It’s always a pleasure to have Sharon Lynn Fisher on the blog, and today she stopped by to talk about her new book, Echo 8 (just out yesterday!), and we’ve also got a copy to give away to one lucky winner, so be sure to enter to win at the widget below the post!
Sharon, welcome back to MBW! Will you tell us a little about the new book, Echo 8?
Thanks so much for having me back, Kristin! ECHO 8 is a sci-fi/paranormal/suspense/romance mashup set in near-future Seattle. It features a parallel Earth, doppelgangers, quantum physics, parapsychology, and lots of twists and turns. The main character is parapsychologist Tess Caufield, who is studying a man displaced from his own version of Earth to hers, where he has to steal energy from others to survive. Rounding out the love triangle (the first of those I’ve written) is FBI field agent Ross McGinnis, who’s trying really hard to keep Tess alive while she studies her subject. There’s also black ops. And dimensional travel. And a spooky old historic ferry (which, coincidentally, is being dismantled in a Tacoma dry dock even as I write this).
What did you enjoy most about writing Tess and Ross? Why do you think readers will root for them?
Their antagonistic relationship, definitely. The bickering with the current of sexual tension beneath. The way they have to second-guess their own feelings and reactions all the time. The thing I especially loved about writing them — about writing all three of them actually; Tess, Ross, and Jake — is the fact they were so vivid in my mind. Not just them as individuals, but their relationships to each other. I had planned a particular course for Ross, for example, and one day I was standing in my kitchen and he asserted himself very strongly about a particular plot point (which I can’t describe further without spoilers).
I’m hoping the reader will root for them because they are all flawed individuals with big hearts. Each has an Achilles heel that constantly trips them up. Ross needs to control everything. Tess needs to save everyone (except herself). Jake has no sense of self-worth.
What supporting characters did you enjoy writing about the most?
As a third in a love triangle I’m not sure if Jake is really a supporting character, but if so, Jake, hands-down. He sprang from my mind fully formed. As an author, I don’t think humor is necessarily a strength of mine. If I make myself laugh once or twice per book, I’m thrilled. But Jake was always cracking me up.
If we’re counting Jake as a main character, I think the villain Mac was my next favorite. To go into the reasons for that would be very spoilery!
Did you do any particular research for this book?
I studied up on both quantum physics and parapsychology. And I did a ton of research on the old Kalakala ferry. The most helpful research came in the form of a book by Dr. Dean Radin, senior researcher at the Institute of Noetic Sciences — Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. Tess’s special area of interest is the possible connection between quantum physics and psi phenomena, and the supporting material for that came from Dr. Radin’s book. Also it was a fascinating primer on the field of parapsychology. I also watched and read interviews with string theory physicist Brian Greene, and read his book The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos.
The research I would have loved to do but did not have the time: The University of Edinburgh offers an online introductory course in parapsychology. I still want to do it someday!
It’s been a while since we caught up…have you read any good books lately?
Some of my favorite recent reads have been interactive novellas on the site where I’m editorial director (SilkWords, which I’ll talk more about in your later question). A particular favorite is one by author pal Skyler White (also published with Tor and Berkley). She wrote a Reader Vote story for us called “Pleasure’s Shadow.” It’s a mystery/suspense/paranormal/erotica/romance mashup. And “reader vote” means it’s written with reader collaboration — the author writes an introduction and provides several choices, and readers pick the choice they want to follow. Rinse and repeat.
As for full-length works (and then some), I read The Last Hour of Gann last year, and that one really stuck with me. I was particularly impressed with the amazing job the author did with writing a human/alien romance where the alien is VERY alien.
What are you currently reading?
Alas, I’m not allowed to say! Currently I have a stack of six titles sent to me by RWA. I’m judging for the RITA contest again this year (published romance titles), but they don’t want you talking about your books. I’ve got mostly contemporary romances but a couple of historicals and possibly a Western.
Now that you’ve got a few titles under your belt, what do you know now that you wished you’d known before getting published? What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Take care of yourself. Be your own best friend. What does that mean? Don’t expose yourself to stuff that’s going to hurt you and your writing. If you see a two-star review on Goodreads, DON’T READ IT. While reading lots of thoughtful criticism can improve your writing, if someone really disliked your work, it’s only going to bring you down. And those words will stick with you more than all the wonderful things other people are saying. It’s just the way our brains are wired.
And don’t waste your precious writing time by monitoring sales and Google alerts too closely. (I speak from experience.) Set aside time to do that maybe once a week. Maybe once a day on weeks where you have a release coming out. And stick with it. In the digital age we’ve all developed a very strong habit of checking things regularly: email, FaceBook, Twitter. And for authors, add Goodreads reviews, Wattpad reads, Amazon reviews and rankings … They will eat your life if you let them!
Also, would you care to dish a little about Silk Words?
Sure! SilkWords is an interactive romance and erotica site. I’m one of its co-founders, and the editorial director. My partners are Keri and Boyd Multerer. Our beautiful site was designed and developed by Boyd, who was the founder of Microsoft Xbox Live and is the former director of development for Xbox One. We publish Pick Your Path stories (remember the old CYOA stories?) and Reader Vote stories (which I described above). We started out more romance oriented, but quickly found our readers like the steamier stuff. We do still publish a bit of romance though. I wrote a sweet steampunk romance called A Heart for Copper.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on a self-published series, Fantasies in Color. They’re erotica novelettes with a speculative twist. I’ve published two (in partnership with my literary agency) and have a third in progress. And I have a sci-fi, new adult romance sort of thing going on Wattpad, RED: Love in the Time of Flesh-eaters. That one will be a novella, I think. It has zombies!
I have started a new sci-fi romance (set in Portland), but we’re in a bit of a holding pattern while my publisher looks at sales and figures out what they want to do next. I’ll write it either way, as there are lots of options these days!
About Echo 8:
Three lives. Two worlds. One chance to save them all.
As a parapsychologist working for Seattle Psi, Tess has devoted her life to studying psychic phenomena. But when doppelgangers begin appearing from a parallel world that’s been struck by an asteroid, nothing in her training will help her survive what’s to come.
After dislocating to Seattle Psi from the other Earth, Jake is confined by a special task force for study. But when he drains life energy from Tess, almost killing her, it causes a ripple effect across two worlds – and creates a bond neither of them expected.
Ross is an FBI agent ordered to protect Tess while she studies Jake. His assignment is not random – he and Tess have a history, and a connection the Bureau hopes to use to its own advantage. By the time Ross realizes his mission could be compromised, it’s already too late – he’ll have to choose between his love for Tess and his duty to protect the people of his own Earth.