When Christa Yelich-Koth isn't editing for Buzz & Roar Publishing and REDSHIFT or co-hosting the Grr Arrgh podcast, she likes to write sci-fi and fantasy that anybody can enjoy. What sets her books apart is how they really focus on the people and their emotions, rather than the technology, alien races or politics of the worlds her stories take place in. As our Author of the Day, Yelich-Koch talks about why she writes in this genre, how her background in Biology influences her writing and why she really has to watch out for colloquialisms in her books.
Please give us a short introduction to what Illusion is about.
ILLUSION is a scifi/fantasy psychological journey concerning what is real or not when we make choices in our lives—and how much our past actually dictates who we are.
ILLUSION follows Daith Tocc, a woman who awakens on an unfamiliar space ship. She’s been told she was rescued from an assassination attempt, which left her without her memories.
As Daith discovers more about who she is, she also learns she has unique mental abilities. She begins to develop these talents to move faster toward unlocking the lost memories in her mind.
But the ship she’s on is at war and the commander needs a decision from her. He can drop her off, alone, to find out about herself on her own, or she can stay on the ship during combat—and perhaps use her abilities to help them.
Time is running out and Daith must choose—to uncover her past or stay and help fight a war.
Tell us more about Daith - who is she and what makes her so special?
Daith is headstrong and curious, and discovers she has some unique mental abilities, such as sensing other’s emotions and deconstructing inanimate objects. But what makes her special is her passion for growth and learning. She may not know who she is, but she continues to move forward with decisions in her life, something I find admirable.
How much has your interest in Biology influenced this book?
Quite a bit. My focus in Biology was Entomology (study of insects) and Ichthyology (study of fish). These types of animals are, in my opinion, the most unique on our world. Their adaptations, their environments, and their physical forms have inspired many planets and unique aliens in my books.
Illusion focuses more on the people, their pain and pleasure than on the sci-fi technology, alien races and politics. Why did you take this approach?
Firstly, because it’s what I prefer to read, so I enjoy writing it more. Secondly, because I wanted to write science fiction and fantasy that anyone could enjoy, not just readers who already like those genres. Technology and politics can be very interesting, and I often supplement my stories with them, but to me, the heart of any good book is in the characters. Their story is what is relatable, even if their surroundings aren’t. So I can have a character who spends all her time on a space ship, an environment that most readers have never been in, and the reader can feel completely at ease there, because they understand it through the character.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I don’t know if it’s secret, but I am a singer (I have 3 singles out under the name Renee Kole) and I’m a pretty good salsa dancer.
What are your favorite sci-fi / fantasy stories of all time?
“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott card, “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, Golden Compass trilogy by Phillip Pullman, and the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey.
Do writing about surreal worlds and enigmatic scenes present any particular problems?
Most of my books are not Earth based, so one issue is colloquialisms and swear words. I have to make up my own. I even have an editor who specifically helps to make sure I don’t accidentally say something like “it’s raining cats and dogs”!
Many people dismiss the genre as pure escapism—and nothing more. What would you say is the purpose of fantasy and sci-fi?"
Escapism can definitely be a big part of it, and some stories are made to be just that. But I’ve found that the best fantasy and sci-fi stories are so much more, and most of the time the reader doesn’t even realize it.
My favorite part about writing fantasy/scifi is that even without trying, my stories mean something. Whether they are a reflection of conquering inner demons or finding one’s true identity, I can bring forward these amazing philosophical revelations while adding the icing of fantastical places. This way the reader enjoys being swept along the story, but also ends up really wondering about themselves, their lives, and the universe.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on two new books—one in the Eomix Galaxy, a scifi thriller called Coiled Vengeance (to be released fall 2017) and one in a new YA fantasy series, The Land of Iyah, called The Jade Castle.
Coiled Vengeance is about a man, Ness Opute, who is willing to change himself and infiltrate a corrupt organization to climb the ranks and kill the woman who murdered his wife.
The Jade Castle is about 16-year-old Bekk, who can’t seem to stay awake in class and is plagued by childhood dreams about a land called Iyah. His school psychologist thinks it’s PTSD from his parent’s recent death and Bekk must figure out how to navigate through the dreaming world to move forward with his life.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
The best places to find out more about me is to check out/follow my blog at www.christayelichkothcom. You can also find me on FB, Twitter (@cyelkoth), as an Amazon Author, and on Goodreads. Just Google Christa Yelich-Koth and you’ll find me!
ILLUSION is book 1 of 2. The second book, IDENTITY, is available now on Amazon (keyword EOMIX) or at Buzz & Roar Publishing. www.buzzandroarpublishing.com
COILED VENGEANCE will be out Fall of 2017 on Amazon and from Buzz & Roar Publishing.
My graphic novel HOLLOW and follow-up comic books series, HOLLOW’S PRISM, are available from Green-Eyed Unicorn Comics.