When I first started reading my way through the world of "lesfic" about a year ago, one of the first novels recommended to me was Lise MacTague's Depths of Blue. I read it in one sitting, which is unheard of me these days because my young children make that very difficult to do. As such, I was most pleased when Lise agreed to share some thoughts with me for the next author Q&A.
1. What's the last novel you read? Was there something memorable about it?
The most recent novel I’ve read was A Close and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. It’s a fascinating sci-fi novel about an AI who gets taken from the ship she was used to running and put into a human body. The body is mechanical but indistinguishable from a human from the outside. She has to come to terms to inhabiting a different form. At the same time, we get another story told from the point of view of a girl who was genetically created and raised to be a factory worker. She escapes from her circumstance and works with an AI (a different one) discarded in a junkyard. They’re trying to get off the planet. The two stories start out very separate but come together by the end. I loved the work the author did in crafting her world. The alien species are fantastic and so imaginative. The story is well-crafted as are the characters. It is sort of a sequel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, but it stands perfectly well on its own. I highly recommend it.
2. Xena or Buffy?
That’s a tough one. I loved both shows so much when I was in my early 20s. Those are really formative TV shows for me, but I think Xena has the edge. I loved Buffy as a character, her kickass ways were awesome, and I loved tuning in to see what she was up to every week. But Xena… I love Buffy, but I wanted to be Xena. Xena was the show I rushed home to see after work in the summers because if I timed it right, I could watch two re-runs instead of just one. Xena was the show that introduced me to fanfic, which eventually led me to lesfic, then to writing. So, as far as shows go, Xena has the edge. As far as characters go, Xena also has my heart. I don’t know if I could see one of them winning in a fight. I think it would be a draw, then they’d go hang out together at the Bronze or something. I wonder if anyone has written that fanfic?
3. What were two of your favourite movies growing up? What did you like about them?
I didn’t watch that many movies growing up. We didn’t have a TV for much of that time, in fact the only time we had a TV was the year my family spent living in Montreal. Aside from that, it was all books all the time at home, so the only time we saw movies was in the theaters or at friends’ houses. My dad loved bad sci-fi movies, so he’d take us to see those. Some of my fondest memories of him have to do with gong to those movies with him. One that really stuck with me was Stargate, the original movie, not the subsequent TV shows. That movie was how I discovered that I was a lesbian. I must have been sixteen when it came out. We went and saw it, and for the first time there was someone on screen who I thought was hot. I’d been listening to my classmates wax rhapsodic over the various boys they thought were hot, and I’d never gotten it. But in Stargate, I had a major screen crush in the villain character. I thought he was pretty damn fine. A few days after I went to see the movie with my dad and my brothers, I overheard a couple of my classmates ripping on how feminine he was and how he looked like a girl. I must have stood there stock still as the realization washed over me. I thought he was hot because he looked so feminine. So many things finally made sense in that moment. The summer I’d been excited about going to church for a change was finally explained. Our regular music group was on summer hiatus, and had been replaced with a group of teens with a pair of lead-singing twin sisters. They weren’t very good, but I actually looked forward to the service. (I’ve never been very religious.) So that was that. Stargate was responsible for my awakening as a lesbian.
I love stories like this! And, I must admit, I loved Ra in that movie as well. I have a similar story about pop. culture helping me work out some things (it involves Alanis Morissette - big surprise!). Just goes to show how important diverse representation really is.
4. Do you tend to focus on one writing project at a time, or do you have a long list of ideas and swap around between stories you're working on?
I force myself to focus on one project at a time. The problem is that I have so many ideas, and when I hit the sloggy middle part of the novel I’m working on, new ideas inevitably come to me. I have a little notebook for ideas and other notes related to my stories. The new ideas go in there so I can let them go until I’m done with my current project. The last time I went through the notebook, I estimated that I had about 15 years worth of material in there.
5. What's a TV theme song (or two) you believe are memorable for some reason? Why?
I love the theme to Wynonna Earp. It has a rockabilly metal quality to it that I really like. I’m a metal-head almost exclusively in my music tastes (except for the occasional show tune), so it’s a musical genre I already relate to. Plus, I think it matches the show perfectly, it has so much attitude, just like Wynonna does. I get pumped when I hear the theme because I know I’m in for 45 minutes of female attitude and butt-kicking.
6. Can you tell us anything about the book/s you're planning to release next?
My next novel to be released is called Demon in the Machine. It’s going to be out sometime in 2018, but beyond that I’m not sure as to the exact date. It’s steampunk set in late Victorian England, and it features a half-demon archivist and a cat-burgling high society debutante. I’ve been referring to it as “demonpunk” rather than straight up steampunk. In this alternate universe, the industrial revolution is being propelled by equal parts technology and demonic magic. What could possibly go wrong there? Which is exactly what Briar and Isabella have to figure out.
I’m pretty excited about this one. After writing Five Moons Rising, I wanted to do something that was lighter in tone. Five Moons gets pretty dark in places, and I needed something a little airier. Demon in the Machine allowed me to do that. Fun fact: Demon in the Machine is actually set in the same universe as Five Moons Rising, though Five Moons takes place over a hundred years later.
I’m a few months away from starting my first draft for the sequel to Five Moons Rising, At the moment I’m at the noodling stage.
7. The novels you've released so far have been within the vast realm of speculative fiction. What is it about the stories that fall under the spec.fic. umbrella you like most?
I think it’s the feeling that the sky is the limit with spec-fic. If I can imagine it and ground it in one of the worlds I’ve created, I can explore it. I enjoy that kind of freedom. I also enjoy exploring “what if” scenarios, and something that doesn’t have to adhere too closely to the trappings of real life allows me to really let loose. I’ve always loved sci-fi and fantasy. The first movie I ever saw was E.T., and I used to watch Star Trek reruns from behind my dad’s easy chair when I was a three-year-old. When I was nine, I read The Hobbit, then The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Other worlds have been my bread and butter as long as I can remember.
8. For anyone who might not be familiar with the podcast you're involved with, Lez Geek Out!, can you tell us a bit about it?
Of course! Lez Geek Out! is a geeky-type podcast I do with fellow author Andi Marquette. We enthuse about popular culture and media, but from a lesbian/feminist point of view. We mostly concentrate on other media than books, but we’re prepared to break that rule from time to time. So far, we’ve looked at movies, TV shows, web comics, and more. I want to do some geeking out about video games, since those are my geek area of choice. It’s great fun. Andi is a blast to chat with and she has a great perspective on these things. We don’t always agree, which also makes it fun.
9. Thank you so much for your time, Lise! For our last question, what are your writing snacks of choice?
I don’t actually snack while I write. I’m usually accompanied by a cat, so that makes it challenging to snack and write. However, when I was writing full time (which is a fancy way of saying I was unemployed), I would take a break and go get myself some gummy fruit snacks when I got stuck on something. There were some mornings I’d eat a lot of them if what I was working on was being particularly stubborn. I’m currently trying to figure out what my new writing routine is going to be like, now that I’m working again. Since I’ll probably be writing as soon as I get home from work, the snack situation is something I haven’t yet figured out.
You can find Lise's website here.
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