Monday, 21 May 2012
Author Spotlight - Q&A with Gail Delaney
STEPH: I don't know much about "Janus." What's it about?
GAIL: Janus is the first book in a new "Phoenix" series titled Phoenix Rising, which picks up almost a year after the end of the series The Phoenix Rebellion.
It's been a year since Humanity rose up against their alien oppressors and took back Earth from the Sorracchi. The war left Earth devastated, crippled, but not beaten. Under the leadership of President Nick Tanner and in collaboration with their new Areth and Umani allies, the Earth seeks stable ground again.
John Smith of the Areth was a soldier before his queen asked him to serve as ambassador to Earth, and he is out of his element. Restricted in his position from carrying a weapon, he has no way of defensing himself or his adopted son when the Xenos -- a group of Humans wishing to purge the Earth of all alien influence -- decide they want him dead.
Jenifer is a soldier for hire, and answers to no one but her own common sense. She first refused the "job" of serving as John's bodyguard, but a glimpse at the heart of the man convinces her to accept the responsibility.
John has two faces: a soldier and an ambassador of peace. Jenifer has two faces: the steel-skinned warrior and the forgotten person she once was. Too many people hide behind masks, and it's those hiding who want John dead.
STEPH: How long did it take you to write?
GAIL: Way too long! I began the novel in 2008. Yes, 2008. I had several false starts, and ended up setting it aside to write a different novel -- Something Better -- contributed to the Borealis anthologies, and finish revisions on some other novels. I picked it up again this past year, and finally found the right road. Once I got started it took about 8 months.
STEPH: How much research did you have to do?
GAIL: Not much, in truth, as it is set in the future. On occasion, I would look up a scientific fact so it read true, but other than that much of it is speculative. Most of my 'research' was going back to the original series and looking up facts and details so things read true from one series to the other.
STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story within?
GAIL: The book is titled Janus because Janus was a Greek god of two faces -- reflecting beginnings and endings, masks we wear, etc. This is a theme within the story: People hiding who they really are behind masks, lives beginning, parts of their lives ending. The cover was created with a reflective image to illustrate that duality.
STEPH: Jenifer is the heroine. What are her strengths? Weakness?
GAIL: Her strength is her independence. She is, overall, a very strong personality. She lives on her own, for herself. She has a strong sense of loyalty to those who have proven themselves worthy of it, but she takes no guff from anyone. She lives by her own rules.
In actuality, this is also her weakness. She has put up so many walls, and pushed aside so many elements of herself, she has lost who she could be behind who she feels she has to be.
STEPH: What does John find appealing about her?
GAIL: Her mystery. John is Areth, an alien, and nearly every Areth citizen has what is known as a Talent -- a psychic ability (often more than one). One of John's many Talents is the ability to sense others emotions, their intent. He can't read minds, but if you are upset but hiding behind a stoic expression, he can feel it. But Jenifer is a blank slate to him. In the beginning, he senses absolutely nothing from her. And he finds this both frustrating and appealing. He admires her strength, admires her beauty, her intelligence, and even her sharp wit. She draws him because she pushes him away.
STEPH: What is the theme of the novel?
GAIL: Duplicity. Although the clearest element of this is illustrated with John and Jenifer -- both have pasts and elements of themselves they hide from everyone -- there are other forms of duplicity as well. Duplicity of the worst kind. Enemies in the guise of friends.
STEPH: As a writer, where do you draw inspiration from?
GAIL: Oh, all the place and often never the same place twice. But, per inspiration, I'd have to say much of it comes from dreams. I suppose one could argue dreams are influenced by every day events -- books we've read, things we've watched on television, conversations we've had, things we've seen but perhaps didn't even register at the time -- so, it really does come back to 'all over the place'.
STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?
GAIL: I have two. I first had a Nook first generation, which I still love. But, last year I was given an iPad as a birthday gift and I use the iBookstore app on it to read. I really love the size of the screen, the ease of changing font size and screen brightness, and the overall 'look' of the page. But, I would recommend both. If you want 'less' in your reader (don't need apps, bells and whistles) then the Nook is great.
STEPH: Fun question: What are your plans for Memorial Day?
GAIL: I actually don't have any at the moment. My husband and I had discussed flying back to the East Coast for the weekend to take care of some family matters, but then 'other' family matters came up and I think that has been put on hold. In all likelihood I'll end up just catching up on other work. I'm going to a one day writer's convention the following weekend, so I might be packing. ☺