Shami Stovall - Sci-Fi Adventures that Involve Genetic Manipulation
Shami Stovall relies on her BA in History and Juris Doctorate to make her living as an author and history professor in the central valley of California. She writes in a wide range of fiction, from crime thrillers to fantasy to science-fiction. Stovall loves reading, playing video games, entertaining others with stories, and writing. As our Author of the Day, Stovall tells us all about her book, Star Marque Rising.
Please give us a short introduction to what Star Marque Rising is about.
Star Marque Rising is a science fiction adventure novel about a hyper-talented criminal (Clevon Demarco) turning his life around while working on an enforcer ship. He quickly discovers the captain might be too ambitious for her own good and finds himself faced with a few life-or-death decisions. Lots of fun, lots of gruff-guy-finds-his-home-in-the-universe-among-a-unique-crew type of thing.
What inspired you to set your story in a superhuman-dominated society?
I really like stories that involve genetic manipulation. It fascinates me to think of a world where some people have “evolved” beyond being human—and what that means for the rest of humanity.
Tell us more about Clevon Demarco. What makes him so special?
He’s a genetically engineered human—which basically means he’s smarter, faster, and tougher than humans around him. He’s got lots of tricks and confidence, but when he meets the captain of the Star Marque he realizes that just being talented isn’t enough. He strives to be a better person throughout the novel, and I love a good redemption story.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
The biggest themes throughout the book deal with ambition and whether the ends justify the means. Clevon has no ambition at the beginning of the story, and gradually comes to realize that’s a waste of his talents. But the captain of the Star Marque has no restraint on her ambition, which leads her down some dark paths. There’s an interesting middle ground I tried to focus on.
Which one of your characters do you think you would get along with the most? What about the least?
I would definitely get along most with the engineer, Sawyer. She’s sarcastic, a little aloof, but a lot of fun when you get to know her.
The person I would least get along with is the captain, Endellion. She’s too focused on her goals for me to really trust her for more than thirty seconds.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Video games. I’ve played competitively before.
Many people dismiss the genre as pure escapism—and nothing more. What would you say is the purpose of fantasy and sci-fi?
I’ve never heard anyone say science fiction is pure escapism. If someone did say that, I would counter with: sci-fi postulates human nature’s continuing entanglement with science. After all, science is the creation of mankind, so it’s like we’re tampering with ourselves. How is that thought provoking on a deeper level?
If someone said that about fantasy I would counter with: no story is devoid of life lessons and morals. Even Frodo learned the importance of willpower when he was tasked with taking the ring to Mordor.
Does writing about surreal worlds and enigmatic scenes present any particular problems?
I like clarity in my writing, so I tend to avoid anything too enigmatic. I do love strange places, but a lot of the fun comes from describing it.
Your book takes some dark turns - there is a lot of corruption and many of your characters are flawed (or defective). Why did you take this approach?
In the novel, anyone with a genetic defect is classified as “defective,” but most of these defects are things people have to deal with today—manic depression, cancer, tumors, etc. I liked the idea of a society ruled by who pure someone’s genetic makeup was. Those who are tall, fit, and smart are classified as the best, and those who aren’t are treated poorly. It makes for great “overcoming” story arcs. I really like characters who have a hardship, but succeed regardless. They don’t wallow in their problems—they triumph no matter what.
The story is unpredictable, with continuous action and a couple of twists. Did you plan this all out before you started writing, or did some of it just "happen" along the way?
I like to plan. All my twists are foreshadowed in subtle ways, so if anyone reads the book a second time, they’ll see all the hints. I really like that about some novels, so I did that with mine.
What did you have the most fun with when writing this book?
The ending. It’s intense.
Do you have any interesting writing habits. What is an average writing day like for you?
I write at night, when everyone else is asleep. I like to take a 5 Hour Energy right before my writing spree, put on some music, and hammer out a chapter or two.
Oh! I also have a ton of cute little plushie toys I keep around—anything video game related. They’re so adorable! How can I not be inspired when I see them?
What are you working on right now? Will we see a sequel to Star Marque Rising?
I’m working on a sequel to my historical urban fantasy, The Ethereal Squadron, but after that I will definitely work on a sequel to Star Marque Rising. I love those characters too much to let them go! Plus, the story ends in such a way that a sequel is apparent.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Readers can find me all over the place!
Or email: [email protected]