Friday, May 7, 2010

Author Interview with Vijaya Schartz!

Since her first book release in 2000, award-winning author Vijaya Schartz has published a dozen novels and novellas in Science Fiction, mainstream and romance, in print and electronic format, often mixing genres. Born in France and a world traveler, she writes romance with a kick (kick-butt heroines) and brings an exotic quality to her stories. Her books gathered three Golden Quill awards, an Ariana Award, a Quasar award for the cover, one Independent Publishers Book Award, several reviewers’ choice awards, as well as numerous five-star reviews. Her latest romantic science-fiction series, THE CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK, from Desert Breeze Publishing, started with WHITE TIGER in August 2009. RED LEOPARD came out in April 2010, and BLACK JAGUAR is scheduled for November 2010.

[Anne] When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, Vijaya?

[Vijaya] When I was six, I wrote poetry. Then as a teenager, I was fascinated by detective stories and even thought of writing one. At eighteen, I started a book on how to run a country, because obviously, the French government wasn’t doing a very good job. At eighteen everything is simple, black and white. I abandoned the project when my boyfriend pointed out that Plato had already written my book for me in 480 BC, and it was titled THE REPUBLIC. I then decided that if I wanted to write, I had to acquire experience, so explored the world to learn something original and exotic to write about.

[Anne] Tell us about your latest book.

[Vijaya] RED LEOPARD is not only a romance, not only a suspenseful sci-fi adventure, but like many sci-fi stories, it’s about people’s ideals, passions, weaknesses, loyalties. It’s about making mistakes, getting out of tight spots, and doing the right thing in the most trying circumstances.

In charge of the fortress of Kassouk in the King's absence, what is Terek to do when a Goddian spacecraft lands in his medieval backyard, and the striking woman leading the galactic party insists on colonization?

Galya, the Goddian Princess commanding the geological vessel, is bent on finding a crystal with unusual hyper-conductor properties. And the futile resistance of the local population isn’t going to stop her. Not even that defiant tribal chief nicknamed Red Leopard, like the infernal feline that follows him everywhere.

Terek and his band of swordsmen and felines must defend their people’s freedom, no matter the cost. But with this unexpected arrival, an old prophecy surfaces, taking new meaning and carrying a new threat...

When political intrigues, greed, murder and betrayal tip the scales, whom can Galya really trust? Her fellow Goddians? the Mutants bred to serve her race? Or her primitive Human enemy?

[Anne] What inspired you to write this story?

[Vijaya] When Desert Breeze acquired WHITE TIGER and showed interest in a series, I was very excited about revisiting the world of Kassouk. RED LEOPARD is book two. Like Book One, I wanted it to revolve around the theme of an advanced galactic race challenged by a low-tech world. I like it when the little guys manage to win. There is poetic justice in my books. Each story is complete in itself, but if you are like me, you still want to read them in chronological order if you don’t want any spoilers, since some characters from previous books are mentioned in subsequent stories. In White Tiger, the heroine was a soldier raised in a low-tech society and the hero was highly educated and refined, so in RED LEOPARD, the hero is from the medieval Human world, and the heroine is a galactic princess.

[Anne] How did you go about researching your book?

[Vijaya] The research is always intensive. I am a medieval buff. I have a whole library of medieval research books in my office. It irks me when I read a historical novel with a bunch of flagrant historical mistakes in the way people live, the technology available at the time, etc. Often writers make the mistake of thinking that because something was invented in a certain year, everyone in the most remote villages had access to it. It spoils my reading pleasure. Only in the last fifty years did inventions and science discoveries spread instantly to the whole world, thanks to the fantastic communication network we enjoy.

Then I also research the future by keeping abreast of the latest technologies, trying to extrapolate the direction of scientific progress. Did you know that within a few years, the luxury cars will actually drive themselves with their GPS? The prototypes are already fully functional. Did you know that Hawkins (the father of black holes theories) recently made an announcement that we were and are probably visited by alien races, and that it wouldn’t be a good idea to initiate direct contact? His metaphor was that if we did, we would likely be treated like the first explorers on the American continent treated the natives, and it wouldn’t be to our advantage.

[Anne] Hummm. That’s interesting…and scary. Do you have anything new in the works?

[Vijaya] I’m actively writing book three in the Chronicles of Kassouk, BLACK JAGUAR, where the hero is a son of the characters in book two, and the heroine is from a less evolved native tribe, but she is a healer and a mind reader. Of course, expect a lot of galactic interference and dramatic complications.

[Anne] What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantster?

[Vijaya] I started as a pantser when writing my first four novels. Then I became a plotter when my editors requested fifteen page synopses even before I wrote the book. But I noticed that plotting far in advance deprived the story of the natural complications that mature as you deepen the characters. So now, I do both. I have a story arc, I know the beginning, the end, and a few twists in between. But I let the characters write the story and I give them time to develop organically. It makes for deeper characters and a less predictable story, without taking out any of the action or suspense.

[Anne] I totally agree! If you could be anyone of your characters, which one would you chose to be and why?

[Vijaya] I would probably be Tora, the medieval cavalry officer in White Tiger. She is fierce and dedicated while retaining all her feminine qualities. She is the perfect balance of independence, strength, bravery, compassion, and ability to love.

[Anne] Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go? (Okay so maybe this isn’t very likely to happen but since I’m asking the questions…)

[Vijaya] One can always dream. I’ve been to so many places, like India, Egypt, Japan, Thailand, and all over Europe. I would probably choose a South American archeological site, like the Nasca plateau, Machu Pichu, or some little known Aztec or Mayan ruins. I find all these mysterious places inspiring and full of little known history and legends. I am fascinated by the unexplained knowledge of some ancient civilizations.

[Anne] You’ve just been informed that your latest release was a NY Times bestseller and Hollywood wants to turn it into a movie. What actors would you choose to play your main characters?

[Vijaya] Bless you for suggesting this financial downfall, although the chances of a Sci-Fi romance becoming a NYT Bestseller are remote. But if I did manage to get so lucky, the difficulty would be to find a good enough actor with all the physical attributes of my characters. For Red Leopard, the hero should be as fierce as Russel Crow but younger, and better looking. I’m open to suggestions…

[Anne] That would be a tough cast to fill. What type of books do you like to read when you’re not writing?

[Vijaya] I read all kinds of books. I like romance with a gritty plot, and other elements like suspense, paranormal, fantasy or sci-fi. You’ll never catch me reading horror, however. Giant worms or zombies leave me cold. I like my thrills to be totally believable, even in fantasy. My logical mind demands it.

[Anne] Name three things you can’t live without (excluding spouses and family because that’s a given).

[Vijaya] I couldn’t live without cats, or chocolate, or good, entertaining novels (or an ebook reader fully loaded with my favorite titles).

[Anne] What advice would you give to any aspiring writers out there?

[Vijaya] Write every day. Keep polishing your craft. Learn the rules so you know when to break them (when it’s best for the story). Write the book of your heart. Listen to constructive critique but always make the final decision. You know your story and your characters best. The most important thing is to believe in yourself.

[Anne] Where can we find you on the web?

[Anne] Where can we purchase your book(s)?

[Vijaya] All my Kindle and paperback titles are available on my amazon page:

[Anne] Is there anything else you’d like to add?

[Vijaya] Thank you so much, Anne, for letting me share.

Vijaya Schartz, Romance with a Kick