Please welcome Emma Newman back to the blog! Her new SF novel, Planetfall, will be out tomorrow, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about it, and more! Also, courtesy of the nice folks at Roc, we’ve got one copy of Planetfall to give away to one lucky US reader!
What inspired Planetfall?
It was the character idea that went on to become the protagonist, Ren, that inspired the novel. I had a very firm sense of the struggles she faced in terms of mental illness and that in turn informed many of the world-building decisions about the novel. It was weird – that’s never happened to me before. I crafted the book around her and excavated the rest of the novel more than I’ve experienced with anything else I’ve written.
What made you decide to write a sci-fi novel?
The idea I had and the character I wanted to explore simply fitted better in science-fiction than anything else. I have always loved sci-fi – more than any other genre – but didn’t necessarily plan to write SF. It just evolved that way organically.
Will you tell us more about Ren, and what you think makes her a compelling character?
Ren is the colony’s 3-D printer engineer. She has constructed the houses the colonists live in and is responsible for keeping everything functioning in good order. She also suffers from an anxiety disorder. As for what makes her compelling, I think that’s always hard for the author to say – only the reader can know that, really, as I know her so well I don’t experience the book and her as a character in the same way. But she does have secrets, and the revealing of those secrets – and why she is the way she is – is what I hope will be compelling!
What supporting characters did you particularly enjoy writing about?
Sung-Soo and Mack. It’s hard to explain why without spoiling the entire book though! I really enjoyed writing Kay too, because she is just lovely.
What kind of research did you do for the book?
I read about 3-D printing and where it currently is now so I could play with how it might develop in the future. I consumed a lot of case studies regarding the mental health challenges that Ren has (and drew upon some of my own experiences there too) and I read about the idea of the ‘secondary genome’ too. Planetfall also drew upon a lot of bits and pieces I’ve read over the years and filed away because I found them interesting!
Worldbuilding is important in books like Planetfall. What are a few of your favorite sci-fi “worlds?”
I know it sits in the intersection between fantasy and SF, but I love the Dune universe. Also Kim Stanley Robinson’s Accelerando – those hollowed out asteroids delight me on so many levels! The world of ‘The Sparrow’ – both Earth and the alien planet – also fascinated me.
It’s been a while since we’ve caught up. Have you read any good books lately?
My favourite book this year has been Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Honestly, it is superb! I have been hearing great things about his SF novel Children of Time which I am desperate to read.
What are you currently reading?
It was supposed to be Children of Time but I’m reading a friend’s manuscript at the moment to give feedback before he sends it off. He’s been published multiple times, but wants an opinion on this one before he sends it out. I’m very excited to read it before it goes out into the world!
What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Lots and lots of writing! And I can’t talk about any of it! But something else that I am really excited about is a live role-playing game that I’m running (with a fantastic team!) set in the Split Worlds. It takes place on May 7th 2016 at the Guildhall in Bath and will be a Masked Ball set in Aquae Sulis – the secret mirror version of the city of Bath. If people want to be the first to hear about the tickets going on sale, it’s best to subscribe to my newsletter at www.enewman.co.uk .
Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.
More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.
Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.
The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…