Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
Barring school assignments and the occasional guilt-driven foray into the “respectable” genres, I’ve always read sci-fi and fantasy. Everything I write eventually includes some magical ability or technology that we don’t have (yet.) I don’t think I could write anything that didn’t have some fantastical or presently impossible element. Isn’t that what imagination is for? To experience the things you couldn’t otherwise?
It’s five o’clock somewhere…Let’s have a drink! What cocktail best describes you and why?
A good, hoppy beer. I can be strong and abrasive but once you get used to me, you’re probably drunk.
On my desk I have a rhino that my husband gave me to remind me I’m rhino-tough, as you have to be in the business. Is there anything you have that you use to remind you of that?
I’m a very un-sentimental un-symbolic kind of person. When I need the toughen-up pep talk I usually just go off alone and sulk and bitch for an hour or two and then I feel better and get back with the program.
I have two muses, Arwen and Bronwyn, they have very distinct personalities. Can you share a bit about your muse?
My muse and I have a fairly contentious relationship. We’re either hot or cold. When we’re hot, it’s a mind-blowing one night stand, otherwise she doesn’t return my calls. She’s a bit of a bitch. I think her name’s Leah Petersen.
It seems we all endured English and/or World literature coming up in high school…What was the worst book you were ever forced to read and what about it turned you off?
I have no idea. I probably blocked that memory.
You have a million dollars that you must donate to one charitable organization. Which one would you choose and why?
Suicide prevention. Especially for teens. Especially especially for gay teens. As for why, simply that suicide has touched my life in more ways than one and no one should ever have to go through that, the survivors OR the victims.
Do you have one of those pesky day jobs, or are you a full-time writer? If you do have another career what do you do and do you enjoy it?
My day job is accounting. It’s interesting and challenging enough that I’m happy with it. It stays at the office, though. It’s a paycheck that’s not painful to earn but it’s not welcome in my home.
I had an editor early on that showed me the way…have you had anyone in particular that gave you a gentle **ahem** nudge in the right direction? How did they do that and how did you react?
Gabrielle Harbowy was my editor for Fighting Gravity and continues to be for my current projects. She’s been incredible. She’s got that gift of telling you something really sucks in a way that makes it easy to see the value in the feedback and without making it sound like she’s saying it really sucks.
Wine or beer?
Depends on the mood. Whichever one, it can’t be weak or sweet. Strong beers and dry red wines for me.
Cake or pie?
Fruit pie. Cake is merely a vehicle for frosting.
When Jacob Dawes is Selected for the Imperial Intellectual Complex as a child, he’s catapulted from the poverty-stricken slums of his birth into a world where his status as an unclass is something no one can forget, or forgive. His growing scientific renown draws the attention of the emperor, a young man Jacob’s own age, and they find themselves drawn to each other in an unlikely, and ill-advised relationship. Jacob may have won the emperor’s heart, but it’s no protection when he’s accused of treason. And fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves.
After dinner, a servant summoned me to the emperor. This was now twice in as many nights. Was it about something I’d said the night before? That stupid ring?
I was led to where the emperor was talking with the ship’s captain in one of the hallways.
“Good evening, Mr. Dawes. I see you survived the lift-off.” He walked as he spoke, gesturing for me to accompany him.
“It was an incredible experience, Excellence. This is a nice ship you have.”
“Thank you. It’s not a new ship, there was no time for that. But many things were upgraded, the engines included. They’re the best of the best, I’m told. I thought about you during the lift-off. I wondered what you’d make of it.”
“You did?” I asked, stunned.
“Is there something wrong with that?” he asked, his mouth twisted in what looked like amusement but was probably something more dangerous to me.
“No, sir. I guess not…”
“Does it bother you?” He seemed to be teasing me again.
“Some,” I answered.
He stopped. “Why?”
“Because I’m afraid of you.”
He laughed, and started down the hallway again. But after a sideways glance at my face, he quieted. “You really mean that?”
“Oh.” His answer was soft, subdued, even. I got the distinct impression that I’d hurt his feelings.
“You must get that all the time.”
“I do,” he answered, but didn’t look at me. I was more and more sure that I’d offended him somehow.
“So why should it matter, then, Excellence?”
He thought for a moment. “I don’t know. I should be used to it. Of course, no one ever comes out and says it in so many words. It’s a bit of a shock to hear it confirmed like that.”
He stopped again, facing me, a slight furrow between his eyes that I would have called uncertainty, even vulnerability, if I hadn’t known who he was. “Why are you afraid of me?”
“Who wouldn’t be afraid? You can do anything you want with my life and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.”
The furrow deepened and he waited, as if I hadn’t explained myself at all.
“You uprooted my life a couple of weeks ago, who knows what you might do tomorrow?”
“You mean, you didn’t want this assignment?” he asked.
Apparently I wasn’t frightened enough to keep my mouth shut. “I want to be here,” I pointed to the ship around us, “but I didn’t want to be reassigned, no.”
“Mr. Dawes...” He hesitated. “I had no idea. I’m sorry.”
I shrugged but didn’t look at him.
“Would you like to be assigned back to the IIC?”
“Then you will be.” He started walking again, gesturing to me to accompany him. My stomach was jittery. I couldn’t believe what I’d just said. But he wasn’t reacting like an angry sovereign. He was acting like just another guy whose feelings were hurt.
“I’m sorry if I offended you,” I tried.
He turned to me. “Actually, you have no idea how much I appreciate your honesty.”
There was no reason for me to believe he was lying or just being diplomatic—and I couldn’t imagine why he would try to spare my feelings—but that didn’t make me feel much better. I was still on edge, certain I’d said far too much.
Leah Petersen lives in
She does the day-job, wife, and mother thing, much like everyone else. She
prides herself on being able to hold a book with her feet so she can knit while
reading. She’s still working on knitting while writing. North Carolina
FIGHTING GRAVITY is her first novel.
Leah will be giving away a prize pack containing these items hand knit by the author: a hat, a replica of the symbol of an important institution referenced in Fighting Gravity to TWO randomly drawn commenters during the tour.