Please welcome my friend, speculative fiction author Tammy Salyer, whose third SPECTRAS ARISE novel, CONTRACT OF WAR, releases today!
Unification or tyranny. The only difference is the body count.
In the aftermath of a system-wide war between the Admin and Corp Loyalists and the non-citizen population of the Algols, everything once resembling order has been leveled. Scattered enclaves of survivors dot the worlds, living, however they can, in snarled lawlessness. Aly Erikson and her crew have carved out a niche of relative peace, doing their best to go on with their lives through salvaging, scavenging, and stealing. But with no force left to keep the lid on the pot, the pressures of chaos and discord soon cause conflicts to boil over. As enemies close in from all directions, even, sometimes, from within, the crew once again must fight—not just for survival, not just for their way of life, but this time for a future that can finally lay to rest the system’s bloody and savage past.
Tammy writes a bit, reads a bit, and frequently attempts to beat cars across intersections from the saddle of her bike. Consequently, you could probably crack walnuts shells on her thighs, but she hopes no one ever tries. Find her on her blog (www.tammysalyer.com) or Twitter (@TammySalyer).
I met Tammy at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold conference the year the first SPECTRAS ARISE novel, CONTRACT OF DEFIANCE, won the writing contest. Tammy is a wonderful person, as well as a talented author, and I’m delighted to have her here today to celebrate the release of CONTRACT OF WAR!
Also: in celebration of the new release, all three books in the SPECTRAS ARISE trilogy are on sale for just .99 each through August! You can find them at the iTunes Store, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, and Librio, as well as via the independent seller Payhip.
And now, with no further ado, let’s talk with Tammy!
CONTRACT OF WAR is the third and final installment in your SPECTRAS ARISE trilogy. What did you find most difficult about bringing this series to a close? What was the easiest part?
First, I’ll answer what was easiest, and I think everyone who writes multiple stories with the same set of characters could agree: it was just slipping back into their heads and “living” the story events through them. After almost ten years with these books, I feel like I know the characters, their quirks and personal lexicons, as well as members of my own family. They still surprise me sometimes, though.
The hard thing was more of a mechanical issue. The second book in the series, Contract of Betrayal, ended with most of the interpersonal conflicts between the characters sorted out, but then a system-wide civil war erupts. Writing new character arcs for the same characters in the midst of something so wide-scale and monumental took a few drafts to fully sift through.
Although your protagonist, Aly Erikson, remains a strong, action-oriented character, you also let readers see a more personal side of Aly in CONTRACT OF WAR. What made you decide to let us into this intriguing side of her personality?
Haha, well this goes back to the first question: even I am sometimes surprised by my characters. I guess Aly had spent so much time in the first two novels trying to figure out who she was and what she stood for, which she eventually does, that she finally had time in War to just be in her own skin without the old instabilities that made her such a volatile and reactionary protagonist. In a way, the war brought out the inner Aly and made her feel safe enough to let all her defensive layers be stripped away. There’s some twisted kind of lesson about war’s effects on soldiers in there that I think I’ll leave unexplored (at least for now) 😉
What is the most important piece of writing advice you would give other authors thinking of writing a series?
Easy: write the full series, or at least the first three books, before even thinking about releasing them. If they come out in close succession, they’ll be easier to market and easier to write, and it will be much easier to keep your fans engaged if you have a consistent, non-widely-spaced-apart trickle of new material for them, especially for new-to-the-writing-scene authors.
The SPECTRAS ARISE universe is simultaneously high-tech and low-tech, because the series takes place during (and in the aftermath of) intergalactic wars. What was the most challenging part of building these unique technological aspects into your series?
In short, I write what I want to read. Though I enjoy a well-told science fiction story, I’m one of the types of readers who find the technology far less interesting than the characters. But if the story isn’t grounded with at least some elements of plausible scientific innovations, a science fiction story essentially morphs into a fantasy story. Like any genre, there are tropes, or markers, in science fiction that pre-orient readers, both in terms of visually and psychologically, to what kind of story they’re embarking on. So I wanted to include enough of these markers to set the tone of the book as more Robert Heinleinian or David Weberian than Ursula LeGuinian, but not have to spend pages and pages describing exactly how a plasma carbine works in outer space without an atmosphere or how spacecraft can achieve interplanetary travel without weeks or months elapsing. So the challenge really was to find a balance between overexplaining and underexplaining the scientific/technological elements of the stories.
Do you have a favorite scene from CONTRACT OF WAR? If so (and if you can tell us about it without revealing any spoilers!), what makes that scene stand out for you?
There’s a scene involving Aly and Vitruzzi being taken hostage that occurs in the late part of the first act. I had a great time writing it! Mostly because it gave me a chance to put Aly back “in her element” so to speak, with a sub-class of humanity that harks back to the kind of people she dealt with when she was an arms smuggler, plus it gave me a chance to play with some of the flora and fauna of this fictional star system. What fun is science fiction without some kind of homicidal creepy crawler coming after your heroes occasionally?!
What’s next for you as an author?
I’m writing a novella-maybe-novel about the Soldier’s Rebellion, an event that preceded the events of the Spectras Arise Trilogy, which had a huge impact on both my protagonist and on the social and political order of her world. Also, another project I can describe in two words: Space Vikings. (I know: WHAT?)
And now, the speed round:
Cappucino or Scotch?
A nice, peaty single-malt with a side of dark-chocolate-covered caramels while relaxing on the couch with a good book.
A night at home or a night on the town?
Either, as long as the company is good!
Comedy or drama?
To watch and read. Movies: Comedy, but only if there are no good superhero or science fiction movies out. For books: Does dramatic cyberpunk count?
Cookies, fruit, or ice cream?
Thank you, Tammy, for joining me today! It was great hearing more about you and CONTRACT OF WAR!
And remember: you can find Tammy’s entire series on sale through August – I love this series, and recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys science fiction, novels with lots of action, or just a well-written, fast-paced adventure!