Why do you write?
It’s a lot like an obsession. These characters come to me and demand that I tell their stories. When I listen to them, I not only hear what happens to them, but I draw lessons from their experiences, and I feel the need to pass along those lessons.
What inspired you?
The first bit of inspiration had to be Star Trek, because my first novel, written when I was fourteen, was science fiction in which people regularly traveled from Earth to Mars by using teleportation booths. My latest novel, Surviving the Fog-Kathy’s Recollections, was inspired by a conversation I was having at GoodReads with a woman who was somewhat exasperated by how I presented the girls in the previous novel, Surviving the Fog. The more I thought about what she said, the more I began to see the story from the girls’ point of view, and that led me to write two hundred thousand words and to begin a third novel, Surviving the Fog-Douglas Lives.
Your favourite thing you have written - book/scene/blog post?
That’s a very hard question to answer, because there are so many scenes I’ve written. I get a very great feeling of satisfaction when I reread some of them. In The Colors of Passion and Love a princess expresses her dissatisfaction about democracy, but is forced to examine the effects of tyranny. In Surviving the Fog-Kathy’s Recollections, Kathy considers the meaning of marriage and of her place in the community. That was especially enjoyable. In Sarah’s Spaceship Adventure, a young man confesses to committing what many would deem a terrible act only to find that the girl he loves understands his motivation and accepts him despite the act. I love that one.
Here is something I wrote recently that I like.
San’s DaughtersFlippi and Chureta watched the human girl from the safety of the entry pool, their heads far enough out of the water to let their large eyes, filled with childish curiosity, spy on the new servant. The human girl was sitting on her fabric covered rock and staring at a photograph.
“What is she doing?” Flippi asked.
“She’s looking at the thing she brought from her home planet,” Chureta replied. “They always allow the imports to keep one personal item.”
The alien was slightly turned away from them, so they could only see a part of her face. As they watched, moisture began to drip from the human girl’s eye.
“What’s that?” Flippi asked.
“I don’t know, but she does that almost every day.”
As they watched the girl’s shoulders began to shake, and her mouth emitted soft sounds.
Flippi’s wide eyelids lifted. “She’s sad.”
“She’s sad. She was looking at something from her home, and now she’s sad.”
The girls watched the human for another minute, and then they dipped below the surface of the water, disturbed by the sights and sounds of the human’s discomfort. Their oxygen nostrils closed, and their gills opened. They flippered down to the bottom of the entry pool and swam into the tunnel leading to the family bedrooms. As they entered the bedroom they shared, Chureta automatically flipped the switch that started the new circulating jets their father had reluctantly purchased for them. He had suspected, rightfully so, that the jets were more needed to keep prying parents from overreading the girls’ conversations than for the health reasons they claimed. Their method of conversation had already switched from vocals to the combination of gestures and body color changes they used when immersed.
~~It’s barbaric~~. Chureta signaled, her color indicating disgust.
Flippi automatically looked to the entry way to make sure a servant or parent had not overheard them, but she did not admonish her sister, for she too thought the capture and retrieval parties sent to other solar systems for the purpose of bringing back servants was immoral.
~~I think a lot of people are starting to feel that way~~, Flippi replied.
~~Not people like Lutz~~.
Flippi’s body color swiftly cycled. ~~He’s a real land rodent~~.
~~Our whole society is barbaric~~.
Flippi rolled her skin color at this outrageous statement. Her sister could be so dramatic.
~~Do you remember Gram~~?
Flippi’s color became fixed. ~~Barely~~.
~~When she died, father and mother lashed a bunch of floaters together and put Gram on them. Then they hauled the raft into the deeps, so a Bighead could find the body~~.
~~That’s how it’s always been done~~, Flippi gestured, trying for a diplomatic answer that would not anger her sister.
~~It’s barbaric. We should put our dead in sea caves and then block the opening with live coral, so it will grow over the opening and become a beautiful living memorial~~.
~~The crustaceans would still eat the body~~.
~~Gradually. It’s better than being torn apart by a Bighead~~.
Flippi didn’t really see why that would be better, but she wisely kept that thought to herself. She asked, trying to change the subject, ~~How do you think the humans treat the bodies of their dead~~?
Chureta shrugged her body causing the movement of the abutting water to gently wave the seaweed growing from the rocky wall behind her.
~~Who knows~~? Chureta replied. ~~I’m not sure they are that sentient. Do you think she wants to go home~~?
~~Of course she wants to go home. Wouldn’t you~~?
~~I don’t know. It might be exciting to visit other planets~~.
~~By choice maybe. Not by force. And certainly not if I had to be owned by Lutz~~. Flippi opened her wide foot almost a hundred twenty degrees and began to massage the webbing between her toes. ~~He’s such an algae. When I lay my eggs, I’m going to make sure it’s on a day he’s working on land~~.
~~Me too. There’s no way I’m letting anyone like him fertilize my eggs. I’m going to drop over the continental shelf and lay them on a ledge~~.
~~But that’s so far. And you have to be careful not to be antennaed by a Bighead~~.
For some minutes, the two girls drifted silently in their respective nooks feeling the flow of the water as the jets churned, sucking oxygen through the air tubes down into their bedroom and aerating their sleeping quarters.
~~Is there anyone you wish would fertilize your eggs~~?
Chureta’s pale blue skin darkened almost to the color of midnight when she saw her sister ask the embarrassing question. She almost twisted and presented her backside, but then she hesitated and flippered to their entryway. Satisfied that they were alone, she flippered back and using only furtive gestures, replied.
A bit about yourself.
I was born in Linwood, California. I was raised in an extremely conservative religious atmosphere, but even before my teens I was moving in a different direction. The Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War were the defining issues of my youth. I still remember the day I discovered a book by Robert Heinlein on a shelf in my high school library. Citizen of the Galaxy opened my eyes to so many possibilities. I attended college in California and New Mexico where I married a young girl from Hawaii, and we moved to Texas after she graduated. We now live on a farm on the island of Maui. I have written seven books including Surviving the Fog, Surviving the Fog-Kathy’s Recollections, The Colors of Passion and Love, Sarah’s Spaceship Adventure, Sam’s Winnings, Amy’s Hero, and Kate’s Movie Star. I’m presently working on Surviving the Fog-Douglas Lives and several other books.