Author Susan Grant’s Otherworldly Sci-Fi RomancesJune 12, 2008
I’m often asked how a commercial airline pilot ended up writing romance. “Easy,” I say. “Too little time on the ground coupled with way too much time to think!” Trust me, nothing aids plot-hatching and character-developing like fifteen straight hours stuck in the cockpit of a 747 with lukewarm coffee and a sky so black you can see every star in the Milky Way.
The sights, smells, and tastes of the exotic locales I visit, and the conversations I have with people I’d never normally meet, provide the most amazing material to weave into my stories. With a little imagination, a dark alleyway in Shanghai ripe with the stench of sewage, garlic, and moped exhaust becomes a lawless, backwater planet in the Borderlands, a region in the stars where my newest series takes place. A Chinese restaurant where I nibbled on pickled jelly fish, stir-fried fungus, and sautéed morning glory transforms into dinner-for-two with a warlord on a distant planet. Sometimes I think I have the perfect “day” job for a paranormal author.
When I’m not a jet-lagged daydreamer wandering around Sydney, Shanghai or Saigon soaking in ideas for new stories, I’m a suburban mom raising two teens. When they were much younger I used to bring them, and usually the neighbor boy, too, to the local park to play . One day the boys ran off, each clutching a laundered-too-many-times Beanie Baby (the only two toys in the car), leaving my daughter empty-handed. “But, Mom,” she said, grief-stricken. “Now I have no one to be!”
Whoa. Simple words, but what a concept! My daughter, with the boundless, easily accessed imagination of a child, intended to be a Beanie Baby, slipping into the fluffy body of a kitten, or duck, or crocodile to live through its eyes. And, boy, did I understand her disappointment. That’s exactly how I feel when I open a book and can’t lose myself in it, when I’m unable, for some reason, to form that seamless emotional connection with the characters that allows me to live the story right along with them.
Think of the books on your keeper shelf. What made them so special the first time you read them? Did they engross you to the point where when you turned the last page you looked up blinking because you forgot who and where you were? Did they sweep you away to another time, another place, another body? Then those authors succeeded in giving you someone to be.
If you’d like to come along on some of my flying adventures, visit my blog and check out the archives. No luggage required! Oh, and for a peek at the stories these adventures have spawned over the years, stop by my website, www.susangrant.com, where I maintain a printable list of all my books and what series they belong to.