Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maria Zannini's True Believers

I've always been interested in fusing genres - and hopefully getting the both of best worlds in the process. On my blog, the genres are usually fantasy and science fiction, combined like the scientist in The Fly. But when I read that Maria Zannini had released a science fiction romance, I had to find out more.

Mostly because I enjoy both those genres, but couldn't recall reading more than one or two novels which spanned them both. Today Maria discusses some of the pleasures and pitfalls of this sub-genre, and does it with her trademark humor, attention to detail and solid background. Please give her a warm welcome - and be sure to check out True Believers. You'll see why after the interview.

1. Science fiction romance doesn't seem to be as popular as fantasy/paranormal romance. What are your thoughts on why this might be?

Maria : The ‘science’ part of fiction probably conjures dry, dusty data of things we’d rather forget from our high school physics lab. I’m not an egghead at all so I can commiserate with people who are afraid of a story coming off as stuffy and filled with technical jargon.

I liken SFR novels to movies like Star Trek or Avatar. You can tell a good story and still have a lot of exciting techy stuff happening in the background. We need more smart science fiction that can pull you into a techy world without boring you to tears. I remember watching the original Star Trek as a child. It was a fantastical world that was out of our reach. It was exciting and fascinating. We need to focus more on the awe and bring people back to the future. (Pardon the pun.)

2. What ways could authors use science fiction (setting/technology/aliens) to enhance romance? Sadly, the only thing that came to mind right away for me was sex in zero-gravity.

Maria : Is there anything sexier than a really smart hero or heroine who can get out of jams with nothing more than his wits? And let’s not forget the anatomically enhanced aliens who can rock your world just by getting naked. More than a few reviewers have mentioned True Believers’ hero, Taelen Jessit’s…ahem…extra man parts. …I can’t imagine why that tickled people so. :grin:

My favorite way to enhance romance is immersing the reader in a culture truly alien from our own. What might be normal for them would be totally foreign to us, and that can prove deliciously naughty and nice.

3. What clich├ęs would you suggest writers be aware of when writing SF romance?

Maria :• If you write aliens, make them physiologically believable. Pointy ears, wings, and gills ought to have a physical purpose for existing rather than serve as window dressing.
• Never forget that SFR is about relationships first.
• Every story doesn’t have to be epic. Sometimes it’s enough that the hero and heroine save the dog instead of the world.

4. What kind of scientific research did you need to do for your novel True Believers?

Maria : I am a conspiracy theory junkie so I used existing conspiracy theories to build the science necessary for True Believers. For example, HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program ) is an existing technology that uses high powered radio transmissions. This was the basis of the com-web in the story.

The AIs (artificial intelligences) were born from conversations I had with a computer scientist who once worked for NASA. I was shocked at what computers were capable of doing, so it wasn’t much of a leap to give my AIs personality and free will.

The research was more fun than I expected. It was also a bit scary. Society has progressed at an alarming rate this past half century. It makes you wonder where we’ll be in the next fifty years. I am hoping life will imitate art, and if that’s the case, we have our work cut out for us.

Thanks for your detailed and intriguing (extra man parts?) answers, Maria, and all the best with True Believers!

Bio: Maria Zannini used to save the world from bad advertising, but now she spend her time wrangling chickens and fighting for a piece of the bed against dogs of epic proportions. Occasionally, she writes novels.

Buy True Believers before April 30 and get an additional 15% discount. Just use coupon code BESTOFCARINA at Checkout. Offer is valid until April 30, 2011, 11:59 p.m. EDT.

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Renee Miller said...

I loved Jessup's extra man parts...kind of wish we'd have an alien invasion from his planet.

What? Oh yes, the book. What I really enjoyed about Maria's writing (in this novel particularly) is that I didn't feel I was reading Science Fiction or Romance. It didn't 'feel' like genre fiction at all. What I read was an awesome story with memorable characters, exactly as it should be.

Linda Leszczuk said...

I loved True Believers. Characters to care about and root for set in a fascinating new world. I highly recommend it.

Maria Zannini said...

Renee: Thank you! That's one of the nicest compliments I've ever had. You made my day!

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: My characters cared about you too. :grin: Thank you. I'm blushing.

Maria Zannini said...

Marian: I'm sorry I didn't get on earlier. Just as I signed on, I lost my internet again. I think it was just a glitch though.

Anyway, THANK YOU! for letting me come on today. It's always a pleasure to visit your blog. You always have such interesting topics and I enjoy reading the comments that follow.

Marian Perera said...

Hi Maria!

It's good to see you back. And even better to have that highly entertaining interview up! You're always welcome here. :)

I have my last final exam today, so I'm off to campus now, but I'll drop ni again after that.

Cate Masters said...

Fun interview ladies! Love love love Avatar. And True Believers too! Strong, vivid characters and intriguing setting. If you haven't grabbed a copy, I highly recommend you do.

Maria Zannini said...

Cate: I liked the romance in Avatar. I thought the politics was a little heavy handed. Not that I wouldn't watch it again--and again. :grin:

Angelina Rain said...

Great interview. A few years ago I’ve never heard of SFR, and now it’s one of the most popular romance sub –genres. Every publisher is seeking more and more of them. I really enjoyed True Believers and can’t wait to read some more SFR.

Maria Zannini said...

Angelina: I remember back when we had to buy SFR under the table. LOL We were so outcast. I'm glad we're allowed to get out of the closet now.

Sherri said...

Wonderful interview. I LOVED True Believers and I have to agree with Renee, the story didn't come across as genre fiction. It's an amazing read, with memorable characters, and a story I see myself returning to again.

Maria Zannini said...

Sherri: Thank you! I was never aware people felt that way. It's a true compliment.

Thanks again.

Unknown said...

Awesome interview - thank you.

I've read True Believers and loved it. If you haven't, get it now!

Ellie Garratt

Cathy in AK said...

True Believers is in my TBR queue and I'm anxious to read it. I have read only a few alien-based SFR stories, and none with..ahem...appendages. I'm sure I'll be pleasantly surprised :)

Maria Zannini said...

Ellie: I'm shocked by all the good people who have not only stopped by but read the book. I'm feeling slightly dumbstruck.

Maria Zannini said...

Cathy: Believe it or not, the appendages were never supposed to be a big deal. I never thought people would even remember them.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Uh huh. *grin*

Jayne said...

Great interview! I loved Maria's comment about the hero and heroine can save the dog instead of the world - so many sci-fi books think the story has to be epic - but you are so right that the relationship has to come first.

Extra man parts?!! Blimey - am intrigued!

Maria Zannini said...

Jayne: You saucy girl! Nice to see you here. Thanks for coming by.