ZGottlieb - Writing Riveting Sci-Fi Adventures
Z Gottlieb was born in Texas and lived all over the world, literally. She joined the Navy after college and retired after a number of years. As our Author of the Day, Gottlieb chats about her latest book, Connor's Gambit, UFO sightings and why she loves writing Sci-Fi.
Please give us a short introduction to what Connor's Gambit is about.
Connor’s Gambit is a story of a man in his late twenties, who dreams of a life in space and is given an opportunity to fulfill that dream. The story begins with the protagonist, Brad Johnson sighting a UFO that leads towards an alien targeting him and his family. The fire fight opens his eyes to a new truth about several members of his family as well as the UFO. Brad is offered a chance to take advantage of the alien’s advance technology and travel off Earth. He quickly learns that there are inherent risks associated with his dream of traveling in space that may have him sacrifice his life and future on Earth.
What inspired you to write about someone who witnesses a UFO sighting?
The story begins with two men fishing during the night on a lake. One of the men is completely out of it and the other see’s the UFO. This image played in my brain for months until I wrote it down and then began writing my book. The strangest part of this vision was I didn’t fish, and I wasn’t even sure if people fished at night. I had to look it up.
While there haven’t been official confirmed sightings of UFOs, I personally believe we are not alone in this universe. This belief drove the idea to approach a first contact story from a different perspective.
Tell us more about Brad Johnson. What makes him so special?
The story is about an ordinary person who is given an unusual opportunity and takes advantage of it allowing him to change and grow intellectually as well as socially within the new alien society. Perhaps what makes Brad special is his curiosity, motivation, willingness to problem solve and a desire to have control over his own life. These are characteristics we all have, but we don’t always push to excel at these characteristics. Brad wasn’t the smartest person in the book, but he was probably more motivated to problem solve, and think out of the proverbial box. Brad’s intuitiveness is key in his ability to problem solve, however, I believe we are all intuitive if we pay attention to events around us.
In many stories the main protagonist is single or has a love interest. Why did you give Brad Johnson a wife?
There wasn’t a specific reason for why the protagonist had a wife other than it was a different approach to a common theme. If I write a prequel it will be from his wife, Shinny’s, point of view. Why would she choose someone who was significantly younger and inexperienced without revealing her background to the person who was her fiancé and husband.
You have lived all over the world and served in the Navy. How has this influenced your writing?
Living around the world and learning about different societies and cultures has opened me up to the concept that when we finally do meet our neighbors in space, they will be very different from us in many ways, and we will learn from them just as they will learn from us.
Please give us three good-to-know facts about you.
I care about people and animals; I have a fertile imagination, and I am loyal.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
This question threw me since I don’t believe I have any secret skills. So, I outsourced this question and asked the people around me what they thought.
A coworker thought I had the ability to zone in and zone out. Must be because I’m a “Z”.
A coworker thought I had a special ability to tell when a device is plugged in or not.
A coworker thought I was Queen of PowerPoint. (This is a scary thought).
My daughter responded, “How would I know, if it was as secret.”
According to my husband I do have some secret skills, but I can’t share them with the public. With that said, I’d like to think I have a good sense of humor that occasionally comes out in the book.
I don’t believe writing is a secret skill. I do believe everyone has a story inside of them, they just need to sit down and write it.
Connor's Gambit has a very realistic military hierarchy, battle strategies.
While the military background comes from my background growing up as an Air Force Brat and a career in the Navy, many other popular science fiction stories also take place in a military environment. The more famous examples are Star Wars, Star Trek, and Avatar. While the military is often seen from a negative point of view, the military often serves in the role as explorers, protectors, and providers of humanitarian aid.
What drew you to Sci-Fi as a genre?
I’m a voracious reader and read almost everything in front of me. I enjoy Science Fiction because it addresses the dream of life beyond earth. Humans were never meant to stay in one place. It is part of our genetic coding to be explorers. Writing Science Fiction has allowed me to explore the possibility of a future filled with technology to make our lives better and travel throughout the universe learning and sharing with others.
Although the story is Science Fiction, I sincerely wrote the book to be more and enjoyed by the different types of readers. I’ve had a few people who don’t normally read science fiction, tell me that they enjoyed reading the story because there is more going on then the “science fiction” aspect of the story.
Do any of your characters take off on their own tangent and refuse to do what you had planned for them?
Actually, the character I had the most difficulty writing was Admiral Griken. He kept yelling at me that I was writing him incorrectly. He is the most rewritten character, so he would fit more in the book and with the story.
Do you consider yourself a disciplined writer? Do you have a schedule that you stick to, or is it more in the moment?
Because I work full time, I’m not a disciplined writer. On days that I don’t work, or the sun is not shinning I write. I try to take advantage of nice weather and ride my bicycle.
What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?
I had two challenges in writing this book. The first challenge was finishing the book while working a full-time job that often required me to work overtime and included two hours a day commuting back and forth to the office. Because of this challenge, the book took four years to write.
The second challenge was obtaining approval from my government agency to ensure I did not include anything inherently governmental. That process took a year from an agency lawyer reviewing it to two different bosses who didn’t want to approve my outside activities for different reasons.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a follow-on story to Connor’s Gambit. Although the story starts with an event that occurred on the Battle Cruiser Zuonopy before Brad, Connor and Shinny return to Earth, the bulk of the story takes place three years in the future for them. A tragic event pulls them off earth while unknowingly leaving Earth defenseless against an alien invasion.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I have a pathetic Facebook https://www.facebook.com/zee.gottlieb.3 for my book and an even more pathetic web site https://www.zgottliebbooks.com/. They are pathetic because I’m not disciplined in keeping that information updated. I can be reached at [email protected] and will answer emails.