Please welcome the lovely Marcella Burnard to the blog today! Marcella is the author of the sci-fi romances Enemy Within and Enemy Games, and she was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions. Also, beware of zombie squirrels and be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post, because Marcella has graciously offered a copy of to one lucky winner!
Marcella, you’ve got two awesome sci-fi romances to your credit (Enemy Within and Enemy Games), hopefully with more on the way! Were you a big reader as a child, and did you always hope to become a writer?
I read constantly as a kid. My sister got into trouble for the stuff she did, I got into trouble for being so buried in a book that I wouldn’t answer my parents when they wanted me to do my chores. I’d finish up my classroom assignments in a hurry, just so I could go back to whatever book I’d been reading. Fortunately, most of my teachers were okay with that – they weren’t going to discourage an interest in books. As for writing, I started writing my own stories to entertain myself when I’d run out of books I liked, but it took several years and several writing classes for me to realize I was hooked. I had to write or end up in a padded cell.
I read that you got your love of science fiction from your father. What are some of your biggest sci-fi literary influences?
Andre Norton, Arthur C. Clarke, John Scalzi, I read Isaac Asimov, naturally, and enjoyed his books, but I don’t know that I can claim him as an influence…Oh! Ursula K. Le Guin. I love her books.
How did you celebrate when you sold your first novel?
Dinner at Carmelita’s! They’re a fabulous gourmet vegetarian restaurant in Seattle. I love their food.
What’s one of your most unusual writing quirks?
Writing around a cat. Invariably (but especially when I’m on deadline) a cat will insist on plunking down for a snooze betwixt me and the computer. I love my felines and everyone knows you can’t disturb a sleeping cat, right? So I manage to type around the purry furry. Ergonomic? No. Good karma? I hope so.
Have you ever considered writing a book in a different genre?
Yes! And I have. Berkley is editing an erotica novella I just turned in. That should be available in e-format only in a bit – though I don’t have a release date yet. I’m always contemplating other genres. But science fiction and fantasy are my first loves.
Is there anything in particular that you need in order to write? Anything that gets the creativity flowing?
Alone time and silence. Those two things help quiet the mental noise that modern life seems to engender. When I’m quiet, stories begin rising up out of nowhere. Meditation helps, too, but sometimes, only solitude and the freedom from responsibility it brings, will do the trick.
You were an Air Force brat, even spending a couple of years in Iceland. During your travels as a child, do you have a favorite destination?
Oh, Iceland. Easily. Every place we lived left me with vivid, lasting memories of the things seen and experienced, but Iceland had blue whales, volcanoes erupting, northern lights, earthquakes, and amazing geology and history. I was *just* old enough to appreciate that I’d never see anything else like it in the world.
If you could pack your bags and go anywhere tomorrow, where would you go, and why?
Hawaii. Warm seas, fabulous beaches, rain forests and amazing geology. My husband took me there two years ago. I’d never have left if I could have managed it.
Quick! What’s something that makes you laugh out loud?
Red Dwarf did. Zombie squirrels…warning: Long story forthcoming. Before we were married, my husband used to go hunting with his father. They used muzzle-loaders – black powder guns that shoot great big ball ammunition. With muzzle-loaders, you had to get much closer to your target to get a clean shot. As he tells it, this meant getting up before sunrise in the cold, wet October morning, trudging out into the forest to find a tree he could sit against and wait for an elk to wander past. He did. All was going well, save for the swiftly numbing extremities, when a squirrel came bounding through the forest, headed straight for him. The critter got about six feet away, suddenly saw him, stopped dead in the trail, and then began screaming at the top of his considerable squirrel lungs whilst dancing back and forth across the trail in challenge. My husband reports that the temptation to misuse his weapon at that point was strong, but that maybe he could have justified it as self-defense against the Dangerous North American Ground Squirrel.
This is an old post that’s been around for some time. It’s worth a quick read, but if you’re a wildlife lover, don’t bother with the rest of the website where this is posted: Squirrel Attacks Biker. My husband took this post as proof positive of his assertion: Squirrels are furry little hazards that’ll rip your throat out, given half a chance. Good thing he’d been armed in that forest all those years ago. Thus began a running joke within the family about squirrels. The ones that ran out into the street in front of the car (no squirrels have thus far been harmed by anyone in this family!) elicited comments like, “Did you see that? He charged us!” Maybe it’s just as well we never had children. I shudder to think of some poor kid growing up with an unnatural fear of squirrels because we were his or her parents.
While I was working on Enemy Games, I had a hard time coming up with an opening scene that I really liked. My husband made some offhand comment about, ‘you know what the most frightening zombie of all would be, don’t you?’ Of course, I knew. Zombie squirrels. And in that instant, the light bulb went on in my head. Zombie. Squirrels. The opening scene practically wrote itself at that point. It also guaranteed that my husband would read at least the first few chapters of the story just for the scene I’d written for him. All based on a silly inside family joke.
Is there any advice that you would give to struggling writers?
Keep going. Keep working. Nothing you do is ever wasted. Even if a story just will not sell, put it aside and start another. Build on what you learned from the first, second, tenth – however many it takes. Just keep on going. No one else can give your characters life but you.
Do you have any news of upcoming events or projects that you’d like to share with us?
I don’t yet have a release date for the SFR erotica novella – but the moment I do, I’ll post it. It’s a bit of fun set in the same universe as my first two novels – Enemy Within and Enemy Games. You may even recognize one of the characters.
Keep up with Marcella: Website | Twitter | Blog | Facebook
1. Giveaway is for one copy of Enemy Within OR Enemy Games (winner’s choice) to one winner.
2. Giveaway is open to US/Canadian addresses ONLY
3. To enter, please leave a comment or question for Marcella, with your email address (if you put your email address in the form, it’s not necessary to include it in the body of your comment). Following the blog is not necessary, but is ALWAYS appreciated.
4. For ONE extra entry, “LIKE” Marcella on her FACEBOOK page(leave your FB name) or follow her on TWITTER(leave your Twitter handle). Let me know you did so in a SEPARATE comment.
5. Giveaway ENDS 10/28/11
6. Giveaway book generously provided by the author.