IndieView with Christine D. Shuck, author of Gliese 581: The Departure

Do not allow your fears or doubts to control/inhibit your progress. Be open to criticism but do not let it stop you in your tracks. . A book is not your baby. You can test this by throwing your book on the floor. See, the book is just fine. By the way, do NOT do this with a baby.

Christine D. Shuck – 28 January 2018

The Back Flap

In the final days of the 21st century, Daniel Medry and a crew of brilliant and talented scientists and researchers leave Earth on a mission to the Gliese system – the first extra-solar journey of its kind.

Shortly after their departure, a terrible virus is unleashed upon Earth, highly infectious and nearly 100% fatal.

Soon the colonists will learn that they are some of the last unaffected humans left.

And if the challenge of establishing a colony on a distant alien world and re-creating the human race wasn’t enough, someone on board is trying to kill them all.

Will Daniel and the rest of Calypso’s crew survive the journey?

About the book

What is the book about?

Gliese follows a group of scientists and explorers who leave Earth on the spaceship Calypso for Gliese 581g, in hopes of exploring and settling this new world 21 light years away. Just a few months after departure, a bioengineered virus on Earth makes a leap from pigs to humans with devastating results – killing over 99.6% of the population and dramatically limiting the surviving population’s fertility.

As the crew of Calypso learn of the fate of Earth, one of them becomes convinced that the fate of the human race is sealed, that God has deemed them unworthy, and that it is his job to ensure that the crew on Calypso also die.

When did you start writing the book?

I began with a “snippet” in 1997. I didn’t know where it was going or what it was about, so it languished for years until shortly after the discovery of Gliese 581g by Steve Vogt in 2010. However, having the discovery of 581g “discredited” (I actually talked with him and the discrediting was flawed, so it might still be there) a few months later slowed me down until I realized, “This is fiction, I can do whatever I want!” and began again in 2015.

How long did it take you to write it?

From beginning to end? Around ten months with three major edits.

Where did you get the idea from?

It was actually the compilation of two stories. One was the “snippet” I began with in 1997 and referred to as the Plague Tales. Sitting in a drive-thru, waiting for my lunch order, I thought, “What if a woman were to drive up to the window stark naked, park her car in front of the window and proceed to eat until her stomach ruptured?”

I know, my mind goes to dark places!

The second story was simply the idea of wondering what it would look like if a group of scientists and explorers were headed for Gliese 581g with a saboteur aboard. The whys and wherefores eventually worked themselves out.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Mainly it was the blending of the two stories that was difficult. Also I agonized over where to place the chapters. I have two major storylines, with three different time frames going on. I wanted it to build suspense, but not be too hard to follow.

What came easily?

Killing people off. I derive enormous pleasure killing off my enemies (and the rest of the human race) through literary means. Which has to say something for the dark, nihilistic corner of my mind!

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

Don’t we always borrow from ourselves and the world around us? I modeled a couple of the characters, the CEO of EcoNu and the pedophilic medical examiner off of real-life foes. And there are aspects of me and many of my friends and family in the other characters.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I teethed on Robert Heinlein novels. But I have also loved classics such as L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, and all of Baum’s Wizard of Oz. James P. Hogan’s Voyage from Yesteryear remains one of my favorite sci-fi utopian stories, I adore Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series and there are far too many others to count.

Except for Madeleine L’Engle’s example of writing within certain families at different points and time (all of my fiction so far exists within the same universe and there are family names to crop up repeatedly in all of them), I can’t point to a specific way that they influenced my writing, but they fed my love of stories, and I fell in love with their characters, the worlds they opened up to me, and dreamed of what it would be like to live in those pages as one of their characters.

Do you have a target reader?

Probably those who favor reading sci-fi, dystopian, TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it), and post-apocalyptic. However, as one reader pointed out, after noting that they were fans of none of those listed above, this book (as well my others) are character-based. Toss in space travel and you have to call it sci-fi, toss in world-killing virus and you have to call it dystopian – but this book is about people and how they respond to crisis, loss and danger. And that’s something we can all relate to.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I mentioned “snippets” earlier – usually it is a scene. It rolls in, I write it down, and then it sits there, sometimes for years, before I figure out what is happening. I ask myself a lot of questions: Who is this person? What is happening here? Eventually I get around to answering them and the story develops from there.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I absolutely detested creating outlines in school! That said, I find it highly ironic that I tend to utilize them in both my fiction and non-fiction writing.

Not at first mind you, but yes, as the story develops and I know where I want to go, I will usually come up with the name of the chapter and just write in a few lines to describe what it is about before moving on, or returning to a chapter I am currently working on.

And when it comes to non-fiction, I pull out all the stops and have a very organized and proper outline for my book!

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

Yes, as I stop and start, I tend to edit as I go. So, say I am writing in a chapter and I stop for the day. When I pick it back up again, I read the chapter at hand, or at least the last few paragraphs. This gets me back into the story and I will change some wording as I go. However, there are still several major edits to go through after the manuscript has been completed.

Did you hire a professional editor?

Yes. First for content, to make sure where I’m going makes sense and that I’ve been thorough enough. Actually, that was a role my eldest daughter did for me on this book so I didn’t hire it out. And then a writer friend of mine handles the line edits. Between them I also read it out loud to my husband and do my own edits that way.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I so wish I could! The music distracts me, which is frustrating, because I love music and it is very influential on the creative process. But during the actual act of writing? I can be in a room filled with people, children yelling, absolute chaos, but NO MUSIC.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I have. I haven’t gotten much response. Frankly, the silence is demoralizing.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

In today’s market, I think that whether you are traditionally published or are an Indie author, you need to market, market, MARKET yourself. And I’ve always been a DIY, “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” kind of gal – so I guess I’ve questioned why I would hand over a massive percentage of my income-earning potential to someone else who might, or might not, open a couple of doors for me.

I guess I figure if an agent can get me to a publisher, and a publisher can get me published – those are both things I’ve already done myself. And getting a plump marketing budget with a publisher isn’t a given, so what are they doing that I can’t do for myself?

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I did it myself using an image I purchased from Dreamstime and a format from Canva.com. One way or the other, make it look professional, otherwise, you have just spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours crafting something that people will pass on by. I learned that lesson the hard way.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

For now, I’m winging it. But I’m open to advice! I’ve been reading quite a bit about it, trying to build my email list, get more reviews, get interviews (like this one!), and generally get myself out there without making a complete pest of myself.

One thing that has become abundantly clear after having written six books and self-published five of them – writing, editing and publishing is only HALF of the job. The other half of it is marketing. If you aren’t willing to learn, to jump up on the bandwagon, toot your horn and convince folks to buy and read your books, you will never make a living at it or even know you exist.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Do not allow your fears or doubts to control/inhibit your progress. Be open to criticism but do not let it stop you in your tracks. . A book is not your baby. You can test this by throwing your book on the floor. See, the book is just fine. By the way, do NOT do this with a baby.

Edit, be professional, edit again, look professional, edit some more, write well (that probably should have been listed first), and read every day.

Be persistent!

About You

Where did you grow up?

I was born here in Kansas City, Missouri and grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona and San Francisco, California.

Where do you live now?

In the home of my dreams, with the man I fell in love with (well, he was a boy then) at the age of fifteen. We live in an 1899 Victorian in Historic Northeast Kansas City, Missouri with our young daughter.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I do what it takes to make ends meet and I never stop dreaming. More importantly, I take steps, every day, to make those dreams come true. I currently clean houses and care for my elderly father, and I teach community education classes and we are renovating two properties on each side of our property into future Airbnb’s. I have dozens of stories in my head just waiting to come out. And I’ve got a list of “to do’s” a mile long. I remain endlessly optimistic.

End of Interview:

For more from Christine, visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like her Facebook page.

Get your copy of Gliese 581: The Departure from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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