

Some of the old scifi I swiped from my older brother’s room had a touch of romance in it, which greatly increased my enjoyment of a book. Murray Lienster, Heinlein. I didn’t read an actual genre romance until I was 16, but then spent years reading both those and scifi and fantasy writers. Did I mention I was quite a bookworm?

In the 80s and 90s I scoured shelves for futuristics and pararomance, which were hard to find. Anne Stuart’s Cinderman was a Harlequin, but I knew it was scifi! Loved that book–and it held up well, reread not too long ago. Dara Joy–I had to order her books from a bookstore because they didn’t carry them. When we got a computer it opened up the world of erom publishers, who were publishing scifirom and pararom.
I also loved Zenna Henderson, who wrote clever, gentle scifi often involving family and some young loves.

Moria Katson author of the Light & Shadow series

Wow, I can’t remember the first, but I think the one that made me think, “wow, this is FUN and I want to write it” was Ruby Lionsdrake’s Mercenary Instinct 🙂

Jenna Bennett author of Soldiers Of Fortune Series

I started on this journey with an idea of my own, after being challenged to write a 200-word flash fiction piece for a contest, and it happened to come out SF. Never thought I’d write SFR. Never wanted to. At the time, the only SF I’d read, other than a few of the classics, was Lois McMaster Bujold, so I guess I’d have to blame her.

Pippa DaCosta author of Girl From Above

I wouldn’t say it was sci-fi romance (I’m not even sure the term existed back in late 80’s, early 90’s) but I read Chris Claremont’s First Flight very early in my teens. (I’ve no idea where I got it from. From a second hand bookstore probably because we didn’t have much money and no car) It might even have been the first sci-fi book I’d read, because scifi books are not for girls, right? 😉

And I remember being completely engrossed in the story of Lt Shea. Wait, what was this – a scifi book with a kick-ass female lead? With action, intrigue, and gasp – romance? It’s a first contact story, and Lt. Shea was my effing hero. I haven’t read it since, and kinda don’t want to – because I’ll look at it differently now, and I don’t want to spoil the magic. My first ever scifi read that taught me women can kick ass in space just as much as the guys (and have emotions too!).

Carol Van Natta author of Central Galactic Concordance series of novels

My parents gave me science fiction one summer as a way to keep me from bugging them for stuff to read. The joke was on them, however, as it caused me to start bugging them for more *science fiction* to read. The first SFR I read was probably Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, but I think Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series was more influential. A few years back, an interview I read with Linnea Sinclair told me that “science fiction romance” was a thing. When planning my current series, I knew SFR would be the best way to tell it, so as has been said so many times before, I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Cynthia Sax author of the Cyborg Sizzle series

I mistakenly read a very adult SciFi when I was about 12 with an android having a… ummm… too close of a relationship with his chicken. That was very memorable. But the first SciFi erotic romance that I read was Laurann Dohner’s Ral’s Woman. I loved it!

Kate Pearce author of The Tribute Series

Catherine Asaro, Ray Bradbury and John Wyndham

Sandy Williams

Finders keepers by Linnea Sinclair. I was researching her agent and figured I should read some of the agents clients. This was back in 1997 or 1998. I’d read Star Wars and some other sci fi before then, but I became hooked on sci fi romance after that book.

Aidee Ladnier author of The Klockwerk Kraken

Lois McMaster Bujold for the win! She’s also great about sprinkling in LGBTQ characters.

Athena Grayson author of Huntress Of The Star Empire series

The first Dragonriders of Pern book–it was a sci-fi that had a (gasp!) *heroine* in it, and a romantic subplot, too.

Belinda McBride author of The Coalition Universe

The White Dragon by Anne Mccaffrey was the first Pern novel I read, and at the time, I didn’t really understand that I was reading romance or that the dragon was asexual…or that there was even such a thing. Anyhow, I’d read sci fi before but that one really grabbed me.

Lee Koven SFR Brigade blogger

I’d read some SFR before, but the most influential SFR in my writing is probably Marcella Burnard’s Enemy Within. What drove me to write were straight SF books that I felt needed a romance in them. The second SFR that inspired me was Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair.

Marcella Burnard author of Enemy Within

Andre Norton was my first major influence – the *hints* of romance were there and I wanted more. It finally occurred to me if I wanted more, I’d best get writing it.
And you know, it was Linnea Sinclair GAMES OF COMMAND that convinced me to take a chance on writing Enemy Within. :D. Oh heck, if we’re breaking out the cheesy animated SFR, then Starblazers. 😀

Laurie A. Green author of Inherit The Stars

I read many of the SF classics as a teen, but McCaffrey’s Dragonriders is what originally hooked me on SFR.

Mary Brock Jones author of Hathe series

Anne McCaffrey’s would have to be the first – but it was Catherine Asaro and Lois McMaster Bujold who really got me hooked.

Veronica Scott author of Star Cruise: Marooned

Andre Norton, as others have said. She could only have hints of romance and that made me determined to write science fiction WITH romance. I LOVED RESTOREE. I still reread it occasionally. I wish she’d written more in that world.

Cathryn Cade author of LodeStar series

Wrinkle in Time was my first SF, but really didn’t spur any urge to write. It wasn’t until I read Jayne Castle’s SWEET STARFIRE that I got hooked on SFR. That was the first book I’d ever read that took place on another planet, and that had romance. A light went off in my pointy little head.

Wendy Lynn Clark author of Liberation’s Kiss

I just wanted to add one more vote for Anne McCaffrey’s Restoree for the win. 🙂 I read Dragon Singer first and considered it fantasy. This was in 6th grade. Restoree is still my fave SFR. I like them a little hotter tho so I’m glad the publishing world has expanded!

AR DeClerck author of Bound To You

My SFR journey began in 2002 when I discovered the secret rack at the back of our public library. I chose three or four novels to read (I was reading 4 or 5 a day) and I fell in love with Patti O’Shea’s Ravyn’s Flight. It was action, adventure, romance and aliens with tech and science and it rekindled my love of science and learning about the cosmos.

Aurora Springer author of the Grand Masters Universe

I don’t remember the first. I enjoy Andre Norton and she has some with couples, some of Piers Antony’s books, Joe Haldeman.

Anna McLain

The first one I knew was SFR that I read was Finder’s Keepers by Linnea Sinclair. Later I realized I’d read some as a child thanks to Marion Zimmer Bradley, the Pern stories, and Zenna’s books.

Jolie Mason author of Home in The Stars series

I didn’t have a book per se but I’ve been reading this stuff all my life starting with Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey. But, I did have a kinda funny goal when I started. You know the Also bought list? :} There were certain authors I wanted on mine. And they are there. They are also in the group. LOL
So I don’t want to come off as all fangirl (note on this blog you can!) But they were writing what I wanted to write, and I thought if people who get mine love theirs, then I will be creating what I want. The list isn’t exhaustive, but it included Veronica Scott and Anna Hackett. I wanted to make those kinds of characters. I’m not entirely there yet.

Rebecca York author of the Off World series

SF romance? Probably The Puppet Masters, by Robert Heinlein. I didn’t know when I read it, but it’s classic SF romantic suspense.
Maybe I should also say that my mom recommended Restoree by Ann McCaffery to me. I liked it a lot, but by that time I was already a confirmed SF reader. My mom used to reread Restoree every year. Another book that influenced me a lot was Darker than You Think, by Jack Williamson. In a weird way, it’s SF romance, but not in the usual sense. But it really got me into werewolves. It’s about a guy who doesn’t know he’s a werewolf, and his coven–particularly one woman/wolf–is pushing him into his true destiny. It’s humanity vs werewolves, and Williamson made me want to be on the winning side–werewolves.

Tink Boord-Dill

Jayne Castle/Jayne Ann Krentz back when she first started it… early 1990s along with JD Robb/Nora Roberts. So happy that JC/JAK is writing them again now… so many years later 😉 and glad that JDR/NR never stopped writing the Eve Dallas series

Darlene Reilley author of Forbidden Timeline

I have read science fiction all my life. Like many people, I started out in fan fic, and the first science romantic entanglement that pulled me in was Star Trek Voyager’s Tom Paris and B’Lanna Torres relationship – I was hooked. I quickly ran to the library, but they didn’t have anything listed as SFR. So I turned to my science fiction – and found Robert Heinlein’s Friday, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. Outlander pulled me from strict science fiction into the world of SFR and I’ve loved it ever since.

Lastly, Patty Hammond the Everyday Fangirl from Michigan would like to answer this question and share what influenced her to seek out SFR.

I actually started not through books, but through Robotech, an animated TV series in the mid 1980’s which included a several romance stories with the backdrop of a multigenerational space war. The first romance book set in space that I read was Amaryllis by Jayne Castle, aka Jayne Ann Krentz. It was through both of these that I found a whole new genre to explore and learn more about.

MINDER RISING by Carol Van Natta– Excerpt

The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl is proud to share with you this Excerpt from Minder Rising by Carol Van Natta.

  


Minder Rising
is the second of the new Central Galactic Concordance series. They can be read in any order, though Minder Rising takes place after the events in Overload Flux.  

Excerpt from Minder Rising

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Imara triggered the cold pack she’d pulled from the bar’s supply and handed it to her son. “You know the drill. Fifteen minutes on, ten minutes off. Lie down in the booth.” Derrit did as she asked without hesitation, meaning his nose was hurting a lot.
“Sit, before you fall,” she told Lièrén in the same no-arguments-I’m-your-mother tone, pointing to the barstool next to the one the bald telepath had monopolized. Lièrén smiled faintly. He looked exhausted and pale, but she’d seen him look worse, those first few days after he’d moved to the hotel.
Just as she opened her mouth to pepper him with questions, Poltorak and Okonjo finally arrived.
“What happened here?” asked Poltorak. She was a short but wide woman with a thick Russian accent and a ready smile. Okonjo was a tall, thin black man who looked like the wind would blow him over, but he was a ramper, a minder talent that made him stronger than he looked and wickedly fast. On him, bald was a good look.
Imara pointed to the telepath, still slumped on the floor, but now stirring. “Pre-chemmed guest. Wanted me for sex, and got unhappy when I turned him down, which is when I sent the Priority Two. He tried to get physical, then passed out. I didn’t serve him anything with a kick—you can check the dispense logs.” It was the truth as far as it went, and skipped over Lièrén’s and Derrit’s involvement. Fortunately, Poltorak was just as familiar with the hotel’s unwritten policy about no trouble and didn’t ask any more questions.
“Is good, then. We take him back to room, let him sleep.” She and Okonjo helped the woozy telepath sit, then get to his feet.
Okonjo looked to Imara. “English?” She nodded. “Mister… sir…” asked Okonjo solicitously of the man he was supporting. “What room are you in?”
Imara surreptitiously watched the telepath’s face for some sign of cognition, but he was really looped.
Okonjo sighed and thumbed his percomp to ping the front desk. “Iggy? Got a guest, can’t remember his room. Use security QB-2 and take a look.” Okonjo and Poltorak turned around with the man so he faced the discreet camera eye above the bar. Okonjo tilted the man’s head back so his face was clearly visible.
“He came in with an associate who called him ‘Karl,’ and he speaks German,” said Imara helpfully, loud enough for Iggy to hear. “The other guy mentioned the fourth floor.”
After a moment, Iggy came back with a fourth-floor room number. Okonjo and Poltorak half-carried, half-walked the man out of the bar.
Imara waited a few long seconds more to make sure they were really gone, then turned to Lièrén. “What will he remember?” She kept her voice low and quiet.
“That he had fantasies about you, but the last chem he took was chaotic, making him feel dizzy and fluxed, and then—fade out. The next thing he’ll remember is whatever the security team does with him. Even if they show him the video, he won’t remember assaulting you and will probably blame it on a bad chem reaction. Since you didn’t serve him any, you’re clear.”
Imara was impressed by how well the story fit together, and disturbed. She hadn’t realized how… chillingly effective high-level minders could be. “What did you do to him to make him drop like he was in 3G gravity?”
“Sifters can modulate synapses, neurotransmitters, and hormones. I flooded his receptors with a monoamine…” He trailed off, looking almost embarrassed. “I apologize for the tech speak. Think of it as doping, like applying a happy-drug slap patch.”
She wanted to ask a hundred more questions, but she needed to prioritize them. “Let me get you something to drink, on the house.”
“Thank you. Water would be welcome.” His shoulders were drooping, and one of his eyes was half-blinking with each heart beat. Damn, but the man was polite, even when he was in agony.
“Would you like a painkiller to go with the water?” She dropped three ice cubes in a glass and started filling it. “I have several in the dispensary…”
He shook his head. “You’re kind to offer, but most chemical painkillers don’t work on sifters. I’d need a healer to follow me around for a few hours.”
“Really?” No wonder it was taking him such a long time to recover. She couldn’t imagine not being able to slap on a pain patch after a hard day on the road crew. “Well, that flatlines.”
“Yes,” said Lièrén, the corner of his mouth twitching with amusement.

Minder Rising (Central Galactic Concordance Book 2) by Author Carol Van Natta, published by Chavanch Press, LLC is available at the following retail outlets: Amazon.com |Amazon UK | Nook | Kobo | iTunes (coming soon) |Google Play 

Synopsis: A millennium into the future, all children are tested for minder talents, and the best are recruited for the Citizen Protection Service.

Agent Lièrén Sòng is recovering from a near-fatal crash. He should want nothing more than to get back to using his talents to interrogate criminals for his covert CPS field unit, but being sidelined gains new appeal when he makes friends with a woman and her son. Imara Sesay, road-crew chief and part-time bartender, breaks her ironclad rule never to get close to customers when she asks Lièrén to teach her son how to control his growing minder talents.

Unexpected deaths in his field unit make Lièrén suspect he isn’t a lucky survivor, he’s a loose end. He should pull away from Imara and Derrit to keep them safe, but when the local CPS Testing Center is entirely too interested in Derrit’s talents, Lièrén must make an impossible choice. Can he stay alive long enough to save Imara and her prodigy son?

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